Introduction: It's a VUCA World?
(Thanks to Pixabay for providing commercial-free photos.)
There are those that see the world as bursting with VUCA (Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, and Ambiguity) as if this is a unique and new thing. They spend countless hours attempting to offset the great unknowns of their times.
But you can look at most time periods in history, you pretty much find the same thing. So this is not a new trend. Just maybe a little more of it. When dealing with computing infrastructures there are at least five themes that keep reoccurring. Some IT veterans have worked both sides of the issue spectrum at least twice. If you understand the tradeoffs, your career and organization will stay afloat and move ahead. What is the right answer depends on what is best for your organization for the present and near future.
These themes include:
1) Company-staffed or third-party?
The days of companies' performing all IT functions are of the distant past. Companies are outsourcing various staffing needs as well as their computing infrastructure. Physical versus virtual, in or out of the cloud are related concerns. Costs, level of service, outsourcing company culture and infrastructure stability are all factors to consider. Outside of the computing industry, many of these arguments are being replayed recently with the debate over the possible outsourcing of TSA responsibilities to be more responsive to long security lines. (Note: This is done already at San Francisco and smaller airports.)
2) Centralized versus decentralized?
This is somewhat like the first item. Centralized environments may be able to set company-wide standards and have less redundant staff. But they could be more bureaucratic to the needs of a business unit than a local group. Sometimes overlooked is a hybrid model which is centralizing those things that make sense and decentralize all others. Dialogue on this topic can also be found between federal and state governments, state and local governments, regional versus city government. Don't expect this to be solved soon as the pendulum swings back and forth.
3) Reactive versus Proactive?
I have discussed this at length in earlier articles. Proactive takes more organization and time. But eventually should result in optimized, secure systems having less downtime. Others would rather "pay as you go" and only deal with things when they break. And if outages occur, then do typically minimal changes. A real-world version of this can be found on how visits you have go to the dentist. This can depend on the degree of proactive flossing and brushing versus benign neglect.
4) Standard versus Proprietary?
In theory, standards mean that you would expect a minimum set of behavior across hardware or software. Some vendors either ignore standards and make their own internal approach or "improve" the standard with proprietary add-ons. Others reverse-engineer proprietary software with their own clone. One example of what may happen with standards is HTML. No two browsers handle a HTML 5 web-page the same way. So rigorous testing and requirements gathering is recommended on what product(s) make sense for you.
5) Legacy versus New Software?
This is not an easy question. Do you keep your old software that is dependable and you know in or out? Or do you buy something that may be more modern, responsive, scalable, and feature rich? And a secondary issue is do you build your own or buy technology. Again, the answer is always what makes sense for your organization as opposed to being a given answer.
I would love to get your take on how much of your work life is spent on grappling with these larger themes and what have you learned in the process. Please share your thoughts.