The IT Manager Dilemmas:
I remember when I was an IT Manager in the late 90’s. Back then I was responsible for of the massive IT infrastructure for a pre-paid phone card processor. It was an environment full of “big iron”. I had a giant storage array bigger than my car, bunches of dedicated servers, multiple HP-UX servers running Oracle databases, a Stratus Continuous Availability Server that you could literally swap a processor on without shutting it down, and a giant SS7 telephony switch. All told, it was millions of dollars of software and hardware, relied on by millions of users around the world, and running millions and millions of dollars of revenue. The amazing thing was not the systems I got to work on though. You see, I worked at a start-up, and during that time “Clouds” were something you talked about when it was raining outside. No, the amazing part was that all that gear and software was in-house, and for better or for worse, run by one person… me.
I can recall thinking to myself “man, talk about risky… betting your entire business on one guy to keep all this running… what happens if all of this craters… I need a partner… I need help!” And of course, to add to my worry that was Y2K and I was running a bunch of old-school Unix OS’s and software that DEPENDED on dates. What could possibly go wrong?
Fast-forward to today, I can honestly tell you that experience is firmly burned into my brain. It’s one of the reasons why I think I’m uniquely suited to be in the hosting business… because I can truly empathize with customers. I have literally been there.
I have yet to find an IT Manager or SMB owner that isn’t working to boot strap their businesses and manage their IT spend in a smarter way. I’m fortunate in that I get to spend my day trying to solve those problems for them. I get to use my experience when I was in their shoes to say “What would I want if I were them?”
Back then, I had a few rules for partners (and also the infamous sales guy that would randomly show up). I think several of my rules are still valid today for me. The list started out like this…
If you really want to help me:
- Don’t waste my time
- Simplify my life
- Arm me with tools
#1 – Don’t waste my time – Get down to business
I don’t have time to chitchat. You may very well be a nice person and I’d love to get to know you. But usually, I’m far too busy. I don’t have a huge staff to offload to, so step one is let’s get business out of the way and cut to the chase. Efficiency and prioritization is a way of life to IT Managers.
#2 – Simplify my life – Make it easy FOR ME!
If you have something that will make my life easier, I’m all ears. But you better realize right upfront I’m not made of money… refer to Rule #1! And make it easy FOR ME… not you…
Simple and elegant goes a long way for IT Managers. Complicated systems breed complicated troubleshooting, onerous failure modes, and long recovery cycles.
Now this is not to say that everything is simple. I’ve launched numerous Clouds and Cloud products, and not one of them would I classify as “simple.” But as Einstein said we should endeavor to “make things as simple as it can be, but not simpler.”
But the important point here is that it has to make MY life easier, for problems I face.
#3 – Arm me with Tools – And stay out of my way (until I need you)
Here is what I would ask if I were buying hosting today.
If you are so worried about my infrastructure, so fanatical about making sure I’m ok, so smart with your systems, your builds, and your servers… why are most of your protection and safety mechanisms “separate” from your products? Don’t tell me you have great hosting, great support, and a great SLA, and then nickel and dime me for monitoring and for managed backup. These should be part of the service. They should be CORE to everything I pay you for.
Applying this to the IT Manager Today: Making Hosting Easier
I take everything above to heart when we are outlining the Codero road map and overall strategy. As an example, this is why I made sure that with the launch of Smart Servers, they were actually “smarter” than just a traditional Dedicated Server.
I ensured that with Smart Servers, Backups are built in. Not only that, but as an incentive for good behavior, I made sure they are FREE. Smart Servers are one of those things I always wanted back in the 90’s… a safety net that was unobtrusive to my app, and allowed me to very easily protect against disaster. A server time machine…
With the launch of Smart Servers we wanted to make sure that:
1) We didn’t waste our customer’s time by trying to bolt on a backup solution that inevitably would fail or change in price someday. I didn’t want a solution where Codero or the customer would have to chase backup jobs that failed all the time.
2) We made our customer’s life simpler. When someone gets a Smart Server, they no longer have to worry about private networking or a recovery plan. It’s there… it’s ready. And by the way, if you ever want to migrate to new hardware… it’s a seamless, painless, and fast process.
3) We armed our customers with tools that matter to be successful. With Smart Servers customers can set up their own schedules of snapshots. They can restore or rewind the clock, on their own if they want to. Furthermore, Smart Servers are built ready for Hybrid Hosting inter-connectivity (tying a dedicated server environment to a Cloud server environment so that they look logically interconnected).
Let me know what you think about my “rules” above. If there are other things you are worried about as an IT Manager, or that you would like to see for your hosting, leave a comment or send us a note. I would love to hear your thoughts.