Wednesday Jul 29, 2009

ssd_max_throttle vs IT governance

Chris and I had a short IM exchange yesterday regarding a customer visit I made on monday, its a customer we have both worked with a lot over the years. One of the significant contributory factors of the reported problems is that a line of the form
set ssd:ssd_max_throttle=32
is missing from /etc/system across the estate attached to a particular SAN. Common problem, easy diagnosis, etc.

I made the comment that a co-worker of ours in a different part of the organization would have picked up on the need to address the underlying IT governance issue.

I liked this definition from Wikipedia :

   Specifying the decision rights and accountability framework to encourage desirable 
   behaviour in the use of IT.
and the cause of the cause of the cause of the cause of ssd_max_throttle not being set was in the structure of the established decision rights and accountability framework.

Still, far easier to stick ssd_max_thottle=32 in /etc/system and leave these battles to others this time round. However, an awareness has been sparked.

Tuesday Jun 30, 2009

Stephen Fry and the KT rational Process : new iPhone App idea

I am not a car buff(who would be with a Volvo), but we enjoy the moments of madness on Top Gear such as turning a Robin Reliant into a space shuttle!

Though shalt not question Stephen Fry who was the star in a reasonably priced car on Top Gear which was shown in the UK on sunday night.

From Mr Fry's twitter feed........

Oh lor. So I gather from your tweets that the Top Gear people
didn't edit out the Grindr stuff ... Gracious me.

I don't have an iPhone and am not in the target demographic for Grindr, but it did get spark some lateral thinking about the utility of a iPhone Mobile App which would find the nearest person able to apply rational problem solving to your urgent issue where:-

  • Cause is unknown?
  • Need to know cause?
  • Deviation of actual from should?

Maybe the App could be called ResolveR and if you need process help in

  • Situation appraisal (working out what needs to be done)
  • Solving a problem
  • Making a decision
  • Avoiding future problems or taking advantage of future opportunities
  • Thinking beyond the fix
  • Incident mapping (looking forward to the Leader training in 2 weeks time for this)
  • Performance system engineering

then you bring up the IPhone ResolveR app and you find you find the location of a KT certified Program Leader or Red Belt 20 meters away who can help you.

Should this great idea be stolen and ResolveR make it to market, probably best not to get GrindR and ResolveR mixed up.

Friday May 08, 2009

ISEB Problem Management examinations

For my many and varied sin's, I was invited yesterday to become the Chief Examiner for an ISEB exam in the area of ITIL and Problem Management. Must learn to duck when someone shouts "incoming". No more to be said at this point in time as it will be announced in a few weeks time and some folks have to sign things. It has a lot of relevance to the work we have been doing with Kepner-Tragoe for some years at Sun, as mentioned here.

One of the quiet trends I have seen over the last 6 months is serious interest in ITIL among a significant subset of the customers I meet with a 50:50 split between those who really want to use it to improve their business and those who want to be seen to use it.

The exam board meeting in London at the BCS buidling near Covent Garden which has more outdoor shops (Field and Trek, North Face, etc) than Llanberis or Ambleside, but no mountains! I have learned that BCS members can book a room there to use for a meeting.

I used the Wrexham and Shropshire train from Shrewsbury to London which really does put Virgin to shame, even in cattle class and for 1/3 of the price. It was much fuller than when I last used it about 2 months ago. Seems word is getting round, though it is slow in comparison.

Off to see Wayne do his Enterprise Architecture pitch for the BCS in Aberystwyth this evening, then dog and Clive are going for a run. Following the Highland Fling and the mandatory rest week I have found it really hard to get back into my training again.

Tuesday Apr 29, 2008

define the problem you want to solve and you are 50% of the way there.

In the voyage to apply the rational process to performance issues, this is useful insight.

For those of us working on performance issues in Services, the biggest hurdle we have to clear is getting a good definition of the problem the customer wants solved (BTW, "my system is slow" is not a problem definition we can work with). and not knowing if an arbitrary kstat counter is incrementing too fast. Once we get a solid problem definition to work on, we are at least 50% of the way there.

As Andy points out, in a multi-vendor world which requires a hippy holistic approach, the definition of the problem is key.

It also occurred to me that by definition a true Hippy would not rant, but go with the flow!

Monday Apr 07, 2008

Futurology and Independent Financial Advisors

I have been blessed during my career at Sun in being an Sun Global Resolution Troubleshooting Program leader which has made the Kepner Tregoe Rational Process toolbox part of my every day work and home life. It gives a structured approach to

  • Deciding what problems need to be solved
  • Establishing root cause and appropriate corrective action
  • Avoiding future problems
  • Making rational decisions
  • Undertaking Potential Problem and Opportunity Analysis (Risk management)
  • Performance System Engineering : Why people don't do what you think they should
I have also used some of the other KT tools such as Incident maps (blame management) and strategy facilitation. We (Steve White ex-Sun now with KT) and myself also layered some other disciples on top of the rational process including NLP and Bayesian statistics which proved to be effective and useful.

While not formal in the mathematical sense, the KT Rational Process does provide a repeatable and effective process for the commmon situation in the world of supporting computer systems and the people who use them and the wider world of business and I would argue outside work.

Most of us are on a journey trying to avoid being poor in our old age and avoid our little people being debt burdened when they leave university, etc. (I have to qualify what I say here as I am a trustee of the Sun UK Pension Fund, so if you are a member of the Sun UK Pension Fund, I am allowed to give 3 bits of investment information (note not advice).

  • 1. Get a Scottish Wife, they don't spend much money.
  • 2. Save in the region of at least 22% for your retirement.
  • 3. By law the trustee's are unable to provide investment advise, so if you are unsure of what financial actions to take, consult an IFA.

My personal past experience suggests that I would have been better taking advise from a gentlemen offering good odds on a nag on a race course on Gold Cup day and than taking advice from an Independent Financal Advisor. Maybe there are good IFA's out there who act for their clients, not I have not met them and none of my social circle has either. So given that IFA's appear to work for their own pockets rather than mine, I have tried to take resposibility for my financial planning and become informed enough to make reasonable financial planning decisions myself. The 3 most important aspects to effective investing are assest allocation, charges and spreading of risk. The last probably being the most significant over the longer term. Most (3/4) fund managers perform worse than an index tracker, so given they look at markets all day and are better dressed than I am, what chance do I have of doing a better job at assest allocation then them or even picking a fund manager who will at least match an index after charges.

How similar are Futurologists and IFA's?

So I suggest the future is about as knowable as financial markets, you can not know enough to make fully informed and accurate micro predictions about systems with this number of dimensions and complexity. I know I don't have insight into future technlogy, financial, political, social or any other trends in the same way I can't make accurate prediction about share prices, but I can find ways to spread risk, diverify the allocation of assets and keep charges low. I also expect there to be a small number of true visionaries who add real value by weeding out the higher probability future states from the lower probability ones. But for each visionary, there are many, many Indepedent Future Advisors who will sell you poorly performing future states, with high buy in charges and high annual management fee's which are unsuitable for your current situation and future aspirations, and have significant transfer costs when your situation changes and you need to move to a different future state.

Should the provision of futurology advise become a regulated industry? It has probably removed the worse excess from the provision of financial services to consumers, but could we really say that an IFA gives advise in the best interests of their customer? If we can't pick out the real visionary from the pool of Independent Future Advisor, then a possible strategy of

  • 1. Use the pond of Independent Future Advisors(many write books or blogs) to assist us articulating possible future states, but avoid commission driven IFA's.
  • 2. Apply Rational Process to identify risks and opportunites, reevaluate as events unfold and to ensure strategy is aligned with the most probable future states, accepting some risks for the opportunities it bring, but being protected where practical from the unlikely and catastrophic events.
A more rational course of action than just trusting your future with an IFA (Independent Future Advisor)?

You can tell I have been on a few train journeys with time on my hands!




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