Aligning the Stars and Planets
scale last edited by
This week, on Monday, there was an alignment of the Earth, Moon, and Sun that caused a total solar eclipse across North America. Here in Indiana we didn’t get the total eclipse, but I sat on my porch and watched it with my eclipse glasses, anyway. It was pretty cool. Another thing that happened this week was a call with an IT shop that wasn’t ready to adopt hyperconvergence because of too many sunk costs. These seemingly unrelated events clicked with me on a topic I have been talking about a lot recently. When is it time to make a change.
Here is a photo of the partial eclipse peeking through the clouds, taken from southern Indiana and courtesy of Jana Bowers.
Many years ago, my best friend called me to ask for advice. He and his wife were thinking about having kids but weren’t sure if they were ready. He needed some guidance and I got the impression he was waiting for the stars or planets to align. I still don’t know why he asked me. I was not married and did not have kids at the time. I was not even close to be married or having any kids. But, I gave him the best advice I had. I told him, “You are never going to be ready. You will always be able to find a reason not to do it. So just go for it and figure it out as you go.” It seems to have been great advice because they have 2 great kids and make a great family.
The stars and planets occasionally do align and those looking up get to see some cool astronomical effects. However, if your business plans include waiting for a number of factors to align naturally before you take action, you are probably costing yourself more than you think. What makes things worse, is that many of these factors are controllable, but you might feel trapped by decisions you’ve made in the past like the sunk costs I mentioned earlier.
What is a sunk cost? It could be a number of things. It could be some equipment you purchased that has not yet been fully depreciated. It could be an employee you hired with a specific set of skills. It could be a contract you signed with a service provider to maintain some current systems. It could be a specific software solution you implemented that has proven complex enough to dictate many of your other IT solution decisions. The burden of these past decisions can make it seem impossible to change, especially when these decisions have only made your IT environment more and more complex.
Hyperconvergence takes the approach of simplifying IT infrastructure. Maybe you hired Bob because of his expert storage skills and Susan because of her expert virtualization skills. Moving to a hyperconverged infractructure (HCI) solution that simplifies both storage and virtualization will undermine your investment in Bob and Susan, right? Well, you probably also hired Bob and Susan because they were expert problem solvers and innovators, as well. They likely have the capacity to add great value beyond their initial skill sets. Instead of having to use their skills to maintain an overly complex storage and virtualization system, wouldn’t you rather they focus their energies on improving IT and business processes and implementing a better set of applications?
What about that hardware you already bought? Was it servers? Was it storage appliances? Both? It hasn’t lived out it’s useful life yet so why replace it? Well, you have to replace it eventually. Are you really getting the value out of it that you intended, or is it just another part of an overly complex architecture for which you needed to employ those experts like Bob and Susan to maintain? When you bought that hardware, you probably didn’t know how much you could potentially save by switching to HCI because HCI was still emerging in the market. Could the savings of HCI actually offset the sunk costs of the hardware even without depreciation? They very well might.
And what about that service provider you are contracted with for your IT solutions? That relationship doesn’t necessarily need to go away, but as with Bob and Susan, perhaps the focus of the work can be shifted to more productive activity than maintaining complex, expensive systems. Your service provider still wants your business, and you likely have more power than you think in dictating how their side of the service contract can be utilized more effectively for you.
Finally you may have that one software system that seems to only work with that complex IT infrastructure behind it. Is it really worth continuing to let that system drag so much complexity and cost behind it or are there alternative solutions you can look to that can be implemented in truly software-defined, virtualized environment without specialized storage, servers, or networking?
If you are waiting for all of these factors to align themselves at some point so that you can change to a simpler, more cost-effective solution that will start saving you now and in the future, you’ll likely end up continuing down the same path. Instead, you really have the ability to decide to start simplifying and saving now, forcing those other factors to align as you go forward. As for the eclipse, that happened at it’s own time and place, completely out of your control. With your IT infrastructure, you have the control over when change happens regardless of sunk costs. It’s up to you to align those factors by being bold and making simplicity and cost savings a priority over feeling trapped by past decisions.