IT people love their tools. If we had unlimited budgets, we’d buy them all.
I’m not talking about developers, but the systems and infrastructure guys—tools for managing systems, monitoring performance, configuring, tracking, logging, whatever. So many tools are available, and it’s easy to get pulled in to thinking that you need something after the vendor blows you away with their demo.
So you buy something, then install, use for a little while, then sometime later, find yourself using it less and less, then someone forgets about it. Until the software maintenance comes up, or someone finds a virtual machine running and asks questions. Later, you find another tool that does the same thing, but better, somehow, and it goes through another cycle.
Or maybe the IT department is siloed, so you end up with different tools doing the same thing, but used by the various units. While time and money could have been saved by just investing in one, the powers that be couldn’t agree with one. That’s just the way it is sometimes, I suppose.
Or what about buying tools that can do x, y and z, but you only doing x, with people saying that they would get to y and z, but never reaching there. So you have tools that are inefficiently being used and getting only a fraction of the value from it.
Any of these sound familiar?
I get many requests to purchase tools, and the business cases I receive for them are weak in many instances. And when I reject it, I get branded as someone who shoots down ideas.
But why do IT people have this love affair with these tools?
One reason is outstanding marketing. These vendors are doing everything they could to separate you from your money. Enterprises are a gold mine since it’s not your money that’s being spent, so you don’t feel the same sense of loss and resistance.
Another is the uncertainty by IT professionals about what they need to have in place to operate their environment. There’s the genuine hope that the tools are going to make things easier for them. This is really a lack of skill.
Like any profession really, people try to compensate for lack of specific skills through the use of tools and technologies. But in some of these cases, they just need to buckle down and just learn the craft.
They need to spend the hours and learn about the system and understand how it works. Learn the fundamentals and be able to figure things out by their own hands first.
No tool is going to help you get skilled, or adequately compensate for the lack of skill.
After you’ve mastered the skill, then you can get tools to augment those skills. Then master those tools.
Like a master programmer who has mastered VIM to become more efficient, an IT professional can master configuration management and scripting to rule their environment. They need to prioritise on getting skilled.