IT management 'gotcha' awaits unwary

Vendors continue to live by the maxim of 'only when it suits me' when discussing the management cost of new IT investments.

With 50 to 60 per cent of an IT department's time, including data backups and hardware maintenance, spent on management of IT applications and infrastructure, this reticence by vendors to reveal the total cost of a new IT investment continues to frustrate IT professionals.

Mike Ansell, IT manager for Wonderland Sydney, said vendors only highlight the management cost of an IT project when it is "advantageous".

"Most vendors, when you are working on a reasonable sized project, leave it as a gotcha."

Ansell said it is really up to IT to find out this sort of cost beforehand.

Suresh Rao, group IT manager for The Smith Family agrees. "Vendors only highlight the management cost if you ask."

With network related issues, and on a much lesser scale, the usual problems associated with desktops claiming up to 60 per cent of his IT team's time due to the charity's business being spread over 40 sites, Rao said looking beyond the technology's upfront cost was essential.

"We don't normally ask [about management costs] of hardware, but with applications we would ask what the five-year cost of ownership would be. Some products which have a lower cost initially, can cost more in the long term."

Bill Advic, IT manager for Kleenheat Gas, said traditionally the management of IT has not been given the prominence it deserves.

He likened the foolishness of this thinking as "almost like saying I want to buy a new car, but I don't want to service it".

According to Gartner, a lack of mature IT operational process undermines the quality of the IT services and associated business processes.

"Many business benefits result from a solid IT operations architecture."

This includes ensuring the more mundane IT operational requirements such as availability, performance, throughput and change are considered.

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