Stories by Johna Till Johnson

The future of IT holds much promise

Every few years, someone announces "the death of IT." True, the industry's vital signs don't look all that promising — particularly recently. Last year, IT budgets declined by 10% to 20%, depending on who you believe. Upwards of 100,000 IT jobs were lost in 2009 in the United States. And the pool of vendors is constantly shrinking, given the tsunami of bankruptcies and mergers over the past few years. (Adios, Nortel.)

Transformative technologies for the 21st century

Innovations seem to have a natural economic life cycle: an obscure invention (say, electricity, or the internal combustion engine) sparks an entire constellation of industries, which grow exponentially for a while, then settle into a stagnant maturity.

Dow Jones replacement of GM with Cisco is momentous

It's official: General Motors is off the Dow Jones Index, and Cisco takes its place. The transition is more than just a dry Wall Street accounting manoeuvre: From a cultural, economic, and societal perspective, it marks a seismic shift in how our world is organised.

Five ways to recession-proof your WAN

When it comes to the overall economic situation, there's good news and bad news. The good news is that the economic crisis shows all signs of subsiding into a garden-variety recession, rather than spiralling into a catastrophic crash. The bad news? Even a garden-variety recession can be pretty grim. Unless you're in one of those rare industries that thrives in recessions, that means it's batten-down-the-hatches time.

Looking back on that last look ahead

It's time for my self-assessment again. Nope, I'm not talking about hopping on the scale and doing a double-take at the poundage the holidays managed to pack on. I'm talking about reviewing my 2007 Eye on the Carrier predictions, and seeing how well they held up. In order, this is what I predicted:

Carriers clueless on net neutrality

I've written several pieces pointing out that the issue of net neutrality is more nuanced than either proponents or opponents want you to believe. But with their characteristic cluelessness, providers have pretty much succeeded in reducing the debate right back down to a sound bite -- and positioning themselves on the wrong side.

Selling to SMBs requires a thought-out approach

Telco service providers are getting very interested in pitching to small-to-midsize businesses, and that’s a great idea (only partly because I run one). Also, SMBs are often where the action is — we spearhead a surprising amount of technology innovation. So it’s cool that carriers are marketing to us.

Business needs to align itself with IT

How many times have you heard that IT needs to be aligned with business? If there was a mantra of the past decade, surely this was it. And who can argue with the concept that IT and business need to be in alignment to ensure that IT investments pay off in the form of tangible business benefits?

Here’s to the researchers and innovators

At the recent Vista rollout, Steve Ballmer reportedly remarked that the internet “wasn’t fully developed” in 1995. That sparked an interesting dialogue among many of the Internet Engineering Task Force luminaries, who had researched and developed the internet in the 1980s and early 1990s. Their point: since most of the key specs were in place by 1995, Ballmer’s comment was inaccurate.

Tips for designing a resilient WAN

FRAMINGHAM (10/02/2003) - IT executives think a lot about disaster recovery these days. And that's a good thing. As companies continue to consolidate resources - data centers, facilities, networks - the need for redundancy becomes critical.

RBOCs stand tall against recording industry

FRAMINGHAM (09/25/2003) - I usually don't say nice things about telcos. And I almost never say nice things about their lawyers. But here I'll do both: Kudos to the lawyers at Verizon Communications and SBC for opposing the Recording Industry Association of America's (RIAA's) request that the telcos compromise the privacy of their customers. Way to go, guys.

Presence should be on more minds

Most of us have figured out some basic rules for reaching other people: If it's urgent or if you've never met before, you make a phone call to their landline. If you're sending detailed information, you send email, perhaps with an attachment. If you're friends and just touching base, you might send an instant message or call their cellphone.