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By Ramon Padilla Jr. ·
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Why have a Desktop PC at all?

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Why have a Desktop PC at ...

Service,<br />     I am not surprised at your results.  Congratulations on an effective implementation!<br /><br />Ramon<br />

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Everyone must leave New Orleans

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">Gov. Kathleen Blanco has stated that ?everyone needs to
leave <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New Orleans</st1:place></st1:city>
due to flooding from Hurricane Katrina.? 
What an overwhelming statement that is. 
Even with all the coverage that we have had regarding the hurricane, it
is still hard to grasp the enormity of this disaster.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">During times such as these, we often talk about business
continuity and disaster recovery planning. 
However few if any local governments are fully prepared for catastrophe
of this magnitude.  While I am certain
that some of the City of <st1:city w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">New Orleans</st1:place></st1:city>
plans are still viable and are being put into action (particularly regarding
emergency services) many of their plans for continuity and recovery have been
negated due to the sheer size of the event. 
There is no doubt that in many areas the government as well as individual
citizens will be starting over.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">It is times like these where State and Federal resources as
well as non-profits come into play to help the citizens and the local government
get back on its feet.  We are fortunate
to live in a nation whose government and citizens are quick to respond and are
technically and financially able to help out.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">On that note, rather than talk about the myriad of IT issues
that are brought about due to disaster, (there will be plenty of time for that)
I will just end with a couple of web links of significance:</p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><a href="http://www.redcross.org/">The American Red Cross</a><br />
<a href="http://www.disastercenter.com/agency.htm">Disaster Center - Comprehensive list of relief organizations.</a><br />
</p>

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Is the best IT model the centralized or decentralized approach?

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

<p class="MsoNormal">Over the years I have had the opportunity to experience IT
in the organization as it has transformed itself from the "glass
house" through the PC "revolution;" client servers; web-centric
computing; and now the amalgamation of all of these evolutions as IT strives to
be a true "business partner".</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">Interestingly, I find that for those in several of the
government organizations that I have come into contact with in the last couple
of years, the concept of IT as a "business partner" is more of a
figment of the imagination than a reality.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">If you asked people in the departments that IT was serving
what the relationship between them and IT was like, they would say that their
IT was a business partner in the same vein that the Soviet Union was a business
partner to <st1:country-region w:st="on">Poland</st1:country-region>, <st1:country-region w:st="on">East Germany</st1:country-region>, or <st1:country-region w:st="on"><st1:place w:st="on">Czechoslovakia</st1:place></st1:country-region> during the Cold War.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal">One characteristic view that users in these organizations
have about their IT department is that IT operations of any kind can not exist
outside the IT department's control. And should such "rogue"
activities arise, they are to be squashed or consumed.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Another common view of users was that IT departments were
monolithic and unresponsive - filled to capacity with bureaucratic "goodness"
to insure that each project progressed at glacial speeds.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Of course, these two views led to a lot of user frustration.
From their perspective, if the IT organization were nimble and responsive to
customer needs, they wouldn't need to engage in rogue activities; and to make
matters worse, they felt that taking matters into their own hands was the only
way to get around the bureaucratic bottleneck blocking progress on their
various projects.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">The end result of these competing views is an angry customer
base that is frustrated by IT's lack of response and its attempts at squashing
the users' attempts at helping themselves.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Why does this happen? I speculate that the above situation
arises when IT remains stuck in its legacy as a "glass house"
mainframe shop, or from IT's reaction to a decentralized computing environment
that seems to have gotten out of control.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">In either case, the end result is a heavy-handed,
centralized IT shop that rules with an iron fist. This kind of IT department is
likely to struggle in building a true partner relationship with its end-user
departments.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">We all know the benefits of centralized IT units:
Procurement of hardware and software is possible on the broadest scale within
the organization and centralized operations generally produce substantial
economies of scale. Additionally, a centralized staff eliminates redundant
functions, and there is a greater adherence to standards and a unified vision.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Conversely, in a highly centralized IT department, there are
problems like the ones mentioned above. Some of these are: tendencies towards
bureaucracy, lack of responsiveness, and decision-making in a vacuum.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">The alternative to this is a completely <i>de</i>centralized IT unit--agile and responsive, in tune with the needs
of the business, and more tightly integrated with business goals and
objectives.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Yet purely decentralized IT structures also have drawbacks,
such as duplication of effort, lack of standards across the organization,
islands of excellence at the expense of other departments, higher total
procurement and operational costs, lack of integration, etc.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">I have always been a big believer that a balance can be
struck between completely centralized IT and completely decentralized
IT--hopefully deriving the benefits of both.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">In my opinion this balanced IT structure has
"enterprise" functions being performed by central IT such as: data
center, network and infrastructure operations, e-mail, procurement, standards
architecture, and cross-departmental application development.</p>


<p class="MsoNormal">While department-level functions include help desk
operations, departmental application development (up to a certain size), and IT
strategy and planning for the department. All of these activities coinciding
with standards which they help develop along with central IT and a strong governance
committee.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">In order for this hybrid approach to work though, there has
to be a strong sense of cooperative and collaborative management at the level
of the CIO and with the departmental IT management. I like to view this
approach as a representative government model where the departments actually
have a say-so in their IT operations.<o><br />
</o></p>


<p class="MsoNormal">Ultimately, there is no "right" answer to how IT
should be structured in every organization. There are success stories for each
model (which I am sure many readers of this blog will point out). And we have
to take into consideration the influence of the culture and structure of the
organization as a whole when determining the optimal IT configuration.<o><br />
</o></p>
<p class="MsoNormal">Yet I am willing to bet that at the end of the day, those
organizations which choose a model which is more democratic in its structure
and processes are more likely to end up as true business partners to the
organization.</p>
<p class="MsoNormal"><font class="qdesc"><em><em>Keep up with the issues and challenges that uniquely affect
public-sector IT with TechRepublic's free Government IT newsletter,
delivered each Tuesday. <a href="http://nl.com.com/MiniFormHandler?brand=techrepublic&list_id=e068">Automatically sign up today!</a></em></em></font></p>

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Is the best IT model the centralized or decentralized approach?

by RexWorld In reply to Is the best IT model the ...

<p>Interestingly, here at CNET we are going thru a transition from a strongly centralized IT function to the kind of hybrid you talk about.  I don't think TPTB have fully fleshed out the plan but it's looking like things such as the data center (co-location facilities, etc.) will be a centralized IT function whereas application development (i.e., News.com and TechRepublic.com) will be dispersed into the respectice business units.</p>
<p>We've swung the pendulum wildly here at CNET, going from highly dispersed to highly centralized and now to this hybrid model.  I think it remains to be seen whether this hybrid approach works any better.</p>

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Is the best IT model the centralized or decentralized approach?

by Kirk Webber In reply to Is the best IT model the ...

<p>I have been a Gov IT worker for about 11 years, and I have also seen and heard about problems with both centralized and de-centralized IT organizations.  It seems like in many organizations, the pendulum swings from one extreme to the other (centralized to de-centralized), with re-organizations every couple of years.  I believe a balanced approach is often the best (depending on a lot of organizational factors), but I admit, I haven't been involved with one of these yet.</p>
<p>I think one of the (if not THE) key to a successful organization is communication.  There must be free, open, bi-directional communication on a regular basis, no matter whether the IT organization is centralized or de-centralized.  If you have IT assigned to the business line departments, they must communicate both with their own department as well as central IT.  If you have centralized IT, they must be sure to have that close customer communication.  In order for IT to properly service the needs of the Agency, they must understand the needs of the Agency.  And they cannot get that understanding by hiding behind the walls of the IT Department.</p>

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Is the best IT model the centralized or decentralized approach?

by Wayne M. In reply to Is the best IT model the ...

<p>I would think the balance point will be closer to the fully decentralized model and certainly not at a "mid-point" especially in geographically disperse environments.</p>
<p>I have noticed that the further one sits from the IT department, the worse the service gets.  Sit next to the IT department and things are great.  Sit on another floor in the same building and things are okay.  Sit in another building and you better practice your Solitaire skills.  Sit in another city or state and you will likely be doing your own "rogue" IT and hoping not to get caught.</p>
<p>I would also question how well economy of scale holds up once you get outside of a single building or campus.  For hardware, I am not sure centralized purchasing saves money, if you add in the difficulties of issuing a purchase req, shipping between headquarters and the site, and potential travel time to configure systems.  Memory upgrades are very expensive when you have someone trying to explain to a user over the telephone how to open up the computer to see what memory is installed and the misorders as offices get the quantities and types wrong.</p>
<p>I find the costs of centralized IT far hgher than that of decentralized and would prefer to err on the side of decentralized.</p>

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Massachusetts plans on ousting Microsoft Office

by Ramon Padilla Jr. In reply to Government Technology

In a statement on Monday, Peter Quinn, chief information
officer for Massachusetts, said that the state will support the newly
ratified Open Document Format for Office Applications, or OpenDocument,
as the standard for its office documents and not proprietary formats
such as Microsoft Office.  Whoa!  That is a gutsy statement
indeed.  You can read more about it <a href="%20http://www.infoworld.com/article/05/09/01/HNusmsoffice_1.html?APPLICATIONS">here.</a><br />
<br />
Since MS Office is such a large part of the MS Enterprise licensing
agreement, I have a strong feeling that there will be more changing in
the State of Massachusetts IT environment than MS Office.  If
Novell isn't camped out on the CIO's doorstop, they should be.<br />
<br />
Personally I applaud this bold move.  What do you think?<br />
<br />
<br />

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Massachusetts plans on ousting Microsoft Office

by ironfist03 In reply to Massachusetts plans on ou ...

<p>Not knowing all of the details I would say it just does'nt make sense.  I am sure taxpayers who are to foot the bill would agree as well as the multitudes of state workers who now are going to be using applications that are new and uncomfortable to them.  I'm not bashing state workers but anything I.T. does to slow them down more is downright bone headed.  Peter may end up with a new applications platform however, the cost in lost productivity due to resistant and disgruntled end users over i'm sure is a vast network needs a second look, or a 3'd or 4th..  I'd roughly guess millions in multiples of ten.  And thats just the human side. Heres a quick ballpark guesstimate; take 1 hour of every users productivity every day for say 6 months (conservativily) and multiply it by their salaries, now take that and cascade it into what would that have held up for an hour and the other things that would have held up for an hour.  It grows exponentially to insane purportions in a very quick time frame.  Not to mention that new hardware infrastructure and applications costs.(open source is often the gift horse you "should" have looked in the mouth) In other words it is barely competetive, especially if your purchasing department is doing their job and getting the volume deals they should be getting from the redmond boys.  I did'nt even mention compatibility with other states documents, every moment you have to translate coming or going your're burning time for someone that is cascading to someone else, etc.. Add up daily traffic and that alone is a significant block of time.  If Peter does not know time is money he's in the wrong occupation. I myself have issues with the redmond boys, by paying attention to the looks of shock and horror and vocal protestations of the end users when I mentioned moving away from microsoft applications it became immediatly apparent that the human cost needed to be a major contributor in the decision.  I.T. has to be the enabler not the stumbling block.  A personal issue with the redmond boys which on the surface is what this decision appears to be should never be the overriding factor when making a sweeping change such as this.</p>

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Massachusetts plans on ousting Microsoft Office

by JohnnySacks In reply to Massachusetts plans on ou ...

<p>Ouch!  I'm assuming the state has some pretty tight software license compliance controls so truckloads full of cold hard taxpayer cash have already been carted out to Redmond and poured into the Microsoft coffers.</p>
<p>The cost benefit of performing this switch at this point in time based upon expected future software licensing expenditures needs to be considered.  Re-training of users is an issue that should not be ignored but I guess it's hard to imagine that there are really people out there who are that untrainable vs. those who's sole purpose is to perpetually whine about every change imposed upon them.</p>

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Massachusetts plans on ousting Microsoft Office

by debuggist Staff In reply to Massachusetts plans on ou ...

Wasn't the Massachusetts' AG (at the time) one of the strongest
proponents in the Microsoft antitrust litigation a few years ago? If
so, then this is not so surprising. However, it is bold. I wouldn't be
surprised though if this is a negotiation tactic to lower the state's
licensing costs. This only affects state offices. What about the local
government offices? Will they switch, too? Or are they already part of
the deal?

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