ITIL: Best Practices and New Technology
By Leigh Wilkinson
One of the benefits about working in Information Technology is the exposure to many different and ever changing technical solutions to business and personal problems. If you can describe a problem to be solved, an outcome to be produced, or a process that can be improved chances are that someone has invented a device or application to answer the need. In fact, the real challenge is in selecting the best answer for the problem more so than finding a solution.
Last week we were blessed with our fourth grandson. The problem was that he lives in Seattle, Washington. How do we connect with our new grandson and his parents’ long distance? Technology to the rescue: Since I have cable internet at home and a fairly new computer I was able to install a HD webcam and use Skype to make free video calls.
That is a great example of technology providing a solution for a personal need but what about using Skype or some other application for the entire state Government? Ah, that’s where best practices comes into play. We have to review any application or device through a series of filters such as:
- Scalability – can it scale to meet the demand of several thousand employees;
- Impact – what would several hundred calls do to the bandwidth of the network – would it negatively impact other applications?
- Security – will use of the application impact our security requirements by allowing other outside elements to bypass our firewall protections?
- Individual vs. group costs and licensing – some free applications become very costly when used at an enterprise level – that is how the company that developed the technology pays for the free versions.
And so on… until we have defined the overall advisability of using this technology on state networks and servers. The result is that sometimes we say yes to new technology and sometimes we say no – other times we may say ‘not yet’ and keep it on our radar for review and resolution.
The critical difference between adopting personal technology like smart phones, Ipads, and applications like Skype and use of the same technology on the State of Maine network is that an individual can easily assess their own cost, risk, and determine the advisability to use that technology. At OIT we represent a much more complicated group of logical and physically connected applications, devices, and other technology ruled by carefully crafted design and best practices based on the interrelationship of all the ‘moving parts’. What may be safe for personal use can easily produce problems when introduced into an enterprise based network. Our architectural group is constantly scanning IT developments and assessing customer requests to join new devices to our network. The group is comprised of representatives of each functional group that manages a portion of our OIT organization. Every change we approve is tested and managed through the change management process to reduce the chance of a poor outcome. Once tested and approved, new technology is developed with a complete set of standard operating procedures and descriptions of services being offered. We are requiring new services to also include performance metrics which will help us manage our overall delivery of services and track costs effectively. This is why it often takes a long time to adopt new technology in OIT.
The next time you find a new application or device that you personally adopt and want to connect to the network, you can contact our help desk or your OIT representatives with your suggestion. In many cases they may be able to advise you about any work that has been done regarding researching the new technology for suitability as an enterprise approved method. We understand your excitement and enthusiasm. Scratch an OIT employee and you most likely will find an early adopter of new technology on the personal level. We love – for the most part- new stuff. However, we also know and understand the need to test and work through the best practice filters before allowing use of new technology on the network. We promise to work as quickly as possible to resolve your request and hope this article explains the complexity behind the task.