As MCP Magazine is learning, change can expose you to some unexpected challenges.

The Ouch Factor

As <i>MCP Magazine</i> is learning, change can expose you to some unexpected challenges.

Change is painful, as we all know. I’ve been reminded of that lately because MCP Magazine was recently acquired by a new and rapidly growing company called 101communications. That in itself wasn’t really painful, although severing emotional ties to the previous owner of five years was tough. In fact, the acquisition promises some long-term gain for all of us.

But the transition process… ouch! Moving staff, many of whom work from remote outposts, to new networks and procedures and infrastructures has been, well, agonizing. Like each of you, we’re not part of a business that can come to a grinding halt, or even a temporary slow-down, while a new email system is put into place or while our Web sites are moved to new servers. Nor can we pause while each staff member is issued a new computer and those 150M .PST files are exported and then imported. We have to get a magazine into your hands every 30 days and keep several heavily trafficked Web sites up and running, just as you have to continue producing whatever it is that drives your company or clients. So we’ve been slogging along, through numerous miscommunications, system down time, loss of server permissions, missing email, mis-mailed paychecks, and strange Web server problems. Through it all, I’ve been thinking of you.

If you’ve been through an acquisition, and figures I’ve read show that a fifth of companies these days either have been or will be merged or acquired, this story is nothing new to you. These are the sorts of things that happen whenever two companies merge and combine systems. And here’s why I’ve thought of readers: In many ways, this is the same kind of misery that we’ll all be going through with a move to Windows 2000. Pain. Unsettled feelings. Newness. Unfamiliar ways to do things. Arguments over who’s in charge of what. Time wasted that you didn’t have in the first place.

For this issue’s cover story, we asked our top writers and editors to look at Windows 2000 from both sides—the cool new stuff they can’t wait to implement and the “hey, what happened to…” complaints. Although their remarks are indicative of much of what’s exciting—and what’s missing—in the new product, we really won’t know for many months what sort of pain a migration will elicit. There simply aren’t enough companies out there that have gone through them. As Michael Chacon remarked in his January “NT Insider” column, “The cautious majority [of network administrators] will watch with a careful eye and then follow behind, plucking the arrows out of the backs of predecessors and marking their locations.”

One thing is certain: The migration is gonna hurt. Knowing that going in, and accepting it, might help when a key server is down, users are screaming for access, and you’re wondering exactly why you chose this career, after all…

If you’ve experienced a merger or acquisition in which systems had to be combined, I’d like to know what worked and what failed. You can email me at [email protected]

About the Author

Linda Briggs is the founding editor of MCP Magazine and the former senior editorial director of 101communications. In between world travels, she's a freelance technology writer based in San Diego, Calif.

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