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Advice needed: "CEO" sets tech policy

By trule ·
This is in a Catholic school - I'm one of 2
techs responsible for everything (the online
resume should be posted Wed night at
http://www.pngusa.net/~ptrule42/).

We are currently a mixed platform campus - 2
Windows labs for student use, 3 mobile
wireless iBook labs, faculty and admin have
Macs, server closet is 1 Mac server and
several Linux boxes doing DNS, web, file
serving, email, proxy, firewall, etc.

We have a very low TCO, and are quite
capable technically. Faculty are reasonably
trained, and have pretty good access when
needed.

Yes, we have problems - but who doesn't?

The President of the school has decided - with
apparently little research or justification - to
switch the entire campus to Windows. I have
asked her point blank 3 questions (calmly, I
might add):
Why?
What problem in our technical setup has
caused you to view this major change as teh
solution?
What problem are you trying to solve?

The only answer I have been given is that "all
the other schools in the GISA use Windows.

We will spend a LOT of $ for apparently very
little benefit, and I am angry beyond words at
the lack of process.

Ignoring (PLEASE!) the "platform war Mac v.
Win" rhetoric, what should my response be?

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Pick your Battles

by Beoweolf In reply to Advice needed: "CEO" sets ...

You will not win (no pun intended) this fight. The Tsunami is in the harbor, you will be caught in the tide. Someone has already convienced the CEO, you would just be tilt at wind mills. Unifing to MS, which ever flavor of the day, is a "proven" wayfor connecting and integrating desktop, applications, networks, etc. You might have had a chance to argue, based on security concerns, but you were not given the opportunity. The more visiable the organization, the more likely it will join the majority. Microsoft evangelists are not going to be sated until the last hold-out is converted (or bludgeoned into submission). Your only small chance of partially retaining your network, is to fight for the Mac platform in graphic areas or maintaining acompatiblity for those that are running Apple systems. So, bottom-line, salvage what you can, but expect to run with the tide.

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And...?

by Cactus Pete In reply to Advice needed: "CEO" sets ...

What did you say in return?

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Battles

by timwalsh In reply to Advice needed: "CEO" sets ...

Actually, you probably need to ignore the MAC vs. Windows vs. Linux battle at this point as you have some other fundamental issues to resolve.

You need to make your arguments along a couple of different lines:
Procedural - You need to sit down with the school president and (politely) ask why you weren't even consulted before the president committed the school to this course. Approach this argument from the standpoint of the president not utilizing all available resources (i.e. your technical knowledge of ALL the issues involved - or you're not being allowed to do your job). What ever you do, don't turn it into a turf battle (computers are MY area of expertise) or you will probably lose. You need to either reinforce current procedures if they exist or jointly develop new procedures for these types of decisions.

Technical - Try to ascertain if the decision was made from a purely monetary standpoint ('we can save money by standardizing on one platform' - or - 'if we combine oursoftware purchases with the other schools in GISA (Georgia Independent School Association??), we get a price break'). Obviously someone put a bug in your president's ear. Try to find out whether it was a vendor, or someone on the GISA staff? Is there a concerted push within GISA to standardize for some reason? If so, what are the reasons?
(continued)

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Battles (part II)

by timwalsh In reply to Battles

In other words, you really need to do some homework here to find the REAL reasons for the decision to change. Without having any insight to the REAL reasons, you are likely to get shot down no matter what arguments you come up with. If you are able to gain some insight, you can become better prepared to successfully counter any arguments the president has.

Be prepared to justify why things are setup the way they currently are both from a technical and a monetary standpoint. Also have the numbers available that show the "TRUE" cost of a total software change beyond just the OS software purchase cost (i.e. having to buy new PCs to replace all the Macs, and possibly having to replace all your current PCs depending on whether they meetthe hardware specs for the latest Windows software. Don't forget to add the cost of replacing all the additional Mac applications that obviously won't work on a Windows PC). Be prepared to argue why you shouldn't standardize on a single platform, whether it's Windows or not (I'm sure you have your reasons beyond "It's always been that way!").

The bottom line here is that you need to lay out everything in a logical, easy to understand manner and not make it emotional. While I'd be willing to bet that some of your anger results from a feeling of "ownership" of the current system (which is easy to understand), don't forget that the REAL ownership falls to the school's president than anyone else (and I'm sure he won't fail to remind you of that if the argument starts getting emotionally heated).

Good luck!

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Costs and counter

by Zulj In reply to Advice needed: "CEO" sets ...

In my experience nothing works better than getting together all the costs involved. OS's, PC's, additional software, etc. Don't forget the time involved in the change over. Chances are, he only knows the cost of the OS's. Also a good idea is to think about possible hardware/software that could improve your current network, or solve some of the current problems. Do some research and find the costs involved in that. This will no doubt be alot cheaper. Present the costs involved in his idea,and present your proposal explaining why it will be up to speed with windows and alot cheaper than changing the entire infrastucture.

I've been in a couple of battles like this and I know how frustrating it can be. The only way I've won some of them was because I presented how much money they would lose in the long run.

You never know, this could be the opportunity to get a new server, a couple of upgrades, and/or some additional software.

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Cost...

by ghstinshll In reply to Advice needed: "CEO" sets ...

Cost is a big factor, but there is a hidden factor that they've gotten away with in the last few years in the fac that you're been on top of nad anhave adapted to your environment... They'll need to invest a lot in your time and their money for training you to run this new network as well. an MCSE course used to cost $9000 for a 9-month (full-time) course at a smaller "accredited" college in Iowa. Then you have the exam costs themselves, at 7 @ $125 = 875. I'm assuming they don't have a training budget for you on an annual basis, so this would be additional cost to them. Oh, you have a co-worker who needs MCSA trainign at least? $6000 plus exams... wow! Imagine all the hardware upgrades you could have with this. I'm an MCSE, and I'd likeno more to see you go through a wonderful change to a Win environment, but I'm definitely not an advocate for people making decisions iwthout consulting with you to begin with. Maybe they think this is best and want to spend the money, and in the long run it might be for the best? Who knows...

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