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  • Trying to keep the bad guys out of your corporate network isn't even the primary goal any more. Instead, it's preventing them from getting what they really want.

  • In an ideal world, the migration of technology resources to the public cloud should make life much easier for the IT department. In the cloud, tech employees are supposed to oversee infrastructure—and users gain access to apps—in a streamlined, automated environment that encourages self-service. Unfortunately, it's hardly an ideal world when it comes to cloud deployment, and the majority of IT departments are struggling with the transition, according to a recent survey from 2nd Watch. As a result, most companies are either hiring outside service firms to help transition to public cloud workloads, or are evaluating these providers. "Many organizations encounter operational challenges after migrating applications to the cloud with their existing tools and service providers," says Joel Rosenberger, executive vice president of managed services at 2nd Watch. "There's a perception that managing IT workloads in the cloud is a snap, but clearly that's not the case. … Companies are now looking externally for help with integrating processes and tools to manage workloads in the cloud to ensure operational excellence." More than 500 IT directors and executives took part in the research.

  • A clear majority of global organizations are either already implementing DevOps to produce applications or are planning to do so, according to a recent survey from Rackspace and Vanson Bourne. The accompanying report, titled "DevOps Adoption," reveals that teams using DevOps are increasing new-feature delivery, business efficiencies, app uptime, customer satisfaction and innovation. That helps create a more agile organization that can respond more swiftly to business and technology changes. "The momentum behind DevOps is driven by a perfect storm for disruption based on Internet business and collaboration technologies, open-source software and cloud computing," Chris Jackson, CTO of DevOps services for Rackspace, wrote in the report. "These technology shifts have placed new pressures on existing IT models and created opportunities for businesses to get value to customers faster, diversify the number of services they offer and use data more proactively to serve the business better." An estimated 700 IT decision-makers in the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia took part in the research.

  • How can you tell whether an IT project will be a boon or a bomb? And how can you spot the land mines in time to change course? Three disciplines can help.

  • Women have joined the tech field in smaller numbers than men, are less likely to stay in the field, are promoted less often and are less likely to be satisfied.

  • For many organizations, the capability (or lack thereof) to conduct effective resource management and capacity planning amounts to a make-or-break proposition, according to a recent survey from Planview. The accompanying "2014 State of Resource Management and Capacity Planning Benchmark Report" reveals that companies that fall short in these areas face difficulties with respect to inaccurate resource estimates, project assignments, real-time reporting and demand visibility. The potential consequences include blown budgets and disgruntled customers. Clearly, IT departments should develop solutions that would avoid such situations. "Companies are rushing into new projects to drive business growth while sustaining the current state of business, all with a finite supply of shared human resources," says Linda Roach, vice president of marketing for Planview. "As a result, organizations over-commit and underutilize their resources, which negatively impact project timelines, business opportunities, customer satisfaction, innovation speed and budgets." The findings separate the experiences of "low maturity" and "high maturity" organizations in terms of resource management and capacity planning. A total of 480 global planning and resource leaders took part in the research, which was conducted by Appleseed Partners and OpenSky Research.

  • The University of San Francisco turned to asset management to generate reports with detailed asset data, giving it a clearer picture of needs moving forward.

  • The vast majority of professionals say organizational change stresses them out, according to a recent survey from Eagle Hill Consulting. The accompanying report, "Across Generations. Change is Change. People are People," reveals that there are differences of opinion between employees and executives as to whether leadership is committed to successful transitions. Workers vastly prefer a more personal style of communications during these times, but they say their companies too often deliver updates via email instead. According to the report, if managers want to pursue a successful transformation, they need to communicate better to ensure that employees understand what's driving the change. "Successful managers know their people, the nuances of how they accept or reject change, and what individual employees may need to hear," says Melissa Jezior, president and CEO of Eagle Hill Consulting. "Concentrating on leadership and communication makes all the difference in leading people through change." Eagle Hill provides management consulting services, focusing on business strategy, organizational transformation, process improvement and change management. More than 1,000 U.S. professionals took part in the research.

  • The vast majority of organizations are benefiting from a mobility-driven productivity boom, according to a recent survey from Evolve IP. The accompanying "2014 Mobility and BYOD Survey" report reveals that mobility, telecommuting and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives are now ubiquitous, and a great many companies provide smartphones and tablets to their employees. Though many workers admit that they sometimes wish they weren't "always available," they do acknowledge that their constant state of connectivity actually improves work-life balance overall. "It's not only the companies that value the benefits of mobility and BYOD," according to the report. "Employees appreciate an improved work-home balance and the ability to work from anywhere at any time. ... It's not surprising given that the average number of hours employees are working outside the office … is three hours per day." On the other hand, IT departments need to stay on top of the wealth of users—including tech staffers—who are downloading unauthorized mobile apps. More than 565 professionals in North America took part in the research.

  • As digital technology unfolds and businesses look to boost efficiency and productivity, there's a growing emphasis on automating processes, workflows and various connection points. A newly released study conducted by automation software firm PMG indicates that strained corporate IT departments are increasingly eyeing automation technology as a way to meet business objectives. However, the "2014 PMG IT Automation Survey" also found that significant hurdles exist, including connecting disparate tools, solutions and systems, as well as dealing with shadow IT. Overall, 98 percent of the 304 corporate IT professionals surveyed said that the automation of business processes is vital to driving benefits in today's corporate environment. Joe LeCompte, principal at PMG, believes that the lofty vision of automation served up by consultants and IT departments is finally filtering into the mainstream of the enterprise. "Everyday acceptance and use within companies is becoming reality," he explains. "Today, 87 percent of IT departments say they are aligned with their organization's business goals … the outlook for true enterprise automation is very bright." Here are some of the key findings about automation and its role in building greater value within the enterprise.

  • Organizations are investing a greater percentage of the overall IT budget in quality assurance (QA) and testing, according to a recent survey from Capgemini. Published in conjunction with HP, the accompanying "World Quality Report" reveals that this trend is directly benefiting innovation, as most of the spending is funding new development work rather than maintenance needs. This means tech departments have more resources to pursue advances in cloud, mobility, big data/analytics and social media initiatives. "Testing is becoming ever more business-critical to IT organizations, [which are] faced with external market forces that drive digital transformation," says Govind Muthukrishnan, senior vice president and testing global service line leader at the Capgemini Group. "These market forces include changes in customer behavior, heightened global competition, the need to provide an all-channel experience, rapid adoption of social media channels, increased data volumes, and the advancement of technologies such as cloud and mobile. Testing organizations are increasingly focused on taking advantage of these new market dynamics to deliver tangible business value in the shortest time possible, while optimizing testing costs." More than 1,540 global CIOs, IT directors and testing leaders took part in the research.

  • Is your technology organization taking a "zero tolerance" position on unplanned downtime? If so, it's joining a very big club, as the vast majority of IT professionals feel that zero downtime is mission-critical. Unfortunately, most companies undergo an unexpected downtime at least several times a year, according to a recent survey from SUSE, the provider of the enterprise Linux distribution. And the stakes are very high: Among survey respondents at organizations that experienced unplanned downtime for their most important technology function, the average economic impact of the incident exceeded $800,000. "System downtime—particularly unplanned downtime—negatively affects organizations of all types and sizes, limiting growth, reducing revenue and affecting productivity," says Ralf Flaxa, vice president of engineering for SUSE. "CIOs and IT professionals recognize the need to reduce downtime, and they should work with software and hardware vendors that share their commitment to making near-zero downtime a reality." A total of 105 global IT professionals took part in the research.

  • As reported by Baseline numerous times, the competition to hire top tech talent is getting brutal. But if you do end up landing that special performer—as a manager, team leader, analyst, developer or programmer—you may face challenges that seldom come up with the majority of workers. And, be warned, the challenges may try your patience—and your sanity. Hotshot tech professionals are often very aware that they're much more skilled than the rest of the staff, and they may eventually conclude that they'd rather "do their own thing" than work as part of a team. They may even challenge your authority and be convinced that they can do your job better than you can. Even if a superstar has a team-oriented attitude, he or she might jump ship after a short time if a sweeter offer came along. In a section of the recent book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems (Jossey-Bass/available now), author Bruce Tulgan provides insights and best practices for supervising, engaging and retaining top-notch employees. What's important, he writes, is to demonstrate a sincere regard for a superstar's capabilities and value, while working together on an extended plan for his or her future success. Tulgan is founder of Rainmaker Thinking, a management training firm. The following takeaways about managing a superstar are adapted from his book and should help you deal with the challenges you're sure to face.