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Technology Adoption Program

Every CIO's office is challenged with the amount of computing freedom it should allow its corporate users. Thus the spectrum reaches from Stalinist: " We tell you what bios version and revision your hardware has and what tie you have to wear before you can login" to Peacenik " Everything is connected, the universe will guide you in the selection of hard- and software". As we all no extremes usually don't yield the best results and we should stay on the Middle Path. I like the approach IBM is taking here, which I would encourage to copy. IBM has clear guidelines about workstation security. Any device connecting to IBM's internal network or processing IBM data must comply. We have tools that check compliance and help users to adjust if there are problems and to escalate them if they don't get fixed. The CIO's office maintains a list of approved software. This software comes in three flavors: software that is part of our standard image, software that can be installed when needed and comes with full support (you can call the help desk and open a trouble ticket) and software provided as-is (no trouble ticket, but discussion forums and user self help). Installation is provided from an integrated tool in IBM's w3 intranet. You pick your software from the list and the rest is fully automated. After going through a briefing we also can use OpenSource software as we deem fit (within the margins set in that briefing).
The CIO's office doesn't prescribe the hardware. You can use you own computer - what an increasing number of IBMers do when switching to a Mac. Of course most IBMers will use a Thinkpad that is provided in a set of standard variations (X series, T series or W series).
After all IBM is a technology company, so how do we handle all the latest and greatest software? Since the CIO needs to provide full support for official software and upgrading a 400k strong workforce isn't done in an afternoon, something bridging that gap was needed. So about five years ago IBM created the Technology Adoption Program. In the TAP program IBM's own latest and greatest software is available. But it is not only software you find (or will find) in IBM's price list, but innovations that have been created for internal use. As a matter of fact a huge number of TAP innovations are created by IBMers not working in software development. TAP allows everybody to contribute, try and vote. Successful tools graduate one day from TAP to the CIO's official supported list. While you find software from all IBM software brands here, I mostly pay attention to Lotus stuff. We have heaps of plug-ins, a modified mail template, Notes 8.5.2, SUT etc.
One can also find the IBM Open Client here. For Linux users we have 3 levels. IBM maintains their own internal software sources and we have stable, beta and experimental. So based on one's taste for novelty vs. security any of the three can be picked (Easy to guess which one I picked). Using a TAP approach has a clear set of advantages:
  • The CIO's office can evaluate software on a broader basis
  • Users with low risk tolerance can stay with well established fully internally supported software
  • User who like new stuff can be provided with the latest and greatest without having to make an enterprise wide commitment
  • Innovation can be fostered. With TAP in place any piece of software becomes visible to the enterprise at large. Also internal contributions (e.g. we have corporate templates on TAP) can easily be shared.
  • Better control: TAP allows a liberal look-down: You want to use this or that? No problem, we put it on tap. No other stuff please.
Of course funding and acquisition of licences need to be handled by TAP, but that's a different story for another time. If you ask nicely IBM will help you to adopt your own TAP. As usual: YMMV.

Posted by on 09 May 2010 | Comments (0) | categories: Business


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