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IT's worst addictions (and how to cure them)

Dan Tynan | Feb. 14, 2012
Jargon, data, power -- the first step to IT recovery is recognizing the monkey on your back

Some IT people still believe any problem can be solved if you just throw enough resources against it, says Michael McKiernan, VP of business technology at Citrix. If they could just collect enough data and dump it into a massive business intelligence system, they'd emerge with a single source of truth for making decisions. If they were only freed from the arbitrary constraints imposed by management, they could have systems that are affordable and always available, massively scalable, instantly flexible, and aesthetically delightful.

They can't.

"If you build something on Amazon Web Services that can do a million transactions in an hour, do you really think you'll also be able to do a hot fail-over disaster recovery site?" he says. "If you've created something that can process really large transaction volumes, do you really think you'll be able to change it every week? If you want it to be massively scalable, you may have to give up having it be highly available."

The cure: Get real. Develop an IT portfolio that balances risk and reward, and hedge your big bets. Don't swing for the fences every time unless you enjoy striking out. It's better to hit for singles and doubles to boost your enterprise batting average instead of going for personal glory.

"People need to realize they can't get there simply by being smarter or working harder," he says. "You can't have it all. You can have anything you want, you just can't have everything you want. The antidote is knowing what the trade-offs are, then trying to get as close to the edge as you can."


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