Throwback Thursday: Fighting Fires and Saving Lives, All in a Day’s Work for IT Professionals



Originally posted on  September 20, 2011

It’s always interesting that while a great deal changes in the technologies we use and support, the principles behind maintaining them are often very solid and consistent. So, while yesterday we traveled to the future to take a look at how certain, current technologies will be influencing our service desks, today, we take a trip all the way back to 2010, and get some advice for building a good foundation for cloud implementations.

As this article suggests, and as is true with any project, you simply must have a blueprint, or more simply a map, detailing how all the various parts relate. Having this map enables you to take a look at what you have, understand the structure, how it may have been changed, and be ready to make adjustments when and where necessary – especially in emergency (outage or cloudage) situations.


A few years ago, maintaining IT infrastructure and dependency maps, along with managing it within a complex CMDB, were daunting tasks. For the most dedicated teams, the completion of a map was typically just in time to begin documenting the changes that occurred during creation. In the more common situations, maps were created, and then only updated when disaster struck. In these scenarios, it’s easy to see arguments against the ROI of devoting significant resources. As the article points out, this has resulted in a sort of just-in-time IT resource mapping by more than just a few IT teams.

Now, if we could break from the construction metaphor for just a moment, and think to something a little more relative – fires. As IT professionals, we spend most of our waking (perhaps sleeping as well) hours putting out fires, in some cases literally. Whether it’s an unplanned outage, a virus is sweeping through the network, or Google Docs just stopped responding, resolving the emergency requires resources to understand what is at risk, and what is causing the issue.

Imagine if you will a team of first responders show up to reports of a blazing apartment fire. Visually they can’t see any flames, there are alarms, people running out of multiple buildings, and a small bit of smoke is coming from somewhere, but it doesn’t help pinpoint the location. In the midst of chaos, with adrenaline pumping, the rescuers do their best to assemble crudely put together accounts from witnesses, and make a call based on quick visual surveillance. Rushing in, they realize, they aren’t in the building that is on fire. As they quickly pass through that building, they realize it was the building just one block over, and it is now fully engulfed. Unfortunately, they need to spend additional time relocating resources both human and physical. Luckily, in this scenario, they are able to get everyone out, just in time, but the building is a total loss.

Now what if, in the scenario above, the rescuers had GPS coordinates of where the blaze was, plus a detailed map indicating how many apartments are in the building, how many rooms each apartment has, where the stairs are located, how many people still remain in the apartment.… well you start to get the picture. The more detailed information a team has at hand, and the more accurate that information is, the more likely they can both address issues and minimize losses. This is even more important when you may not be sure of the cause or origin of the outage, as is often the case in Cloud or Saas solutions.

To bring it back in a little bit, we aren’t here to beat you up over what you don’t have, or haven’t done up to this point. While the article takes a bit of direct tone, mainly because the topic is the make or break point for IT teams, we moreover want to let you know that there is help. We can help you create the infrastructure and dependency mapping resources you need, all while offering a full-featured service management package with a best-in-class CMDB solution - all built on the best practice ITSM and ITIL concepts. So, take a look and see how ChangeGear can help you prepare for your next fire.