Decentralized Information Technology Requires Central Coordination!

Decentralized Information Technology Requires Central Coordination!:

This article from 1999 describes IT for academic facilities. There are so many facets that hold true with our current IT resources and issues; the struggle with supporting technology has never changed and never been more necessary than it is today.

Here are some critical highlights direct quoted from the document:

  • When either the hardware or software used in these systems becomes obsolete, it is difficult to migrate or upgrade the systems in a manner that preserves all of the necessary adaptations. [Hardware we have managed with leases, VDI and other aspects. Software however is another issue]

  • ...research groups[BLs & Regions for us] obey a strong instinct to solve problems locally. The prevailing reward systems which favor personal excellence in scholarship are inadequate to encourage development of infrastructure. It is the responsibility of the central administration to allocate funding to counter this trend, achieving a healthy balance between centrally offered incentives and local initiative.

  • [in a market where knowledgeable IT professionals are scarce] This is even more important when the staff resources are highly distributed and most units lack second tier and backup personnel. The loss of “the computer person” in a department can produce serious disruptions in the operation of the unit.

  • Less experienced computer users are not familiar with the fragility of most systems and they quickly become dependent on these technologies for critical day-to-day operations, without a full understanding of their limitations. IT management cannot neglect this challenge. [I add understanding and training to reach those understandings of how to use software is critical ]

  • Note that when the pool of talent is depleted, the “richer units” will also suffer because their most capable people will leave academe without leaving a legacy of trainees...With good institutional training programs and good planning, vertical task integration for IT staff can be accomplished in an environment of central coordination and local control, particularly if territorial borders remain soft.

  • ...economies of scale by standardizing hardware, software, and support services. [I believe we have done well on this one so far]


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