IT managers aren't worried about running out of space. In fact, with cloud services and constantly expanding storage, they have it coming out of their ears. Instead, many are worried about having too much data; how to classify it, how employees find it, and how to stop it leaking into unwanted areas.
Speaking at an advisory panel hosted by Computerworld Australia, several IT managers working for medium to large enterprises, ICT analysts and industry representatives discussed their key concerns in managing infrastructure and information. Of these, the overload of both data within the company and information available on the Internet were the most worrying.
Analyst firm Gartner has forecast a 650 per cent growth in data over the next five years. However, many IT managers are not concerned about where to store the data, but rather how to find that data again. Despite being able to minimise data footprint through de-duplication, some managers are still unsure as to how to educate employees to search for that data once it has been stored. Many agreed that a metadata taxonomy appears the only tangible solution, but that employees would effectively have to become knowledge managers themselves in order to properly tag and utilise the information.
Social networking was another point of contention for IT managers, as they felt this was an unexplored area for many industries. Concerns of data loss from employees through such networks and possible public relations scandals were worrying, though one manager pointed out that most leaks occurred from malicious users or by mistake. In particular, the idea of social networking as an unedited stream of information has caused many to consider how to implement measures for data loss prevention and duty of care.
Worries of employee conduct stretched to the role of consumer technology within the enterprise. Apple's iPhone has already made its way into the enterprise by force, and IT managers have already begun pondering the potential impacts of another consumer-targeted device like the iPad in the workplace. Some are resigned to the idea that business infrastructure must be flexible enough to suit new consumer technologies within the workplace, which has a roll-on effect not just on hardware, but with software as well. One manager pointed out that enterprises continuing with Windows-based applications are likely to find it difficult to accommodate an emerging range of form factors like the iPad; Web-based solutions are the best way to plug this hole.
The advisory panel discussion also highlighted other general concerns about the IT industry, including the revolving discussion about the Federal Government's forthcoming National Broadband Network, and its effects not only in the business, but also in the evolution of Internet applications.
According to some managers, many are sick of the media beat-up surrounding the NBN's minute aspects, and constant questions about whether Australian individuals and businesses need the 100 megabit per second (Mbps) speeds promised by the network. Looking to the future, IT managers are seemingly excited about the potential applications made available by the increased bandwidth, rather than whether the speed is required for current applications. This includes concerns about the evolution of public cloud-based services, and potential impacts on forthcoming government services like e-health.
The Computerworld Advisory Panel is an ongoing discussion between the publication and IT managers, analysts and industry representatives on what matters affect them and the wider industry. If you would like to take part in the panel, contact Trevor Clarke at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This story first appeared in the April/May print edition of Computerworld Australia magazine. Subscribe now.