Dull data centres and uneventful infrastructure: why boring is brilliant for IT

Whether deep in data centres or setting up servers, there seems to be a perception among those in the wider world that IT is – whisper it – boring. Well, in some ways they are right; but what they don’t know is that boring is brilliant for IT professionals!

Unsurprisingly, the IT industry tends to remember the close calls and big dramas, making a fuss of the colleagues who stayed calm, acted quickly, and jumped into the breach to rescue a whatever desperate situation an organisation’s IT team has found itself in. Once the crisis has passed congratulatory emails are sent, drinks bought, and claps on the back administered (and, usually, fingers pointed!).

>See also: The promise of storage and IT infrastructure in 2018 

But what about the people and teams who through careful planning and execution avoid an issue happening in the first place? Those who go for years without ever causing a problem, delivering dependable and boring performances, week in week out, year in year out. Are they getting the recognition they deserve?

Fire Fighters or Accidental Arsonists?

Most worryingly, how often do we see dramas occurring in the same areas? And while we should celebrate those people who jump to put out the fires, maybe it’s time we posed the question: is it possible that the people fighting the fires are part of the problem? And for CIOs, are your IT teams firefighters or accidental arsonists?

Being boring should be the driving ambition for all infrastructure professionals. It may not seem like the sexiest aim, but it’s one of the biggest challenges an organisation will come up against: boring is so hard to deliver.

>See also: ‘Roads for the Future’: The UK’s infrastructure transformation

It requires careful planning, professionalism, and lots of demanding work every day. As an organisation, it can be easy to forget that keeping everything standing up is a mammoth task. IT and digital tools are central to our daily activities, and when you consider that even the smallest businesses now rely on complex network deployments, it’s vital that we regularly acknowledge the skills and dedication it takes to maintain business as usual.

How Boredom Breeds Innovation

Most importantly – and perhaps ironically – boring creates the conditions in which innovation can thrive. Just last year two separate studies concluded that, for humans, boredom is a “meaningful experience – one that propels us to a state of deeper thoughtfulness or creativity”. Heather Lench, a psychologist from Texas A&M University, called boredom a “seeking state” – and although she was discussing our daydreams and imaginations, the idea is sure to resonate with many IT departments.

>See also: Innovation and convenience ‘more important’ than brand

In this context, boring is predictable, allowing IT teams to divert time and attention away from the usual maintenance activity, and think about how the infrastructure can be enhanced and expanded. And rather than trying to balance IT innovation with upkeep, and rushing both, a reliable IT infrastructure means the IT team can think through the consequences of any updates and ensure the organisation sees a steady stream of system improvements without losing a moment of service.

So, raise a toast to those who make sure day in day out that an organisation’s IT infrastructure is a drama free zone, to the heroes who make data centres beautifully boring with perfectly predictable delivery.

Sourced by Colm O’Neill, MD of Major Business and Public Sector at BT

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Andrew Ross

As a reporter with Information Age, Andrew Ross writes articles for technology leaders; helping them manage business critical issues both for today and in the future

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