The challenge of simple IT: align the needs of the business to the budget, add capability without complexity

Getting my hands dirty

In my first post I promised to dribble out our “simple IT” story a few bits at a time. October 2008 begins with me in my new role as “one man IT” for our formerly burgeoning enterprise. What was the IT landscape?

In the server room we were 80% into our migration from discrete servers to VMware ESX. We had seven ESX hosts, about seven virtual servers and about eight workstation-level guests performing various functions – EDI gateway, shop-floor programming gateway, report crunching, etc. There were about three remaining servers to be virtualized. One EMC CX300 fibre-channel SAN mirrored to a d-i-y SATA array.

We’d just migrated to Exchange 2007 + ISA Server 2006 and were prepping for Sharepoint implementation. I didn’t care much for ISA, nor did I trust it. So I put it inside our firewall’s DMZ – firewall-in-a-firewall. We’d ditched Symantec Client Security at version 11 and had rolled out Vipre Enterprise instead – I was loving it.

On the client front, we were three years past our last refresh. We’d just rolled out Office 2007 and the Altiris app virtualization platform. We were all about efficient client rollouts – imaging and virtualization technologies had made me a convert to the 15-minute new client deployment. From a population of one-hundred and twenty, we were down to about seventy-five users. The majority had simple needs; our design, manufacturing, and quality engineers were a little more demanding.

So that was the bulk of my new job, in a nutshell. Down from the lofty heights of information strategy and back in the trenches.

It was decision time. VMware ESX and Windows Server were up for maintenance renewal: total cost $15,600. Server hardware support was coming up too, to the tune of $5,400. We were severely budget-challenged. What’s an IT manager to do?



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