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Archive for the ‘IT’ Category

What is technical debt?

“Rather go to bed without dinner than to rise in debt.” — Benjamin Franklin 

The thought of debt can be a scary one that conjures up images of credit cards, mortgages, car payments, and sleepless nights.  To most of us, it’s simple to define:  an amount of money you owe someone else. 

But, the concept of debt is not always related to dollars and cents.   

This was weighing heavily on my mind last week as I was looking at my end-of-year-calendar. 

In the IT field, the term “technical debt” is often used to describe the habit of taking technical shortcuts that, over time, accumulate and cause more work down the road.  Because it’s hard to quantify and often hidden from management until it’s out of control, the buildup of technical debt on a project is sometimes even more dangerous to a company than money owed on a balance sheet. 

Delaying IT infrastructure upgrades to save money, not testing software thoroughly because of a tight deadline, blowing off doing a disaster recovery plan—these are common examples of shortcuts that build up technical debts that will always come back to bite you if not paid off at some point. 

There are other types of debt as well.    

Some of us (me) eat too much and build up an “exercise debt” that we must pay off at some point if we want to maintain a healthy weight.   Some work too much, building up a “sleep debt.” Others play too much and amass a “work debt.”    

These non-financial “soft” debts are more difficult to measure than what we traditionally think of as debt, but they have real costs nonetheless.  And just like money debt, if you’re not careful, you can spend all your time and resources paying the interest instead of paying down the principal. 

Proactively managing different types of debt is an often overlooked but critical skill that determines the long-term viability of every business.  Soft debts should be tracked and managed in much the same way that financial debts are. 

In tech, we call it a “backlog.”  It’s simply a list of any tech-related shortcuts, band-aids or items we skimp on because of deadline or budget constraints, along with estimates of how much work (debt) it will take us to fix them down the road.  Some technical debts are intentional – a conscious choice to save time or money. Others are accidental, discovered in the form of bugs.   

As the backlog list grows, the key is to treat each item as a debt owed, the same way you would as if you were making payments on a bank loan.   This involves planning your “savings” (in the form of time) so that you can eventually make your “payments” (in the form of future work).    We basically mark off time on our calendars for every project to pay off our backlog debts. 

Earlier this year we began to explore this simple backlog approach to managing other areas of debt in our company.   As expected, just like tech, the constraints of time and budget created a backlog in everything from HR to marketing.  Things like updating our employee handbook and standardizing our email signatures made it to our backlog.  And just like tech debt, we have marked our calendars for our end of year payments to clear out the backlogs. 

Thinking of debt as something that is beyond a purely a financial metric has changed the way we operate.  It’s forced us to justify any shortcuts we take company-wide, because we are now tracking them as real costs rather than forgotten to-do lists that will inevitably come back to haunt us. Sleep well. 

JJ Rosen is the founder of Atiba.  A Nashville IT consulting and custom software development firm.  Visit www.atiba.com or www.atibanetworkservices.com for more info. 

 

 

Your email is an easy target for hackers — here’s how to secure it…

In this week’s USA Today / Tennessean column, Atiba founder JJ Rosen provides tips on how to secure your email.

http://www.tennessean.com/story/money/tech/2017/05/15/email-easy-target-hackers-dont-make-easier-them/319953001/

Contact info@atiba.com as needed for your security needs.

Atiba partners with ServiceNow

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Atiba Holdings, LLC announced today that the company has entered into a new partnership with ServiceNow.

ServiceNow is a platform that is quickly growing to become the leading service management solution for enterprises to manage their entire business around.

With roots in IT, ServiceNow’s service management solutions address all the service domains of modern enterprises including human resources, facilities, and finance. IT started it for themselves, then went on to prove it is possible to apply service management to use cases outside of IT.  And by doing so, successfully deliver a modern service experience.

For more info on ServiceNow and Atiba’s expertise contact us today!

Based in Nashville, Tennessee, Atiba serves as a one-stop shop for strategic web design, web development, CIO consulting services and business intelligence, custom software development, mobile app development, IT support, network services and security. Atiba’s service divisions include Atiba Network, Atiba Software and Wheelhouse Marketing.

Nashville Google Fiber

Nashville Google Fiber

Google announced yesterday that they have chosen to expand their Google Fiber gigabit Internet service to Nashville. This is big news for Nashville and all of Middle Tennessee.

Gigabit Internet service translates to connection speeds of 1 Gbps, or 1000 Mbps. This means some user’s speeds will increase up to 100 times faster than their current, basic broadband service.

History has shown that with increased bandwidth comes increased productivity.  As we have moved many of our clients to the cloud over the past few years, bandwidth has become more important than ever.  Connections of this magnitude will change the landscape of what we use and view on our laptops and PDAs. Faster Internet speeds will translate to greater convenience, more flexibility, seamless collaboration, and open the doors to using technology in brand new ways. That equates to gaining efficiencies and building economic growth. All good news for our fair city and surrounding areas!

The city is buzzing with excitement

“It’s exciting to see Nashville recognized as a high opportunity, high growth technology market. The ubiquity of online content and data will affect businesses of all sizes in a positive way.  The future is now even brighter for Nashville.  Atiba is excited to be a part of that growth.” says JJ Rosen, CEO of Atiba.

Mayor Karl Dean added after Google’s announcement, “I am happy to announce that after almost a year of anticipation, Google Fiber is coming to Nashville… There was a lot of competition, and I think they’ve made a very wise choice.”

Google has already successfully launched the service in Provo, Kansas City and Austin. In the second wave of roll-outs, Google will launch the new, subscription-based service in several Nashville neighborhoods beginning in 2015, along with other areas of Atlanta, Raleigh-Durham and Charlotte.

The Atiba Team is excited about the future and embraces Nashville Google Fiber as part of that mix.  We are already exploring ways our clients can leverage this new service. If you have a question or idea of how to leverage gigabit Internet or another service, give us a shout by emailing us at Atiba.Team@atiba.com

Unified Communications: The end is near for desk phones

By J.J. Rosen
For The Tennessean

“Mr. Watson, come here — I want to see you.”

With those famous words that Alexander Graham Bell uttered in 1876, the telephone was born. It was an amazing technical advancement that changed the future.

Virtualization, Storage Solutions and Unified Communications Joins Half Geek-Half Human Family

Atiba Network Services, LLC (www.atibanetworkservices.com) has announced the hiring of Sr. Network Engineer Brian Coulter. He joins the Atiba family from NFIB where he worked as a Sr. Systems Administrator on a variety of projects such as: server virtualization, datacenter optimization, Microsoft Exchange migrations and Cisco administration. Coulter joins Atiba’s strategic IT team that delivers customized managed services solutions to clients.

Mobile Devices Present Challenges for Employers

Your phone is having an identity crisis.

Not unlike us humans, our smartphones (and for that matter, all of our mobile devices) are swamped juggling both our work and personal lives. This is presenting some interesting challenges for employers and employees alike.

Multiple research reports show that almost 70 percent of employees use their personal smartphones and tablets to access corporate data and applications. Despite resistance from IT departments, Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is clearly what employees want, allowing them to manage work, home and fun on their personally owned mobile devices.

From the employer side, BYOD has both pros and cons. On the upside, employers can save tons of money on mobile hardware and services while enhancing productivity by giving employees the convenience to work more from anywhere at any time. However, this productivity boost and savings comes at the expense of security and control. Allowing personally owned devices on multiple platforms (iOS, Android, Windows Phone) to access corporate networks and data can be a security, operational and, in some cases, compliance nightmare.

So what is a CIO or any business owner to do?

One popular way to manage company mobile devices is to implement Mobile Device Management software (MDM). MDM allows a company to manage all aspects of an employee’s mobile device remotely. While this is a great option for company-owned devices, it can be a bit awkward and downright intrusive on employee-owned devices.

Fortunately, there is a new breed of tools coming out that support a hybrid approach, keeping both employees and employers happy with respect to the BYOD movement. This new approach focuses on managing and securing just the applications and data on your phone rather than the phone itself. So instead of your IT department managing your entire device, it is able to manage only the applications and data that the company really cares about.

There is little need for a company to manage your Words with Friends app in order to allow you to use corporate email or SharePoint or work on a spreadsheet on the company’s network. Look for these new Mobile Application Management solutions (MAMs) to make the BYOD approach increasingly popular over the next couple of years.

While there is no current market leader or industry standard in the BYOD market, major players like Symantec, AirWatch, Citrix and many other smaller companies are all vying to establish a foothold around BYOD. This competition will eventually create a win-win for employees and employers by solving the unique challenges of your phone’s identity crisis in the workplace.

Give us a call today to discuss MDM solutions for your business: 615-353-1921 ext 200