25 Q&As: Do we need that?

As part of Computerworld's silver anniversary celebrations 25 IT managers recall the ups and downs of their careers. Here, Greg Bromage, IT manager, Jerrard & Stuk Lawyers, Melbourne, shares his experiences with Sandra Rossi.

Q: What IT technologies have brought the most significant benefits?

In my opinion, the emergence of Linux as a stable operating platform is most significant, mainly because it means that businesses can maximise the investment in server hardware. For example, an “older” database server can be reused as a proxy server, or online data vault, without having to pay out for additional server software. Considering many companies upgraded pre-Y2K, much of that hardware is now reaching the end of the traditional three-year upgrade cycle, but it’s still good equipment.

Q: What would you put on a wishlist for IT vendor performance?

I want to see a more responsible attitude to hardware requirements. It’s easy for a software vendor to say, ‘You’ll need another 100MB of disk space for the database — that’s not much these days’, without realising the flow-on effect on server performance, cache memory or the amount of backup media and time required. Some vendors even take the attitude that it’s not economical to optimise the software’s performance, because hardware is relatively cheap.

Q: What do you think is the biggest challenge facing IT managers now?

Data and network security. Without a doubt security and privacy are the hot issues at the moment. The general public is a lot more conscious of an individual’s privacy, especially online. I’d like to see a lot more companies taking a responsible attitude to things like digital signatures and encrypted e-mails.

Q: What would you tell someone entering IT now?

Always use the right tool for the right job. There’s no such thing as a “one-size-fits-all” solution, and never believe any salesman who tells you there is. (Actually, never believe any salesman. Ever.) Don’t pick a particular software package because that’s the one you know, or the one you’ve always used. If there’s a better way, do so and increase your own knowledge at the same time.

One other piece of advice: never start a ‘minor software update’ on a Friday afternoon.

Q: What tertiary qualifications do you have?

Diploma of Business (Microcomputing), CNE, MCSE, Base Cabling Licence

Q: What was the first computer technology you used (and when)?

My first computer was a COMX-35 back in 1981. I then graduated to a Commodore 64, which I still use occasionally when I’m feeling nostalgic. My first PC was a 386 with 2MB RAM and a huge 40MB hard disk — I was the envy of all my friends.

Fast facts: Employees: 47. IT users: 46. Key applications: MS Office. Key infrastructure — hardware: HP/Compaq workstations; networking: Cisco; operating systems: Windows 2000 and Debian Linux.

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