LEAD_PPP: How to manage complexity?

How do you overcome complexity when leading resources that span across multiple continents?

Simplify! Keep things “small”! Establish firm boundaries — time, resources, and deliverables!

No HUGE projects that 99% done until they are not done at all. No excuse for “overruns”; violate the boundary and we need to go back to the drawing board.

Conduct proofs of concept, pilots and lots of testing, from end user testing to suitability testing.

Make the Users the arbiter of “success”!

When the tests yield positive results, roll out a project on a small scale, not enterprise-wide.

Provide overwhelming support so problems are quickly solved and don’t generate bad press.

Keep the lines of communication open and ensure processes remain within the limits of time frames, budget money, function points, requirements and sign-offs.

Whether it s a Program, Project, or Process, they are all served well by this approach.

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Vandalism in Arizona Shut Down Internet, Cellphone, Telephone Service Across State
Incident raises concerns a domestic or international terrorist could tamper with U.S. infrastructure
BY: Adam Kredo  February 27, 2015 5:00 am

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Cellphone, Internet, and telephone services across half of Arizona went dark on Wednesday after vandals sliced a sensitive fiber optic cable, according to those familiar with the situation. The incident is raising concerns about the safety of U.S. infrastructure.

The outage shut down critical services across large parts of the state, preventing individuals from using their phones, bank and ATM cards, and the Internet. Critical services, such as police and state government databases, as well as banks and hospitals, also were affected as a result of the vandalism.

The services first went dead around noon MST on Wednesday, causing complete service interruptions across half the state, from Phoenix to such northern cities as Sedona, Prescott, and Cotton Wood, according to an official from CenturyLink, the Louisiana-based communications company that owns the severed line.

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Interesting point here — (1) Why? (2) Impact? (3) A probe?

And, of course, the implications for architects and engineers.

The question one immediately asks is where is the diverse duplicate route?

Sounds like penny-wise and pound-foolish network design.

And, if I am paying my ISP as a business for a diverse route, then do I get a refund since it’s obvious I didn’t get what I was paying for.

How much did those businesses impacted lose with the cut?

And, just in case all those folks not impacted think they have nothing to be concerned about, perhaps this is your wake up call to drag out your network diagrams and think “what if?”

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SME_ITDR: IN ITDR, there are no “silver bullets”



Disaster recovery as a service wipes out traditional DR plans
by: Paul Korzeniowski

Disaster recovery planning and infrastructure builds vex IT managers. Cloud services offer lower costs and more flexibility, but not without risk.

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How to construct a DR plan

First, outline potential disasters for the data center: Hazardous weather, power outages, vendors’ systems going offline, employee sabotage or outsider attacks are all possibilities.

Identify which of its hundreds of applications the corporation needs online immediately. Audit the list and prioritize by importance to daily operations.

Next, source and install redundant data center infrastructure — servers, software, network connections, storage — to support the applications. Disaster recovery plans cannot escape cost considerations; an offsite data center is expensive.

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I would assert that this is EXACTLY how NOT to construct an ITDR plan.

I’d also assert that “the Cloud”, and “DRaaS” (Disaster Recovery as a Service), is not the “Silver Bullet”. (With apologies to Coors Light)

In the old mainframe days, professionals recognized the — what I call — the partial recovery sequence. IT hardware is too expensive to duplicate, so let’s  triage.

Since getting the tapes from Iron Mountain and going to Sungard or Comdisco took time, ITDR started with Business Continuity Planning (BCP).

And, BCP required Business Process Reengineering (i.e., what will the Business do until IT recovers and what brings “money in the door” — note we don’t care about “out the door”, they can wait.

Early in my career, I noted an interesting behavior. I call it “Everything is critical UNTIL I have to pay for it! Then, nothing is.”

May sound funny, but the minute IT starts doing DR, it’s like money is no object.

Here’s an interesting experience I had at a large Financial Institution that shall remain nameless.

The Business Units said: “I can’t afford any down time, Nor can I afford any data loss when I do take down time.” (Now that in and of itself it an interesting requirements statement, but this is about SME_ITDR; not situation appraisal.) No problem. Synchronous data replication to a bunker near to the production data center, sync rep to a bunker near the recovery center, sync rep from the far bunker to the recovery center. Never lose any data ever. Price tag is 20M$ for about the first 5 applications; incremental after that in discrete chunks. Where’s the checkbook Senior Business Unit Head Honcho?

The response was “what can get for free” (i.e., what level of service costs zero)???

Easy answer: TANSTAAFL!! (“There Ain’t No Such Thing As A Free Lunch” From Robert Heinlein’s classic) 

Clearly, IT can NOT do ITDR in the absence of the Business — both from a cost and a process point of view.

The best that IT can do alone, it to keep “cutting the homogeneous datacenter” into smaller and smaller discrete modules of service (i.e., like the data center is the motherboard and everything “plugs in” by discrete well-defined interfaces.

At that previously mentioned large Financial Institution that shall remain nameless, the application portfolio had about 700 applications, an analysis of their Remedy data showed that, to recover any SINGLE application, one was required to recover about ⅔ of the portfolio. 

And, needless to say, that’s not happening any time soon.

Bottom line: One must design Business Process that are recoverable; then the technology can be recoverable. Translated into IT-ese, start with the cart; not the horse.

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STRATEGIC_INFORMATIONTECHNOLOGY: Solving Increased Data Backup and Recovery


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Live Webcast: Solving Increased Data Backup and Recovery

Date: Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Time: 10 am Pacific Time / 1 pm Eastern Time
Presented by: Michael Krutikov, Sr. Product Marketing Manager

With ever–increasing amounts of data, whether driven by datacenter evolution or just plain growth, there is a definite need for better solutions in today’s enterprise data centers. So the big question is, how do you solve for the increased amount of data while obtaining operational efficiency that delivers success for IT and ROI for an organization?

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Interesting concept focusing on the data in the datacenter.

But what good does it do to have your data if your recovered systems are a mess. 

That is, for example, what about:

  • The various job schedulers —autosys, job track, cron, tape management systems, job control language, job instructional language, batch, pseudo batch, etc. etc. — all have to be “resynchronized”.
  • The various third parties that one receives and sends to. In a disaster, one assumes that life elsewhere went on. Perhaps, even complicated, by your own organization, using contingent methods to up date data that the recovering systems are unaware of.
  • What about the “appliances” and “firewalls” — of various and sundry types — that keep state information in strange places.

In several previous employment “lives”, the solution was found in “Start of Day / End of Day” backups.

What this does is established known good points where the datacenter can restart from with the sure and certain knowledge that ALL business and technology data is good and consistent across the enterprise. If, and this is a big if, the applications and systems can speed the clock from “the recovery point” to the “interruption point”, then the Business and Technology people can pick up right where they left off. Every “Third Party Involved” interface needs to have a “reconciliation procedure” to align the recovered data with that held in the Third Parties systems.

It’s rare to see a recovery that can happen this way. (I’ve never seen it. Despite advocating for it with many different Clients and Employers.)

It’s as if they can’t imagine a disaster, and as such prefer to gamble: (1) that it will never happen; and (2) somehow someway they will muddle through. With that as their “strategy”, they do just enough to fool the auditors and their Leadership. Of course, it all comes tumbling down when “hard questions” are asked.

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FIGURING: “Know Thyself!”


9/04/2013 @ 9:26AM 55,904 viewsNeed A Career Tuneup? Gallup’s Tom Rath Has A Quiz For You

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Are you a learner, an achiever or an includer? If you’ve seen those terms before, you’re probably one of the nine million people who has taken Gallup Inc.’s StrengthsFinder test. The workplace diagnostic quiz is a favorite at companies ranging from Facebook to Harley-Davidson. And it’s become a financial goldmine for Gallup, generating more than $100 million of revenue to date.

These are challenging times overall at Gallup, the opinion-research and business-consulting firm, as I explain in a major Forbes magazine story this month. But the company’s StrengthsFinder franchise keeps on humming. Prime evidence: the unstoppable appeal of “StrengthsFinder 2.0,” a book by Gallup executive Tom Rath. He book explains the test, offers some coaching and provides a security key that allows one reader per book to take the quiz online.

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2015-Feb-23 Strengths Insight Report

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Seems like a great idea for all those who are interested in understanding themselves.

“Know Thyself!” – ascribed to Socrates

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LEADERSHIP_PROJECT: The difference between a “Book of Work” and a “Workbook”



15 Great Ways Project Management Can Help Your Growing Business
01/17/2014 Written by: Ian Needs

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Many SME’s are simply scared of the term “Project Management” or end up implementing a host of non-connected, counter-productive tools. 

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Recently, I was involved with an application portfolio, “Book of Work”, that was so tightly integrated, that a full 75% of the portfolio was required to run any one application in the portfolio.

And, humorously, no one seemed upset about that. And, consequently, no one did anything about it.

Old Wall adage: “When in a hole, stop digging.”

I did some unofficial of the “soil” from this particular “hole” and found 23 different ways that applications were allowed to become dependent up each other. Interesting, I found some direct dependencies (i.e., an app writes a file that it later reads back into itself) as well as indirect (i.e., app1 writes a file1, app2 reads file2 and writes file2, app1 requires file2 to complete its work). Amusing!

In my experience, this comes from not having having a development methodology, with policies, procedures, and processes, that will prevent “just get it done” type work.

But, that’s why I’m not in charge. 

No, you can’t have it now, if it leaves us in a bigger hole than when we started.

The journey of a thousand miles starts with the first step. Make it in the correct direction.

I find it humorous that Microsoft Project is “too expensive” for any large organization. Have they ever looked at what they “waste”?


I like my projects — “small” and bounded by “time”, “resources”, and “deliverables”. IF you can’t slice it into bite-size subproject, THEN you deserve every over run and under delivery you get.

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BPR: Infosec risk reduced by proper engineering


New iCloud phishing campaign discovered
February 13, 2015 by Lewis Morgan

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This is a cheeky one. Cyber thieves have been caught red-handed sending out phishing emails that are designed to steal financial information.

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I NEVER have this problem.

I have my own domain.

I designed my approach around the only thing constant — the email address.

Not the one in the header, which can and is forged often. But the delivery address. It’s got to be authentic otherwise how is it going to get to you.

By using your own domain, you give the BANK and email address for you of “BANK @ reinke.cc”.

Then, anything that purports tone from the BANK, that does NOT come in on that address, is fraudulent.

Laugh. It doesn’t matter how authentic it looks, it CAN NOT come in on “their address” (i.e., the one I assigned them).

Needless to say since I can create an unlimited number of these, and they all sort by a wild card rule in a catch all mail box, it’s a trivial system to maintain.

So go ahead ne’er do wells, spam, phish, and con all you want, you can’t pretend to be my bank unless you crack the BANK and get the email address assigned to them. 

Oh, and BTW, I used “bank@“ as an example. In practice, the “address” is more complex that that. “Bank” may actually be “9B94VPp8HhEU”.

But then what do you expect from a fellow who’s Mom’s Maiden Name might be “UmuCZDBpB5FY” and who’s first car was a “xF9DxMQk8CfK”?


The sad part is that this is such a simple and easy process to implement, but, despite the number of times I have blogged it, talked about it, and demonstrated it, folks just don’t care enough to take a such simple step.

It’s all about simplicity and clarity.

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FINANCIAL_JUSTIFICATIONS: Time, Talent, and Treasure?



Making Better Decisions Considering Time, Talent & Treasure

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Is this worth our Time, Talent, and Treasure? Below are suggested questions to ask about the project, plan, or idea…


Is it worth the time investment?
Are there better/more effective things we could be doing with our time?
Does the effort provide a worthwhile return?

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I personally like: Attention, Effort, and Resources.

But it’s very similar.

I like “attention” as opposed to just “time”. 

We all all have a both a limited attention span and a limited amout of attention we can allocate.

It’s a qualitative and quantitative measure of the Leadership’s most limited resource.

If the decision maker can delegate an “above the waterline” unit of work without spending much attention on it, then that’s a big win.

But how many Leaders don’t consider that amount of “attention” that getting involved in something will take.

It’s more than just “time management”; it’s opportunity portfolio management.

Using “financial justifications” is one way to “focus on first things first”.

Rarely done before the “sunk costs” being to pile up. The financial equivalent of a “body count”.

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FINANCIAL_COST: Creating negative feedback loops

Time after time, I see Business and IT Leaderships struggle with changing organization behavior.

But they FAIL to use “cost recovery” to affect change.

When I had a severely understaffed InfoSec group and THREE people who did nothing but change passwords, I pitch an idea to my boss at how to eliminate stupidity, laziness, and make work.

It was basically a two pronged attack to reduce the approximately 9,000 password resets we were doing annually in a 5,000 person company. I swagged up a number at how much each one of those password resets cost him — 17$ each in labor. We needed those folks to do other work, but password resets took time away from other more important work. So IT charged back to the individual’s cost center 20$ for each password reset AND an individual could not call in for a password reset, their Boss did. We’d then call back the individual and reset it. We went from 9,000 per year to about 30 per year. 

(And, I was rewarded at bonus time for an excellent idea.)

From this, I formulate the idea of using “cost recovery” as part of a negative feedback loop.

I see meeting with color copies. I see runaway B&W printing from stupidity. And, I see personal printing galore at shared printers.

Seems like an area that’s ripe for cost recovery.

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SME_ITDR: The interesting part about ITDR is timing

Different types of measures can be included in disaster recovery plan (DRP). Disaster recovery planning is a subset of a larger process known as business continuity planning and includes planning for resumption of applications, data, hardware, electronic communications (such as networking) and other IT infrastructure.
Disaster recovery – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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The interesting part of splitting this into parts is there is no holistic view of a recovery.

The timing of a recovery is essential to success. It really doesn’t matter if one can “turn the lights on” (i.e., power up back up components and get the parts running). What matters is to resync the whole “mess”.

From my first assignment in ITDR to my latest, no one seems to understand that.

From the internal job schedulers, to the external third parties, and in all the intra-system interfaces — everything must be set to common point in time. 

And, the “real world” keeps on going without you. So that makes “catching up” even harder.

So, “recovery” must be automated. Push that “big red easy button”, with apologies to Staples, and the systems must “automagically” on command: instantiate the recovery environment, fall back to a known good restart point, replay all the transaction “book” between the recovery point and the disaster, and present systems for acceptance by Business Users.

That’s a tall order.

In my first assignment, the arithmetic worked out that regardless of when during the processing week a disaster occurred, the environment would always be ready on the following Monday. (Quite a novel discovery. And shook the Business and IT Leadership awake. “Hey we need a better BCP for Monday disaster!”.)

Unfortunately, without the holistic view, everyone sees “trees”, but not the “forest”.

It’s a good thing that disasters are relatively rare. Most corporations don’t survive them.

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