Evolution, Not Revolution.

Chris James

Since I can remember, most years the news of a major threat to humankind would break and quickly spread around the world. I remember the next ice age, overpopulation, food shortages, e-coli, acid rain, the ozone hole, bird flu, swine flu and global warming, to name just a few. But so far none has actually killed me or those around me.

The IT industry seems to follow a similar pattern of big news about technologies and trends which are hailed as the next big change: open systems, thin clients, outsourcing, consolidation, remote disaster recovery, green computing and now Big Data. They are all supposed to take centre stage at the planning table but should they? So much time and so many resources were spent on the much hyped Millenium bug (that was going to bring an end to civilisation as we know it) but did any of us really think the world would come to a standstill as soon as the champagne corks had popped? No. And did it? Of course not.

So we can safely say that based on such history revolutions don’t work, or at least they are not that, well, revolutionary. Look to France or Russia: the one thing that can be guaranteed is that shortly after a revolution similar characters to those people tried to remove are back in power. Slightly better or different but certainly not ground breaking.

If you want to make a significant change you have to do it slowly: introduce a new idea, let it take hold and then slowly get it adopted. It is very similar in the case of new technologies and architectures. Change is inevitable: it is usually triggered by a disruptive new technology, but the process is evolutionary rather than revolutionary.

I was talking to a customer last week about the advantages of being able to see the IT infrastructure end-to-end in real time. I could tell he was concerned, not because it was a bad idea (in fact he positively loved it), but because it was a new way of working that he would have to convince his co-workers to embrace; in effect not a revolution, but an evolution. So what’s the way forward in such circumstances? A Proof of Value (POV) test. It allows the customer to isolate one application to drill right down inside it and see what is going on; where are the bottle necks? How can performance be improved? A POV removes the drastic element of a revolution and before you know it other people in the organisation are seeing the benefits and things start to change – for the better. It’s a slower process but it’s more effective.

So, don’t worry about the latest or next IT trend: simply look to gradually optimise your IT infrastructure and you are likely to see considerable changes. You will have a happy business, happy customers and a less stressful life. Oh, and try not to get eaten by the next bug!

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