Over the years I’ve spoken to hundreds of IT professionals and via research studies gained insight from thousands. The following are some observations that I’ve made that seem somewhat consistent:
Change Management Often Means Don’t Change Anything. On some level this makes sense because whenever we interject change into our environments there is a risk that problems will occur. However, it is important not to create a culture that is anti-change. One IT professional that I was working with claimed that he was a champion of implementing external storage virtualization but others in his group were opponents and squashed the project. Another IT professional was combating their backup admin because the latter was dead set against implementing a disk-to-disk backup solution because he still clung onto his tape library. Change must always be weighed in terms of risk and reward but a culture of no change can be destructive. I do agree that “no” is a viable answer but it shouldn’t be the default.
Innovation Often Causes Disruption. There is actually a bit of a misperception that IT is typically ahead of the curve on implementing innovative solutions in the data center. In reality it often takes years for innovation to permeate the masses. We must also consider the fact that IT resources are limited and as such there is limited ability to actually evaluate and implement new systems.
Incumbency Matters. There is a legitimate reason why incumbency matters and that is because IT professionals invest a ton of time, money and resource in getting their infrastructure to work they way want it to. And in the course of doing so they become experts on these systems. To rip and replace with something completely new that they have little or no expertise can be counter-productive. Having said that – it is still important to look at new solutions and it is critical that we don’t let incumbency trump excellence.
We Often Over Engineer To Address Requirements. We do this with storage, networks, servers, etc. – because the cost of risk is usually higher than the cost of capital. However, in an economy as bad as the one we are facing – the cost of capital is arguably higher than the cost of risk. The priorities have shifted with further and continued emphasis on optimization and utilization.
Urgent and Important. In 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, Steve Covey presented the idea that we should focus on those things that are important but not urgent. However, any IT professional will tell you this is not the world that they live in. Putting out fires is necessary and unavoidable. But consider his point. Let’s say someone has a heart attack. That is both important and urgent and obviously must be tended to immediately. However, if that person had eaten right, exercised and went for annual check ups – all IMPORTANT things to do – then perhaps the heart attack would have been avoided.