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Gettin' Planful

I've heard or read people using the word "planful" at the University lately. It's not really a word, but ignore that for now. One of the things I noticed in coming over to central OIT a couple years ago is the lack of planning in the allocation of resources and time. Is it too harsh of me to put it that way? It seems like everything is done as a reaction to something rather than as a proactive activity.

That brings me to my point. I would like to become more proactive in solving problems here. We react to problems when they happen. But I can say I think the challenges that we will be facing in the not so distant future are things like OIT acting more as a whole-University IT department rather than just one for the central administration, less money for new hardware, and data security threats that we cannot afford to ignore. A brainstorming session among a group of people would identify a lot more. So why can't we be proactive and start working toward solutions now?

The Google Apps/GMail project illustrates the point. Nothing against the people who are working on that project, but it is a reaction to stirrings by people in certain departments external to central OIT. I am sure it will be successful, but maybe it would have been better if we had predicted the need and started working on it before people started asking for it. It is not as hard as it might seem to predict trends and act on them. I would include that as a function of management strategy.

Google Apps could be considered a part of a mobile device strategy, since the apps are available from any device from a laptop to a netbook to a smart phone. We should have a mobile device strategy. We should have had one two years ago, when Blackberries, iPhones, and Android started showing up and Google was snapping up mobile technology companies. We can predict the trend of smaller, network connected devices from various activities in the industry.

On the Oracle database front, we know that demand for centrally-hosted databases is coming. We haven't begun to test Oracle 11g yet, but we know it will be in demand soon. We know that hardware budgets will be smaller, but we're not really planning for having less to work with yet. With as lax as some of our security practices are, I feel comfortable in saying that a breach is not only probable but imminent. We can be planful about these things so that we are prepared for them when they come. It will make our lives so much easier.

UPDATE (4-13-2009): I may have spoken too soon on the mobile strategy. It appears that there is one brewing (requires login). That is great to see and I look forward to following it. Why do other people get to have all the fun? :)