When Bill McCown joined The Situs Companies six years ago, the Houston-based real estate consulting firm was anticipating growth, and the company figured its tape-based backup systems would need to be upgraded. Then came September 2008, when Hurricane Ike slammed into Houston.
Stories by Megan Santosus
Now that summer is in full swing, it's natural for IT shops to be concerned about keeping their data centers cool. But with limited budgets, keeping the data center operating efficiently without blowing the utility bill out of the water can be a challenge.
There are no legal statutes preventing an employer from taking a grand tour through any employee's computer hard drive without as much as a minute's warning.
I'll admit it: The thought of some fresh-faced twentysomething becoming a dotcom millionaire after only a few months of sweat equity (if you want to call taking meetings at Starbucks Corp. for 18 hours a day sweaty) makes me more than a tad envious. Actually, it really ticks me off. I've been in the same industry for more than a decade, working my way up the ladder to a rung just below middle management. During that time, I've managed to put aside a tiny, yet consistent pretax chunk of every paycheck in the hope that one day I will not become a burden to my kids. Then along comes dotcom fever and the advent of the 90-day millionaire. The world pegs me as a loser because I've spent the bulk of my career with one company and my net worth doesn't surpass the GNP of Guatemala.
About four years ago, I took an adult education class at a local high school. While wandering aimlessly through dimly lit and surprisingly ill-kept hallways, I came across a sight that I found truly appalling. It wasn't graffiti, cracked linoleum or a surly teenager that stopped me in my tracks; it was a full-color, poster-size advertisement displayed prominently outside the guidance counselor's office. Above the larger-than-life bag of candy pictured on the ad was the message: "M&Ms...better than straight As." A dubious proposition at best but in an institution devoted to learning, downright subversive.
The Internet has garnered a lot of ink for its ability to empower the lowly individual. Whether it's haggling for the best price on a 2000 BMW Z3 or hunting down a first edition of The Grapes of Wrath, the internet can put people smack in the middle of transactions that were formerly handled by specialized professionals.
For CIOs beleaguered by ever-shorter project cycles and never-ending deadlines, reading books about IT value may understandably fall by the wayside. After all, with speed as the new mantra emanating from the corner office, many CIOs figure they don't have the time to read much of anything (except CIO, of course) let alone books about an arcane and often slippery topic such as IT value. Yet when asked by CIO to recommend a reading list, consultants who make their living thinking a lot about IT value didn't hesitate to mention their favorites.
There's an inherent paradox in the e-tailing business. Seamlessly clicking from one electronic store to another in search of the perfect consumable feeds our penchant for instant gratification. Yet, once an item is ordered, we still have to wait -- up to 10 business days or longer -- for the item to arrive in our hands. By that time, the thrill of the hunt is gone.
Going on vacation provides renewal for me in more ways than one. Besides recharging my batteries, traveling affords me an opportunity to spend quality time in an airport, where I invariably encounter more fodder for this column. This summer, just as I thought I was scraping the bottom of the idea barrel, I had an ugly experience with an airline. What I learned was this: Corporate alliances work well only when employees know how to deal with customers.