A kneeboard for IT?

I’m sure that I’ve spoken about my love of flying several times in this blog, but for those of you who don’t know …I’m a bit of an aviation nut.  To put that into context, I subscribe to ‘Airliner World’ (which Mrs PL tries to hid when it arrives each month) but I wouldn’t go so far as to be found ‘plane spotting’ near Luton or Heathrow.  I tell you this because 9/11 was certainly traumatic enough as it was …seeing a city I know intimately attacked using objects I love as weapons was horrible to watch, and I felt especially helpless having to watch from here in the UK.  My sister phoned from her home near NYC on the day (when the lines were finally cleared) in tears to say that they were broadcasting on all local TV channels ‘If you’re parents haven’t returned home, please dial 1-800-…..for help.’  That really brought the tragedy home, and it is something I won’t ever forget.

But I digress.  What upsets me terribly regarding 9/11, beyond the human tragedy of course, is that a handful of murdering eejits have ruined something I (and others) used to enjoy greatly.  Growing up in the States, flying had been no more difficult than taking the bus.  Get the the airport 30 minutes before your flight, hop on, fly off.  Easy peasy!  For a few months after 9/11, most people really didn’t mind the extra security measures but now almost eight years on …we mind.  A lot.  Flying now has become quite onerous and not particularly pleasant …I flew to Edinburgh yesterday from Luton, and as a Watford supporter I already had enough to dislike about Luton.  After yesterday’s security hassle I’m coming to the opinion that, in the not too distant future, the government is going to expect me to show up naked and wrapped in cling film to speed through security.  Now there’s an interesting mental picture for your Bank Holiday weekend!  And the hassle doesn’t stop there …no liquids over 100ml, unless of course you buy them from the vendors who just happen to charge £9 for a water after security.  Then we are herded like cattle just before being bused (and why a bus? I thought we were meant to be FLYING to Edinburgh, not driving!) to fight for seats which recline about 33mm at best and smell like someone’s been cooking a curry on them at worst.  And don’t get me started on the people who bring on ‘hand luggage’ the size of a cello case which could easily hide a dead body …all because the airline will now charge you for putting bags in the hold.  Eeeeejits.

I do sometimes wonder what the economic effect of all of this has been …do some folks simply decide it isn’t worth the hassle to do business outside of their immediate area?

What does this have to do with Storage and Data Protection?

9/11 changed the world in many ways perhaps forever, certainly within air travel.  But people don’t like change at the best of times, particularly when it complicates their lives or makes something which should be easy …difficult.  Humans like simplicity!  Airports, airlines, and governments have tried to respond to this by introducing ‘quick queues’ through security, priority boarding passes for budget airlines, and prescreening for immigration into places like the USA.  And there’s the rub …firstly, these aren’t free as customers have to buy priority boarding or priority queueing …and secondly, they aren’t ‘silver bullets’ as they haven’t solved the original problem, just made it ‘simpler’ to get through a complicated and unwieldy process.

There are many parallels in storage, and vendors are busy introducing ways of simplifying storage allocation [thin provisioning, storage virtualisation], storage migration [file virtualisation], backups [virtual tape libraries, deduplication], storage management, and so on.

But how can we make the sale of the Computacenter solution ‘simple’ as simplicity resonates with our customers?  Well, there are a few ways.  For myself, I’ve stopped producing slide decks which look like I’ve vomited up every thought I’ve ever had about storage …fact is, people find it difficult to grasp a concept and listen to me and read all at the same time …so I’ve started to use pictures to illustrate the concept I’m talking about.  For customers, we’ve already introduced some customer demo videos [e.g. automated storage provisioning] and we’ll carry on doing so for more solutions as a six minute video can often tell a customer mostly everything they really need to know.  For the market we’re openly talking about how Computacenter can underwrite the real savings our recommendations can bring in an effort to make is simpler (and quicker!) to engage for the implementation of a great solution.  And there’s one more ‘silver bullet’ I wanted to talk about.

Flying a plane is not the simplest thing in the world, and even vastly experienced pilots use a tool known as a ‘knee board’ …the knee board contains vital information about the flight [compass headings, expected airspeed, flight plan, etc.] as well as something most people don’t know about …standard procedures for just about everything.  Shouldn’t a vastly experienced pilot know how to land a plane?  Well, yes …but in the heat of the moment (or perhaps when we’ve done something many times before) we can sometimes forget things and so the standard procedures are there as a simple checklist to ensure that nothing vital is missed.

We have something remarkably similar and hugely powerful in Computacenter …which our competition doesn’t …known as Tempo.  The Tempo tools [e.g. Stages and Milestones, Workbook, Document Templates] are there to make your life simple whilst also leveraging the very best of what Computacenter has to offer …and also what we’ve learned works (and doesn’t!) when working with customers.  If you haven’t sat in a Tempo education session run by Andy Poole, I would highly recommend it as it is a great way to spend 1.5 hours and learn how to make life a whole lot more simple.

I do hope that these blogs, the Computacenter Storage Masterclasses, and related collateral are all demystifying storage a bit in addition to helping you understand how we can make storage …a challenging and potentially complicated topic at the best of times …‘simple’ for our customers.

Please don’t hesitate to contact me with any ideas or recommendations on how we can continue to make these decisions more simple for our customers …and have a look at Tempo if you haven’t already!

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