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The Complexity Conspiracy

For many years, there’s been a cosy little conspiracy between vendors, IT departments, analysts and just about everyone else involved in Enterprise IT and that is that it is complex, hard and generally baffling to everyone else. And in our chosen specialism, Enterprise Storage; we are amongst the most guilty of all.

We cloak simple concepts in words which mean little or can have multiple meanings; we accept bizarre and arcane commands for basic operations, we accept weird and wonderful capitalisations, we map obsolete commands onto new functions adding yet further obfuscation, we allow vendors to continue to foist architectures on us which made perfect sense fifteen years a go but have no real validity now.

I at times wonder just what a mess we would be in if new vendors such as 3PAR and Compellant had not come along and massively simplified things; hands have been forced a bit but arguably this has not yet gone far enough. The mid-range systems are generally better than they were but we need to see this pushing up the stack to the high-end.

It is not enough to sit back and plead ‘backwards compatibility’ as an excuse for not revisiting tools and terminology.

I think what I would like to see is a big push to simplify and clarify terminology; let people in and stop veiling with false complexity. And ironically enough, I think if we were to do so; we might find that in de-mystifying what we do, our users appreciate what we do more.

It will become easier to explain concepts such as availability and recoverability; the concepts will become understood and appreciated more and with that understanding, there will be more demand for them. Hand-waving and muttering that its complex and pretending to be the gate-keepers to IT nirvana is no longer really a tenable situation. They are going off to do their own things and they are no longer believing in the power of the IT department.

They *know* that this stuff is not complex and they are going to prove it themselves. But although it is not fundementally complex, it is not always easy and we only have to look at the impact that large Cloud outages have. We do know how to do this but we have to share and embrace; people often talk about how Cloud can enable collaboration and how true this is; it enables and encourages collaboration at a multitude of levels.

But this is not just about Cloud; it is about a change in how we work with our end-user colleagues;  it is about telling our vendors that the systems that they are shipping are unnecessarily complex; we should be demanding simplicity and not allowing them to ship us product which is only useable by occultists engineers or whatever else we want to call ourselves; we need to invest in simplifying our environments and we need to stop being complicit in a ‘Conspiracy of Complexity’.

One Comment

  1. Zyrober says:

    Beside of the often repeated cliché that storage is something awfully difficult, the terminology-thing is regulary mentioned by many people I speak with. Maybe all vendors should come up with a terminology XML in each product. You could just configure your favorite word for – let’s say – “disk group” and voilà: this word is used in both the GUI and the CLI wherever there was “disk group” before.
    Of course the terminology.xml would be part of each data collection to allow the support people to translate your problem description properly:
    “So you had a deuterium leakage in your warp cores leaving the ship exposed to dangerous solar storms? I consider this to be a red alert! Do you have the exact startime of the incident at hand? The repair drone is already on its way.” :o)

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