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Exploring software and data management tools

Viva la data center revolution! This SearchCIO-Midmarket briefing is chock full of data management tools to help you navigate the dynamics of a new world order.

You cut your CIO teeth in the data center, studied the infrastructure until you can recite the core components...

in your sleep. You know it like the back of your hand, right? Unfortunately, the old data center operations as we knew them have gone the way of the rotary pay phone, and the savvy CIO has his finger on the pulse of new data center dynamics like Bring Your Own Device and private cloud computing, as well as how those sexy new trends affect their original backup and data recovery plans. Surprisingly, many companies are still suffering under old practices simply because "we've always done it this way" -- but while that paradigm may have done the job in the not-so-distant past, what worked as recently as last year is no longer a viable solution.

The biggest threat to your data center is stagnation. Bad data management plans are grinding your processes to a halt and driving up expenses while creating error loops in the system that no one notices as they rush to put out more and more proverbial fires. As one SearchCIO-Midmarket.com expert put it, bad data hygiene is a company's silent killer. Meanwhile, software management gaps become crucial pain points -- even a tiny margin of error can result in costly hits to your bottom line.

This guide is part of SearchCIO-Midmarket.com's Midmarket CIO Briefings series, which is designed to give IT leaders strategic management and decision-making advice on timely topics. For a complete list of topics covered to date, visit the Midmarket CIO Briefings section.

Table of contents

  Nurture application sponsors for big-time data center rewards
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Software management is one of the biggest headaches for a midmarket CIO -- or any CIO, for that matter. While solid software management strategies often look good on paper, the devil is in the details, and something as simple as a bad PC image when an IT bench tech is in a hurry can make for a nightmare during a software audit, not to mention countless unnecessary software licensing fees and patch updates.

Our experts Nelson Ruest and Danielle Ruest advocate the use of company-wide application sponsors. By deputizing subject-matter experts who aren’t necessarily IT team members, the immediate benefit is that you will have dyed-in-the-wool cheerleaders who will be more dedicated to assist users with training and troubleshooting the application. However, the experts explain that application sponsors will work closely with IT by testing automated deployment packages and monitoring the application as well as watching for new versions and patches. They can also help you build and justify the business need for why the company should maintain that application in its software portfolio.

Learn more in "Elegant software management solutions for the CIO." Also:

  Arm yourself with quality data management tools and strategies
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When companies have not wholeheartedly embraced data management tools -- or worse, have a jumbled cyber-closet of data organized with no real rhyme or reason -- it's easy to see the solution to those problems. Some CIOs readily admit their data management could be better, but they are under the impression that it isn't actively hampering the flow of business. This misperception might actually be more dangerous. Bad data hygiene is considered a company's silent killer.

Is your company suffering from one of the four key signs of bad data hygiene? One indication that a company's data management practices are at risk is when it has processes that involve multiple points of entry, resulting in increased cost, redundant staffing issues as well as inconsistency that puts a team at risk of making poor decisions. Another danger sign is an absence of one single entity responsible for the quality of the data in an organization. CIO Scott Lowe points out that it’s difficult to fix a problem when energy is wasted in finger-pointing exercises and fishing expeditions -- not to mention that you can't even ensure that it won't happen again. Lowe also points to problems of reporting accurately and reliably, as well as the rabbit hole of increased costs due to fact-checking inconsistencies in the data.

Do these scenarios sound painfully familiar? Don't give up hope, as Lowe outlines what one midmarket organization is doing to optimize organizational efficiency by using quality data management tools, such as employing simple data governance strategies and embracing a single, authoritative data source.

Learn more in "Maximize organizational efficiency with data management solutions." Also:

  Data center dynamics are key
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Just like flying a plane, the navigation of the data center is all about a series of small course corrections. Recent data center dynamics have thrown a few curve balls at CIOs, and with these trends, formerly minor or no-brainer elements like utilities and data center cooling are now a top priority while new concerns, such as private cloud computing and Bring Your Own Device, introduce new and subtle nuances to your data center strategy.

Our expert Jonathan Hassell walks through five data center dynamics that are making big waves in your data center -- or will be in the very near future. Backup and data recovery become a more salient discussion with much of the data center moving to the cloud, especially when that cloud exists outside of your company's walls. Any CIO who struggles with IT/business alignment knows how important it is that IT broadcasts value back to the business, and one way to do that is by becoming a mini-service provider to internal partners by implementing private cloud computing. This particular trend is very closely related to the instinct to adapt Bring Your Own Device. Users no longer have patience to wait for IT to deliver productivity-enabling devices and processes, so they will act without permission and worry about forgiveness later. Smart CIOs are developing portals and a delegation strategy to permit the end users to have some freedom while still giving control back to IT.

The importance of data center cooling and utility costs mean that CIOs are getting to know their facilities managers. Hassell stresses the need to understand the energy implications of your hardware and software decisions, as well as determine how those choices fit within your company's own demand for green initiatives.

Learn more in "Data center standards for the new world order: Are yours up to snuff?." Also:

  More resources
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This was last published in July 2011

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