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Size Does Matter (but not like that)


Size Does Matter (but not like that)


Why focus on Granular configuration and why does it matter?When talking about size in terms of IT environments the first association that comes to mind is large and immense. IT environments are complex. IT infrastructure has grown to nearly overwhelming dimensions.   The entire IT environment spans applications and their underlying software infrastructure stack, including front-end servers, middleware, databases, messaging layer operating systems, and more -  with each component requiring updates, implementations, and other ongoing changes.

When it comes to environment configuration, the devil is indeed in the details.

But when it comes to impact and the damage that can be caused to IT environments, size matters in a much different way – small and minute.  The typical environment includes thousands of different configuration parameters. For example, an IBM Websphere Application Server holds over 16,000 configuration parameters alone.

In our IT environments, the mis-configuration or disregard of even a single setting, can cause an incident with major impact on the IT environment and ultimately your business service.  To put it another way, the devil truly is in the details.

Let’s look at what I mean, by looking at a recent example of a high impact incident, where critical financial information was leaked. It took the IT organization several weeks to identify, investigate and resolve the incident. This resulted in lost credibility, lawsuits, wasted time in plugging holes, and a full IT reorganization. The cause? The cause of this high impact disruption was just a single file that was not properly updated during a patch deployment.  A single, relatively minute file. A granular change in the configuration.

Today’s healthy competitive enterprise has many changes effecting the environment. The sheer amount of changes coupled with the complexity of today’s IT environments sets the stage for monumental incidents that can caused by granular mis-configurations.  Just as a drought-ridden forest is vulnerable to a single, carelessly tossed match. Today’s environment ‘ignites’ quickly when a minor mis-configuration occurs, , and in the proverbial IT forest, the project goes up in flames.

In fact, in a recent survey of IT Infrastructure and Operations managers, over 75% of incident responders believe the information revealed regardinggranular configuration changes and differences can be of high value to them in a wide range of IT environment related situations.

It's not enough to have a change policy or to keep track of change from a high level. True control means monitoring in depth, granular comparisons and drilling-down to the most granular level of an individual configuration parameter from any source, including configuration files, registry, database schema, reference data and, stored procedures.

Yes, size does matter, but not what you were thinking.

About the Author
Sasha Gilenson
Sasha Gilenson enjoyed a long and successful career at Mercury Interactive (acquired by HP), having led the company's QA organization, participating in establishing Mercury's Software as a Service (SaaS), as well as leading a Business Unit in Europe and Asia.

Sasha played a key role in the development of Mercury's worldwide Business Technology Optimization (BTO) strategy and drove field operations of the Wireless Business Unit, all while taking on the duties as the Mercury's top "guru" in quality processes and IT practices domain. In this capacity, Sasha has advised numerous Fortune 500 companies on technology and process optimization, and in turn, acquired a comprehensive and rare knowledge of the market and industry practices.

Sasha holds an M.Sc. in Computer Science from Latvian University and MBA from London Business School.