19 October 2010

OPS Risk: Diversifying Systems Portfolio...

What kind of testing, experiments and operational risk projects are your organization running simultaneously right now? As an example, do you have an OPS Risk project where a business unit has moved entirely to using "Google Apps" for their entire computing utility platform? Migrated the e-mail system to Gmail, eliminated the use of Microsoft Office Suite and Outlook for the purpose of increasing your understanding of the benefits, vulnerabilities or other metrics. If you have not, the question is why not?

We recommend you do this now. Move an entire business unit, such as the crisis management team or operational risk management department to jump off the "Microsoft Mother Ship" and develop several metrics categories. Buy everyone a Blackberry or Android based smart phone and couple this with an Android-based Tablet PC or soon to the market the Blackberry Playbook. Enable a domain for use by the team for all participants to get on Google Apps and keep the team dedicated to being enterprise connected, yet possibly more resilient to any major internal business disruption.

You must establish metrics beyond the technology and app compatibility and focus in on productivity, accessibility and any failures in the systems themselves. Once you have untethered your team from the Microsoft-centric platforms in the enterprise and now are living in the virtual cloud or outsourced world of using Google Apps or other SaaS or IaaS-based solutions, the testing is only beginning.

The behaviors that your employees now take upon themselves to work within this new set of tools, devices and services may very well pave the way for the organization to be more resistant to several corporate plagues. Besides the normal scourge of Microsoft related exploits by Malware and Trojan horses it would be interesting to measure how people actually feel. Do they feel or have an attitude of being more productive or less? Are the new behaviors that they are experimenting with doing their work giving them more insight, increased speed to answers or greater reach into the information they need to make important decisions?

And even if this team was finding that there were missing capabilities from their Microsoft Exchange and Outlook apps, you could still migrate them to a hosted solution outside your own enterprise. This outsourced yet hosted somewhere else Microsoft-based platform could be the answer where you have teams that must be using a Microsoft-based OS desktop, tethered to a Microsoft-based enterprise app. There are even now governments making the case for the exodus to Google Apps:

The debate continues about whether cloud computing and hosted services put sensitive data at risk or actually realize the cost savings that are promised. Some local governments have determined that the return on investment for moving to cloud-based services isn’t sufficient yet to justify moving in that direction. But the concern isn’t universal. Orlando, Fla.; Washington, D.C.; and some departments in New Mexico and Colorado have already migrated to Google Apps.

This year, Google even launched a version of its productivity suite tailored for government customers that meets federal IT security benchmarks. According to the company, Apps for Government is the first cloud computing suite to receive Federal Information Security Management Act-moderate accreditation, designed to standardize IT security across the government and relieve concerns about perceived security risks.

“By the end of the migration, most customers are convinced that data would be safer in Google data centers,” Cohn said.

Not all governments believe in cloud computing as the smart solution. Some local governments don’t see the cost benefits in migrating unless it’s a last resort. Some observers believe that was the case in L.A.

Last year, the city decided to implement Gmail on more than 30,000 desktops and adopt the suite. The five-year deal made L.A. the first government of its scale to choose Gmail for the enterprise.

Whether you are the City of Los Angeles, Washington, D.C. or other smaller jurisdictions, you can start to see that the momentum is starting to take effect. So the Operational Risk Management team at your organization might be on to something as they break away from the corporate Mother Ship, to test and try the resiliency and the productivity of another platform outside the Microsoft Suite.

As you begin to explore the number of new apps that are working on the integration with Google you start to see other places that maybe, you can eliminate Microsoft Excel, Word and Project Management:

The Google Apps Marketplace offers products and services designed for Google users, including installable apps that integrate directly with Google Apps. Installable apps are easy to use because they include single sign-on, Google's universal navigation, and some even include features that integrate with your domain's data.

Operational Risk Management is about testing and experimenting to find the vulnerabilities in your current environment. It's about establishing teams with new and different ways to running their day to day business in order to increase the resilience of certain core capabilities within the enterprise. Have you ever had a financial planner say, "You need to diversify your portfolio."? Let's just hope you listened to this piece of wise advice these past two years...

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