Current Rants

Keeping Up With the Cloudashians, Episode 2: Staying On Top of Rapidly Changing Services

This is a continuation of “Episode 1: Cloud Services & Rapid Change Releases”

Google, Microsoft and other Cloud Service providers usually implement some type of an Admin Panel or Dashboard that does provide ways to stay up to date on the latest updates, changes, etc.  Problem is, how often are those accessed? Typically, most people only open them when there is an outage or an issue that can only be resolved from that location. Another issue is that there can be a TON of changes listed, and normally there are multiple individuals responsible for different areas of the technology. In addition, there are blogs, Facebook groups, Forums, Teams, and many other platforms available, all in an effort to assist with keeping up.

The reality is that it is impossible for individuals who are in consulting, small IT departments or who work for large enterprise businesses to keep up. Community events are there to help as well however, after a 40 – 60-hour work week not many are excited to attend a community event. Work/life balance is already suffering so given the choice, quality time with family will almost win. Is this an issue?  Yes, it is – not because of the choice to spend time with family but because there has to be a choice at all.

Work/life balance should be the attainable goal, not vaporware. In other words, there is NO possible way to have any kind of work/life balance if key software and services are changing weekly. It may be easier for the individuals who focus on just one specific area, but if you are over an entire platform, keeping up with the rate of change is just not possible. On a daily basis, as I am talking to a client or a prospective client and showing them the new ins-and-outs, I find something that worked a day or two ago during a different client meeting that no longer works, has been moved, or is simply gone.

Potential Solutions

I know this sounds like I am not a fan of the “Evergreen” model, but I truly am. However, I also believe that we need to do it in a way that works for everyone. One option would be to give the businesses, IT professionals and the users more insight into the roadmaps for Cloud Service providers to ensure they can continue to utilize and support their businesses and help get caught up on training and understand “what’s new” in each update, without having to be in a constant state of regression testing.

Personally, I would like to see something like what one of my past companies had implemented which we called “Moratorium.” Starting in November of each year, all server maintenance (unless there was an outage issue), updates, upgrades, etc. would come to a halt. This occurred for many reasons, and I like them all and think they fit with this situation.

First, it limited the number of mistakes that were being made as individuals were trying to work at the speed of light, so they could get their work done and go on vacation for the holidays. Ever notice how many issues occur in software at the end of each year? Coincidence, maybe… but doubtful.

Second, it gave employees time to breathe and get caught up on tasks that were getting pushed to the side due to upcoming outages, DR testing, upgrades, etc. They could just focus on getting caught up, take some training, or read without being bothered to stay up on the latest technology, and most importantly really have dedicated time to figure out those annoying issues, error messages and bugs they so desperately needed to figure out.  After the holidays, individuals are more refreshed, relaxed, and can essentially start with a clean slate for the new year.

I believe that if Microsoft or any other Cloud Service provider was to implement something similar, they could still be considered “Evergreen,” or whatever their particular buzzword for “rapid change” is.  For a couple months out of the year they can focus on issues and reported bugs instead of pushing out new, updated, or deprecated functionality. Things are still ever-changing, but the changes for a brief period are for the things that cause distaste and sometimes even anger with the users. During this time, all of the businesses, IT professionals, 3rd party ISV’s, and end users can catch up on all of the changes within the technology and feel like they are up to speed when communicating with others, and reduce the possibility of having to say, “I don’t know, it worked yesterday.”

Clean Slate

At times, businesses, users and IT professionals need the opportunity to achieve a clean slate. Not only does it provide each the ability to get caught up on the technology implemented within their business, but it allows them to educate themselves on the features/functionality. Not to mention the ability to research additional applications to integrate and to do comparisons between the technologies available to ensure they have a proper fit for their business. Clean slates promote a healthy attitude, improved work/life balance, and the feeling of confidence in the technology supporting their business.

It’s time we take a break from simply trying to Keep Up.

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