IT’s a MAAD World

By Staff Contributor on October 22, 2015

All around me are familiar faces

Worn out places, worn out faces

Bright and early for the daily races

Going nowhere, going nowhere…


And I find it kind of funny

I find it kind of sad

The dreams in which I’m dying are the best I’ve ever had

I find it hard to tell you,

I find it hard to take

When people run in circles it’s a very, very

Mad world, mad world

My experience at AWS re:Invent 2015 reminded me of the lyrics from Roland Orzabal’s Mad World. The first verse seems to reflect traditional Enterprise IT as it struggles to transform and enable continuous service delivery and integration. The second verse reminds me of the conversation that IT operations is having with itself to remove the tech inertia and adopt the DevOps culture. It also seems to reflect the conversation IT professionals are having with developers as they try to learn and live agile and lean.

The disruption from highly available, easy-to-use and -scale Cloud services is making IT organizations run in circles to change themselves while they attempt to transform that change into business value. It’s like IT is becoming a mad world; but it doesn’t have to be, as long as we’re talking MAAD, not mad. And by MAAD, I mean monitoring as a discipline. Whether you are an IT professional, a DevOps engineer, or an application developer, you can never be MAAD enough in this mad world of instant applications.

So why leverage monitoring as a discipline in the age of instant apps? SolarWinds Developer Evangelist Dave Josephsen said it best in his IT Briefcase article“Teams with the know-how to embrace metrics-driven development and scale their monitoring into their codebase, will spend less time mired…and more time building and running world-class systems that scale.” But not so fast, you say, because you’re in IT ops. You are not a developer. Okay, no problem. As my friend and fellow SolarWinds Head Geek Thomas LaRock so eloquently puts it, you need to learn to pivot. And when you do, embrace the discipline that you’ve already matured your career with monitoring.

Monitoring is the ideal discipline to bridge the gap from your premises to your Clouds at your scale. I think of monitoring as the following set of eight skills:

  1. Discovery – Show me what’s going on.
  2. Alerting – Tell me when something breaks or is going bad.
  3. Remediation – Fix the problem.
  4. Troubleshooting – Find the root cause.
  5. Security – Govern and control the data, app, and stack planes.
  6. Optimization – Run more efficiently and effectively.
  7. Automation – Scale it.
  8. Reporting – Show and tell the management teams/business units.

The first four skills (DART framework) are discussed in detail in a SolarWinds eBook focused on virtualization. The last four skills will be discussed in another SolarWinds eBook later this year or in early 2016. These skills apply to any IT professional, especially one looking to enable hybrid IT service models.

Traditional IT organizations are embracing transformation, as proven by AWS’ continued simplification of Cloud services for enterprise organizations. Many organizations still face internal resistance to change, and the rate of change associated with continuous delivery and integration. At the same time, the disdain for IT professionals from the DevOps purist at THE Cloud conference is still palpable. Some of it may be deserved for the years of IT roadblocks in the name of rigor and discipline. Whatever the case, continuous service delivery and continuous service integration are the new realities for enterprise IT. Dev is the new black.

So IT professionals, take ownership of your premises, your Clouds, and your scale with monitoring as a discipline. It’s definitely not all quiet on the Cloud front. The storms of continuous change are brewing and IT professionals need to stay ahead of the game. If you’re in the calm, the storm is already looming over your organization and disruption is about to be forced upon you.

I’ll end with words from Adrian Cockcroft, a highly distinguished monitoring engineer who’s always on the leading edge of tech. Adrian says that the CIO has three key goals:

  1. Align IT with the business.
  2. Develop products faster.
  3. Try not to get breached.

That all three goals can be achieved with monitoring as a discipline is just utter MAADness!

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