Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Beginning....

Well, this is the beginning of something I have been thinking about doing for a long time. It's an attempt to publish my thoughts on managing the IT Operations of a small business. Small business IT is very different from big business IT. We don't have the large budgets, large staff, and corporate politics that is prevalent in a large organization's IT department. Many small business IT departments are a "one-man-show", or even one person who handles IT as a secondary or third role. That works for a lot of businesses, but when the business grows or changes, it is time to bring in outside help. Normally, that's where local IT Solutions providers come into play. They work great for the most part if you select a good one that doesn't have ulterior motives to "sell" you things that you don't really have to have or need, in order to "churn up" business and sales. That's where a lot of those IT Solutions providers make a mistake. When someone who "knows" what they are doing steps in, it often gets ugly. Sometimes, they aren't as responsive as you need them to be. That's where I got started at the company I presently work for over ten years ago.

My employer had been in business for 15 years as a different type of business serving a different market than we presently do. It was an accounting firm in the beginning that moved into the 401k record-keeping software business in the early 90's. The product ran off of the IBM AS400 platform. In the late 90's, the company transformed itself again into a financial-services software company. The applications ran on the Windows NT Server and Workstation platform with an Oracle back-end. Yes, some of the reason for the choice of Oracle as "our" DBMS was partly due to Oracle's reputation at the time. The large companies we were "wooing" already had the Oracle DBMS in place with the expertise to manage it. That made the choice somewhat easier. At the time, SQL Server wasn't even in the same solar system with Oracle.

Years ago, I thought the choice of Oracle wasn't the best choice based on it's high cost. What I see now is that our clients databases have grown exponentially in size. Yes, it is a fact in my experience that Oracle scales far above the capabilities of SQL Server. It did then and still does now. However, the gap has been narrowed, but it's still there. No, I am not biased towards Oracle. I am open to all vendors and solutions. I believe that each solution fits a particular niche or need that they all can't meet equally. Yes, our applications probably could run on SQL Server, but when you have tables that are measured in the hundred-gigabyte plus size range along with indices in the fifty-gigabyte or larger size, yes, Oracle outshines SQL Server. Go ahead and post your flaming comments, but it won't sway my opinion whatsoever. I will just delete your comment and move on. I'm not here to "make friends". Again, I am here writing *MY* thoughts and ideas. I will say, SQL Server bests Oracle in certain situations, as does MySQL or Postgresql. Believe me, they all have their place. I say the same thing about the age-old argument of Windows vs. Mac OS vs. Linux. I use all three for different tasks. I don't favor one over the other.

I prefer Windows Server 2008 R2 for user management, file sharing, print sharing, and a few other things. When it comes to corporate email, nothing rivals Exchange Server 2010 in my mind. Small business that can't afford Exchange or don't want the complexity, will likely LOVE Google Apps for it's simplicity and cost-savings. I would LOVE to move our business over to Google Apps Premier. My reasons for not doing it is that their support plain SUCKS. The trial I did showed me that. The only support available was via e-mail, and that was trial of futility. Canned script email responses that basically said "RTFM". I did, but it didn't answer my questions. I decided to just flush the project entirely. I'm not going to pay thousands of dollars for something to be told "RTFM". At least with Exchange, if I get stuck, at worst I get Prakash in Bangalore that DOES know what he is doing.

Yes, a long winded post, but I think it will give you a bit better insight to what I do.
I don't want to "write a book" for my introductory post, so, I will leave it at that for now.

Stay tuned for the next post. I have a LOT of ideas to post about in the future.


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