LAN Systems
September/October 2011
Best of Gwinnett 2011 
   2011 Best of Gwinnett
Thank you for making us the Best of Gwinnett for three years in a row! We are so appreciative of your support.
And here's the solution to the Corporate Ladder Puzzle. Keep an eye out for the video solution ;) If you haven't gotten your puzzle, just call or email.


Weathering Storms in the Cloud


Storms in the CloudTwice over the past few weeks Microsoft's Office 365 suffered interruptions. The first occurred on August 17th and was reported as a network interruption. Several blogs reported the cause as faulty Cisco equipment, but that fact was not verified by Microsoft. The interruption lasted for three hours and Microsoft has offered a 25% discount to Office 365 customers for the trouble. The second interruption was on September 9th and seems to be tied to the widespread Western US power outage. Any discount has yet to be announced for the second occurrence.


Microsoft is not the only Cloud service to see outages. Clouds, networks, communications and power that make up the Internet have all been down either briefly or for extended periods. Although it is frustrating, it is part of the risk we all accept in using and being dependent on technology.


Power and phone outages have always been disruptive to business. If the power and phones are out, often you have not choice except to close the store or the office. Only in rare cases are backup generators used and then only to keep essential systems like emergency lights and security systems on until the building can be cleared. Hospitals, data centers and essential services are the exception, but even hospitals have limited backup power. Our modern power system is extremely reliable, but it is not faultless. That's why we keep candles and flashlights in the kitchen.


Cloud Computing relies on centralized servers and the Internet to receive and deliver data to the users. If the servers or the Internet are down, the users experience an interruption. Just like you have a power out kit in your kitchen, you need a Cloud out kit for your office. Your Cloud power out kit should consist of a computer or mobile device so you can continue to work offline locally and save your work until the system is back on.


When email is down, you just have to wait whether you are using a Cloud service or your own email server. If the server didn't confirm receipt of the email message, the sending server will usually try again for a couple of days before giving up. That means that for short outages, it will be delayed but you'll get your email. It is always surprising that people perceive email as more reliable than FedEx and as verifiable as Certified Mail - it is not. Email is a great tool and 99.44% of our mail gets through but you have to allow for the .56 % that gets lost. Certainly, the email that you can't miss will be in the later. Use delivery and read receipts to make email verifiable. (The Ivory soap reference to 99.44% is a bit of humor.)


During an interruption, if you still have access to your computer or mobile device, you can compose messages but will have to wait for the system before you can transmit them. With Microsoft Office 365, you can use your Office products offline and transmit to the Cloud when available. For other Cloud products, you have similar options to work offline and locally.


Using Cloud Computing gives you economy of scale and the benefit of redundant systems that you probably don't have in your home or business. Most problems with power or communications will still be on the user side so be sure you have the ability to work offline locally to prevent disappointment and loss of productivity.


Talk Like a CIO 


The Chief Information Officer (CIO), sometimes called Chief Technology Talk Like a CIOOfficer (CTO), coined in the early 1980s is a rather recent addition to the corporate governance structure. It makes sense that the position coincided with the technology explosion as companies implemented IT to gain competitive advantage. Arguably, what was once IT competitive advantage is now essential for daily operations. Even so someone has to evaluate IT investment to be sure that it serves the organization by providing benefits at an affordable cost. Without that oversight, technology projects would be rapidly become science projects that few, other than the IT department, could understand.

No disrespect to IT folks. As an engineer, I have seen this phenomenon many times. A concept to make the organization more efficient, a product more user-friendly or automate manual tasks spirals into the depths of a techno-black hole with little hope of escape. As an engineering manager, I always put two engineers on a project as a way to get a product suitable for the end-user. Often one engineer working alone would come up with solutions too complicated for the casual user. Technical elegance usually trumps corporate benefit in the technology mind. For the company to realize a return-on-investment from any technology project, someone has to watch the ROI and that's where the CIO is essential.


The CIO doesn't have to be a technology expert. In fact, many of today's top CIOs don't have a computer science, engineering or programming background, they have a business background and leadership skills. They have learned how to apply technology to solve business problems, foster change and manage the bottom line.


Although definitions will vary, here is a short list of common terms so that you can - Ay oh whey oh, Talk like a CIO.


ROI - Return on Investment is not a uniquely CIO phrase, it is spoken freely by all C-levels and is specific to the investment efficiency required by an organization. Every company defines its payback period and specifics for an acceptable ROI. Often a technology project does not generate revenue so the ROI can be tricky to quantify. Here is where the CIO can be creative and use avoided costs or cost savings to frame the ROI discussion.

Payback Period - The amount of time that it takes to make up or payback the cost of the project. Usually used for revenue projects, but the same rules as in ROI can apply.

Technology Proposal - Whether you are developing a Request for Proposal (RFP) to bid the job or completing the job in-house, you need a proposal that has a statement of need and cost-benefit justification. The CIO is critical in ensuring that the proposal meets the organizational needs and obtains budget approval.

Cost Benefit Analysis - Exactly what the name implies, to determine if the project is worth funding. In any economic analysis, do nothing is always a choice.

Bleeding Edge Technology - Technology so new that the risk and expense is high.

State of the Art, Leading Edge (or Cutting Edge) Technology - Technology that is at the pinnacle of available solutions. It may or may not provide competitive advantage. This term can be synonymous with Bleeding Edge Technology.

Buy In - The commitment of stakeholders to support the decision.


Send me your terms and definitions that help you "Talk like a CIO."



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