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Category: Random Thoughts (Page 1 of 2)

Items that don’t neatly fit under another category.

Have a Wingman for Outages and Major Issues

“…simple truth is that you cannot troubleshoot and do the administrative stuff simultaneously. You’re good, but no one is that good.”

It’s 11:30 and you’ve dozed off in front of the TV on a Saturday night when your phone goes off – another callout.

It’s IT Operations on the horn and there’s a problem with one of your Production systems.

You think, “Oh, God, not again.”

You hook up the laptop, call in to the bridge, VPN to the network, and start sniffing around.

Definitely, the system is down and it doesn’t look like a quick fix will bring it back. This is going to be an all-nighter.

First things first – depending on your company or client, there is a notification protocol and you quickly assess you are going to need other resources to help troubleshoot and then fix the system.

The simple truth is that you cannot troubleshoot and do the administrative stuff simultaneously. You’re good, but no one is that good. You need help with the administrative aspects of managing an operations incident. You need a wingman.

Do not be bashful – engage the Operations person to help with the administrative components. Get them to take notes. Have them page out other people.  If that is not “in their contract” get another member of your team to help you.  If no one else is available, then get your Service Delivery Manager out of bed. This is an outage and whatever it takes is what is needed – all hands on deck!

As you work the issue, have your wingman send out notification emails. Ask them to call the business representatives if the outage will affect end users. Have your wingman look at things you cannot look at while you are in the thick of troubleshooting – logs on other servers; logs and reports on monitoring systems (SCOM, SPLUNK, Open View, Idera, etc.). If you need a break or your wingman has stronger skills investigating the issue at hand, trade roles.

Don’t be a hero. If you’ve been going at hit for an hour or two and haven’t gotten the system back up, take a break and let your wingman take the lead. There is no “I” in team.

Be Prepared!

The Boy Scout motto “Be Prepared!” is a good for IT problem solvers.

Be prepared for issues to occur at the least opportune of times and under the least desirable of circumstances.

If your contact lists are in SharePoint and SharePoint is down, you are in a heap of trouble, son.

Keep your information in SharePoint, sure, but also make hard copies of lists and keep them with you. Put copies in the glove compartment of the car.  Put soft copies in a secure place (OneDrive, for example) so you can get to them while traveling or enjoying an evening out.


Is Ignite Too Big?



Is the Ignite Conference too big?

Sure, there’s benefit by combining several different disciplines into one large conference, but there’s a big downside – especially for smaller support organizations.

You can’t have your support people at a conference and minding the store simultaneously!

If you’ve got your messaging and SharePoint and SQL and…  personnel at the conference, how deep is your bench if you run into operational issues?

What about timing with releases, patching, and such for the organization that you support?

And what if the organization (consider outsourced support) has a contingent at the conference, too?

Chicago was a logistical nightmare. A technical conference must be tightly confined for attendees to mix and match without having to grab a cab to attend a desired session.

Maybe Atlanta will be the last experiment at such large convergence. We shall see!

What do you think?

Does the Anthem breach prove the need for limits on health data collection?

There is no such thing as a secure electronic health information system.”
This is the warning delivered by Jim Pyles in his Congress Blog post, Lessons from Anthem, from February 20 issue of The Hill.

Anthem spokespeople emphasize that our medical information wasn’t compromised, implying that there may not have been a HIPPA violation. That may keep them out of the woods with the Feds, but what about our personal information, such as Social Security and credit account numbers?


Have you received correspondence from Anthem that your information was compromised? I’m waiting to hear if our family has to perform damage control, or if we can go about our business. How can we trust them again?

Newsworthy security breaches and data theft should make us and our users challenge the integrity of our service providers. Makes no difference if our systems are on premise, hybrid, or in the cloud – if a biggie like Anthem is compromised, what are we and our vendors doing to encourage rather than erode confidence?

End Every Meeting With Two Questions

How many meetings have you attended when, five minutes after ending, you realized no decisions were made? Frankly, I have attended too many. It’s a miracle any substantive work gets done in organizations that don’t encourage people to properly manage meetings!


In a recent LinkedIn post (“How Do You End a Meeting? Netflix’s HR Rebel Asks Two Simple Questions“), Bob Sutton, Stanford Professor and Co-author of “Scaling Up Excellence”, challenges us to halt that all-to-frequent situation.

Please, do read the article, but here’s the answer in short:
As your next meeting winds down, make sure that you’ve answered these parting questions:

“Have we made any decisions in the room today, and (if we have) how are we going to communicate them?”


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