Technology requires tender loving care, much like you car. It needs to be tuned, cleaned, trimmed, refreshed, updated, sometimes replace parts, and keep it running efficiently. We in the IT industry call that maintenance. However, unlike a car, your technology’s maintenance can be dependent on how you have your things setup and end up building your self a maintenance nightmare.
I was talking to a colleague of mine recently and we were reminiscing about prior environments we have had exposures to. As the stories came out we stumbled onto a common theme. The environments that were spending huge amounts of time on simple maintenance tasks or fighting problem fires were significantly behind others that were not doing those time consuming maintenance tasks. Everyone has to do maintenance, but not everyone is doing it is as efficiently as they could.
If you are in a situation where you are trying to meet your annual goals of technological advancement but keep missing them or never getting to them, ask yourself why? What is taking your time up at such a level as you cannot put time to update from SAML 1.0 to 2.0 or upgrade your core software to take advantage of new features or do some new code that adds new cool bells and whistles into the applications. All of those activities have business advancement opportunities or needs and they cannot be done if all you are doing is replacing the duct tape to plug the oil leaks.
Like your car, you should really be touching your IT in the same way. You put gas in it regularly (new apps, features, users, etc…), change the oil every 3 months (patches, updates), replace the battery and tires (major OS or software uplifts), vacuum it out every now and then (disk clean up), and replace the parts that break unexpectedly. These are the same tasks that everyone does everywhere. If you are in a situation where you are doing these things yet can’t seem to find the time to advance the apps or technology then review the process.
Lots of companies use the industry analysts to check which technologies and vendors to use but they never use them or check with other companies how their operations actually work. If you are taking 3 weeks to prep for a small migration and you take 8 hours to do the actual work where the rest of the world takes 2 days and 30 min for the same exact task, then you have a problem. Not being able to advance the technology, most likely, is not a technological problem. It’s internal process and procedures that were put in place to help the business that’s actually hurting it.
Maintenance should be 10% of your IT life. No more. It’s maintenance!!! By definition it’s almost a non-event thing to do. Yet lots of people have project level time and efforts around things that should be routine. That’s why you can’t enjoy the benefits of the latest and greatest, not because of the tools in place but how they are build and ran.
Business is about business, doing more business, better business, cheaper business that makes you more money. Period. Why spend the time filling out paperwork to get reviewed before it’s approved and signed off prior to the kick-off of a 30 minute patch? You just spent 5 days doing that instead of advancing. I am not saying process, checks and balances are important… they are. At what point do you get so over-saturated that those processes are so complex they no longer provide any value. The approval chains are so disconnected you no longer have any idea what changes went in last night or last week.
If maintenance and routine tasks are the majority of your development team’s time, then it’s time to take a look at everything around that task to find out why.
End of Line.
Binary Blogger has spent 20 years in the Information Security space currently providing security solutions and evangelism to clients. From early web application programming, system administration, senior management to enterprise consulting I provide practical security analysis and solutions to help companies and individuals figure out HOW to be secure every day.