Golden rules: ‘Old world’ IT principles still resonate in a new tech world

Some businesses tend to update their IT infrastructure at the drop of a hat. They believe new hardware, new patches, new crypto-techniques offer more features and better security. However, the truth is, some IT principles are eternal.

That’s because new vulnerabilities may emerge on a regular basis, but at the base level, they are nothing fresh but are simply modern versions of the same old threats. The following “old world” IT principles and practical tips have withstood the test of time because they keep systems secure and are still followed by numerous IT professionals worldwide:

1. Good technology is a small part of the big picture

Businesses purchasing technology enter a long-term commitment on their part. Suppliers are expected to honor this commitment as well.

For this reason, IT teams bought tech from large vendors. But now the same level of safety is guaranteed by open source. Sure, not every open source platform enjoys the same degree of support and fanfare, but they do have a steady following.

For example, Java can never match up to PHP when it comes to capabilities, but it still receives support from one of the largest software firms, Oracle. And if you thought the concept of open source was entirely new, know that open source-like SHARE libraries date back all the way to the 1970s.

2. Proper physical security is a must for proper information security

IT principles

The current practices of locking hardware away and restricting datacenter access to a handful of employees while maintaining automated logs are slowly phasing out due to alternatives, such as full cloud and colocation facilities.

So, the savings incurred from not having to set up a private datacenter can contribute toward a low-latency, high-bandwidth network connection to an offsite provider. In fact, you can get two connections with the points of presence on either side of your building. This way, your business does not suffer when some problem occurs with one of them.

3. Familiarize yourself with the threats

IT principles

Years ago, security threats were prevented by timing out the customer information control system (CICS) sessions. Hackers could no longer dial in and gain access. However, the arrival of distributed systems, PCs, and the Internet has resulted in new threats. We countered by locking down the desktop systems and guarding the perimeter using highly sophisticated firewalls.

A prevalent train of thought still believes locking everything down and restricting creativity is a suitable countermeasure.

Unfortunately, businesses require innovation, and creative thinking is a big part of that innovation. So, a good middle-ground involves strengthening the assets instead of the perimeter and supporting the users actively. After all, a workforce that cannot innovate will soon run out of steam.

4. Changing perspectives on software testing

Stress testing and regression are still used to identify the pros from the amateurs. Regression testing is useful for determining whether the new stuff affects the old stuff negatively while stress testing decides if everything will continue to perform efficiently once wear and tear occur.

In the recent past, the professional IT environment was divided into three segments — development, test, and production. So everything had to be purchased in threes and maintained accordingly.

However, even if you have a datacenter, setting up a cloud-based test environment makes sense as you pay for it only when you require it. Based on the production environment, it can support regression testing too. Stress testing has too many variables, though.

5. Keep tabs on changes made to the production environment

The days of developers slamming new codes into production are long gone. Now, everything follows a process so as not to disrupt the production. Plus, in the event it does cause problems with production, a back-out plan should ideally be in place.

Of course, the cloud has changed the situation somewhat. Change control is more difficult than before due to the cloud. In fact, without careful maintenance of cloud providers, they are free to slam changes into production without following their process.

6. The necessity and importance of relationships over process and transactions

A business is nothing more than a collection of relationships. Good relationships make everything work, bad relationships bring things to a close. Before, business environments were hierarchies with the CIO in charge of managing relationships with other top executives. That was a satisfactory arrangement. And if the CIO failed to win the trust of the other execs, success would be out of reach.

Now, whenever a member of the IT team interacts with another member of the business team, the IT/business dynamic changes. That’s because it is no longer about the CIO and other executives. If the business fails to trust IT, there is never any chance of success for IT. But if it does, the path to success becomes easier.

7. IT’s sole reason for existence is supporting the business

While technology for technology’s sake does not bode well, IT shouldn’t restrict its role to processing work orders. In fact, it has to step up and go beyond this for offering technology leadership. If a particular department is unable to offer tech leadership, it is fundamentally failing. Of all the old world IT principles, this is perhaps the most basic.

Tech leadership also deals with providing users and managers with the necessary support to build or buy their own technology. At the same time, shadow IT should receive the recognition it deserves for improving IT bandwidth.

Of course, risks are there like everything else. But the purpose of IT is to aid everyone in the world of business with technology rather than choking off anything not invented here.

8. Impact of IT on business changes

Years ago, new computers were used by business execs to drive changes all around. As a result, the business processes would cheapen and quicken while reducing manual errors. It lasted until the time IT was expected to lend support to a variety of interconnected systems. Not only did this prove expensive and time-consuming, but was highly risky too.

The reliance on waterfall methodologies did nothing to help matters. But IT is finally coming into its own with improved, agile integration tools and non-IT IT.

Old world IT principles are still driving change

Several IT principles have been passed down over the years, and they have proven a tremendous help in furthering the cause of business IT. In fact, thanks to these IT principles, information technology is slowly driving change rather than simply following along.

Featured image: Shutterstock

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