Damaging the Business: When the Wrong People Make Ill-Advised Infrastructure Decisions

Are the wrong people making your infrastructure decisions?
Are the wrong people making your infrastructure decisions?

We’re seeing aggressive young companies burst on to the scene with a good portion of their success fueled by their infrastructure, and correspondingly, there are companies that see their market share decline due to subpar data center and cloud strategies that limit their ability to adjust quickly to take on the new challenger.

The foundering companies losing market share to the startups may have struggled to find the proper platform for their applications (the same platform for all is not always advisable), and/or have made poor decisions about providers. Or perhaps they’re trying to host their own infrastructure when they would be better off outsourcing through a cloud provider, a colocation arrangement with a multi-tenant data center provider, or both. Maybe they’ve plowed into the public cloud without the expertise required, which can be an expensive proposition. It could be they’re simply managing a decent solution improperly.

What comes up time and time again when talking to infrastructure pros trying to unwind sub-optimal data center and cloud arrangements is that decisions leading to the need for improvement have often been made by people with the wrong skill sets. There are organizations of surprising size that have left their infrastructure decisions to their software engineers and/or are counting on them to successfully manage DevOps.

In their training and professional life, the best software engineers are frequently creative, outside-the-box thinkers. The mindset of a successful software expert is significantly different from what is required to create and run reliable, available, secure infrastructure. Understandably, many find infrastructure work to be monotonous. For a typical software pro infrastructure is yet another item to add to their backlog and they often just take the path of least resistance.

As one infrastructure consultant says, “Most of the time when we walk into an environment there is limited, often, no monitoring. There is limited testing. Knowing when you often have a problem and where you have a problem is critical in understanding how to solve that problem. I am continually amazed at how little value software developers place on monitoring. And as a result, that decreased value translates into an initial infrastructure design when done by a software engineer. Their goal is to get the infrastructure up, to make sure the app runs, and then get back to writing software.”

Software engineers are frequently interested in the hot, new, exciting product. Infrastructure professionals concerned with uptime and security are more interested in not what’s new, but what is proven to work best, what is most reliable, and the (frequently boring) process that leads to highly available, secure cloud and data center solutions.

With the right people, successful new companies challenging established leaders frequently quickly make inroads with infrastructure. With the wrong people, former market leaders are being victimized by these new shooters.




Image used under Creative Commons, courtesy of: Flickr