Should IT departments release control?

Bob Lewis has written an interesting article titled Stewardship, not ownership: It’s time for IT to give up on control discussing a new approach to IT management of users, applications, and hardware.  I have always believed that IT departments are there to ensure the business requirements are met and the the data should be owned and controlled by individual departments.  I have found that empowering the end users mostly beneficial to the organisation but problems do arise.

Phones are a hot topic at the moment, iPhones, Blackberry‘s, Nokia’s E series, and the Android platform are very popular and a lot of employees will have these devices sitting on their desks and are requesting that they are connected to the company email system.  While it is easy to connect these devices the difficulty arises when the phone stops working.  Who is responsible for supporting the device?  If you are a small to medium size business then your IT department will be small and you will probably not have specialist phone expertise.  Then you start to add peoples own laptops in to the scenario.  You are now looking at multiple manufactures and multiple operating systems.  Your support requirements are starting to build up.  You may feel that it is the end users problem but if they use their laptop to connect to the network and get work done, it’s your problem too.

Security is a huge concern.  Anybody working in IT will be questioned on a daily basis about “my computer at home is freezing, what could be wrong?”.  You usually find out pretty quickly that yes anti-virus came with the computer but I never updated it.

There are solutions though if the commitment and resources are available.  Web based applications are a huge leap forward and allow for all kinds of combinations of devices and operating systems, all the user needs is a web browser.  Virtual desktops are also an option as is Citrix and Terminal Server.  Organisations need to have strong security policies on place and the ability to monitor and control who or what is connecting to the systems.  The focus is not really should we release control but how do we provide a secure and supportable platform going forward.

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