Tag: administration

Who is Steering the Ship?

Who is Steering the Ship?

 

  • Is the captain of a company the CEO?
  • Is it the board of directors?
  • Is it the Stockholders?

I would argue yes and no.  The customer most probably guides or “tugs” your ship through the turbulent waters of the industry you are in, more than you might think.

Since the driving force is out of your complete control, can your ship stand up to the pressures of high winds or traversing into territories which are uncharted? Is there a reef ahead waiting to break the spine of your vessel? Will Sirens lure your men into a false state of complacency?

While need necessitates the possible paths that you as the captain choose to follow, the infrastructure and robust nature of your data systems will be part of the viability of your success.

Companies must be robust enough to change directions or take on more massive task as the customer demands.  As an SME in Data processing (Information Systems) and Disaster Recovery, frequently I find through the audit process that the ship is traversing the waters without a rudder, and an engine that is held together with duct tape and bailing wire.

Some of the critical problems in this industry are human nature, underperforming CIO’s, and lackadaisical staff. Other issues often include a CIO taking on the job of CFO.

Encouraged by upper management to rain in cost, the CIO might look for ways to cut the budget using poor quality sheets, and used line, taken from derelict ships that have already made their way to Davy Jones locker.

When the proverbial fork in the road or in keeping with the metaphor, when the winds change, will your company be ready?

Often, Board Members or CEO’s look at disaster recovery like insurance.  It is much more than some policy that you purchase.

When you bring in a person or company, who specializes in Disaster Recovery many things happen.

The first two are a risk analysis and an audit of how you currently do business regarding Data processing. The scope, of course, can be more than just your data processing capabilities and often it is expanded to include all functions of your company.

Depending on the size of your company and its complexity this could be a project for a consultant, or it might include one or more FTE’s that maintain your ships viability into perpetuity.

While the Risk Analysis may or may not be a surprise to you, the audit will almost certainly be a surprise.  Nobody wants someone poking around in their business.

Frequently those in charge of the department will make themselves scarce.  While weekly meetings and deliverables are a must, I often find that an audit shakes things up, and that can be a good thing.  This process also exposes any weak links in the proverbial chain.

Your IT department is a dynamic part of your company and often is the engine which drives your ship. While frequently looked at as a cost center, without it, your company I dare say would die on the vine or flounder.

In the final examination of your company, we will discover if you are ready for the next opportunity or the next fork in the road.  We might also learn that you are treading water.

When the prevailing winds shift directions, will your ship be able to adjust?

Smooth Sailing!

© All Rights Reserved 2018

Scott Taylor

Advertisements
Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

Why should you use Rent-A-Geeks for your disaster recovery drills?

 

The pushback I get on this one topic is phenomenal.  Their IT people who know their boss better than I, always question the need for a disaster recovery audit in the first place.

“I Get it!  To them, that is synonymous with taking your shoebox full of tax information to the IRS and asking them for an audit. Please let me suffer through an audit because I love pain!”

So who in their right mind would do it?

I can think of no better argument than Puerto Rico.  That island was wiped off the map.  They have no power grid left.  They have no data communications and let’s face it; It will take years for them to recover.

I had customers there, but I bet that those businesses may no longer be viable.

They are requesting of all things truck drivers, among their many lists of needs.  Why?

Their truck drivers were affected by the buss’s called Irma and then Maria.

I am speaking to the owners of businesses with this next sentence. “Folks, your IT guy that tells you that you don’t need an outside firm or audit, is setting you up for disaster.”

Objectivity is essential.  You need an honest assessment by someone who does not have a dog in that fight.

If a team of rent-a-geeks cannot restore your company at a warm site, the DR plan that you think you have is worthless. It may satisfy the ISO folks or the other government or banking or insurance companies, but the sad truth is, in an actual Disaster your people may not be around to add their collective knowledge to the process.

One client did not even look at one I prepared for them.  When I asked if he wanted to go over it he shook his head.  “No, I just need something for the auditor to show that we have one.”

My reports go to you the customer, nowhere else.  My recommendations are put forth in a clear, concise manner that you will not need your IT guy to explain to you.  Read and understand my blogs on the topic and then ask the critical questions.  If you hold your SA’s feet to the fire or your CIO’s feet to the fire, you will far better off than most of the firms I deal with.

One firms CIO that I worked with was not suited for desktop wizard much less the end all be all guru of all things technology.  Now if numbers are what interested the CEO, this was his guy.  He could pinch a nickel with the best of them. “Penny wise pound foolish,” should be on this man’s card.

It does not take an Irma or Maria to sink your business.  It only takes a Ted or Bob or a fire of some small part in the computer room to decimate your company.  Assume nothing!  Do you have the right employees doing the job?

Pray for our brothers and sisters in Puerto Rico, and if you have the ability, you might consider donating something to some of the excellent organizations who are working so hard to bring some relief to those affected.

Having lived through Alicia, I would not wish that on my worst enemy.

 

-Best

 

 

Ready, Fire …Aim

Ready, Fire …Aim

After the recent storms, one might have guessed that my phone has been busy.  Firstly let me say that Disaster Recovery by its very title is a bit of a misnomer.  While I have some abilities to recover lost data using some forensic skills developed over decades of twiddling bits, that is not really disaster recovery.

Disaster Recovery and business continuity are about planning for an event which may or may not happen.  The “plan” assumes that your business systems will be affected negatively and puts forth a tested strategy to recover from the said event.

With the recent devastation by hurricanes and earthquakes, one would think that those businesses not affected would be learning from those that were.  If you search my blogs on this site, you will see that I have laid out

Do not ask him or her, are we covered just in case, ask them specific questions laid out in this blog here.

Yes is not a satisfactory answer, demand the details and the proof.  I don’t care how much of a friend he or she is, demand the evidence.  The devil is in the details, and the last thing you want is a bunch of excuses.

I am learning from phone calls that too many have been assured that they are covered, and that is very possibly why today they are looking for ways to recover data from destroyed equipment.

Disaster recovery is not some dark magic spell cast under the voodoo magic of bits and bytes in the wiring closet or back part of the computer room.  The bottom line is to test it, whatever your people come up with, check it.  Keep checking it until you can recover your business with outside contractors and hardware with data and documents prepared by your staff.  There is to be no input from you or your staff during the test.  The hurricane, earthquake, fire, attack from zombies or employee error took you and them away from the scene. The plan provided must work!

This is why we who do this insist that companies use “best practice” standards in the industry when creating your individual networks and systems.

One such company has a senior IT staff littered with programmers.  These people think they know more than Microsoft.  Using kludges from Unix, Linux and other programming wizardry to subvert some of the basic tenants of networking, they have made their network so unique that it will depend on them to be there to recover.

If it is not broken, don’t fix it!

Writing programs that workaround things like DNS is just crazy stuff and now it is dependent on the network never changing, at all.

If your data is successfully mirrored offsite, an excellent team of engineers might get you going in weeks, not days if you have failed to follow best practices.  While your data might eventually be usable, you and your company will be on the sidelines as most businesses do not recover from such a catastrophe.

Folks I have been at this since 1982, I have learned a thing or two in those years.  Ask your team the questions or be prepared for unpleasant surprises should you ever face a business stopping event.

Got to go and explain once again what disaster recovery is and is not.

-Best

Gun Control, Abortion and Politics

ImageThese issues are so divisive, so volatile, that they have ruined many candidates’ chances for ever getting elected. 

 

Case in point: Q: Mr. Ryan, how do you feel about abortion?  A: As a Christian conservative I value all life and I believe that abortion should be very limited.

Correct Answer: My personal values and beliefs on this issue are not germane to the conversation. If elected, I will work hard to get these types of decisions pushed back to the state where they belong, so the people in each state can decide by the democratic process how they feel these issues should be handled.

 

His answer is of course paraphrased but you can see the difference.  The correct answer would have garnered him more votes as he recognized the limits of government and even though the Christian conservative comment would have gained him some votes; he most likely already had those votes in the red states and lost votes in the blue states where they needed them.  The real gotcha part of the question was diverted in the correct answer and instead of it being a negative as the “reporter” intended, it would have been neutered at the least and a positive at best.

 

The rhetoric that these issues generate alone, cloud the real issues of the day like the economy and or the events in the Middle East.  These two issues take the forefront on the news and the campaign trial, instead of the issues that really matter.  Gun control, dominates the nightly news rather than the media dealing with the real issues of the day. 

 

The Middle East is on fire, hundreds of thousand are killed and we talk about creating a law that has no chance of working in this country, ever!  They would have to shred the constitution for it to have a chance; and Uncle Joe touting his shotgun rhetoric would have to keep mute; as he gives the gun lobbyist more “ammo,” every time he speaks on the subject. 

 

The simple facts are that there is not a “one size fits all solution” for an entire country on either of these two issues.  On top of this if you bother to do any research, you will find places like Chicago who have some of the toughest gun laws, also enjoy some of the highest murder rates or crime rates committed with guns, anywhere in the country. 

 

It is my contention that these issues are played up intentionally and strategically when there are other issues that are showing up on the radar that the administration wants to re-focus the public’s attention away from. Benghazi was one such issue, and Fast and Furious another; just to name two.  I would bet that in the industry; issues like this have names, much like “puff piece,” which this would not be, or some such other type of piece like a “Houdini.”

 

 

The state should be the one to deal with these issues although I bet that they are happy that they don’t have to.    There is a reason that we have red and blue states.  The majority of the people in the “highly populated” areas of those states are fairly like minded for one reason or another.  These areas attract more people who are also of similar ilk.  That is perfectly ok as one should be allowed to vote with their feet.

 

If Colorado wants to legalize pot (which they did) and you are of the belief that it should be legal, you may be interested in moving there.  If Texans think that wearing a gun should be synonymous with wearing clothes, you may want to live there (if you’re a good guy) or stay the hell away if you are prone to picking fights or doing stupid things. “An armed society is a polite society.”

 

Much like football, the quarterback fakes the throw and our attention “and the opposing teams attention” is momentarily taken off the real ball, and then the handoff happens.  Politics or those who practice it, work the same way.  The people that we hire, that should be watching out for us are all up there playing quarterback with trillions of tax payer’s dollars.

 

Of course if gun control and abortion are not enough to divert your complete attention; than the race card, the gay card, and the class warfare card and my personal all time favorite, some imagined war on women come into play.  Never have I seen the “war on babies” card played, which it should be.

 

Keep your eyes on the ball.  This is not an R or a D thing, it is a people thing, and those inside the beltway should be held not only to higher standards, but they should be held accountable; accountable not to the people who gambled millions of dollars on their reelection bid; but to us, the tax payer.  When any of these cards are played, keep looking for what they are hiding.  Start looking at other media rather than the main stream media for the answers.  If you are a huge Fox news fan, make sure that you watch CNN as well. The reverse is true if you are a Chris Mathews Fan.  I personally read news from all over the globe, as they are watching us, and there is a good chance that their dog in the fight is not that of the current administrations.  The more that any of the above cards are dominating the news, or trending, the more I look elsewhere, to see what is happening.

 

To borrow a phrase from the X-Files, “the truth is out there,” seek and ye shall find.  “The truth has no Agenda.”

 

-Best to you and those that you care about!