Improve Odds in IT Blame Game

Kachina Shaw
Slide Show

Eight Signs Your Team Is in Trouble

The blame game isn’t exactly a game one can win. However, IT departments that find themselves repeatedly held responsible for the same failures or performance issues are constantly taking steps to improve their position and ability to either improve the outcomes, or at least make it widely known why it is not in IT’s power to do so.

Emulex, which is a provider of connectivity, monitoring and management solutions for the enterprise, conducted a survey that took a look at how much visibility network operations and security operations staff have into critical events on their networks. It also gathered data on monitoring tools, reporting accuracy, experience with data breaches, and the cost in money and other resources of these network events. With this information, it created a list of common deficiencies that sadly often lead to a blame game between IT and other parts of the business.

Here’s a list of trouble spots identified through the survey, and what IT can do to improve them and get out of the line of fire.

Attribution: Blame is being laid all over the place. Even IT isn’t innocent. Emulex found that 79 percent had experienced network events that were attributed to the wrong IT group and 87 percent had incorrectly reported the root cause of an event to management because they had insufficient information. Thirty-nine percent said it had happened more than once. Emulex cites the “mean time to innocence” concept, which forces quick but often inaccurate attribution. Somebody has to be to blame, but getting it wrong so often isn’t accomplishing much except hurting morale and productivity.

Monitoring Tools: Forty-five percent of survey respondents reported manually monitoring network and app performance. Emulex concluded that lack of funds probably wasn’t the main reason, either, given the average budgets for such tools. Even so, in some shops the price may be the sticking point. The good news is that prices for monitoring tools like SolarWinds NPM are coming way down while they add features like deep packet inspection that can address this first point and others in the list below.

Detecting Security Events: Not surprisingly, over 80 percent of survey respondents have experienced and investigated increased security events and breaches. Just 27 percent of those events were detected manually, pointing to the critical need for the monitoring tools mentioned above.

More Mobility: This is a complicated one, and the terminology varies among companies, but the survey found that 84 percent said their organization has a bring your own device (BYOD) “initiative.” Only 26 percent of European respondents plan to monitor any network performance issues related to BYOD, however. No number for U.S. respondents was given. Policies around BYOD initiatives need to be multi-pronged, addressing everything from data security to financial considerations to changes in duties and responsibilities for both IT and non-IT employees. For IT departments that feel like they are on the losing side of a blame game around BYOD issues, taking cues from the questions that users ask about the details of BYOD is a good way to tighten up policy language and monitoring of events that trigger security or other problems.

Downtime Costs: Finally, the bottom line. Emulex says 70 percent of respondents have seen a critical network event that took at least a full business day to diagnose. The firm barely touches the potential losses; over half of survey respondents say an hour of network outage or performance degradation costs a half million dollars or more. And that’s not taking into account all of those events that are not detected at all, which as we have learned here is an all too common occurrence.

Kachina Shaw is managing editor for IT Business Edge and has been writing and editing about IT and the business for 15 years. She writes about IT careers, management, technology trends and managing risk. Follow Kachina on Twitter @Kachina and on Google+


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