A Day in the IT Life: saying the obvious
I’m with Scott Lowe: his three recent articles on IT (information technology) functions that should be automated and outsourced makes sense to me. His critics seemed to sort themselves into two categories, centered around complaints I’ll summarize as, “Anyone who knows Operations would have done these obvious things years ago”, and, “You don’t get how recommendation N doesn’t apply to us, because our organization is large/small/spread out/concentrated/…”
If it’s obvious, folks, it won’t take long to read through his ideas, make sure you’ve implemented all you can of them, congratulate yourselves, and move on. If it turns out you’re missing any of these, they deserve your attention.
Lowe’s general theme is that it’s timely to standardize and delegate anything sufficiently routine. Free of these distractions, we can better focus on more strategic Operations challenges; instead of fighting fires day after day, we prevent at least a few of them, and maybe “get ahead” a little bit.
As banal as such advice might sound, it’s so central to professionalism in IT that it’s worth explicit reiteration. More than that, Lowe illustrates the general theme with ten concrete recommendations that deserve attention from all of us: buy rather than handcraft cables, contract out printer service, automate account provision, and so on. At least a few of these will apply to nearly every department, if my observations are any indication of how Operations are done worldwide.
Reader dicey nicely summarized his view on Operations: “Manually installing or configuring something means it’s undocumented, unrepeatable, and unwanted.” The aim is that everything done in the datacenter is either on a contract, built into our configuration management, or part of an experiment to diagnose a fault or develop an enhancement.
Part of why I applaud Lowe so enthusiastically is for the breadth of his vision. His writing gives the impression of someone who understands that different circumstances sometimes call for different solutions. Yesterday’s Real User Monitoring blog was all about the balance between centralization and local autonomy. Similarly, Lowe recognizes that a three-person shop has different “break-even points” than a datacenter which cycles through several new servers daily. At the same time, his advice to be on the lookout for automations that pay off applies equally well to both.
To read through Lowe’s three articles will do more for your employer, and your own career, than one more session spent installing a printer driver–and it’s likely to take less time!