The IT industry has a long-term memory disorder.
This disorder is the result of IT workers getting on in years and suffering from other common memory disorders. I say these things because I see how IT likes to recycle the same ideas every ten years or so.
I’ve also noticed that these “new” ideas end up with similar problems as before. But our hubris gets in the way and we think to ourselves “this time, things will be different”. Except they aren’t, so instead of solutions we come up with buzzwords like ‘DevOps’ in a never-ending effort to solve an issue that hasn’t been solved in thousands of years of civilization.
Here is a list of the continuing problems that exist in every IT shop around the world. And they aren’t all new, either.
Performance improvements WITHOUT touching code
The proliferation of 3rd party applications over the past 15+ years has put many IT shops in a state of playing host to a plethora of applications (like Sharepoint) that do not allow any code modifications. And yet the end users continue to expect top performance. Even for in-house systems the business custodians are more willing to throw hardware at a performance issue as opposed to touching code.
Administration of data
Data is the most valuable asset any company has. As a result, data hoarding is an issue for every company. As data volumes increase many IT shops cannot keep up with the demands for adequate disaster recovery and high availability solutions to meet their business needs. The HA/DR solutions that were rolled out 10 years ago worked fine for the data volumes then, but that is not the case anymore. This is a ticking time bomb waiting to happen.
Security of data
With each passing day there is a new data breach reported. Such breaches raise awareness and force IT shops to double down on their security protocols (assuming any protocols exist). The funny part about this is that companies are more motivated to stay of the front page then they are to protect their data from a breach. In other words, most companies aren’t securing their data because they haven’t suffered a breach yet.
Maximize ROI by reducing TCO
(because I like using TLAs* whenever possible).
Everyone in IT has the ability to take steps that they know can help the bottom line. Whether that means virtualization, or Cloud, or 3rd party apps versus in-house development the fact is that every IT shop has awareness about what things cost and are looking for ways to help the company save money when possible. IT needs a way to make certain they are using all of their resources in an efficient manner.
Communicate your results
When a sysadmin makes a handful of changes that improves performance and reduces costs, how does that lowly IT worker get that information to be displayed to the CFO in a meaningful way? Tools such as PowerBI give everyone (including sysadmins and DBAs) the ability to collect, analyze, and display data in a concise manner for others to consume. It can be frustrating for IT folks to know that they are working hard but their results are not being recognized. A few simple reports on things like uptime, improved throughput, or the number of #datahugs given would be helpful.
Gerald Weinberg’s Second Law of Consulting states “No matter how it looks at first, it’s always a people problem.” This is why applying technology to solve any problem often results in a new set of problems. If you wait long enough the original problems come back and the cycle repeats itself.
For folks in IT the trick here is to understand that your problems aren’t new, your situation is not unique, and you are not alone. To that end I give you four things you can do better when trying to avoid this déjà vu:
- Determine the root cause by asking “Why?”
- Find a network of peers and talk through the issues you are facing.
- Conduct a proper cost, benefit, risk analysis for any proposed solution.
- Deploy the right tools.
And have your headaches go away.