I really should have put this in my 2007 predictions, but I guess it might be a prediction that spans a few more years. But this year is going to mark a tough year for IT managers due to the ongoing cost of IT operations. Often, upper management thinks that a project will be planned, budgeted, completed, and then they all move on. Sadly, most IT projects require ongoing maintenance, monthly costs, and people to maintain them. Too many senior managers don’t get that, and it is those same senior managers who won’t ever “get” security either: you don’t achieve it, clap yourself on the back, and stamp it Project Closed.
IT costs a shitload of money over the years, and management is starting to or will start to feel that slow attrition. Security costs a ton and is only going to get bigger as regulations keep edging forward. Windows Vista is out now which is going to put pressure on companies that pay licensing fees to upgrade and hardware upgrades to prepare for it. Not only that, but companies with licensing contracts with Microsoft will start to wonder why they spend that money in the first place. Is Vista worth the last 5 years’ of software assurance? What about SQL licensing? If a company had that assurance contract the last 3 years, you have absolutely nothing to show for it. You want a disaster site and other business continuity plans? You’ll be shelling out monthly fees for that. Mobility is needed by the workforce? Good luck not spending money to secure those devices or provide for mobile needs. Also, mobile devices tend to cost more to get the same performance as a desktop machine, and their lifecycle is shorter.
IT is a huge impact on business these days. Not only can I not imagine business without IT (say, 20 years ago), but I can’t imagine how we spend so much money on it today. It is no wonder MSSPs and other outsourced IT services providers are feeling the love as businesses get sick of the constant IT drain and start to let others handle it (for better or worse).
This is why I still prefer to focus on the basics in my career. Focus on doing what needs done on the lowest levels. Use the open source and free tools, know how to do things without the fancy and expensive appliances and servers. If you know the basics and low level foo, you’ll be able to pick up on the luxury appliances and tools you’re allowed to spend money on, just fine when you get them.