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Information Technology Digest:
Stable Computer Environments
by Wolfgang Blauen, CISSP 
1. Basic Principals

Computer problems! - Every company has experienced them. They are a fact of life and they are inherent to the complexity of today’s corporate environments. Or are they really?

In my years as an IT professional I’ve seen so many companies struggle with the simplest of tasks because their computers “died” on them. Everything from losing data and jobs due to hard disk failures through unscheduled equipment down-time due to hardware problems to catastrophic virus infections requiring massive clean-up efforts to get things back on track. The reasons are as many as there are components to the company’s infrastructure and yet, most companies sit and wait for the catastrophe to happen. But are these situations really unavoidable? Is the effort necessary to prevent them really that unreasonably high?

This series of articles is intended as a guide to producing a stable and protected computing environment in your small or medium sized company without breaking the bank. It will give examples and provide some explanations on common reasons for computer problems and show alternatives to avoid them.

In this first article I want to talk a little about the criticality of components and what causes them to fail. Surprisingly enough, it is not really the hardware or software itself that is to blame for most outages. In my experience it is change that causes the most problems. The IT industry uses the humorously intended phrase “don’t touch a running system” but many do-it-yourselfers should actually take it quite serious.

The ease of use and the computer industry’s “you can do it” approach to what they call “plug and play” have created a mind set that implies a much higher degree of simplicity than is actually the case. By allowing everyone to customize their computers a system administrator has a nightmare of one-off systems at hand and no effective way to control it. For that very reason it is imperative to keep as many systems in the company at the same level of hardware, software and configuration as possible.

(read on ...) 

Copyright (c) 2008 by In Scope-Solutions, Inc. 

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