Tuesday, 5 April 2011

The five most important things I learnt about IT Operations

My first job was working for a small IT consultancy with no more than 15 people. I joined two years after the dot-com crash and times were still hard for IT. The company was self funded and the owners worked hard to keep the company alive.

Here I learnt more about business of providing IT services than in any other company since. Here are five things that really stuck with me.

1. The customer is king.
Without them, there is no business. It's a two-way relationship that you have to manage well. Be accomodating but don't go too far. Attempting to satisfy every request will put you out of business.

2. Do not break production systems
Be careful when executing commands, the wrong one can put you in a world of pain. Inevitably things will break, but try and make sure you're not at fault. The customer pays you to keep services up, and if you don't meet agreed service levels, they're going to want that money back.

3. Time is money - track where you spend it
This tells you who's bringing in the money and who's taking it out of the company. It also gives you a great insight how your team really works and helps you to identify problems and trends.

4 Solid network monitoring is crucial
If your systems break, you need to know about it. Many incidents can be averted by monitoring the basics; disks, load, memory,processes and logs. Your usefulness to the business will come into question if your customers can spot problems before you can.

5. "You have to kick ass!"
This is a quote from my first boss. Don't rest on your laurels, be proactive. The customers is demanding and as a business, you're always in competition. If you get lazy you're going to be out of business one way or the other.

These are my rules of engagement for frontline, what are yours?

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