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Analysis paralysis must end in 2003

Windows admins must make weighty security, migration decisions this year -- and stop wringing their hands and start battening down the hatches.

In 2003, KISS will be an IT buzzword. In this case, however, KISS will stand for Keep It Safe, Stupid. Windows administrators' lives will be greatly affected by security-related events at home and abroad, especially the passage of the Homeland Security Act.

In 2002, IT shops became paralyzed by confusion about what was needed to protect IT infrastructures and budgets that suddenly shrank. As a result, the expected post-9/11 security spending boom did not materialize, according to recent research by IDC.

The Homeland Security Act will spur spending and provide some guidelines for fighting. Even so, IT managers said in a recent user survey that they will tread carefully, making sure that their bucks can stop even the biggest bang. That's good news, said ATE advisor Ed Tittel. He is happy to see more IT teams "actually do the work involved in risk analysis and assessment and formulate serious security policies."

IT managers will also be walking on thin ice when network security and employee privacy issues clash. So, they should keep up with legal battles concerning privacy issues.

Just to make security a tougher nut to crack, IT admins will face new challenges posed by business users' increasing use of PDAs, laptops, and smart phones as network access devices. At this point, IT pros told us, there's no magic pill for securing mobile technology, and they really need to see improvements in that area. "With the proper security in place, I think wireless will be the next big growth area in the enterprise," said survey respondent Julian Spring.

The need to hurry up and migrate to new Windows platforms will add another layer of complexity for IT managers in 2003. About 40% of businesses using Windows are still running Windows '98 and NT, according to IDC. In 2003, they'll have to decide between migrating to Windows 2000 or .NET or paying for extended service contracts for the older platforms.

Why have those businesses waited? "Microsoft has thrown a lot at my customers, and they struggled to choose which paths to go down," said ATE advisor Jerry Honeycutt. "New licensing, new versions of the Windows desktop, a new server operating system coming soon, and much more all lead to analysis paralysis. Planning which waves to catch takes a lot of work, and those choices can cost or save them a lot of money."

In 2003, it's all about commitment. Sitting on the fence about migrations and security isn't an option. It's time to make a plan and take a stand.


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