back to article The politics of the data centre

If you ask your Oracle team which infrastructure they want their databases and apps running across, they’ll tell you dedicated. Heaven forbid their IO is interfered with by a lagging virtual infrastructure. Your Windows camp will probably allow most of their apps on virtual and private clouds. But throw the networking guys these …

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Stovepipes kill progress

One place I worked had a team for every possible discipline. All of whom wanted to be involved in approving every decision, as there was inevitably some aspect that would affect their "patch".

So, to do something as simple as extend a database table needed buy-in from the database team: fair enough. However the server guys could veto the decision, as the databases ran on their servers. Similarly the storage peeps had to be persuaded - as they looked after the spinning stuff and would have to allocate space. Same for the network: as all the data traffic flowed through their wires, so an potential increase needed to be assessed, modelled and impact-analysed. Add in the people who did the backups and service / continuity people and even the smallest change needed the approval of half a dozen or more teams. None of whom were looking at the big picture - merely how they could leverage the situation to get more budget, headcount or cross-charge.

As a consequence nothing ever got done. Nobody could ever agree and there was always someone else to point the finger at if a problem arose. Everyone quickly learned that trying to do pre-emptive maintenance was futile and the simplest way to get things done was to wait until some part of the operation failed, then raise an emergency change to get it working again.

Sadly this state of affairs arose because of all the problems that the earlier "free for all" organisation had suffered. Some consultants had come in, seen the opportunity and suggested ISO, or BS, or ITIL or whatever other faddy re-organisation would earn them the highest fees. The basic problem was that they were only shuffling the same people around. The people who neither wanted to do any work, nor were interested in what went on outside their little fiefdom, or had any loyalty to the IT department as a whole.

The truth was that any set of processes (or none at all) could have worked, if only the individuals charged with running the operation were motivated, skilled and truly a team. In the end the problem was solved by outsourcing the whole mess, so everybody lost. But at least no individual was to blame.

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Unhappy

Re: Stovepipes kill progress

Currently in a similar situation; and in some respects worse. The problem here is that none of the people making the decisions actually have the relevant technical knowledge to understand the implications of their decisions.

It's basically a game of blame throwing; and people spend more time on producing documentation to prove that they did what they were told, than they do on actually doing their job.

So sad to see; especially when you know that it doesn't need to be like that.

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Facepalm

Re: Stovepipes kill progress

I completely agree. I work with a small, multidisciplinary team, and we deal with providing services to large telcos.

A recent project involved us providing a recommendation on their hardware infrastructure to implement the new version of our app on. We spent a lot of time creating a doc that really detailed what was needed (down to SAN IOPs and latency levels), for the Customers server team to through it out. The customer was then less than happy when we told them their performance SLA was not valid, as they were not running on the recommended infrastructure.

I deal with a lot of 'vertical' skilled teams in customers, and my multidisciplinary team runs rings around 90% of them.

Segregation of duties is all well and good, but, if not done correctly, leads to a lot of gaps and grey areas that each team will exploit to it's full.

I think, with one customer, the lead time to implement a simple change is measured in months, due to trying to get 3, or 4, teams to play well together.

On the plus side, my organisation wins extra business, due to our responsiveness and flexibility!!

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Stovepipes kill progress

All the above sounds like most gov departments I have worked at (FCO, MOD, DOJ) and the outsourcers I worked for at them.

most managers are people managers (been on a course) and have little or no IT knowledge.

Annon as I'm still in the fields

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Anonymous Coward

Summary, when your only tool is a hammer, all problems look like a nail, but a camel is a racehorse designed by a committee.

Resolution, have management with a technical clue rather than accountants who became people persons.

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FAIL

I am an Oracle DBA...

... And I have no problems whatsoever with virtualization, since VMware 5. Before that no chance, the hypervisors just weren't stable or manageable enough. Maybe it's not politics, maybe we do know what we're doing, and maybe this guy is selling snake-oil.

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FAIL

Yep what a surprise...

... Freeform Dynamics turn out to be pound-shop Gartner.

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Holmes

"Vertical" discipline teams,...

yep we have them here as well, its a way of actually providing jobs for those that don't have the faculties to understand how other peoples jobs work, and are only trained to theirs. The amount of times I have received a monosyllabic email response to a detailed question,...

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