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Zombies Drive Me To Go Out of the Box

By Jeff Brooks | March 21, 2014 | 0 Comments

Part of being an analyst is trying to be a thought leader. Admittedly, there is skill in trying to think ahead of everyone else, and be enough steps forward that you truly are leading the way. In IT Operations though, many organizations continue to struggle with a lot of the basics of good IT. From metrics and good process, to integrated technologies and strong leadership, my clients are always looking for guidance for the many of the basics. One of the biggest topics I discuss is how to bridge the gap between what I&O does, and how that impacts the business.

A thought occurred to me to try and use an anecdote (as I often do) to paint the picture of the linkage between how important I&O is to the business. One thing led to another and instead of just one anecdote, it was decided that an anecdotal story, in the form of a fable might make a compelling way to provide this guidance.

I pitched the idea to the group to see if this was a worthy idea, and next thing I know, I am getting ready to put pen to paper. Things took a turn in a new direction when my colleague Jarod Greene says to me, sitting across the table at our annual Symposium and IT Expo Event, “You know what you should do Jeff, make the story about zombies!” Now as I think back, maybe Jarod was just messing with me, but not being one to shy away from a challenge, I decided that’s exactly what I would do.

I was even fortunate enough to enlist the help of another analyst Robert Naegle to help with this venture. From that point on, my Zombie research note was a reality.

But like most things that may be a bit “out there” it became obvious through the editorial and review process that perhaps I have gone a little too far out of the box. I suppose I can see where that comes up since no one had really written a research note about zombies, and really, the horror genre was not a typical Gartner research note type. And it just didn’t seem appropriate to try and fit it into the Zombie Hype Cycle or The Zombie Magic Quadrant.

But it was suggested to me to bring the story to a blog and share with the world through a slightly different mechanism. Which leads me to where we are at this moment. The story is a little lengthy, so I am going to present it to you in either 2 or 3 segments. With that in mind, I kindly present to you a completely outrageous and totally fictitious story about:

How Infrastructure and Operations Caused the Zombie Apocalypse – A Fable about Immaturity and Poor Metrics (Part 1 – Setting the Stage)

Just a Simple Incident…

January 26, 2017, the phone rings at BioZom’s IT service desk at 3:23 PM where a panicked scientist is expressing their concern over his inability to watch a controversial YouTube video. Jenna Stevenson, service desk agent explains to the scientist that YouTube is not a supported application and that he will have to wait until he gets home to watch any videos about kittens playing the piano. Jenna hangs up and thinks to herself, “Wouldn’t this job be easier if it weren’t for the end-users!” As she finished logging her after-call notes into the ITSSM tool, she noticed a small alert on her monitoring dashboard. It appears that one of the freezer alarms in Sector BIO17 is having an issue. She yawns, makes a snide comment about how something in BIO17 is always broken, She checks the knowledge base but finds nothing.

A few minutes later Jenna’s Supervisor Timothy makes his rounds and notices the same alert on her monitor. He asks about the status of it and Jenna explains, “Yeah…it’s another one of those of freezer alarms that keep going off. I’m sure it’s no big deal if Dr. Pain-in-my-neck’s lunch defrosts!” Timothy frowns at Jenna as she acknowledges that the smart-alecky comment is not appreciated and she picks up the phone in one of what turned out to be multiple attempts to reach the facilities team.

Sector BIO17…

Sector BIO17 is lovingly called “Breakdown City” by most of the I&O organization. A complex network of computing power and cooling units all tied together with a robust monitoring system that alerts to any abnormalities. The IT service desk is responsible for monitoring and dispatching the appropriate parties when an issue arises. (A model that has resulted in some nice bonuses for the I&O team as they “save-the-day” when systems fail.) But, what the I&O organizations has never bothered to do is meet with the Sector leadership to truly understand what purpose the freezers serve1 , and more importantly, how can the I&O team better support the scientists efforts.

The failure to engage the Sector leadership has left the I&O team without a good model for measuring their impact for that particular team and unit. The I&O leadership team has been satisfied to simply report on the productivity of the I&O organizations, focusing on number of incidents opened and closed, as well as First Contact Resolution. They have repeatedly emphasized their better than average FCR of 71% when compared to the findings in Gartner’s IT Key Metrics for IT Service Desk, which shows 64.4%. And beyond the common IT service desk measures, the I&O team boasts an impressive 99.9% up time across most critical systems, including the freezer monitoring system. And while 99.9% availability seems good, on a monthly basis it can result in up to 43.8 minutes of downtime each month. Since the I&O leadership never bothered to truly understand what can happen in 43.8 minutes, and only focus on performance measures and not impact, on January 26, 2017 everything was about to change.

Meanwhile in Sector BIO17, William Brenner, a lab tech in the bio chemical research department, happens by the bio hazard containment area and notices a warning light blinking on one of the specimen freezers. William, who was very familiar with the warning systems put in place by the I&O team, assumed that the “automated processes” would have kicked in and that a technician must be on the way. Still, given the nature of the specimens stored in Sector BIO17 Bill figures it can’t hurt to open a trouble ticket via the new service portal. Upon logging in, William starts with the IT service catalog looking for an appropriate service that could assist in this particular situation. After more than 20 minutes of trying to select the right combination of over 2000 line-items, William made his best guess and hit the send button.

To Be Continued…

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