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Bob Martens

Everything for No One


Attachmate Group

Micro Focus Purchasing The Attachmate Group

Reuters has Micro Focus to buy The Attachmate Group in all-share deal on their site this morning, and it will be interesting to see how the deal pans out. The hope right now is that it will close in early November 2014, which is when I will be in Salt Lake City for BrainShare 2014, so I am hoping that some more information about tentative plans for the future will be revealed then.

The Attachmate Group, Inc. is the privately held parent company for Novell, SUSE, Attachmate, and NetIQ. Three of the four of those companies currently have products in-use on campus at Martin Luther College. I’ll have more to say on this in the future as more information comes out.

Dark IT Continued

Rob England was kind enough to post a response to my Dark IT post. It is a good look at a major part of the problem:

Dark IT is not entirely the IT department’s fault. Nothing an IT department does unilaterally is going to fix the problem. If we are trying to fix Dark IT alone, we’ll continue to be on a hiding for nothing. It is essential that the organisation (not the IT department) puts in place policies and controls over the use of information and technology in order to protect itself, and that it empowers the IT department to be the agency to monitor and effect those policies and controls.

That is a great thing to emphasize. There is a lot of “blame” to be tossed around at any one time.

Monitoring Book Image

Review: Effective Monitoring & Alerting

Effective Monitoring and Alerting by Slawek Ligus was not quite the book I had originally thought I was starting. I was looking for something more prescriptive and I read something far higher up the stack. It wasn’t a bad book, but it was something different from what I went in expecting.

The book takes a high-level look at how to keep alerting from getting out of hand. That is the overall message they are trying to get across. Here is the overall message:

  • You need to make sure you monitor the proper things in the proper way. This brings about a deep understanding of the system as a whole and also forces you to really figure out what dependencies the distinct of parts of your system have in order to be certain you are monitoring things that matter.
  • Armed with that information, you move onto mapping out what should be shooting off alerts. This gets directly to the data about dependencies because we want to be certain that we alert only on the parts of the system that are failing, not on those parts dependent on the failed area.
  • The entire idea is to make sure that the alerts getting sent out are needed and useful. There is talk of standardizing the names of the systems and alerts so you can know exactly what is happening right from the start.
  • There is a huge focus on making sure the alerts are truly actionable and needed so that you don’t give your IT operations staff alert fatigue. The idea is to alert on things that can and need to be fixed and on nothing else.
  • This means monitoring everything but alerting on just a small subset. You can use the monitoring data for capacity planning and also trying to find issues before they start, but you will constantly be changing the alerting thresholds so that only the most important ones are sent through.

That’s the overall look. As far as this review goes, it comes down to this: I would definitely read it again, but be aware of what the book is going to be about. It is NOT prescriptive at all, but it is short enough to be useful even for the smallest of operations department.

Electronic Books

The Power of eBooks

With a child under one year of age, I spend a lot of time in a rocking chair. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind the fact that I get to rock my youngest son to sleep, but it does pose a problem when trying to read some of the books that I have around my house recently.

The size of the books I am reading make rocking a child to sleep untenable. A physical book is just not doable in the slightest. So I reach for eBooks as my preferred method for reading many of these more-technical books. The power of eBooks settle into a few categories:

  • Size is obvious. I can hold many books on a device smaller than a single paperback which allows me to read with a small device only in one hand. That’s a requirement. I do use my iPad for some reading, especially books with lines of code, but the iPad Air is too large to use with one hand comfortably so I tend to stick to the iPhone or Kindle when rocking my son.
  • Storage ties in with the first reason. My bag can only carry so many physical books, and it is even limited by the physical size of a physical book (my current CLA reading material does not fit in anything but my backpack). However, an eBook fits in everything from my iPhone to my Mac mini at work. I can store many more eBooks in a bag than I can a physical book.
  • Syncing is lovely, and needed. Whether I’m using or, the fact that I can start a book on one device, quit, and then pick up right where I finished before on another device is great. It is also mostly needed when switching between lighting situations. Where I have a lot of light I’ll usually choose the Kindle, but at night I will be reading on my iPhone.
  • Speed is the final one I’ll throw out there. I can find a book I want to read and have it, right there, that second, with no fuss. There is no shipping. There is no waiting. That is both good and bad. Impulse purchases can get a person in trouble.

Even with everything stated above, I still prefer to read a physical book. For now it is always a tradeoff, and it can be an expensive one to keep all of these books around. The benefit physical books have is that I can find used ones. At least, that is a benefit for me.

Cisco Switches

Dark IT

Within any organization you have individuals bringing in IT resources from the outside. This is not always a bad thing, but I have found that it is the root cause of many individual problems for individual users. I’m not going to talk about the problems that unsupported technology can cause within an organization. That’s boring and it has been rehashed by too many people.

The better topic is this: If you have a proliferation of Dark IT (unsupported technology brought in by another individual or department), why is that happening? What is or is not happening that is causing these people or departments to look outside of IT to find solutions for their problems?

Every time this happens, it is an opportunity to look inward at your department to make things better.

Nate Beran gets to the heart of the matter with IT And The Business Are Indistinguishable and I am not going to reproduce any of it here because it is so short. Technology and computing has weaseled its way into every nook and cranny of virtually every organization that the traditional way of thinking of IT as a separate entity doling out technology to everyone else isn’t going to cut it anymore.

Things change. Needs change. Department change. Dark IT can be a symptom of the larger problem of IT being pushed out either consciously or subconsciously and it is time to sit down with people and figure out what needs to be done. It is not so much that your job is on the line (even though it might be), but that in order to better serve the people around you, you need to get working on mending fences.

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