About this time each year, IT organizations can't help but wonder what technologies scare them the most as we prepare for Halloween. After all, everywhere you turn there are goblins and ghouls, so it's only natural to feel a little unease. At the moment, the 13 scariest technologies in enterprise IT, in reverse order, are:
#13-Smart Phones: Although IT organizations are well used to these devices by now, the fact that every end user wants to employ them to access just about any piece of corporate data creates all kinds of concerns over data governance, compliance and security. The only good news is that the IT department can also use them to remotely manage systems.
#12-Universal Serial Bus 3.0: This latest version of the ubiquitous USB standard makes it a whole lot easier for users to download more data that they should probably not have had access to in the first place.
#11-Data Loss Prevention: There's nothing wrong with DLP in and of itself. It's just without any corresponding policies concerning who should have access to what information, DLP creates a false sense of security, especially when it comes to the stealing of intellectual property.
#10-Data Quality Management Tools: One of the dirtiest secrets in all of IT is just how bad the data really is. But now that companies want to share what they know about the customer with partners, suppliers and even the customers themselves, the need to reconcile all kinds of bad data calls into question the value of all previous IT investments.
#9-Business Intelligence Software: Nothing exposes data quality issues quite as quickly as a business intelligence application deployment. And nothing puts IT in the middle of a firefight between business units quite as quickly as arguing over the attributes of a BI application.
#8-Unified Communications: There's huge potential in terms of boosting the productivity of the company, but nothing exposes the weakness of the underlying IT infrastructure more than a bunch of low-latency applications that everybody tries to use at once.
#7-Windows 7: For the most part, Windows 7 has a lot to offer, but the prospect of upgrading hundreds, and in some cases thousands, of systems is enough to give any IT organization a bad case of indigestion, at the very least.
#6-Data Center Convergence: By tightly integrating servers, networks and storage, vendors are out to fundamentally change the way IT is organized around management tasks. And that ultimately leads to more arguments over who controls what inside the data center.
#5-IT Automation: Closely related to data center convergence, the idea behind IT automation is to lower the real cost of computing by eliminating as many mundane tasks as possible and, all too often, the need for the people who perform them.
#4-Patch Management: The process of issuing security patches is totally out of control, but what scares IT people most is what application will break after they install any number of patches.
#3-Firewalls: The only more out-of-control issue when it comes to security than patch management is the way we manage perimeter security. Most of the traffic that flows through these devices is invisible to the IT organization at the application level, so nobody really knows for sure how vulnerable they are. And even if the devices at the perimeter work; chances are that most of them are so poorly configured as to be almost useless.
#2- Virtualization: Initially seen as a godsend in terms of increasing utilization rates, the increased complexity of managing these environments has IT organization running scared as they come to understand that dynamic virtualization is just another way for saying IT volatility.
#1-Cloud Computing: Although still poorly defined, cloud computing continues to gain momentum. But the basic concept is outsourcing by another name, which invariably ends up with a service provider replacing the internal IT organization. And even if the IT organization builds its own internal cloud, remember the second-most scary thing in IT is the virtualization technology required to master private cloud computing.
As always, the IT organization lives in uncertain times. Some of the scariest things in IT, such as Windows 7, are new. Others, such as security issues, have been with us for a while but seem to get scarier with each passing Halloween. Eventually, each IT organization will need to come to terms with its own fears. But as a great man once said, sometimes all we really have to fear is fear itself.