Internet Resource Management
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Internet resource management has been the domain of Internet technicians in managing the addressing structure of the Internet to enable the explosive growth of Internet use, and to have enough addressing space for that growth. There is however a different version of this concept used by Sequel Technology upon its release of "Internet Resource Manager'. This concept has to do with managing all network resources available to an enterprise, obtaining a view of exactly what resources are being used, and a tool to manage those resources in tandem with Acceptable Use Policies to reduce the total cost of Internet ownership.
This Sequel concept of "Internet Resource Management" has been further moved from the highly technical term, towards meaning a management process taken up at the enterprise level by visionGateway. In this concept, "Internet Resources" are all those network and Internet templates, tools, software systems, gateways and websites that an enterprise owns, manages, or to those systems and sites that the enterprise may have access to through a network.
Need for Internet Resource Management
Internet Resource Management (IRM) Practices are "Business" practices as distinct from "Technology" practices; the need for business management of Internet Resources comes about because so many business activities are now reliant on the Internet being "available" that business managers are now requiring capabilities and tools to be available for the best management of campaigns, online activities, purchasing and more.
Everyday Internet Resources of a business are being used by employees, administrators, 3rd parties, customers & Joe and Jill public. Managers want to know that employees are able to see any server across the Internet that has information or services that employees needs to get her job done. More and more services such as accounting packages, Customer Relationship Management tools, spreadsheets, document editors are obtained from servers outside the local area network of the employee.
In addition, however, employees with Internet access now have available the biggest entertainment, video playing, music acquirement tools, shopping facilities, banking and more. A study of 10,000 Internet users has reported that 44.7% workers use the Internet for an average of 2.9 hours a day on personal web/Internet activity.
Currently there are a raft of programs available to businesses each of which focus control over one or two facets of management. Businesses use a software filtering product that maintains a substantial database of sites in many 'categories'. Users can determine which categories they want 'blocked'. The Internet requests are passed through a server and a user policy defines those sites available to employees.
Software packages that offer businesses with a means to manage one or other aspect of Internet Resource usage includes: VitalSuite performance management, NetIQ, Watchfire, SurfControl, InetSoft, Clearswift, Elron Software Webfilter, Fine Ground AppScope, Cordiant Performance Management, Boost Works Boost Edge, Redline, Accrue, Seerun, Maxamine, Packeteer and INTERScepter by visionGateway.
What needs to be managed includes:
- the role a connected user from the business needs to play when online,
- the range of services that this particular role may require such as whether connection to the Internet for this role requires to see only the software packages to which the company subscribes,
- how the employee needs to connect to the Internet for example desktop computer, laptop, PDA, mobile phone etc
- connectivity for the employee say whether we need to give this employee special online support for handling large scale documents, maybe some special packet switching, or additional security levels
- the range of online assets to be made available to this employee, usually managed by category, such as Banking assets where all Banks online would be seen by an employee, or a catalogue of small to medium businesses.
While the software packages named above could provide a management team with the tools needed to manage Internet connectivity within an organization, there would be significant difficulties arise in the cross-over of one tool with another. While there are cross over issues from one package to another there are also significant gaps where there is no product offering.
There are three competing philosophies of Internet Resource Management:
- spying on employee without their knowledge, and cracking down on a recalcitrant whenever she/he does anything wrong online (the underlying philosophy of eTelemetry's METRON appliance);
- filter out (censor) all the sites that would not be useful to an employee while doing business things on a workplace computer (Secure Computing's Gateway Security, SurfControl Enterprise Protection Suite, and Websense Enterprise)
- a self-management approach where employees are given an account, and in that account it tallies total time on the Internet, activity by protocol, and policies required of the company (visionGateway's INTERScepter)
Spying and censoring have huge drawbacks. Spying creates a rift between employers and employees and does nothing for morale in an organization. After the first two or three examples of employees being "caught out" the required effects of spying reduce as does employee ingenuity to "get around" being spied upon.
Although censoring tools enjoy majority market share, censoring has major drawbacks; the main filtering database can be a bottleneck when employees are working, and also a database of filtered sites is near impossible to keep up to date because there are thousands of sites a day that spring up as new, and it is near impossible for those sites to be viewed by staff to put on the blacklist. Machine listing of sites on filters is not a perfect science and a lot of good sites are wrongly filtered out.
A self-management approach has fewer drawbacks, however, management would need to play an active part in reviewing with employees their goals for the month and dutifully revisit with each staff member how they are progressing in meeting company goals of Internet use.