The Four Quadrants of Technology Service and Support


Whether in a larger organization or as an independent consultant, many technology service and support professionals find themselves performing a wide variety of tasks relating to their work. This document explores four general areas of specialty within the profession of technology service and support.

The Musician as an Example

The musician in a band who loves to perform at live events and record in the studio, will soon discover that the music business also requires bookkeeping skills, marketing talent, customer service experience, and a variety of other supporting responsibilities. The musician wants to just focus on playing music, and let someone else run the business side of things.

Those who struggle with creative talents may do very well with the organizational skills required to run a business, and visa versa. These characteristics are often referred to as people having right brain or left brain dominance. This is why musicians often have managers. These two activities run somewhat in parallel and require that one be in a different state of mind.

Wearing Two Hats

Creativity is sometimes fostered by external factors such as being more relaxed and not being under deadlines. Maybe this is in the quiet hours late at night or early in the morning. During the day, maybe mid-morning or in the afternoon, you’ll find your mind is more analytical and sharp for administrative tasks, and you’ll spend some time on detailed and focused work. Or, for people who are always in one state of mind or the other, you’ll partner with someone who complements your skills and inclinations.

The Two Mindsets of a Technology Professionals

The life of a technology professional is not that different from the life of an artist or musician. A creative mindset is required to develop solutions and improve workflows or procedures. The creative mindset appears to be easily distracted — taking in lots of information, brainstorming, and easily making new conceptual associations and revelations. For technology professionals, an organized, focused, and analytical mindset is also required — to aggregate data into meaningful and actionable conclusions that help attain desired outcomes. Sometimes a single individual can easily flow between creative/distracted and analytical/focused — adjusting their mindset to suit the current needs. Such people thrive with a diversity of demands placed on them. However, most people find it difficult to ‘change gears’ at will. If they are focused on something, a person interrupting them throws them off track and they may loose their train of thought. Or if they are trying to be creative, and then need to prepare a spreadsheet for a meeting presentation deadline, their creativity will be hindered by the stress and shift of mindset. This is why it’s common in businesses to have some creative people and also some business-minded people who collaborate periodically throughout the week, but mostly stay ‘in the zone’ by maintaining the mindset ideal for their work demands and responsibilities.

Based on the two general mindsets that people may be predisposed to (creative or analytical), it makes sense to consider having at least two groups of technology professionals in a business:

  • Analytical. People who mostly find themselves in an analytical mindset will be well suited for the focused and lengthy step-by-step processes required for setting up hardware. They will also do well focusing on administrative tasks, documentation, inventory tracking, system testing, and researching hardware or software abnormalities. Improving workflows and procedures would be another area that is well suited for the analytical and focused mind.
  • Creative. Those needing to come up with innovative solutions may benefit from having a creative disposition. While some disciplined research is needed, one needs a creative mindset to think of new approaches and solutions. At one level, this may involve meeting with people to assess their needs (consulting), and asking the right questions that will help result in innovations that meet goals. Implementation, oversight, improvement, engagement — these will all require a creative mindset to think through every aspect of a project or initiative. On a more granular level, those providing service desk support also need to be creative when confronted with undocumented user support problems and needs. Sometimes it’s enough to just send someone a link to the document that answers their question, but other times a creative mind is needed to solve problems and document the solutions.

Scheduled or On-Demand Workload

The analytical and creative aspects of technology service and support delivery result in two general categories of work logistics:

  • Scheduled. Those engaged in the creative task of consulting or the somewhat analytical task of administration will have in common the fact that much of their work can be scheduled, and scheduled meetings need not necessarily run long. In most meetings, time is allotted to address an issue, and people get as much done as they can in the allotted time. Then a meeting room needs to be vacated, and they need to go on to their next meeting. The creative consultant will meet with people, and discuss their needs, or set aside time in the schedule to work on special projects. There won’t likely be any interruptions in their day.
  • On-Demand. People who provide desktop support for hardware or service desk support when people have usage questions may find that they are needed on-demand. Fixing problems may require unpredictable amounts of time. Other higher priority support needs may arise, causing other request to be reprioritized. Deadlines are more pressing as users are in need of equipment to get their jobs done. Such work demands can be more stressful.

These two different work dynamics aren’t very compatible. In other words, it’s hard to be a help desk provider of immediate support, while at the same time attending meetings (and being on-time). The person who is 100% focused on the delivery of on-demand support can be much more responsive to people’s needs since they are essentially available at any moment (if the need is sufficient). For desktop support, those who are primarily setting up computers can work at their leisure, and setup computers when it suits someone’s schedule. Only when desktop support requires an immediate on-site support response does it require an interruption to one’s day.

The Four Quadrants of Technology Service and Support

Based on the two common mindsets that people have (creative or analytical), and the two types of workload (scheduled or on-demand), we can easily organize four quadrants of technology service and support as shown below.

  1. Consulting (Creative/Scheduled). The consultant can schedule their week, going from one meeting to the next, with quite focused time set aside for creative solutions development and intentional collaboration. They will mostly rely on a creative mindset with a scheduled workload. Having a scheduled workweek creates windows of uninterrupted times for opening up the creative mind.
  2. Service Desk (Creative/On-Demand). The service desk professional needs to be creative and think fast for quickly getting through various support requests. This isn’t the first tier of help desk employees who just read from flowchart telephone scripts or send people links to documentation. This is the higher tier service desk professional who is coming up with the solutions and writing the documentation. They need to respond with innovation when needs arise.
  3. Administrative (Analytical/Scheduled). The higher calling of any director is to be a creative, inspiring, and motivational visionary who leads their organization toward a better workplace with greater outcomes. That role is one that’s largely creative. However, administrators are serving the larger community by organizing, implementing, overseeing, tracking, improving, testing, coordinating, and other tasks. Then they are tasked with aggregating data into meaningful actionable information. Although some ’emergencies’ arise, the administrator can mostly schedule their workload.
  4. Desktop Support (Analytical/On-Demand). Like the service desk professional, the desktop and hardware support person may be called on to respond quickly when hardware needs arise. When equipment fails, it needs to be repaired or replaced quickly. When a computer fails, in an enterprise environment, generally not much creativity is required to get it working again. It’s simply replaced with another system to minimize downtime. If creative solutions are explored, or research is conducted, that’s done after the person has been given a working computer. One doesn’t make the user wait while solutions are researched. So, for the most part, the desktop support person leverages an analytical mindset to methodically and patiently move through sometimes tedious work. It’s important to be detail oriented and focused. A creative mindset would be a detriment if it caused someone to overlook an important step or forget where they were at in a procedure.

Click the chart below for a larger view.


Four Quadrant Tools and Skills

The tools and skills required for each of the different areas of work mentioned above are different:

  1. Consulting. The consultant will need experience and training in the areas they are advising on. They will need space in their office for meetings, or regular access to a space where they can meet with people. They may need some project management software and skills. It would help if such a person has had extensive experience in the service desk and desktop support areas so their advice is based on real-world experience.
  2. Service Desk. The ideal service desk solutions developer and creativist will be familiar with the full breadth of support calls that come in. They would be well equipped if they have experience as an entry level help desk employee.
  3. Administrative. The ideal administrator would have a good understanding of consulting, service desk, and desktop support areas. This way they can serve the team effectively from a place of experience and knowledge.
  4. Desktop Support. The desktop support person will need sufficient space for their work and equipment inventory inventory. The more space available for efficient inventory of equipment, the better they can serve the unit.

The service desk person need not have the array of physical hardware tools or experience that the desktop support person has. The desktop support person need not have the knowledge of software that the service desk person has. They will go to different meetings and rely on different support resources. However, if one person is trying to serve all these roles, their need for space and tools should be adjusted accordingly, and they would need to attend all the meetings required for the various roles. The consultant and administrator may be in more meetings, and would be unable to provide on-demand response to support needs.

How the Quadrants Work in Real Life

When small businesses grow to become larger businesses, it’s common for additional people to be hired, allowing categories of work to be assigned to specific people who can specialize in a certain area. The first ‘cell division’ would be to have two employees doing the work previously performed by one person. One of the employees could provide the help desk user support and desktop hardware support. The other employee could work on consulting and administration. This split works well because the mindset and logistics are similar, or at least easier to shift between. When a business grows to the point that they can have four employees, then it might make sense to use the four quadrant system for assigning tasks and responsibilities.

After Hours Support

Administrators and consultants can typically schedule their meetings during normal business hours. Desktop support professionals can usually work on setting up new computers, repairing existing computers, and retiring old computers during regular business hours. However, service desk people should be available after hours, or at least during the hours when support is anticipated. For example, with a college or university, meetings, lectures, and other work is typically done in the evening. So, providing support from 9 to 5 just doesn’t serve the real-world support the needs that exist.

Collaboration is Key

Although the four quadrants emphasize the different roles that technology professionals have, there is a need for collaboration and teamwork across these different specialties. This is important to make sure nothing falls between the cracks, and also helps ensure that each group is interfacing with the next group and handing off projects properly.

Improving Enterprise IT Services


This article is directed to technology support specialists working in enterprise computing environments within larger organizations and businesses. The goal is to produce a better work environment and better productivity outcomes.

Independent Consulting

Independent IT consultants have a lot of freedom and great potential for income. With high demand for technical services, and fees of $100 or more per hour, the earnings can be high. The more you innovate and the harder you work, the more you earn.

However, running a small business comes with some risks and overhead. Fluctuating client needs and market competition make the business too unpredictable for those seeking stability.

So, most people with technical skill would rather settle into a career with a large organization or business with benefits and where some level of job security can be expected.

Choosing a Traditional Career Path

Those working in large-scale enterprise IT support have a significantly different experience than those working as freelance consultants. Rather than competing with others in the industry, there are typically teams working together. There’s more job security in a larger organization. You don’t have to worry about a competitor coming in and taking a customer, or disruption in the industry taking market share away from you.

A problem with job security and very little competition is that employees may get too complacent. It’s not good for the enterprise, and actually not good for the employees. There are often no incentives to motivate people to innovate or work harder. Work hard, or not, you get paid the same. Innovate or not, you get paid the same. If people praise your work, or if they complain, it typically won’t impact your career too much.

That may seem like a comfortable and reassuring work environment for some people, yet over time it can erode the skills and self motivation of employees.

Win-Win Results in the Enterprise Workplace

Here are some suggestions for achieving win-win results in enterprise IT:

  • Sales Minded. If you were a sales person, in a competitive market, earning on a commission basis, your attitude and actions would be shaped by those conditions. You might be more outgoing on the elevator, handing out business cards in the same way an insurance sales person or real estate agent is always looking for a potential customer. The typical corporate mindset among IT people is often just the opposite. Avoid users at all costs. Changing this mindset is essential. Go out of your way to start discussions with users. Find out if there’s anything ever slightly irritating them about their technology and proactively fix it.
  • Compete. Although there’s no competition, work at your job as if there is. Compete with yourself.
  • Expand. Take a piece of paper. Write down everything you’re expected to do in the circle. The things you aren’t expected to do, write outside the circle. Then draw a bigger circle. With other efficiencies in place, you’ll be able to go above and beyond.
  • Gather Data. Gather data and metrics for measuring your success. Look for ways to improve and make best practices even better.
  • Hospitality Industry. If you worked in a luxurious five-star hotel or upscale restaurant, you’d have a certain attitude about customer service. You’d offer someone a mint after a meal or leave one on their pillow after cleaning their room. Approach your job as if you’re working in a fine hotel. Go above and beyond with courtesy, professionalism, and the little touches that make your service delivery exceptional and memorable.
  • Improve Response. Reduce response times, reduce down time, and reduce the time to resolution.
  • Incentivize. Look for ways to substantially reward people at every level for exceptional work. Give people gift cards, or other in-kind rewards for making additional effort and innovating.
  • Promote. Promote the organization or business you work for. It’s not just the work of the marketing department. Your efforts to build the larger enterprise will help everyone, including yourself.
  • Special Fund. Situations arise when equipment is needed for a special event, or to meet a deadline. It may be an adapter, cable, power cord, or other piece of technology. Consider budgeting a certain amount of your income to a special fund you can use to purchase equipment for your employer. This can be a helpful form of micro philanthropy, and users in need will be greatly appreciative.
  • Strive. Strive for customer satisfaction as if you’re attempting to grow your market share, even if you’re just responsible for the cubicle farm in accounting.
  • Use Quality Tools. Most organizations have limited budgets. Purchasing decisions are often based on finding the cheapest products from the cheapest suppliers. ‘Cheap’ sometimes ends up being expensive, and inefficient. Consider purchasing the tools you need to get your job done with the greatest reliability and effectiveness. Purchase quality tools that are durable and reliable. Don’t purchase based on the lowest price, but on the highest integrity of suppliers, labor, sustainability, and responsible sourcing. Buy local when possible. This can be a powerful form of micro philanthropy. Every dollar that flows into the organization via in-kind contributions avoids the extensive cost and administrative overhead necessary for purchasing. Even something as simple as purchasing your own paper, ink, pens, and other office supplies.
  • Work More. Although most corporate jobs are 8 am to 5pm, consider putting in more hours to develop documented systems for improving workflow and procedures.

Outlook Setup for Enterprise Use of Office 365

If you’re using an enterprise computer system that’s automatically configured to work with Outlook Exchange servers,  you’ll find that the setup process fails upon launching Outlook. This page describes what to do for first time use of an account.

You’ll need to cancel and quit out of the automated process, and then follow these steps.

  1. Go to Control Panel.
  2. Search for (or click on) the Mail icon.
  3. An account may have been automatically generated. It’s the one that failed to setup properly. You can delete that one (assuming you’ve never used it and this is a first-time setup).
  4. Add an account.
  5. Provide your email address and password.
  6. Outlook should properly configure for you and automatically identify that you’re using an Office 365 enterprise email account.


Duo Two-Step Authentication: Changing Smartphone Devices


If your organization or business uses Duo two-step authentication, you have likely setup a smartphone with the Duo software. This page describes how to switch to a new phone after you’ve discarded, sold, lost, or traded in an older phone.

Before Adding Your New Device

Because you no longer have access to the phone that was previously setup for Duo access, you won’t be able to login as you have in the past to setup a new Duo device.

However, when you go to login, usually there’s an option to authenticate via a phone call. If you’ve setup a new phone with your same phone number, then you can authenticate and login that way.

Once you login, you’ll see your old device listed as the primary/default device. There won’t be an option to delete it.

You’ll likely, intuitively, attempt to add an additional device. However, this won’t work because your new device has the same phone number as your old device, so the system will generate an error when you try to add it again under the same phone number.

You might think that you could setup the Duo app on your replacement phone, but that won’t be possible because once a device is setup, there doesn’t seem to be a way to generate the barcode to setup the software again.

There may be a link stating, “I need to reset/replace this device.” However, if that link isn’t present under your old smartphone description, you’ll need to follow these additional steps to replace it.

To Delete Your Old Device

What you’ll need to do is add an additional authentication method such as ‘phone call’ to a phone you have access to, and set it as the default device.

Then, and only then, will you be able to remove your old device by clicking on its description link, and then pressing the Delete Device button.

At this point you can follow the steps below to add your new device.

Add Your New Device

  1. At this point, you can choose the ‘Add additional device’ option to add the new replacement smartphone.
  2. Provide the phone number, preferred authentication method (the Duo app), and a description.
  3. Continue to view the barcode.
  4. Start the Duo software on your smartphone.
  5. Choose Add Account.
  6. Scan the barcode displayed on your computer screen.
  7. Test the Duo authentication.
  8. Approve the test login request on your smartphone.
  9. You should get a message on your computer stating the test was successful. Close that window.
  10. You’ll see your list of devices.
  11. Click the description link for your new smartphone. Choose to make it the Default.
  12. If you used a telephone number temporarily as a default device as described above,  you can remove it now. Click on the description link and press the Delete Device button.



UI Partners Offers Web and Tech Consulting for Iowa Small Businesses


UI Partners is a program through the University of Iowa that offers website and technology consulting to Iowa businesses. This page offers some general information about the program. To learn more, visit the UI Partners website or contact UI Partners to get started.



UI Partners was created by the University of Iowa specifically to help small Iowa companies innovate and grow. UI Partners works directly with businesses to solve their information technology (IT) challenges, using practical insights and ideas drawn from University faculty, staff, and students.

UI Partners consults with small businesses throughout Iowa on their IT needs, such as creating websites, managing databases, e-commerce or general tech support, as well as general business planning. This translates into projects that student interns or apprentices could work on, allowing UI students to build their resumes while also connecting with innovative Iowa businesses.

UI Partners is working to create a statewide network of integrated engagement centers to assist small businesses.

To support Iowa’s entrepreneurs, targeted technology training is available through the University of Iowa’s Dev/Iowa programs.

IT Assessment

UI Partners provides FREE Technology Needs Assessments for small businesses. Their staff and students work together to find business and technical solutions that help small businesses remain competitive and work more efficiently.

Business Strategy

UI Partners can provide leading edge informatics expertise and business training to organizations, startups, and established businesses. The group uses advanced entrepreneurship and business training to help find innovative solutions for your business.

Technology & Business Survey

The UI Partners Business Survey helps gather the essential information about a business to provide the best services possible.

Student Experience

UI Partners has a student employment program to assist college students in obtaining real world technology experience. Students get to work with multiple businesses to assist with IT and business strategy projects. Learn more or Apply Now.

Technical Training

UI Partners offers resources and training to help new and established business thrive with the technology solution that’s developed for their needs.

Innovate & Grow

UI Partners was created by The University of Iowa specifically to help small Iowa companies innovate and grow. They work directly with businesses to solve their information technology (IT) challenges, using practical insights and ideas drawn from University faculty, staff, and students. They are working to create a statewide network of integrated engagement centers to assist small businesses.

Workshops and Events

To support Iowa’s entrepreneurs, targeted technology training is available through the University of Iowa’s Dev/Iowa programs. Training opportunities include guest speakers, weekend workshops, one week programs and the intensive Dev/Iowa Bootcamp. Below is a video from the Dev/Iowa Bootcamp 2014.


Engagement Centers

UI Partners currently has three Engagement Centers located in Iowa City, Council Bluffs, and Sioux City. They plan to open more UI Partners locations across the state of Iowa.

Direction & Leadership

UI Partners is a division of the Office of the Vice President for Research and Economic Development.

Click here to visit the UI Partners website.

Domo Business Intelligence Systems Offer Live Analytics and Charting

The videos below offer an introduction to Domo business intelligence systems which offer live analytics and charting for meaningful and actionable data aggregation and analysis.

How ShareThis uses Domo

How Sage uses Domo

How Coverhound uses Domo

How Bohme uses Domo

How Arizona State University uses Domo

Domo Launch Party (2011)

Web 2.0 Summit 2011 Josh James

Equipment and Setup for Online Collaboration

There are a variety of services and technologies available for online collaboration. For example, Skype offers the ability to have video chat with a group, and also share your screen. Services like, Adobe Connect, BlackBoard Collaborate, and Microsoft Lync have additional tools useful for online conferencing and education. Most of these services perform fairly well with a fast computer and fast internet connection. Here are some suggestions for creating the best experience for an online session using audio and/or video with additional features like screen sharing and multi-user participation.

  1. Network Speed. Regardless of the service used, if the Internet speed is slow, the quality will suffer. With most Internet usage, we receive content (such as watching videos or listening to streaming music), but are not uploading content as frequently. With video conferencing, it’s important that your Internet upload speed (bandwidth) be sufficient.
    • It may be necessary to purchase an Internet service package with more download speed than you feel you need in order to get enough upload speed. Usually, for a typical Internet service package, the upload speed is about 5% to 10% of the download speed. If you have a 50Mbps plan, the upload speed might be 5Mbps.
    • Both people at each end of a one-to-one session will need to have this faster Internet service.
    • With conferences that have many people remotely viewing, such video delivery (one to many) is usually handled by a server so you only need sufficient bandwidth for your own connection.
    • Most services can work with slower connections, but the quality may suffer.
    • The best way to check the quality of your connection is to run a test ahead of time.
  2. Headset. People sometimes use the speakers and built-in microphone on their computer for conferencing. This can result in poor audio. The computer can only do so much to alleviate feedback and background noise. So, the instructor / presenter and individual participants should definitely consider a headset. Or, in a one-to-one session both people should have a headset for the best audio quality.
  3. Group Microphone. For groups sharing a camera, getting the best quality microphone is essential. Having a separate high quality USB microphone can ensure that all participants are properly heard at the other end. Using a USB extension cable is important to ensure that the microphone can be placed in the best location.
  4. Camera Person. From the presenter / instructor perspective, looking at an entire group of people in a room and interacting with them sometimes isn’t that ideal. From a distance it’s hard to tell who is talking. Having a volunteer to work the camera helps. Or, alternatively, if people who are speaking can move forward closer to the camera.
  5. Multi-Camera. For larger groups, a multi-cam session might be helpful. This would require two computers be signed into the session simultaneously where the group is. In large auditoriums, sometimes there will be two microphones where people with questions can stand. This is where you’d want the web cams for a remote participant to see the questioners better. If there are breakout sessions at a conference, a remote participant or leader could engage with different groups.
  6. Fast Computer. While usually the Internet is the bottleneck for video communications, it can really help to have a fast computer.
  7. Quality Camera. Using a 720p or higher resolution webcam can be nice. Some systems may be constrained to using 4:3 image size and lower resolution video image anyway, but if the system supports it, the 16:9 viewing angle can get more people in the shot. If your Internet connection is fast enough, it’s possible to have 720p or higher resolution video.
  8. Independent Camera. Laptop computers, and some all-in-one desktops, have a video camera and microphone built-in. These usually work okay. However, separate components sometimes yield better quality results. Having a separate camera and microphone (rather than a single combined unit) can be nice because sometimes the optimal placement of the microphone will be different than the optimal placement of the camera. The camera may be set back a ways to show an entire group, but the microphone should be closer.
  9. Tech Support. Juggling the above variables requires experience and it’s often a good idea to have a technical support person available to help with setup.
  10. Preliminary Testing. It’s essential to test everything out ahead of time so you can make the adjustments needed for the best quality experience. This sometimes means buying additional equipment.

Designing the Digital Future, Save the Date


As digital technologies become increasingly ubiquitous in our lives, how they are designed can have significant impact on society. The 2014 Obermann Working Symposium, Designing the Digital Future: A Human-Centered Approach to Informatics, November 7-8, 2014, will showcase, a human-centered approach to technology.
This bottom-up approach gives those affected by technologies a voice in their design, seeking to empower rather than replace people. It is a growing multi-disciplinary area within the larger field of informatics that intersects with narrative, the arts, collaborative learning, dance, diversity, social justice movements, values sensitive design, visual thinking, and more.
All events will take place at FilmScene and the University Capitol Center in downtown Iowa City. For a full schedule and registration, visit us at DESIGNING THE DIGITAL FUTURE.

Keynote Speakers

  • Lisa Anthony (Computer & Information Science and Engineering, University of Florida) Gesture
     interaction with children for education, fitness, games
  • Tamara Clegg (Education and iSchool, University of Maryland)
    Kitchen Chemistry and Backyard Biology co-designing with kids on “life-relevant learning environments”
  • Celine Latulipe (Software & Information Systems, University of North Carolina-Charlotte)  Designing for the arts in light of gender, philosophy, neuroscience
  • Lisa Nathan (First Nations Concentration Coordinator, The iSchool, University of British Columbia)  Information practices for human thriving and global challenges, social justice movements and digital culture
  • Mary Beth Rosson (Associate Dean, Information Sciences & Technology and Co-Director, Computer-Supported Collaboration & Learning, Pennsylvania State University)   Scenario-based designs for informal and collaborative learning
  • Ron Wakkary (School of Interactive Arts & Technology, Simon Fraser University)   Everyday design and “ec(h)o-VUE: ecologies of play, learning and interaction in museums”

Organized by Juan Pablo Hourcade, UI Computer Science professor, and Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies, in co-sponsorship with the Iowa Informatics Initiative, College of Liberal Arts and Sciences, and departments across the University of Iowa.

To learn more, visit:


The above event is being sponsored by the Oberman Center and is being posted here for further distribution. For more information, contact Erin Hackathorn at the Obermann Center, 335.4034 /

Disruptive Trends on the Technology Landscape

Disruption in Technologies and Services

It’s difficult these days to get any kind of assurance for the longevity of the hardware, software, and services we rely on.  Companies announce new products and services with great fanfare. Consumers buy in, and over years, begin to heavily rely on those new products and the processes we develop for them. They impact our relationships and work life. Then one day, those services or products are discontinued or dramatically changed. This pattern is disruptive to our personal life and work life. What’s sad is that these business decisions aren’t made based on what’s best for society or individuals, they are based on profits. A great product that’s helping people and society will be discontinued if something more profitable comes along (even if it’s not so helpful to society).

Apple’s Track Record

On November 5, 2010, after over 8 years of sales and promotion, Apple abruptly announced that their Xserve line of servers would be discontinued on January 31, 2011.


Providing less than a 3-month notice for this change was a shock to those in the industry who generally plan 4 and 5 years in advance. Server farms built on the Apple infrastructure were now at a standstill with regard to hardware continuity. Often facilities are setup and new equipment is phased in over several years rather than all at once. So, this left large installations only partially setup with hardware that would no longer be available. Nobody wants to have a room full of servers that are different platforms.

Another wonderful enterprise-class solution that Apple pulled the plug on was their Final Cut Pro and Final Cut Server video production solution. Again, as with their rack mounted servers, this was another example of a sudden change that would have a huge adverse and disruptive impact on many professionals.

An additional blow to professionals and high-end computer users was the choice to discontinue the Apple Mac Pro computers that provided high-end graphics card options and up to four internal hard drives that could be set to RAID configuration and upgraded easily.

Websites are another complex long-range endeavor. Those who trusted Apple and jumped on the iWeb bandwagon were unpleasantly surprised to learn that Apple would no longer be updating or supporting iWeb.

Another ongoing problem with Apple is the introduction of standards for cables and adapters. Whether power cords, video cables, or hard drive interfaces like Firewire, Apple is constantly changing their mind on what standard to use. New ‘innovations’ result in tons of non-recyclable toxic consumer waste being released into the environment.

True to Apple’s demonstrated corporate practices, there is usually little or no advance notice before these abrupt changes take place. This has caused many people to switch away from Apple and move toward more ubiquitous hardware and software choices (like Linux running on whatever piece of hardware happens to be available).

Yet, Apple isn’t the only company that rolls out long-term innovative solutions, that slowly gain thousands of followers, just before the projects are terminated.

On September 2, 2011, Google announced that they would be discontinuing numerous products. This announcement included blatantly misguided and incorrect statements designed to appease consumers:

  • Google Desktop was a very useful tool for people wanting to search their computer for files. Google discontinued this amazing tool claiming that “In the last few years, there’s been a huge shift from local to cloud-based storage and computing.” Years later, people are still buying computers with massive internal storage, they are still storing files on those computers, they are still buying external hard drives for storing their files. Cloud storage simply is not a replacement for local storage. Google may have wished that this might nudge consumers into using their Google Drive product, but despite such services being readily available, they don’t work for everyone in every situation. Even as a staging area, we need local storage to quickly organize huge collections of files.
  • Google Pack was discontinued and Google provided this explanation, “Due to the rapidly decreasing demand for downloadable software in favor of web apps, we will discontinue Google Pack today.” What Google wishes to be true isn’t necessarily true. One need look no further than the Apple App Store. By 2013 there had been 50 Billion software downloads. Google wishes the entire world would have a high speed internet connection and use their web dependent browser apps, yet wishing it to be doesn’t make it so.

By March of 2013, Google made another surprise announcement and brought the number of discontinued services to 70.

When Google discontinued their Google Video service in favor of YouTube, this left thousands of consumers with videos in their cloud and very likely no local copy of those videos from years ago. They had the option to download them before they would be deleted, but for people with many videos stored, this was a huge undertaking. No option was offered to migrate those videos seamlessly to YouTube.

Another example of “wishing it to be true doesn’t make it so” (like Google’s examples above) was Apple’s declaration that they days of the DVD drive are over. Apple discontinued having DVD drives in their desktop and later laptop computers. They imagined that everyone would buy videos from their iTunes store. Yet, consumers have purchased millions of Blueray discs because of the sense of ownership and due to the fact that downloading and storing such high resolution movies would be problematic.

When explaining why their laptop and desktop computers don’t have touch screens, the statement from Apple was that consumers won’t want to reach up and touch a screen. In reality, Apple was ensuring that consumers wouldn’t find all the features they were looking for in an individual product. For example, a MacBook air with touch screen would impact their iPad sales. An iPhone with a larger screen might impact sales of the iPad Mini.

In their iMac computers, Apple introduced an amazingly popular feature — the remote control. Now consumers could watch videos on their computer as an alternative to a television. Ooops! Apple realized that to pull consumers away from their computers, and get them to purchase an Apple TV device, they’d need to discontinue the remote control for their iMac computers, and that’s what they did.

Best Practices in Disruptive Environments

The point of this article is not to bash on Apple or Google, but instead to raise awareness about the state of technology and services we rely on. Consumers and businesses should always have an ongoing plan for how to mange computing and data storage.

Use Standard Programs

One approach to consider is the following. Let’s say you have found an amazing program that let’s you enter your home inventory, or track your weight lifting, or keep track of some other kind of information. If you use a specialized program, your data may end up in a system that won’t let you easily migrate to another when that system is no longer around. If instead you use a spreadsheet, you can later transfer the information to another spreadsheet program if the one you’re using is no longer available.

In other words, look for the simplest effective solutions to your technology needs. This will reduce your risk of disruption from industry changes and abrupt business decisions.

Choose Long-Term Support

With an operating system like Ubuntu, for example, you get 5-years of long term support guaranteed. The operating system can run on just about any hardware (new and old). So, your’e not dependent upon a certain hardware vendor (like Apple) when you need to find a replacement.

Similarly, if you grow dependent upon a mobile phone operating system like Android,  you can choose from a wide variety of vendors and phones, rather than being locked into a specific hardware vendor who, knowing you’re dependent upon their ecosystem, can charge you top-dollar for what might not be the best product on the market.

Dell offers the Latitude series of laptop computers with a guarantee of long-term support for parts. They also make an effort to have parts such as batteries and CD/DVD drives be interchangeable from one model year to the next. This is helpful for larger enterprises as well as small businesses and individuals.

Remove Complexity

If you find that you’re increasingly dependent upon complicated systems and software, consider simplifying your life or business rather than letting things grow more complicated and dependent upon expensive proprietary solutions.

These are a few suggestions for better navigating the changing technology landscape.

Active Directory Creating and Saving Queries to Find Computers or Users


When using Active Directory, the Find feature helps you find computers, users, and other resources. The Query feature is similar, yet has the added advantage of being able to save sophisticated (or simple) searches for easy use again in the future.


Here are directions for saving a query.

  1. Start the Active Directory Computers and Users utility.
  2. Click on the Saved Queries folder.
  3. From the Action menu, choose New > Query.
  4. Give the Query a name.
  5. Give the Query a description.
  6. The Query root will be provided and include subdirectories is selected by default.
  7. Click on Define Query.
  8. As an example, you can setup a Query to find computers that begin with a certain series of letters in their name. Under the Computers tab, choose Name Starts With and provide the letters. In this example, it is assumed that all computers in one department will begin with the same short description such as FIN for Finance. Click OK when done, this will return to the Query box, then click OK again.
  9. The Query will be saved under the Saved Queries folder.