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With large global firms depending on suppliers and business partners in many locations around the world, it is pretty likely that all organizations will at some point be disrupted by some sort of crisis. And it is also pretty likely in this event that some aspect of IT will come into play — either as a source of or in response to the crisis. What is IT’s role in both crisis prevention and crisis mitigation? What kinds of tools, applications, strategies, and infrastructures work best to facilitate crisis response? The January 2011 Cutter IT Journal seeks to shed some light on this pressing issue. Proposals of interest are due 22 October. To respond, please visit …

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There are no computer systems that are “too important to fail.” Failure, as any competent engineer will tell you, is always an option. Yet modern societies increasingly depend on systems to be foolproof. Electrical grids, air traffic control, automobile control, and medical equipment are all life-critical systems, and none of us wants to depend on life-critical systems with a high failure rate. Nobody wants to trust a large portion of his life savings to a financial trading system that is subject to unpredictable failure either. The same is true of the Internet itself. What we need to do is take a step back and study the design, architecture, and feedback control of these systems. Without …

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Jim Highsmith and I have finalized the content and the format for our forthcoming Cutter Summit seminar. The seminar is structured around a case study which includes four exercises. We expect the case study/exercises will take close to two-thirds of the allotted time (the morning of October 27). In the other third we will provide the theory and practices to be used in the seminar exercises and (hopefully) in many future technical debt engagements participants in the workshop will oversee. The seminar does not require deep technical knowledge. It targets participants who possess conceptual grasp of software development, software governance and IT operations/ITIL. If you feel like reading a little about technical debt prior to …

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Legacy modernization — seemed like a good idea at the time. So why do so many modernization projects end in failure? How can we properly measure the complexity of the task and plan the project accordingly? What are the best ways to modernize and extract value from a legacy application while at the same time preserving business knowledge? The upcoming issue of Cutter IT Journal seeks to tackle these tough questions and provide insight into the strategies and approaches that can lead to successful legacy modernization initiatives. Join the debate in the December 2010 Cutter IT Journal — with Guest Editor Don Estes. To share your perspective with us, send us a short article abstract …

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Early this year, fellow Cutter Consultants Mitch Ummel, Mike Rosen, and I wrote an Executive Report on the Smart Grid. In that report, we talked about all the potential that the Smart Grid offers, how it would be designed, and also about the serious problems that such an ambitious undertaking faces — especially problems related to reliability and security. We expressed fears that since the next generation of Smart Grid electrical utilities is based on current standards taken from the Internet and the current generation of operating systems, it would be subject to serious attacks by more and more sophisticated hackers which, in turn, could seriously jeopardize the reliability and security of our most critical …

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The worst mistake is not telling the boss. Or so said an article a few years ago in the Washington Post about the importance of immediately disclosing problems or mistakes to your boss.1 I am a great believer in this idea as well, which is part of what the late management theorist and practitioner Peter Drucker called “information responsibility.” Without knowing the true state of play, it is pretty difficult to manage enterprise risk effectively.2 This Washington Post article came to mind again as I read a Bloomberg News article last week dealing with the roots of the financial meltdown,3 as well as from a recent coincidental conversation I had with a friend of mine …

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Security and data privacy/regulatory considerations are two of the biggest bottlenecks standing in the way of more organizations adopting cloud computing. Simply put, many organizations have serious misgivings about using cloud computing — in particular, software as a service (SaaS) offerings — due to regulatory requirements prohibiting them from using the cloud for storing sensitive data, or due to concerns about the privacy and security of data residing in the cloud. Organizations have also gone to considerable lengths to put the systems and processes in place that enable them to enforce consistent access control policies for their enterprise applications. Thus, it is quite understandable that many organizations remain leery of the security capabilities for ensuring …

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Apple continues to make waves with the iPad and the iPhone. The iPad is probably already a US $2 billion line of business in a scant 80 days. Name another product that generated so much revenue so fast. I am finding how Apple pulled off that feat to be a more significant lesson in the design and engineering of a businesses than the glitz and splash of the iPad usability. Apple is adept at building business models perhaps more so than devices, at least for now. But I think we haven’t seen anything yet. All the competitors — such as Dell, HP, phone manufacturers, and others — that were caught with their pants down when …

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The e-Government movement has taken the IT industry by storm as new and emerging technologies are being used to enhance the delivery of government services between agencies, and to the public and private sectors. The anticipated outcome of e-government is better collaboration, transparency, and efficiency of government interactions. Join the debate in the November 2010 Cutter IT Journal — with Guest Editor Mitchell Ummel — as we examine the opportunities and challenges presented by the application of emerging technologies in this new era of e-Government. To share your perspective with us, send us a short article abstract by September 3. For the full Call for Papers, visit here.

 
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In a recent e-mail exchange with Cutter Fellow Lynne Ellyn (SVP and CIO of DTE), she mentioned that one characteristic of agile leaders is providing focus and clarity for an organization or team. Her comments sparked my thinking about why it’s so hard to be a good agile leader. We tend to create lists of what leaders do or their agilelike behaviors, but these lists and the item descriptions obscure the difficulty in actually being an agile leader. Consider providing focus and clarity. It sounds simple, but it’s not. Why do we embrace agility in the first place? Agility helps us manage change and uncertainty. Turbulence — business, economic, and technological — creates change, which …

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