I originally wrote this after Paul Thurrott wrote a ridiculous article (http://www.windowsitpro.com/content1?topic=android-140400&catpath=google1) about all that is wrong with Android. After writing it, I felt better but I realized he isn’t the only one with this messed up perception of corporate life. I have been consulting and supporting companies in the area of IT operations for my entire 16 year career. I have worked for a vary diverse set of companies from GE and Chrysler to an Internet Startup to Mom and Pop companies and everything in between. While they all have their own issues and odd behaviors, they always have a few things in common. IT is always a drain on resources that no one wants to fund. The IT staff always has to do more with less than they had last year. Finally, they are all expected to figure out how to do the next big thing.
So why am I writing about this on a Corporate Linux Blog? A lot of the press are making an argument for the IT Professionals, the ones supporting the phones, computers and servers companies use every day. They somehow thinks it’s harder to manage different versions of Android than it is to support Windows, Mac OSX, and Linux which these same professionals support already. As an operations veteran in corporate environments of all sizes, I am frankly pretty insulted. My teams and I have been doing this kind of work for my entire career.
These press individuals have all obviously never been in the trenches when a virus like Nimda hit. They have not had to make the arguments to upper management that a consultants computer be brought up to the corporate standard for antivirus and patching or they shouldn’t be allowed on the company network. They are forgetting the days when Microsoft put out patches all throughout the month not just on one Tuesday. They do not deal with the fact that users routinely stop or refuse to take critical patches. They have not been at the help desk at 7AM on a Monday morning when <insert vendor name>’s software just messed up the entire call centers computers and the company is losing untold amounts of money every minute they are down.
The reality of corporate IT life is that only in the last couple of years have the tools we have available to us started to become effective at managing any OS. No matter how hard anyone tries and no matter how large the company is, things fail. Patches sometimes won’t install or they cause conflicts, or they break new things. That is just part of life and one of the major reasons why you test. More importantly, it’s why you always have a back out plan. None of that means that we can as IT Professionals tell our users not to use X critical software that only runs on Y OS. We as professionals are there to do what must be done, support our users. We are there to make things run as smoothly as possible. We tell them no when it will hurt them, train them when they need to do things in new ways, and generally try to stay as invisible as possible.
Companies have been looking at allowing personal devices into the corporation for years now. It has never been a whether or not we would have to allow them, but a when and how discussion, at least internally to IT. The inability to manage all of these closed and open solutions is the far larger problem today. As we all know where a problem exists, a line of companies will form to fix it. Symantec, IBM and others are set to roll out solutions by the end of the year to manage IOS and Android. They will add Windows Phone 7 when it reaches a critical mass. None of them is picking sides or describing the problem as more difficult for either of the platforms.
So the next time Mr. Thurrott or anyone in the press wants to talk about life as an IT Professional he or she should try being one for a while. For now though, go back to doing what you do best. Be a great reviewer and tell me what great things I have too look forward to from all of my favorite vendors. Leave the heavy lifting and worrying about how to protect corporate assets to the people who do that for a living.