This past Monday was Presidents Day and the kids had the day off from school. As it turns out I also had the day off so we decided to go to Universal Studios and ride some rides.  One of the joys of living in the Orlando area is the abundant amount of Amusement parks and as we went about our day I really started to see how a day at the park is just like my life in IT in a lot of ways.  One of my favorite movie lines is, “Life is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you are going to get” from the movie Forrest Gump.  So for me and my observation of the day I declare that “Life in IT is like a day at the amusement park”. It is a life where you hurry up and wait.

That may be a bold statement for some but let me explain my thinking.  You have spent a great deal of time planning your trip and or vacation to the amusement parks. Once you have finally gotten to your favorite amusement park you know you have a plan on what to do once you walk through the gate.  You pick a ride and you head in that direction and get into line with the family and life is good.  Now, while you are standing in line you really start to contemplate how these other people that got an express pass, are able to slip through the other line and why in the world you don’t have one.

After countless time slowly winding through the line  you finally hit payday and you get to the ride.  All that waiting has been for this profound moment and the thrill that we came here for!!  After three minutes, the thrill is over and the excitement gone, until you figure out the next ride you are going to go on.

Considering the scenario that I just painted, let’s take a look at how that could possibly have anything to do with IT and/or MIS.  You spend what seems like days on the phone and in meetings discussing the next major change and then begin the planning and testing for the change.

Once you have finished your testing in the lab, it is now time to make plans to execute the change.  You now start putting together your “Change Request”(CR) and submit it for the next Change Approval Board (CAB).  Just like when you picked your favorite ride and are now waiting in line. Once you make it past the CAB only one more hurdle to go and that is the “Change Review Board” (CRB). Just when it seems like everything is good to go to execute the change, you find out that the following week another department has a major release going on that day.  Because of this all other changes have been rejected until submitted with a new date.  You can picture this kind of like standing in line and watching people cut into the line you’re in  and making it longer.

So now with the change rejection and the “next time” mindset you re-submit the change and get it through CAB and CRB. Now you are set to execute the change and clear things off your plate. Finally, the change window has come and it’s time to perform the change.  You log into the server, launch a script and head over to get some coffee.  After all, some of my best work has been the scripts I have written.  I do my best work when I press enter and walk away.

All this planning, preparation and waiting for this moment that really took me no time in all to execute.  This would be like the ride itself. A couple of minutes of fun after all the time waiting.  Now we look for our next ride or change and start the process all over again.

So what is my point? Not really a point but yet an observation. Systems Operations is the key to any successful Infrastructure.  It is very important to have rules and procedures in place to keep the systems up and running to meet the service level agreements that are in place.  I fully understand that and in one way the real problem is the lack of understanding of the technology, like virtualization, which goes against the grain of understanding these managers and others that are on the review boards have. It is these people and others who we have to interact with in day to day operations.  I find myself explaining what vMotion is and how vMotion is an intricate part of the infrastructure over and over again. I really find myself needing to remind people that I do not need to submit a change or get permission to perform a vMotion to a virtual machine.   I will say this, that if there is one way to wake someone up on a change board as well as drive them to the brink of insanity is to mention any kind of migration and it is on days like, that I really find myself looking for the express pass lane.

SysOps also keeps the infrastructure safe from the three people that are the cause of most downtime in any environment. These three people are the most elusive people I have ever seen and if anyone knows where “Not me”, “I didn’t do it” and “I don’t know” are please let me know right away.  I would like to have some words with these individuals.

I know it is going to take time for people to understand and accept virtualization technology for what it is and what it can do.  I just thought I would really not have to keep explaining the technology over and over.  Besides constant education during the meeting I am not sure what else can be done.

I can’t be the only one struggling with this frustration so I ask you.  What is your environment like?  Is virtualization understood and embraced or are you like me and struggle at every corner to explain how things work?

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Steve Beaver (153 Posts)

Stephen Beaver is the co-author of VMware ESX Essentials in the Virtual Data Center and Scripting VMware Power Tools: Automating Virtual Infrastructure Administration as well as being contributing author of Mastering VMware vSphere 4 and How to Cheat at Configuring VMware ESX Server. Stephen is an IT Veteran with over 15 years experience in the industry. Stephen is a moderator on the VMware Communities Forum and was elected vExpert for 2009 and 2010. Stephen can also be seen regularly presenting on different topics at national and international virtualization conferences.

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