Weathering the Good and Bad Times in IT

A tale of two organizations.  While I’m tempted to start this blog with, it was the best of times, it was the worst of times, I’ll forgo the Victor Hugo references to say this:  big company or small, almost all IT personnel know the good times and oh boy, the bad times too.

Good times usually mean that the technology is humming, staff communication is clear and on-time, there’s a sense of confidence in the air, and everything is working as it should.  Mainly, you’re sleeping well at night.  The bad?  Well, let’s just say everyone recognizes that small ball in the pit of your stomach,  mentioned by Jerome Wendt in “Upset the Backup and Recovery Apple Cart Without Spilling the Apples” 

The challenges of increasing the ‘good’ and minimizing the ‘bad’ when it comes to backup and disaster recovery in your environment can feel daunting, especially if, like most companies, crises occur on a too frequent basis and you find yourself the Chief Firefighter of the IT world.  But moving from reactive to responsive doesn’t have to be as daunting as it may seem. The key is not working harder, but smarter with backup and recovery.

Smarter not harder.  Easy to say, but what might that look like practically?  Let’s look at two VERY different organizations who made the move to smart, thoughtful, well-managed backup and recovery, making sure the technology they chose worked for them, not against them.

Huntington Theatre Company is one of the premier arts companies in Boston, MA. A highly acclaimed, award-winning non-profit, the Huntington Theater Company is known for producing old masterpieces and cutting edge productions alike. Unfortunately, the IT infrastructure didn’t keep up with the pace of the rest of the theater company to the point where, not surprisingly, their aged infrastructure began to affect the rest of the organization in daily, palpable ways: crucial data was being lost, backups were a nightmarish time sink, and staff were demoralized (and check out what happened when the fire down the street shut down the business for over 2 days…)

 Visionaries that they are, Huntington Theatre Company took a bold step back and mapped out a plan to move their IT environment forward, from one of react and repeat, to respond and solve. Being a non-profit, cost was a huge factor to consider, but they knew that smart solutions didn’t necessarily have to be expensive (they were examples of this themselves).  What the company did was:

  • Looked at their infrastructure
  • Prioritized managing risk
  • Invested in solutions that were cost-affective
  • Knew time efficiency was critical
  • Valued dependability


What a difference planning made for Huntington, moving from worst of times to, well… on its way to the best! No more pits in the stomach when it comes to backup and recovery.

Then we have the Birmingham Public School District – one of the premier school districts in the US, with over 8,400 high-achieving students.  With student, staff, and curricular data growing at a phenomenal rate, the challenge of making sure this mounting of proliferating data was securely backed up and yet simultaneously available at a moment’s notice created those proverbial pits in the IT administrators’ stomachs. Despite the fact that the IT environment of the large and very well-respected school district was complex and multi-layered, the district took bold steps of assessing, clarifying, and articulating their BUDR needs in order to move from random, constant crisis to a clear process for protecting their data. In their choices, they focused not on where they were at the particular moment, but where they were going, and that made all the difference in how they mapped out their journey.

Two very different IT scenarios, but two very similar approaches to mitigating the chaos they were experiencing with backup and recovery – a solution-oriented focus. Assessing the needs, focusing on solutions and looking for smart, efficient, cost-effective over-arching solutions for the unique environment.

Solutions-oriented architecture is a bit like driving:  looking at where you are on the road right now, but keeping your eyes on the future. Notes DCIG Lead Analyst Jerome Wendt, “By choosing a solutions-oriented architecture and carefully and thoughtfully implementing the tools that are part of it at the right time, enterprises can confidently upset their own company’s backup and recovery apple cart without worrying about spilling the proverbial apples.”

 Here’s to no more balls in the pit of your stomach.