To prep for the Cisco panel discussion, Ben Gibson asked what my role was at my organization. The answer was something like “it started out as managing the network infrastructure: the cabling, LAN/WAN, servers, etc. Then it continued to evolve into virtualization and storage to where I am now.” So I now refer to my role as the manager of technology infrastructure. What Ben said after my explanation has really got me thinking . . . he simple said something like “oh, just like the way the industry has evolved”.
Ben is right. In my healthcare organization my role and responsibilities evolved overtime as the technologies changed. Based on our IT department size this was partly due to having a small head count and needing to do more with the staffing you already had in place. This approach can be challenging at times but also lends itself to being creative, expanding your knowledge by trying and doing new things which in the end can be down right fun at times (the opposite can also be true :)).
The benefits our organization has gain from the way we have been able to consolidate and manage the different staffing roles as we have changed technologies has made us more flexible and able to move forward. I am not saying this is easy and does not take work to make it happen but looking back at how we got to where we are has made me think about it.
As I have been meeting and talking with people from other organizations there is a wide range of comfort, adoption and acceptance with industry change. For example, we gained the comfort level with VMware DRS and vMotion very early on and have been allowing VMware to decide where a server workload should reside by allowing it to automatically moving the servers between hosts. I am surprised when I hear of others who still “balance” the VM workloads by checking DRS recommendations manually and then vMotioning the workload. Or worse, talking to a network switch vendor’s “virtualization expert” and hearing him say virtualization is still in its infancy; that comment/belief saved me time in the end and made my investigation with that vendor shorter.
To take the thoughts further, one of the keys to reducing costs, complexity and increasing your flexibility is when you really start to converge and maximize your datacenter resources. It becomes very difficult to realize these savings and efficiencies if your staff/groups/teams do not work together. You need to ask yourself, does my storage team talk with my server team? Does the network admin know what our virtualization guy is doing? In the organizations where I have seen a storage group that works in their own bubble, that organization begins to struggle by spinning their wheels and wastes resources and dollars.
So why this topic for a blog post? Yes, my team and organization get to use a lot of cool and exciting technology that makes our jobs fun at times, saves the organization time and money and has made us flexible and agile, but it did not just happen. You have to change as the technology changes, if you can do that you will be on the right track.
Disclaimer: No workplace is perfect and my organization is far from perfect, but it is pretty damn good to be here.
Addendum: My director read this post and reminded me “It’s certainly worthy of bringing that weakness (poor communication) to light. If you think about it we unfortunately have some of the same symptoms.”
That is true, communication is always a work in progress whether it is in professional or personal life, there is always room for improvement!