To get ahead, network and data-center professionals should study up on "infrastructure as code" and capitalize on whatever cloud experience they can acquire.
Stories by Denise Dubie
Security experts, industry analysts and even Microsoft recommend that IT departments upgrade Internet Explorer 6.
Ten years after losing a bitterly contested antitrust browser battle to the US Department of Justice, debate continues as to whether Microsoft was tamed by the legal rebuke or freed to treat it like a speed bump.
IT professionals say they are willing to forego the first service pack for Windows 7 if that means they can get the operating system in their environments faster.
CA is to acquire 3Tera, a small vendor whose AppLogic suite helps customer encapsulate existing applications into containers suited for private and public cloud environments.
Recent market share statistics deliver good and bad news for Microsoft. The company saw its Internet Explorer browser lose more ground, seemingly to Google Desktop and Chrome, while its Windows 7 operating system quickly gained market acceptance.
BMC's acquistion of privately-held Phurnace Software, announced a few days into the new year, is a deal that BMC says will help it deliver technology to reduce the cost and complexity of deploying Java applications into virtual and cloud environments.
BMC bought Phurnace for an undisclosed sum, with plans to incorporate Phurnace technology into its BladeLogic Server Automation Suite. To start with, BMC will sell and support the acquired products as BMC BladeLogic Application Release Automation. The software, BMC says, will automate the application deployment process to reduce the risk of errors and outages associated with manual or script-based processes.
"We see the application layer as the next frontier in datacentre automation. Only through automation can customers drastically reduce the time it takes to deploy applications to a production environment while dramatically reducing the risks and costs of the deployment process," says Dev Ittycheria, president of enterprise service management at BMC, in a statement. "This acquisition significantly enhances our capabilities in the application layer, positions us extremely well to manage the next-generation datacentre and considerably strengthens BMC's business service management platform."
Phurnace, which competes with rPath in the application release automation market, offers technology to model and deploy Java Enterprise Edition applications for WebLogic, WebSphere, JBoss and WebSphere Portal. The company says its products also completely eliminate the need for scripting and provide troubleshooting and remediation capabilities. Phurnace products also automate the migration of applications from one version of an application server to another. BMC says Phurnace's Deliver products are already integrated into existing BMC BladeLogic deployments.
Industry watchers say demand is high for tools to automate the application release management process, which is among the best practices detailed by ITIL. Release management involves moving applications from development to quality assurance and test to production environments without introducing errors. It also includes the process of adding changes to applications or updating them with the most recent version on large-scale distributions, processes that in large physical, virtual and cloud environments require automation, analysts say.
"Release management technology is essentially software distribution tools on steroids. The software takes applications from development and test environments and moves them into operations," says Glenn O’Donnell, a senior analyst with Forrester Research. "It enables IT to decide when and to what environments to make updates or to distribute only the chunks of code that have been changed. That process used to be once every few months for many organisations, but now it is more common to happen more than once per week.
"Tracking and controlling that process has hit a crescendo, and we are seeing a lot of interest in the technology now," O'Donnell says.
BMC completed the Phurnace Software acquisition on the heels of two other application-related buys last year: MQ Software and Tideway Systems.
The MQ buy helped BMC acquire technology aimed at benefitting customers developing service-oriented architectures, and the Tideway purchase brought to BMC technology that builds a map of a company's applications and the underlying infrastructure that supports them.
The focus on application management in virtual and cloud environments could put BMC at an advantage when customers begin to experience the challenges, says Jasmine Noel, principal analyst and co-founder of research firm Ptak, Noel & Associates.
"People aren't yet screaming over virtualisation and its effect on application management, it has been kind of quiet on that front, so my guess is that people are implementing the technology and then the screaming over the challenges it poses will begin by mid-2010," Noel says.
CA has acquired Oblicore, a maker of service-level management technology.
IT professionals looking to boost their high-tech careers in the coming five years are betting on <a href="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/022708-security-skills-it-workforce.html">security certifications</a> and <a href="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2008/041708-careers.html">skills</a> to help them stand out to potential employees, according to a new survey.
The U.S. high-tech industry shed some <a href="http://www.networkworld.com/news/2009/081009-it-jobs-july.html">115,000 jobs</a> between January and June 2009, marking a 2% net job loss as the country's economy overall experienced more than 5% job loss.
HP Wednesday announced it would leave the EDS brand behind and rename its IT services provider business HP Enterprise Services.
“No one can get too comfortable in their position right now. If you get complacent and have no intentions of improving upon yourself, you will lose your job to that person – and there is always at least one – who is constantly looking for ways to better himself and add more value to the business,” says Colt Mercer, a network engineer and a Network World Google Subnet blogger.
IT executives today are facing the challenge of retaining skilled IT employees and attracting new talent while also keeping the staffing budget in line with recession-related staff cuts, according to survey data from Gartner. However, neglecting IT workforce could hurt companies in the long term, according to the analyst firm.
A majority of 325 US-based organisations do not plan to add staff in the coming months, Gartner found when it polled those organisations' CIOs and IT leaders in March. Nearly two-thirds of those surveyed indicated that IT hiring would be put on hold until the end of February 2010, while more just over one-third of those asked said they expect to increase head count in the same timeframe. The problem, according to the research firm, is that despite the need to contain costs, IT departments need to continue to update skills and add staff to help advance their companies' business.
"Considering that workforce-related spending is the largest part of the IT budget, one of the primary challenges for CIOs and HR leaders for the remainder of 2009 and into 2010 will be finding ways to control labour costs while engaging and retaining the workforce," says Lily Mok, research vice president at Gartner, in a press release. "Since it will still take time for the economy to establish a new normal, the impact of this recession will continue to be felt on an organisation's bottom line, as well as on the overall job market. This could cause companies to consider making further cuts in workforce-related spending."
Additional cuts, despite the budgetary need, might be a mistake, Gartner says, considering certain IT skills remain in demand despite numerous IT professionals looking for work during the downturn. Because skills such as Oracle, SAP, Java EE, .Net, SOA, Java and PeopleSoft continue to be sought after, IT managers find it difficult to fill enterprise architect, database administrator, project managers, ERP programmer/analysts, internet/web architects and web application programmer positions.
"The issue isn't about the number of candidates available for hire, but rather their quality and skill profiles," Mok says.
Even companies keeping current staff levels in place are cutting benefits for IT workers. According to the Gartner survey, there will be an "across-the-board reduction (IT and non-IT) in salary increase budgets for 2009 and 2010." The median IT salary increase for 2009 will be 3% in 2009 and remain there throughout 2010, Gartner says. The reduction in compensation and potential benefits, coupled with additional workload, could stress the current IT workforce at many companies, the research firms suggests, and IT leaders need to be aware of retaining critical talent to better recover from the recession.
"IT and HR leaders should learn from painful experiences of the past and make a conscious effort to not repeat the same mistakes," says Diane Berry, managing vice president at Gartner, in a statement. "Make employee engagement and retention top priority because it will be key to ensure that critical talent stays long after the economy rebounds," Berry says.
Companies trying to cut IT budgets are laying off staff and reducing compensation and benefits for remaining employees, new survey results show.
As the recession takes its toll on tech budgets, IT professionals are realizing their future careers could suffer as training dollars dry up and the resources needed to update their high-tech skills are eliminated. With choices limited for paid training, IT pros need to be creative in their studies.