DOING IT RIGHT

Everybody uses IT, in homes schools, colleges and offices. But the amount of planning that goes into deploying IT is far from where it should be

Words: Chirag Patel

A simple example is when you are getting a building done you have an architect for the designs of the building, structure and all. Then an interior decorator comes in to do up your place. An electrician comes for the electrification. You get plumbers, specialists and others for several tasks.

But how many projects actually involve an IT consultant? Very few. The problem is that everyone pretty much thinks they know IT so they think they can do a good job. And then they come up with buildings which have wires hung all over. You come across offices that say the WIFI is not working properly. Overall inefficiency creeps in because at the design level you have not put in the right kind of effort.

The whole idea to have the ability to look at your requirements, look at where you are today in terms of where IT is, what your needs are and what you will need 10 years down the road is a job that needs the involvement of a specialist.

Take the example of a simple chair. You can go to a fabrication shop and say this is the kind of fabric I want. This is the colour I like and it should go well with the table. Why do we have an interior decorator? People are willing to spend money on that part but when it comes to the design part of IT, very little structured effort goes in.

Whether it is your home or office, IT is pretty much your backbone for doing anything today. There are campuses that run on one fibre optic network that you can use for your telephones, video surveillance, internet bandwidth etc.

cp-prof-photo-02You don’t even have multiple wires or multiple agencies that come in. When you look at planning for IT, it’s not just about what equipment you need. It is also about how you deploy IT.

Where do you run your cables from? Most of the times, at larger projects such as big buildings like hospitals you get the plumbing pipe in one area, right next to it is the air conditioning. You look at saving space, rerouting and making provisions for your cables.

What you don’t anticipate is what happens when you open this channel up for maintenance. The AC person doesn’t know how to handle the electric cables and the former doesn’t know how to handle IT wires.

He may come to fix the AC but in the process, he may have touched the IT cables. This is what causes breakages. So when you plan for a project, even simple things like that are important.

IT technology per se has its constraints. Cables of a certain type will be used for a certain length. If you are connecting buildings, or routing locally run it within the buildings; there are scientific constraints to how technology operates.

When you design the deployment, it is important to have these constraints in mind. There is always going to be some amount of uncertainty that will creep in as the network matures and more people start using it.

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Or in the eventuality that something needs to be pulled out or redeployed, do you have the provision to do that?

Then there is also this thing about knowing the network well enough and then selecting your technology accordingly. Take the example of a modern office. Everybody has a scanner, a printer and WIFI. There are two things here: how do you provide for the upgradation of these technologies and how well equipped are you in terms of looking at productivity.

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You will spend Rs 50,000 on a printer or multi-functional device irrespective of which brand you go for or what functionality that machine has. But how well that printer fits into your network is very important.

Depending on the needs of your organisation, a make or model of a machine will work best for you no matter what the price. Thus, it is important to understand what is better suited. When it comes to planning these kinds of networks and deployments, it’s better to have the right person to take the right decisions for you.

By not hiring the right person to do the right job from the beginning, you will end up spending incrementally over a period of time and worse you will have a loss of productivity from day one. Because you do not have the right equipment deployed.

An important aspect to right technology is also having the right policies of using it. Everywhere you go, there is a policy defined to check who is doing what in an environment. Some require you to log in, some have a password, some have a finger print scanner as everything requires a check.

But in IT there is equal importance to following policy. Larger organisations have IT staff who keep a check on who gets how much bandwidth and who gets what kind of storage or what websites they can check.

Depending on the needs of your organisation, a make or model of a machine will work best for you no matter what the price. Thus, it is important to understand what is better suited. When it comes to planning these kinds of networks and deployments, it’s better to have the right person to take the right decisions for you.

But for smaller organisations or homes, what are the options of creating a policy? For example, if someone comes to my office with a pen drive, I am risking my entire network with a virus. So how can that be controlled? Thus, it is very important to put a good thought in defining such policies because at the end what happens in my company is my responsibility. How well you are planned in terms of meeting eventualities, averting crisis, averting threats to network and users makes a big difference.

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Most networks today migrate to the cloud. Until now, people had storage infrastructure within the office. The latest concept is to have a data centre in the hands of the right people.

When you migrate to the cloud, all your information is going out of your office and coming back in. Having the kind of network, bandwidth and redundancy to deal with that is necessary. If your internet goes down for a couple of minutes, your productivity doesn’t suffer much if your data is in house.

But if your network goes down for even five minutes, you cannot do anything till it gets fixed because everything is somewhere else. Thus, planning for that kind of a network is important.