in DevOps

Why corporate IT should unchain our office computers. – By Farhad Manjoo – Slate Magazine

What’s worse, because they aren’t tasked with understanding how people in different parts of a company do their jobs, IT managers often can’t appreciate how profoundly certain tools can improve how we work.

Why corporate IT should unchain our office computers. – By Farhad Manjoo – Slate Magazine.

At first glance, this article made me cringe.  As a long-time member of the IT crowd who is trying to make the system administrator profession more legitimate, I hate coming across articles that are blatantly bagging on sysadmins.  If you haven’t read the article, the gist of it is:  people in IT (sysadmins, management, etc) say no all too often out of a misplaced “fear” that any new technology is bad and dangerous.

Aside:  for some reason, I’m reminded of Arthur C. Clark’s comment that, “any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Anyway, reading the article a few times, you begin to see a kernel of truth here:  do we, as IT staff really understand what our customers need and want to accomplish their jobs effectively?  It’s easy to blindly say, “No, Google Apps is bad because we don’t control any of it and can’t protect any of the data you put on there.”  It’s a lot harder to sit down with a customer and figure out why they really want to use Google Apps instead of what we provide.  It’s quite possible we’ve missed out on providing a crucial piece of infrastructure that would be, to them, the next thing since sliced bread, but to us, the obvious response was “WHAT?!  Why would anyone EVER want to do THAT?”

So this gets me thinking:  how much of a disservice to customers are we doing by blindly chanting the mantra that was passed to us on stone tablets (“Thou shalt not use $technology” or “Thou must only use red paper in the $foo report because it is more secure.”) versus sitting down with them, actually listening to and hearing their complaints, needs, and wishes?  Would it really take that much more time to do this compared to fielding all of the complaints and responding with the same chant every time? … and then dealing with the fall out when the customer goes and does their own thing anyway?

When was the last time you looked at what you were providing your customers (and I mean really looked at it) to figure out if it was “right for them”, “right for me” … or, “right for all of us”?

Travis Campbell
Staff Systems Engineer at ghostar
Travis Campbell is a seasoned Linux Systems Engineer with nearly two decades of experience, ranging from dozens to tens of thousands of systems in the semiconductor industry, higher education, and high volume sites on the web. His current focus is on High Performance Computing, Big Data environments, and large scale web architectures.