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Chainsaws and Dogs

If you see a man with a chainsaw in your yard you shouldn’t panic. No, really, it just happened to me last week.
I was working from home, just me and my dog. At 9:30 a.m. I heard several popping sounds from upstairs (my office is on the first floor) but didn’t think too much about it. Then, about 40 minutes later, I’m on a conference call with a customer and happened to walk out toward the front room. Looking out the window, I saw a man with a chainsaw walking across my front yard.

My first reaction was relief that he wasn’t wearing a hockey mask. But as I looked closer I saw that all the wires to my house were down. Apparently a section of a tree fell on my wires, pulling them mostly off the house – hence the popping sound. I didn’t lose power, phone or Internet, as all of the wires were still attached at their termination points.

The scary thing was I had no idea that there was a problem. No lights flickered, no disconnects from my ISP, nothing. Even the dog, lying in the backyard, didn’t react. And this is where the story ties into the discussion around cloud computing. The players in this story are:

The electric company = cloud provider
Wires = connection to the services
Electricity = data
Me = your end user

I’m working happily when the dreaded Unplanned Event (the tree falling) takes place. I was briefly aware of something amiss (the popping sound) but because I could not discern any specific issue I continued with my work. Some period of time later, I become aware of the Unplanned Event but not because the Event was specifically disruptive to me. My awareness was only because of a 3rd party (my neighbor) saw the issue and reported it.

So, Event happens and here is the response from the provider. They realized the event happened, responded within their SLA, remediated the issue (guy with chain saw), and recovered to pre-failure state (rehung wires). When they completed the service call, all was as it had been before, with the exception of a bunch of chopped up maple tree branches littering the yard. They followed the 4-R approach to services (future blog posts to come on this).
On the plus side, I never lost connectivity, never lost productivity or any functionality. I was able to continue to work. Also, the Unplanned Event cost me nothing as the provider includes the 4-R services in the cost of their services. So what could be the downside?

Visibility. When you are leveraging an end-to-end services model, whether it’s for IT or for electricity, knowing the status of the services is not enough. You need to be keenly aware of any events (planned or unplanned) that COULD impact your business. If that tree had fallen 3 feet closer to the house, then all of my connectivity would have been severed. And while my services stayed up, I did have some cleanup to do after the event.

Moral of the story here is that you (as the IT team or IT management) need to be intimately involved and aware as you move toward cloud-based computing. Put the controls and tools in place that ensure the services are delivered appropriately and that you maintain the responsibility to the users. Don’t be like my dog, rolling around in the grass, blissfully unaware and uninvolved. Because, if a chainsaw wielding man is in your yard, you want your dog to react.

I think I’m going to trade mine in for a cat.

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