10 tech-management tips

Ten simple tips to manage your enterprise technology

Ten simple tips to manage your enterprise technology:

No. 1: Fine-tune your IPS.

"There's a lot of set-it-and-forget-it mentality in intrusion-prevention system marketing, and it's dangerous," says David Newman, president of testing facility Network Test and a Network World Lab Alliance member.

Fuzzing, in which the exploit is changed just enough for the security mechanism to miss it, trips up many IPSs, Network World's recent IPS test showed.

Network managers need to understand how each exploit works and how their IPS detects them, and then upgrade that protection routinely.

No. 2: Sell security by its benefits.

Start selling security to the purse-holders the way you do all other technology investments -- in measurable terms that relate to the business, recommends Mandy Andress, president of testing facility ArcSec Technologies and a Network World Lab Alliance member. Rather than saying how dangerous viruses are as a method to gain the budget for a reputation services antispam defense, for example, illustrate how much productivity could be gained by adding another layer of antispam control.

No. 3: Automate desktop and network access.

Wireless badges can come in handy for automated access control to desktop PCs, particularly those shared by multiple users in medical exam rooms, warehouses, call centers and the like.

For example, Northwestern Memorial Physicians Group implemented Ensure Technologies' XyLoc MD, which uses 900MHz radio-frequency technology encoded on staff ID badges for authentication, says Guy Fuller, IT manager at the Chicago healthcare organization. This saves the staff time while ensuring that network access and sensitive information are not available to other users.

No. 4: Link physical access to enterprise applications.

IP-based building-access systems built on industry-standard servers and using the existing data network are more affordable than ever because of open architecture products. Advances in server-management technology mean these systems not only are deployable by network (rather than the physical security) staff but are centrally manageable. Plus, they can integrate with ERP applications and network access-control systems.

Georgia-Pacific, a US$20 billion paper manufacturer in Atlanta, is rolling out Automated Management Technologies' WebBrix, an IP-based building-access system, to the majority of its 400 locations. IT used WebBrix's open application interface to write a custom application called Mysecurity that integrates the system with SAP, among other duties. When employees swipe their badges to gain access to the building, they also are sending data to SAP for time and attendance tracking, says Steven Mobley, senior systems analyst at Georgia-Pacific.

No. 5: Delegate an operating systems guru.

"Operating systems configuration can seem to some like a black art," says Tom Henderson, principle researcher for testing facility ExtremeLabs and a Network World Lab Alliance member. Setting the wrong combination is bad news. For example, large memory-block move options can affect the amount of dirty cache with which the operating system must deal, he says. If memory/caching options are balanced incorrectly, the machine could freeze. By assigning a staffer to master the voluminous documentation published by mainstream operating system vendors, servers can be safely fine-tuned to optimal performance for every application. The guru also should master Web server and BIOS setting options.

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