Week 35, 2017, “Technology Roadmap”

One of the masterful idea’s contributed by Steve Moore, Director, IT Operations, at Santander Consumer USA, was introducing the Technology Roadmap.  This tool is not just about tracking what technology is owned, but serves a very specific purpose:  managing upgrades, identifying risk, communicating timeframes.

If your looking for a way to set up up transparency in IT systems engineering and communicate timeframes with leadership, this tool accomplishes that aim.  If you need to report to auditors the review cycles and pros/cons to the versionsm, this tool meets that need.

You can find this tool here.

\\ JMM

Week 30, 2017, “Faster, Cheaper, Or Better”

“Technology is only valuable if it results in faster, cheaper, or better. If not, it just sucks up time and money that could be put to better use somewhere else.” – Jeff Haden, INC. Magazine

This quote is timely as we are actively investigating VMWARE’s virtual networking technology NSX.  Remarkably, the technology is capable and connected deeply with our strategic DevOps philosophy.

However, my struggle is NSX’s cost.  Sans discussing the specifics of our pricing, the math roughly equates to $2000 per server for 3 years.

Organizations with a small technology footprint, is NSX valuable enough for faster, cheaper, or better results?

\\ JMM

Week 27, 2017, “It’s Go Time”

“Does anyone have any questions on where we are going and your role how to get us there?  No?  It’s go time, team.  Always forward!” – Jonathan Merrill

Here we are at the 60 day mark and we are looking back with awe and anticipation. Although this isn’t the exhaustive list, the highlights are:

1. We hired our system engineering architect, Sonny Mendoza. A US Navy and IT veteran, he brings deep expertise in both the VMWARE and Microsft stack. A proponent of VEEAM and NIMBLE, two complimentary technologies currently in house. His experience in both the SMB and large enterprise space is evident in his questions and answers. He has been an amazing addition to the IT team, bringing in sage experience, a positive energy, and can do attitude.

2. Wrote and implemented IT maintenance policies focusing on patching and security remediation. The policy includes an change freeze period, quarterly reviews and update schedule, and architectural review. Formalizing maintenance was the first step in establishing a relationship and accountability with teams testing patches and reducing risk. Establishing a schedule communicates when IT infrastrucutre will be updated so development and print operations has down range visibility, setting reliable expectations.

3. Implented enterprise password management. Our specific requirements were password sharing with teams, role based access control, automatic password rotation, password auditing and history, Active Directory integration, and high availability. We migrated from a KEEPASS situation to Click Solutions’ Password State.

4. Implemented the enterprise auditing solution. Speaking to vision, the solution needed to give unprecedented transparency to all teams as we marry up audit data with change management practices and and enabling a better support visibility across all teams. Netwrix Auditor is a best of breed tool and is supremely designed for SMB organizations. Microsoft space initially targeted. Additional work still to go covering VMWARE, Exchange, SQL, and networking.

5. Implemented an asset-focused network management tool. Many of my former team members won’t be surprised, but I am firm believer of LANSWEEPER and giving teams’ access to manage their resources. This tool gives teams a birdseye view of whats installed, what errors exist, and health of resources applied. When we rolled this out, teams were presently surprised at what’s going on and assists in the troubleshooting of issues. Now we are collaborating.

6. Exited out of CenturyLink’s hosted services. We are continuing to evaluate our strategic partners and aligning to goals. No fault of CenturyLink, we determined to go another direction. We thank them for their stellar services provided.

7. Implemented the ORC process. Documenting systems should be a part of our DNA. This process enforces the C (Culture) and S (Sharing) in CAMS. We asked for leadership buy in and got it, trained teams, now set goals. 100% by Jan 1.

8. Implemented Death By Meeting’s, “Tactical” and “Stand Up”. Next up is strategic. Goal: Lower adhocs.

All this in 30 days! And doesn’t include the projects in flight. Here are some quick bullets of things we are building:

  • Workstation Technology Refresh. Uplifting the workstation platform, bringing in new tech.
  • Active Diretory Refresh. Cleaning up the past, rolling out RBAC, and enabling teams. Trust, but verify.
  • Network Refresh. Rethinking wireless, local area, and wide area networks. SDN for the win.
  • OpManager Proof of Concept. Manage Engine’s solution is comprehensive. Amazing value for what is delivered.
  • Splunk Proof of Concept. Can anyone argue that Splunk isn’t an amazing tool? Evaluating it’s place.
  • Alien Vault USM Proof of Concept. Having had experience with Nessus, Qualys, Nexpose, Alien Vault is a challenger.
  • Data Operations Proof of Concept. Automating core functions internally. Managing 10k scripts or jobs requires control.
  • Intranet / Employee Portal.  Rethinking SharePoint’s place.

It’s go time.

\\ JMM

Negative Argument for IT Automation: Jurassic Park?

Sitting at a recent IT event the commentary turned to forecasting IT’s future.  The speaker gave an innocuous prediction about how automation is replacing the average IT worker.  The industry has decided and is transforming with terms like DevOps, software defined networking, and emphasis on scripting leveraging Microsoft PowerShell, Ansible, or the liking.

Later that evening, the family and I caught Jurassic Park on television.  The story of scientists creating a theme park with genetically resurrected dinosaurs from DNA located in petrified tree sap.  The movie is amazing, still.  Interestingly, I found myself watching and comparing the movie’s themes and messages with the morning’s event.

IT Industry Visionaries Say… The future is Custom Automation.

Dr. Ellie Sattler: So, what are you thinking?

Dr. Alan Grant: We’re out of a job.

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Don’t you mean extinct?

The Cost Of Custom And Automation Dependence:  It’s Not Cheap

John Hammond: Dennis, our lives are in your hands and you have butterfingers?

Dennis Nedry: [laughs] I am totally unappreciated in my time. You can run this whole park from this room with minimal staff for up to 3 days. You think that kind of automation is easy? Or cheap? You know anybody who can network 8 connection machines and debug 2 million lines of code for what I bid for this job? Because if he can I’d like to see him try.

Deploying Custom IT Using Automation Is A Journey

John Hammond: All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, but, John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don’t eat the tourists.

IT Developers Argue Automation Reasons For Operational Greatness

John Hammond: I don’t think you’re giving us our due credit. Our scientists have done things which nobody’s ever done before…

Dr. Ian Malcolm: Yeah, yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.

The Fallout Of Automation Dependence:  It’s Never Flawless

Dr. Ellie Sattler: But you can’t think your way through this, John. You have to feel it.

John Hammond: You’re right. You’re absolutely right. Hiring Nedry was a mistake, that’s obvious. We’re over-dependent on automation. I can see that now. Now, the next time, everything is correctible…

Dr. Ellie Sattler: John…

John Hammond: Creation is an act of sheer will. Next time it’ll be flawless.

Realizing IT Automation Dependence Isn’t A Viable Reality.

Dr. Alan Grant: Hammond, after careful consideration, I’ve decided, not to endorse your park.

John Hammond: So have I.

Last Thoughts

This was meant to be a humorous take on a serious topic that is affecting the IT industry in big ways.  Long time IT architects and engineers recognize there may be simple truths here, but the fight to automate everything continues to rage on.  Granted, many shops have seen irrefutable gains in this space.  Look deeply inside those cultures and those leaders.  I suspect you’ll find the extraordinary, the exceptional, outspoken, the fighter, and maybe even crazy.

I like to play in those spaces too, but sitting at DevOps, Cisco, and other user groups around DFW, the constant theme I see and hear, many with frustration in their voices, is the desire and want is there but the capability, knowledge, culture, and leadership is not.  Creation is an act of sheer will.  But, the definition of insanity is creation and sheer will gone asunder.

\\ JMM

Quote Of Week 7, 2017

Please keep in mind that the key words “MUST”, “MUST NOT”, “REQUIRED”, “SHALL”, “SHALL NOT”, “SHOULD”, “SHOULD NOT”, “RECOMMENDED”, “MAY”, and “OPTIONAL” in this document are to be interpreted as described in RFC 2119.

One of my peers cited this in one of our project meetings.  Nebulous or poorly interpretive descriptions of technical requirements should be avoided.

\\ JMM