In my 30+ years of work within the Information Technology world, I’ve had the opportunity to be involved in some really cool, interesting, and challenging environments. My career has led me through:
- software development for a leading-edge fiber manufacturer
- support for clinical research within the National Institute of Health
- architecting huge information systems sold to some of the largest utility companies in the US
- leading all the technology for one of the largest communications companies in Brazil
- starting my own regional ISP
- working with one of the coolest people I’ve ever known whose last name really is “Brain”
- building systems for the IC (Intelligence Community) that required me to live through and pass a full-scope polygraph
- enjoying the role of a Chief Technology or Chief Information Officer for over 12 years
Through it all, I never stopped learning and honing my skills. Below is just a sample of what I can do for you.
Strategy – the “art” of planning and directing…if it was only that simple.
Over the past 30 years, I’ve realized that there is a delicate balance between risk and reward. On the one hand, if you take no chances, prefer not to reach outside the box, or are mortally hesitant about embracing change, you take a huge risk in missing opportunities, losing ground to the competition, and potentially dooming your business. At the other end of that spectrum, blindly chasing opportunities (good or bad), seeking gains that are unrealistic, or ignoring advice of those that are trusted can result in equally poor outcomes. This is just as risky, but in a different way. The key is to move forward with a vetted strategy that is objective, realistic, and adaptable. Sometimes, that’s easily accomplished by reviewing it with someone outside your organization. That also forces you to really understand your plan – if you can’t communicate it to a 3rd-party, then maybe you haven’t done all your homework.
Strategies come in all shapes and sizes. Most start off with a great idea. A lot get sidetracked from history, constraints, or biases (this is where they tend to come all the way off the tracks). I’m a huge fan of KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid or Keep It Stupid Simple), so I tend to boil things down to bite-sized, realistic chunks of actionable steps. This is the key to both communicating and executing your strategy, along with the right level of energy and monitoring. Execution is paramount – creating a culture around the strategy that provides both leadership and flexibility is critical to taking a great strategy and producing fantastic outcomes (without killing everyone in the process).
Let me help you develop a strategic plan that matches your priorities, goals, constraints, resources, and budgets. It can be short-term, long-term, or anywhere in between. I can both help you create your roadmap and walk beside you as you begin to execute the plan so you arrive at “point b” relatively unscathed.
Software and hardware performance go hand-in-hand. A well-tuned system has efficient, well-written software running on hardware tuned to the software’s requirements. A poorly-performing system, hardware or software, can cost you money, time, user satisfaction, and even confidence within your organization. Performance evaluation, along with tuning can be a time-consuming and arduous process, even if you understand what the issues are. Without that understanding, it can often be a waste of time.
In my 30 years in multiple IT organizations, I’ve seen:
- architects who believe money is no object
- developers who don’t have a clue how code will perform in the real world
- system administrators who believe programmers are death to their infrastructure
- users who will never be satisfied with software’s speed
- management who simply throws money at more hardware without ever questioning what’s running on it, how it’s configured, or why something is slow today but wasn’t last week
An objective software architecture review, followed by a similar review for the hardware platform, can shine light on opportunities for improvement within the entire infrastructure. Let me bring a holistic approach to your systems and help you get started turbo-charging your Information Technology.
The cloud is today’s “must have” technology. If you aren’t already in the cloud, moving to the cloud, or researching the cloud, YOU’RE LATE! That’s the message that comes across anyway. However, if your needs don’t match up with what the cloud can provide, or your total cost of ownership is less than what you would spend on the cloud, you SHOULDN’T be in the cloud.
To make sound decisions about adopting and working within the cloud, you first need to understand your needs, current environment, and total cost of ownership or TCO. That TCO is very critical and often miscalculated, not by error but rather omission of vague costs that are hard to wrap your arms around. Once your understand what you have and what your costs are, the next step is to understand what the cloud is, what it isn’t, and what it costs, both in time and dollars.
I can help you with the “due diligence” on both these fronts – looking within and looking to the cloud. We can also build a migration approach and transition plan for any cloud implementations you choose to make.
Security of your information and assets is probably one of the most important things in your company. Theft of financial information, strategic plans, customer data, and intellectual property all could mean big trouble for your organization. Hacking and data theft aren’t just kid pranks but are now the realm of professionals and even state-sanctioned teams. Computer viruses now infect critical infrastructure. Theft from huge financial and personal data warehouses at Target and Yahoo put millions and millions of records in the hands of the unknown.
These aren’t the only security problems facing today’s organizations. Insider threat, where disgruntled or opportunistic employees take advantage of access to critical, private corporate information can really wreak havoc. Imagine an employee who has access to your customer database that holds credit card, social security, or other very valuable and private information. Now imagine that employee sells access to this database to your competition, and your security measures aren’t tight enough to stop them.
Let me put years of work with the IC (Intelligence Community) to work for you to analyze your current environment, risks to that environment, and how you can best protect what needs to be secured.
Like planning and strategy, sound hardware or software architecture is key to application success. A poorly designed or rushed architecture will most surely cost you time, money, and probably opportunities down the road. Those costs could escalate into legal, privacy, or even regulatory troubles if they are significant. The old adage “you can pay me now, or you can pay me later” is so true when it comes to architecting software or hardware infrastructure.
Whether you are just starting a project, in the middle of one, or would like to look at existing production systems, I can help you review hardware and/or software architecture and offer helpful advice that potentially:
- alleviates pain points
- improves efficiency, scalability, maintainability, availability
- reduces complexity, cost, maintenance, time to market and risk
Processes around Information Technology can involve many things from development to maintenance to problem resolution. Your processes around those different activities can be as important as the outcome. A haphazard process around software testing can produce very buggy software. Lack of a process around infrastructure updates can lead to outages and service interruptions. Yet, many organizations don’t have even a simple process around activities such as backups, disaster recovery, security breaches, infrastructure monitoring, or even 3rd-party tool updates.
A process doesn’t have to be complex, documentation-heavy, stringent, or costly, but it does need to be repeatable and serve a greater purpose. A good process can decrease time spent, cost, and resources, not to mention the obvious reduction in risk and liability. Information technology teams tend to focus on fighting fires, patching things, and often never resolving the root of an issue. That can be very costly in the long run. Let me help you improve your processes and build confidence in the outcomes of those activities.