Virtualization Pro

Nov 18 2009   8:02PM GMT

What can we learn about DR from survival situations?

Makking Mak King Profile: Makking

From the time I was little I was always taught to be prepared. I took outdoor survival classes and first aid courses in the evenings long before I was old enough to drive. My vehicles have extra tools in them. When mountain biking in Moab I carried enough equipment to rebuild a small nuclear reactor. Several years ago I moved to the “end of the road,” that is, Fairbanks, Alaska, to learn what it took to live in a tough environment — the last frontier. Thus, I was thrilled to find the October Popular Mechanics titled “Survive Anything.” I particularly appreciated this observation about how people react in a crisis: 

In a disaster roughly 10 percent of people panic, while 80 percent essentially do nothing. Unable to come to terms with what’s happening, they freeze. The remaining 10 percent jump into action.

Are there parallels to the 10-80-10 rule in IT? I believe so. Perhaps we can pose the question: Which group do I fall into? The very idea of jumping into action, doing more with less and using the resources at hand to improve our situation sounds like a foundation that a solid VMware environment is built on, doesn’t it? Following the principle of moving forward and better utilizing available resources is a key concept in any survival situation, whether it be in the wilderness, the datacenter or the corporate shark tank.
We all know that VMware is built around the premise of doing more with less, and doing it better than anyone else. But are we doing that ourselves?
There is an abundance of features in VMware packages that can help us make incremental improvements in our environment. When we learn or stumble upon a new feature, how do we respond? Drawing parallels to the above, 80% of the people might consider it interesting, but probably not implement it. 10% would avoid it since they are unfamiliar with the technology and are afraid of changing their current environment. The last 10% would immediately begin figuring out how to apply it to their advantage, and then implement it.
My mom used to tell my brother and I: “There are those that make things happen, those that watch things happen, and those that wonder what happened.”
No doubt you have seen this yourself during your career (IT can be a petri dish of crisis situations) – some people refuse to adapt, improve, think on their feet and move forward. Such ones tend to be left behind, with ever diminishing chances of catching up. “One physical server, one OS, one application.” Sound familiar? To some, that is a paradigm that is difficult, nay, nearly impossible, to leave behind. Yet, the ability to adapt quickly, to leave our comfort zone and embrace change — almost always intimidating and often scary at the outset — and all that it brings is vital if we are to survive in IT. Try to recall the first time you heard the term “virtualization” and how just wrapping your mind around it seemed difficult. Now compare that to where you are today. I bet you are pretty glad you took that step off the “one server, one OS, one application” plank, aren’t you?
We can ask ourselves: When was the last time I tried something new in my VMware environment? How did it turn out? If it didn’t work, did it help me to think along new lines about how I would build it better myself? When was the last time I browsed some of the new third-party tools that keep springing up daily? Is there something I can evaluate today, or is it going to be relegated into the “I’ll get to it someday when I have time” category? That is a very common way of thinking, with many legitimate reasons. Yet, at the end of the day that still leaves us in the same place we were that morning.
I would encourage all dear readers to ask yourself the question: Am I in the 10% that jump into action, or the rest that either do nothing or actually resist improving the situation? Only we ourselves, and of course our actions, can answer that question.
Cheers,
Mak King

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