Windows

10 signs your TARDIS is stuck in the past with your IT

If you let your technology fall behind, you might have a tough time catching up. Jack Wallen explains why outdated IT can hurt your business.

IT evolves at the speed of light. The second you blink, everything changes. And the minute you purchase something, it's out of date. For those who don't believe this, I have but one thing to say: You're delusional. I'm going to give you 10 signs that you might be stuck in the past with your IT. I hope that after reading this, your eyes will be opened to the possibilities of the now and the future. After all, IT exists in a different time zone from other segments of the world. I like to call that time zone Future Time!

1: You still think Linux will never succeed

Seriously? You still believe this? Linux has not only succeeded, it will continue to gain more and more ground. And thanks to the bumbling of Microsoft and Windows 8, Linux will find even more traction in the world of business. This type of thinking was valid in the mid to late nineties. But now, Linux is in use everywhere and on every level, from the server to the desktop.

2: You deny the power and flexibility of virtualization

Virtualization can save your company money and allow you to maximize your server hardware in ways you never thought possible. If you have yet to give virtualization serious consideration, you're missing out on the most reliable and flexible system in play today. You might also be missing out on a future for your organization that allows you to expand beyond your wildest dreams.

3: Your business email is an aol.com address

I know... it's crazy. But I still come across this time and time again. If you want ANYONE to take your business seriously, you can't use an AOL email account for communication. Businesses need their own, unique domain or at least a Gmail account. Do not think a holdover from the nineties is even remotely acceptable.

4: Your computers are mostly "white boxes"

Those white boxes, the ones that are dingy from use and cigarette smoke... you can't expect them to perform reliably for your business. Unless you have taken those old beat-down white-box cases and placed modern components within them, they should be hit with an electro magnet and disposed of properly. If you want people to take you seriously, you don't want them to walk into a white-box farm that looks like it'll probably give up the ghost any moment.

5: You're still running your network on a DSL backbone

Look, I get that we have to pinch pennies. But shooting yourself in the foot with an unreliable, slow DSL line to run your business is a deal breaker. Not only are the speeds significantly slower than those of cable, the reliability is questionable at best. As a business, you must have reliable technology -- especially when it comes to remaining connected to your target audience and markets.

6: Your software is all out of date and you see nothing wrong with that

Those upgrades you have been avoiding for years? There is actually a reason they are released -- to patch security holes, fix bugs, and add new features. Most likely, that platform you're running is riddled with holes and is nothing more than a disaster waiting in the wings.

7: You believe open source has no place in business

I have someone I'd like to introduce you to --his name is LAMP. LAMP is all over the place, from small business to huge enterprise business. LAMP is open source and will never be surpassed by a proprietary solution. You should get to know LAMP. Just in case you're unsure, LAMP stands for Linux Apache MySQL PHP -- all open source solutions. 'Nuff said.

8: You rely on Windows desktop firewalls for security

If you believe the Windows desktop firewall (or the Windows platform in general) is secure enough by itself, I have some bad news for you: Your network WILL eventually be breached. You owe it to yourself to obfuscate those Windows machines behind a hardware-based firewall. Get a Sonicwall, Cisco, or Fortinet device and enjoy some modern security.

9: Telecommuting isn't an option because it's "too hard to set up"

Since the advent of the Internet, telecommuting has become increasingly prominent. People can actually work from home! Yet there are still those stuck in the dark ages who believe the only way to ensure employees are working is to stand over them with a cat-o-nine tails and bully them into keeping their nose to the grindstone. That's all fine and well if you don't care about the satisfaction of your employees. But the second word gets around that they can find other jobs that will allow them to telecommute, you'll see attrition rise exponentially.

10: You believe social networking is a waste of time

All that socializing will come to no good! Keep that water cooler talk to a minimum! You blasted kids better stay off my yard! You see where this is going? If you keep your employees from having the slightest bit of freedom, you will eventually find yourself without employees. And if you keep your company from taking advantage of the PR and marketing juggernaut that is social media, you might as well pull out your trusty Gatling gun and shoot yourself in both feet. Social networking isn't just for socializing --it's also for business. Even its social aspect is good for business, as it encourages trust and promotes an atmosphere that employees will want to be a part of.

Keeping up

Let's face it, it's really easy to get left behind in IT. But if you suffer from any of the above signs, it might be too late for you -- the IT train has passed you by. In all seriousness, being an IT admin means constantly working to remain current. Not only will this enable you to enjoy the latest technology, but it will also ensure that your networks and systems are secure and reliable. Get left behind and you're vulnerable in more ways than you can imagine.

About

Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and Linux.com. He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website getjackd.net.

20 comments
HypnoToad72
HypnoToad72

OSX = FreeBSD (a Unix clone, not unlike Linux), Android = Linux (outright), etc... dumb 'em down and then call 'em lazy because nobody knows how to accept default options presented during a program installation routine...

wdewey@cityofsalem.net
wdewey@cityofsalem.net

OS's are a tool use to accomplish a task. Not every task is best solved by Linux. I have been hearing that it's the year of Linux for the past ten years or more. Microsoft was going to be unseated because of the mistakes it made with XP/Vista/W7 and now W8. I understand the author has strong feelings about Linux, but it gets a little redundant when every article the number one thing people should change or look at is Linux. Bill

info
info

Not a well-written article at all. More being opinionated than paying attention to actual, factual, data... I see where Jack's coming from on some points but still, his solutions aren't applicable for the majority of SMBs out there.

jdeathe
jdeathe

... my experience has taught me that DSL service is far more reliable than cable service. Sure, you can get more bandwidth in certain locations, but when your business requires a reliable internet and phone feed, cable has proven to be lackluster at best when compared to DSL.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

That's SO 2005. Businesses need to avoid the single point of failure, the hardware and power cost, and the drudgery of maintaining servers on-site. It's simple and inexpensive now to have these services hosted for you.

tony
tony

Who gets cable in a rural area? And why is cable supposed to be better? This is a bit of an over-generalized argument - my business ADSL (in a rural area) is faster and more reliable than my mother's cable (in an urban area) which is the same cable available to small bsuinesses. Yet in other areas, cable may be 10x faster than ADSL. Most of us would love to have fast cable for our small businesses, but alas, we are limited to what is available to us. I don't think Jack meant to antagonise us, but deriding us for having to use a technology that is all that is available to us doesn't go down well. And I have yet to see any real value for most businesses out of social networking. I have found one - a number of suppliers - my security (Sophos), my ISP, my colocation centre all provide status on Twitter. With the Tweetz desktop gadget, I can keep track of just a few people who have something to say that I am interested in. I still have to see any compelling reason as to why social networking is really this great PR juggernaut. With people getting jail sentences for really offensive tweets, high profile people e.g. footballers being fined for bringing the game into disrepute with their tweets, the amount of data leakage that goes on with Facebook, it appears to me that the risks of social networking to most businesses far outweigh any benefits.

HAL 9000
HAL 9000

Though with limited Cable Roll Out here at the moment so Point 5 is marginal as well. I remember one place where I lived where I could see the End of the Cable from my front door about 100 meters away. No matter how often they said that they where running the cable into the street next year over the last 8 years we where there it never happened. Even then I had to fight with the telco for DSL and on the copper network we had there it was really marginal for reliability but it was a massive improvement on the Half Speed Dial Up we had prior to that. But when they finish rolling out the NBN we'll have much faster and reliable 100 MBS Fiber though here that is at least 3 years away. :( Point 4 is also marginal as almost every computer I have here is a White Box even the NB's though other than my main computer which is actually white they are in Black Cases. Even my main computer with a i7 CPU and 24 GIG of RAM is quite new and much more powerful than most off the shelf systems that are sold. My NB's are all top of the range and as highly speced as they can be, so much so that when the Off the Shelf company's buy them from their Bare Bones Makers they are the Top of the Range about 2 years after I buy them for myself. Even then they do not have as much RAM or as Fast CPU's or as Big a HDD as what I fitted when I first got my hands on the bare Chassis. Though one thing you missed was Still Using XP which I am predominately but that is more dictated by the customers who have Propriety Hardware and Software that doesn't run with/on anything newer in the Windows Range and not on any Open Source OS. But none the less what has any of this got to do with a [b]Tethered Aerial Release, Designed in Style or TARDIS?[/b] Col

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

A/. DSL is much faster than cable in many countries as not everyone has fibre optic cable available for their Internet access. Thus you have a major fail here, mostly due to poor research in not checking things beyond your own local environment. B/. Unless you're a marketing person, social networks ARE a big waste of time in the business environment as they do nothing for your work while taking people off work focus. C/. Telecommuting can NOT work in many business environments due to the need to have access to original documents and / or security issues associated with the work being done. These issues affect most areas outside of the marketing people. D/. Covers two areas, the 'white boxes' and the 'old software' - if what you have is doing the job as efficiently as possible, there is NO NEED to change, so there is no point to change just for change's sake. For most people in the work environment all they need is something with the computing power of a Pentium 100 MHZ system with 16 MB RAM to work their word processor program at the speed in which they type and read. Their next need is to open an email and read it. That accounts for about two thirds or more of people in a normal work environment. I do recognise that there can be tax advantages to the regular update of equipment, but that often conflicts with cash flow, so all updates of hardware and software do need to be looked at from all perspectives. ............... The above shows you missed out on 5 out of 10 points - unless, of course, you're ONLY talking about a work place involved in creating cutting edge IT tech and marketing.

Suresh Mukhi
Suresh Mukhi

Not in this country. DSL has proven to be much faster than any cable service provider. The problem with cable is that the more people use it in a location, the more the bandwidth is divided and thus increases traffic and slows down. DSL is faster than cable by any means! Unless you meant Fiber Optic, now THAT's a different story!

tom.marsh
tom.marsh

Excuse me, I thought that was your job. "Simple?" Perhaps, in simple implementation scenarios. "Inexpesnive?" Malarkey for any but the absolutely smallest organizations with zero intellectual property concerns. For anybody who needs any level of control, an SLA, or any kind of ability to guarantee nobody else has had access to the data, "hosted" email is a total non-starter.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

and it takes days to get them back up. Recently a website I often visit had an issue with their log in server, all it needed was someone to physically turn it off and turn it back on again. It was a long weekend in the country where the host was and the had no on-site 24 hour staff and the issue was not a listed support function in the contract. The result was no access for two days until it was done while on site fixing another problem for a client happy to pay the $200 callout fee. Ayep, hosting sure can help you. Mind you, I have a low usage site and have it hosted as it hurts no one if it goes down for a day or two.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

Especially in the medical, legal, and some financial fields, where the storage of sensitive data may be covered by government requirements.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I think the notion was that if most of those points describe your operations, then you need to step into a disguised call box and come forward a couple of decades.

Slayer_
Slayer_

Nothing else I can say

dogknees
dogknees

>if what you have is doing the job as efficiently as possible, there is NO NEED to change The most important word being "possible". Very few jobs are done as efficiently as they could be. They may be as efficient as others are, they may be efficient enough to make a profit, but that's not what we're saying.

LedLincoln
LedLincoln

I'm proposing that the IT world is headed cloud-ward. Yes, we must select the best option for our organization at the present time. The ever-increasing legal and technical challenges of hosting mail may in fact, push more and more moderate-sized companies toward the cloud. As for drudgery being my job, um, no, I suspect the talents of most of us on Tech Republic can be put to better use than the day-to-day backups of mail files.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

I'd argue part of our jobs is to evaluate the tools available and select the best possible for the situation. I don't agree with his choice, but I don't think part of our jobs is accepting the status quo without question.

CharlieSpencer
CharlieSpencer

in most case, would be seen through adequate training on existing software than via hardware and software upgrades. Social networking? I still can't see a purpose for it outside the marketing and recruiting departments. Like any other tool, it isn't necessarily useful to all employees. You don't let an accountant play with a soldering iron.

Deadly Ernest
Deadly Ernest

but not as efficiently as achievable due to other factors affecting the jobs such as legislative requirements etc. However, the main point I was making there is that computers from over a decade ago were already faster than their human operators could handle for most office task. Set a person to prepare a basic text document in Word 2a on a Pentium 100 MHZ system with 16 MB RAM and time them, then do the same on a P4 3 GHZ system with 16 GB or RAM using Word 2010 and you won't find any significant difference in the time to type them up as the major factor is the human thoughts and their keyboard skill speeds. The software and hardware exceeded the basic speed level for such tasks years ago. The same can be said of the majority of business office tasks, but not all. Accounts data entry isn't any faster for being on a new PC, but the major financial analysis will be after all the data is in - which is usually on the server anyway.

dogknees
dogknees

To constantly look for ways to improve efficiency and quality is part of any job. At least in any "professional" area.