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Information systems management for the midmarket

Systems management is an essential part of IT professionals' responsibilities in the midmarket. Find tips, news and more on the subject in this Midmarket CIO Briefing.

Information systems management encompasses a broad array of responsibilities in an IT organization, according to WhatIs.com, including:

  • Purchasing equipment and software.
  • Distributing items to where they will be used.
  • Configuring equipment and software.
  • Maintaining things with enhancement and service updates.
  • Setting up problem-handling processes.
  • Determining whether objectives are being met.

That's a lot for IT professionals at midmarket companies, given their smaller budgets and staff sizes. Check out this assortment of tips, news and more regarding various aspects of information systems management, including security, storage and network management.

For free advice and resources on more IT and business topics, visit our list of Midmarket CIO Briefings.

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How to choose the right open source solution

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While options for open source solutions and other types of free software abound, many IT executives struggle with finding the best alternative that fits their business' needs and their IT architecture.

Issues range from the functionality of the product to the strength of the community support, and whether an upgrade to a paid license will be necessary -- thereby erasing at least some of the financial benefit of going with open source in the first place.

OpenLogic Inc., an open source support provider, helps users determine which open source solutions might be appropriate and then offers technical support. It's seen an increase in interest among potential open source users this year. "Over the past three months we've seen a big jump. More and more people are coming to us saying things like, 'Our budget's frozen, but I still want to do this project -- without the software license [costs],'" said Kim Weins, senior vice president of products and marketing at Broomfield, Colo.-based OpenLogic.

Learn more in the full story, "How to choose the right open source solution for your business."

Get smart about patching vulnerabilities

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How can companies be free of security vulnerabilities? They could ferret out all the flaws in their computer products and patch them. They could prevent flaws from being exploited by shutting down systems. Of course, neither is good for business or the budget.

That's the view of Peyton Engel, a technical architect who heads the security assessment team at CDW Corp., at the recent Fusion 2009 CEO-CIO Symposium in Madison, Wis.

Instead, companies need to spend less time reacting willy-nilly to security vulnerabilities and more time asking whether threats are likely to affect them, Engel said. He recommends companies identify the point of diminishing returns of patch management by weighing the probability and severity of the security vulnerability, rather than the severity alone.

Find out more in the full story, "Get smart about patching security vulnerabilities."

CIOs share SaaS contract advice

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Looking back on a Software as a Service (SaaS) contract or project, just about every CIO or high-level manager involved will tell you he wished he had done something differently.

For Adam Sokolic, vice president of product management at National Retirement Partners Inc. (NRP) in San Juan Capistrano, Calif., that gotcha happened after the ink was dry on his SaaS contract, when his staffing levels changed. "We laid off 15 people and [the SaaS vendor] won't let me drop [their licenses], so I have to pay for them for the next six months," said Sokolic, who is in charge of SaaS projects at NRP, a retirement plan broker/dealer with 130 offices and 400 registered financial advisors.

If you're gearing up for a SaaS project, here are a few tips on contract negotiations, data protection and project management direct from those who have SaaS installations in place.

Get the tips in the full story, "CIOs share SaaS contract advice on pricing, customization."

Options for outsourcing security grow, offer savings

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IT security typically has been deemed one of those services best provided in-house. But the stigma attached to outsourcing security and Security as a Service -- namely that an outsider does not know your company well enough to protect it -- may be falling away, as businesses look for more ways to cut costs.

Certainly, some heavy-hitter providers believe attitudes are changing. This month, McAfee Inc. announced its new SaaS Security Business Unit. Headed by former Hewlett-Packard Co. SaaS executive Marc Olesen, the unit will oversee all McAfee products delivered over the Internet, including security scanning services, Web and email security services and remote managed host-based security software and hardware.

Meanwhile, last April, IBM launched some hosted and managed services that it says help midsized businesses better manage risk and improve the security of their IT systems, all while offering cost savings over traditional products. Indeed, much of IBM's security strategy during the next 24 months will focus on moving security technologies into the cloud and expanding its managed services offerings, said Jason Hilling, an enterprise services business line executive with IBM Internet Security Systems. That includes providing some hosted implementations of technologies that once were located only at the customer premises.

Learn more in the full story, "Options for outsourcing security grow, offer IT budget savings."

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