Here's a time-saver for IT executives swamped by last-minute budget cuts and end-of-the-year performance reviews: We've written your 2009 goals for you, with our list of nine Web sites you need to study during the next 12 months.
This list is not for geeks. It's for IT professionals of a certain age, who don't spend every waking hour online but need to keep up with the latest innovations on the Internet.
Master these Web sites, and you'll prove you can innovate during the most trying economic times. And you'll do it more efficiently than your 20-something employees, who waste too much time chasing the new, new thing on the Internet that may not survive the downturn.
1. Linked In
Forget Facebook. In the last six months, LinkedIn has become the de rigueur Web 2.0 site for IT professionals. LinkedIn has 30 million members, almost double what it had a year ago. And it raised more than US$75 million in venture capital during 2008, so it has staying power. It has a host of new features that make it the most productive networking site on the Web. Spend some time updating your LinkedIn profile and reaching out to current and former colleagues. You can show your boss that you're well connected, and you'll be ready in case you're on the next layoff list. In 2008, LinkedIn made our list of the 20 most useful social networking sites on the Web.
2. Google Apps for Business
Call it what you like - software-as-a-service or cloud computing - but it's the future of enterprise IT departments, and you need to get on board with it. You'll be under more pressure than ever in 2009 to find cheaper ways to deliver IT services. One way to do that is to pilot a Google Apps project, such as document sharing via GoogleDocs or video sharing via Google Video. Your staff can build one of these collaboration projects in a jiffy, and the information will be available to employees from any location on any computer. Among Google Apps proponents: The District of Columbia.
3. VMware Communities
Chances are you've already embarked on a server virtualization project, and continued consolidation of your servers is a key money-saving goal for 2009. Most of you are using VMware for your server virtualization projects, and our product reviewers recommend you stick with VMware over Microsoft's Hyper-V for the foreseeable future. To get the best real-world feedback on how best to deploy VMware, keep your eyes on the VMware Communities Web site. It's got user groups in your community and lots of tips from other VMware developers that can help you solve problems faster.
Security will continue to be a top priority for 2009, but you'll need to figure out how to do it on the cheap. That's where Secunia.com comes in. This site aggregates security vulnerability information from leading vendors, providing you with one-stop shopping for the latest news about security bugs and the software patches available to fix them. The site has an active community of IT security folks who can help you fix operating systems and applications before you get attacked.