Column

All IT wants for Christmas is...

Jan Stafford

Who knew I'd get requests for viruses and stun guns to shock IT users when I volunteered to forward IT pros' Christmas wish lists to Santa? For the most part, those writing letters to Santa asked for goodies for their data centers. I've mailed their missives to the North Pole, as promised, but I did jot down some of the wonderful things IT managers want for Christmas. Check their lists. Check them twice. If you send your list to me at

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Dear Santa, that would be nice, and you could get a surprise. (See offer below.)

On Christmas Eve, network architect Todd Sanders will be dreaming of high-powered, high-speed machines, not sugarplums. And, Santa: Don't send just any machine, because Todd knows exactly what he wants to find in his data center on Christmas morning. "My wish list is to get an 2x HP nx9030 laptop, 4x IBM eServer machines with 40 blades, 2x ES7000 servers from Unisys and 2x Tigicorp Linux 7.3 kernel data managers with solid-state disks using fiber channel storage and SCSI disks to connect to a Qlogic fiber," he said.

Since Todd works for Centrepetal Solution Strategies LLP of Bowie, Md., and not major league baseball, it's OK to put his "Novell SuSE, Exchange, Citrix and SQL servers on steroids" with GigE or InfiniBand switches that create a virtual high-speed disk world. On top of that, he's asking Santa for dual DS3 connections, all secured with PKI, Nessus, IDS - Snort, PIDS, NIDS, Checkpoint FW Nokia IP380 and 535 FW from Cisco.

Finding SuSE Linux Professional 9.2 under her tree would delight webmaster Alexandra Andrews. Some books would be nice, too, but not the IT books to which Andrews often contributes articles. She administers over a dozen medical Web sites, which has piqued her interest in medical history. So, she'd like Santa to fill her IT bookcase with Canon of Medicine by Avicenna; Anglo-Saxon Medicine by Malcolm Laurence Cameron; "Medicine in the Crusades : Warfare, Wounds and the Medieval Surgeon" by Piers D. Mitchell; and a few others on similar subjects that Santa might have laying around his workshop.

Also living in the medical world is Terry Nolte, an IT manager for CoxHealth, in Springfield, Mo. He wants Santa's elves to upgrade the keyboard/video/mouse switch (KVM) in his IT shop's server room. While they're add it, he asked, could Santa give him a new laptop with wireless access throughout his home? Obviously, Terry wants to work and watch football at the same time. I'm with him on that one!

Like Oprah, I'm including a hardship case. Get out your hankies. In 2004, when hurricanes struck his company's data center in Vero Beach, Fla., Burdock Group IT manager Tim Fritz had to cope with downtime due to blackouts and flooding. Fortunately, no equipment was lost, but the offices and data center had to be moved. No wonder, then, that Tim asked Santa for more time to do some of the things he doesn't get a chance to do -- attend seminars and accomplish more of the non-critical IT tasks that continually accumulate on his to-do list.

Tim said: "For Christmas, as we move into our new, post-hurricane office, I would like a new server rack to accommodate our servers, router, switches and uninterruptible power supplies and KVM to manage it all," he said.

And, Santa, could you get Scrooge to increase Tim's tiny IT budget? With some more ho-ho-dough, he could hire some employees or consultants and buy the equipment he needs to reconfigure the networks in his company's Florida and Washington, D.C., offices.

"When the networks were originally configured (not by me), we were small enough that a peer-to-peer network was sufficient," he said. "Now that we've grown, we need to transition to a server-client based network at both locations. We probably need a moderate to high-end server in the Florida office to replace the existing application server, which can then be moved to the D.C. office and used as the primary server there." That's a tall order, Santa, but Timmy said he's been "very, very good."

Three wish lists, ranging from small to great to irate expectations, came from Bryan Tidd, director of technology for City of Canton, Ga.

  • Bryan's small-is-beautiful list asks for two new Dell 2650 servers, one to replace an older DNS server, and one for Web applications in development.
  • On Bryan's "outlandish, but what the heck" list is a four-to-eight node cluster running Linux.
  • Just for fun and a bit of stress relief, Bryan would like a combination cell phone/PDA/stun-gun or electroshock seats for all his users. "Every time they ask for something at the last minute -- BUZZZZT! Or, maybe even random zapping."

If you wish you'd thought of that, then you and Bryan both need a long Christmas vacation!

What's on your or your IT shop's IT wish list? The fifth person to send in a list gets a copy of Robin "Roblimo" Miller's new book from Prentice Hall PTR, Point & Click Linux: Your Guide to Trouble-Free Computing. Send your list to Dear Santa.

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