My recent Open Source post drew some interesting feedback from Chuqui along organizational and behavioral lines that are the foundation for some comic relief amongst my group at work. We are always talking about being social workers more than engineers and technologists and putting people in twelve step programs. Chuqui had a great question to this excerpt from my post:
Configuration management translates into a stable environment which means higher availability and a higher level of service. What business doesn’t want this? With Open Source you can build a more knowledgeable staff quicker and less expensively than with commercial software since everything is “open.”
But what if, deep down inside, those aren’t your organization’s goals?
If these are not your organization’s goals then it sounds like there is not an alignment between IT and the business which is always striving to do more with less. This misalignment between IT and the business is a great source of revenue for consultants. We should stop paying them and pay ourselves, but this is a rant for a different day. Attaining alignment between business and IT means keeping pace and becoming an acknowledged source of business value. You have to integrate yourself into the business cycles beyond being an order taker and purveyor of voodoo. This isn’t easy. It takes guts, time, and a lot of effort that your executives aren’t going to just give you. They think it’s already part of your job, which it is. While you are fighting for alignment a less than stable environment is a sure way to erode any progress.
A stable environment and a higher level of service is always desired from the business if not demanded. The business will fund a portion of the journey which will allow you to replace sins of the past with more current and technologically advanced sins. The rest of the journey is about your peace of mind and requires a bit of extra effort even after a 10 to 12 hour day. How can you avoid the 3am pages and phone calls and keep your phone powered on? How can you get higher quality releases out of your development and testing teams? How do you control vendor and consultant injected evils? Read: Configuration Management. Configuration management is one of the only things that is/should be in complete control of IT. Everything else is dependent upon your negotiating skills as a social worker.