Enterprise platforms

A business relies on many IT platforms, some of which the end-users never really feel or appreciate, such as

  • Authentication services
  • Identity access management
  • Enterprise application and data integration (EAI, ETL, etc.)
  • etc.

and others of which they do feel and appreciate

  • Messaging (the fancy name for email)
  • Unified communications (the fancy name for services such as instant messaging)
  • Company portals and intranets
  • Collaboration platforms such as Sharepoint
  • etc.

Starting in 2008 I got a real education in these technologies because I was asked to manage teams of people that provided these services.  Today, after many years, my key learning is that to utilize these technologies successfully (and the products behind them) ideally requires having technical specialists with deep-level technical know-how.  Ten or fifteen years ago this was different: back then, an average system administrator could run Exchange, ActiveDirectory, and probably look after the WAN and LAN.  Today, especially for larger companies, this is no longer true. The products behind these technologies have become so complex, it is best to ensure you have optimally installed and configured systems, operated by top notch people.

Recommendation: Microsoft Health Checks

I am in no way affiliated with Microsoft, but I am happy to recommend one of their key services: Health Checks.  They are available for a variety of products / areas such as Exchange, ActiveDirectory, Lync, SCCM, SCSM, VMM, etc. They are not inexpensive, but for a fee Microsoft will send a team of experts to your business, and these experts will use specially-developed tools to carry out a detailed analysis of your environment. At least in my case, I received several high-level management presentations, as well as huge Excel files containing topics to be addressed, their risks, and their priorities. Now, the key point is not to take this data at face value; hopefully you’ll have your own experts, and they can weigh the remediation points with historical know-how and the needs of your company.

Time and again I was impressed by (1) the talent and know-how of the crew that Microsoft sends in; (2) the depth of the analysis and custom tools Microsoft uses; (3) how quickly you get a terrific remediation list, with risks and impacts, that can be used as a starting point for discussions about improvements.