In an earlier column, I wrote about the changing role of the CIO. Released from concerns about the day to day operations, the new focus is on the business and more strategic initiatives. How do we streamline processes, improve customer service, drive revenues up and costs down. Can we introduce new products or services and take the business to a new level.
This new found freedom comes from the ability to rely upon high quality products and services. Where it was once necessary to operate and maintain the entire computing environment, hosting centers and cloud computing can now deliver high performance, stable platforms at reasonable cost. Where key applications once ran in-house, complete applications are available in a software as a service (SaaS) form. Salesforce, Workday and other providers offer complete solutions for customer management, sales management, benefits managment and so on.
But there are some aspects of the job that are still inescapable. Having effective controls and procedures in place to ensure employees and customers have proper access to information resources can be even more complicated in this hybrid world of internal and external systems with a variety of operating systems.
The increased demands of regulation, particularly for public corporations, and reduced internal resources, force the CIO has to find ways to do more with less without compromising the integrity of this function. This is why I found PowerOne from Weston Software Inc.to be so interesting. PowerOne is a utility which allows your Windows System Administrator to use the same familiar tools used to administer the Windows environment to also manage Unix, Linux, MAC and other environments in your network or the cloud.
Windows is by far the most prevalent server platform in companies today. But there are plenty of Unix and Linux servers, as well as a collection of MACs to be found. It can be a chore to provision and control access to these different systems, usually requiring someone conversant in the user administration functions of each.
PowerOne allows your primary administrator through the Microsoft Management Console to manage all of them. Using only the capabilities of the MMC, a new user can be provisioned and privileged properly in one or more of these other environments. This not only speeds provisioning but ensures accuracy as well. Accounts and privileges will be properly aligned across systems offering the end user single sign on capability. It can even extend through various hypervisors into a public, private or hybrid cloud.
I had the opportunity to meet with the management at Weston Software Inc.to learn more and actually see the product in action. Not only is it fast and easy, it installs and can be configured in minutes. Moreover, it is client-less, interacting immediately with all of the servers it will manage without adding any software to them.
"Apparently, the fact that we can access over 1 million records so quickly and without adding to the infrastructure is without precedent in the field of systems management," claims Hank Voight, CTO of the Westport based company.
I watched as an account was created for me on the main (Windows) server and immediately recognized on a couple of Linux servers without ever leaving the MMC. PowerOne produced some reports at the end to demonstrate the ability of the product to meet audit requirements, another frequent time consuming and error prone task.
Ed Samson, CEO said, "Our solution aggregates all the [necessary] information from all systems in minutes, ensuring data quality and integrity, and without additional manipulation needed. The auditing and reporting feature is powerful and possibly alone worth the cost of the whole system."
Weston Software Inc. are planning significant changes to the product which already links other systems back to Microsoft Active Directory, and offers drag and drop file movement across platforms. I know a winning solution when I see one and I can't wait to see what these two innovative business leaders have in store for us next.
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