by February 3, 2004 0 comments



Recently, we conducted a little focus group of CIOs in Delhi. The idea was to get some insights into their concerns, and the issues they face in building and managing the IT infrastructures that they are responsible for.

Introductions over, I started off with the first question. “What is it”, I asked, drawing up all the drama I could muster, “that worries you the most about your IT setup, when you go to sleep?”

In preparation for the focus group we had done some extensive research, reading up, brainstorming…the works. And we had a fairly large list of potential concern areas, ranging all the way from the rapid pace of technology change to the lack of senior management understanding and concern.

But every one of them in the room had only one answer to my question, an answer that was nowhere on my list. Reliability, they said, is what worried them the most. The fear that what they had shut down that evening will start up without problems when started up the next morning; the fear that what they had left running will still be running when they along with the others came back the next day.

Frankly, for a minute I did not know what to say. But think of it and it can be quite sobering indeed! Here we are running the rat race of technology, running hard to catch up with the latest, the fastest, the smartest, thinking that that is what every one wants. But, the men who actually implement and manage them are more concerned with ensuring that what they have in place; perform as they are supposed to.

Were they being unnecessarily paranoid?

I had heard the same refrain in a panel discussion I did with CIOs across the country some time back as well. Specifically on the reliability of backups they take.

Come to think of it, IT disasters stories are far too common for these gentlemen to be unnecessarily paranoid. Did we not have every one talk about disaster recovery this last year? Do TV companies talk of disaster recovery when they sell us TVs? Why is it that a server does not always come back up the way it is expected to? Why is it that a back up to tape does not restore when we need it? Why do files stored in supposedly quality CDs get corrupted? Why is it that tables in a database get corrupt? Why do they not work like a TV or a car where a breakdown is not the norm of the day?

Surely, this is stuff for tech vendors to ponder over. Is there a gap between what your customers want and what you are giving them? While you are busy with faster equipment and better manageability and stuff of that nature, your customers seem to be wanting something else. 

You might say that reliability is improving. But, the fact is that as Robert Frost so famously wrote, you have miles to go on that count before you sleep.

Question, dear vendor: now that you know what is on the top of the list for your customer, will you start providing it? The rest of us will be watching closely.

Krishna Kumar

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