Your IT Infrastructure: Shining Example or Picture of Neglect?

By Dave Sobel  |  Print this article Print

Is your IT infrastructure a shining example to your customers of what one should look like? Or are you too busy working on customer sites that you've let deferred maintenance tasks pile up?

I spent a good portion of last week shouting "Cobbler’s Kids" down the hall to my staff.

We’re knee deep in an infrastructure refresh for Evolve, retiring several older virtual machines from the network to replace them with new Windows Server 2008 R2 systems. Our SQL Server is moving from SQL Server 2005 to SQL Server 2008 R2, and we’ve freshened up with a new two-factor authentication system, AuthAnvil, from our friends at Scorpion Software.

Our goal is to age out servers in the first quarter of the year that are running Windows Server 2003, and have those replaced with Server 2008 R2 on all our systems. Additionally, we’ve rolled out two-factor authentication to internal systems, and plan to protect our customers in Q1 as well.

What interested me was how several upgrades resulted in immediate performance improvements. My Service Manager comments on how much faster performance was from one of our RMM tools, and we already saw performance increases with our anti-virus platform.

Additionally, I noticed when walking around the office recently that one of my engineers had a display that looked funny…. If you describe funny as "wavy lines across the top and bottom of the display, where the display wasn’t clear."

Thus began the yelling.

For those who never heard it, there is a proverb that "The shoemaker’s children are often shoeless." The shoemaker is so busy making shoes for customers that he never stops to make ones for his own children.

As IT professionals, it’s important we not fall into this same trap. Our environments should be examples to our customers of what is possible, and examples to our engineers of what the best possible IT environment can be. If we intend to show customers solutions, and more importantly sell and deploy those solutions, we should be using our own networks and policies as an example.

Would you buy a suit from a poorly dressed tailor? Would you bank with a banker who can’t do math? What would you think of your lawyer if you found out he was breaking the law? Why would you trust your network to IT professionals running on outdated hardware?

My shouting was to reinforce this. My staff should remember the cobbler’s kids, and never treat ourselves that way. Internal projects, when authorized, are considered billable, client work. They’re managed the same way a customer project is, and they’re tracked and planned on a similar cycle. This keeps us moving forward in the best possible way.

Don’t fall into the trap of being a cobbler. Your children should wear the best shoes, not go barefoot.
Dave Sobel is the founder and CEO of Evolve Technologies (www.evolvetech.com), a consulting firm that provides information technology and computer networking services to small businesses in Washington D.C., Maryland and Virginia.Evolve Technologies provides a wide array of services including server installation, virus protection, network security, backup services and complete information technology outsourcing. The first Microsoft Small Business Specialist located in the Washington, D.C. area, Evolve Technologies is a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner. Prior to founding Evolve Technologies, Sobel worked as a Web architect for a consulting company. He also has experience doing security, network and infrastructure design for Fortune 1000 companies. Sobel holds a bachelor's degree in Computer Science from the College of William and Mary. He can be reached at dave@evolvetech.com.