Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Neglect of backend infrastructure

I was reading about a hospital evacuation in New York and it came to me that what caused the evacuation is similar to situations I see elsewhere. An apparent neglect in backend infrastructure that powers everything in the business. Electricity went out in the hospital when Hurricane Sandy hit New York, and their backup generator failed. Blame was placed on the outdated backup power system powering the hospital.

Likewise in other businesses, you also see a similar scenario. People rather spend on things which they can visually see or touch, such as marketing campaigns, packaging, latest medical equipment, etc. They tend to not remember that there are certain critical equipment that is powering up your whole infrastructure, and since it is out of sight, it is out of mind.

Critical infrastructure such as the backup generators, power systems, network connectivity for the building, servers powering up your applications, and of course, the applications itself that aims to help improve productivity within an organisation. All these are usually considered backend. People tend to ignore them because they are things that are not visible to everyone, and mostly taken for granted to just work. In fact, some may even want to ignore it on purpose as it is not easy to understand the technology that powers such infrastructure.

However, ignore it at your own peril. Why? Just ask yourself. If the email happens to stop working in your organisation, or somehow you are unable to connect to a system to approve an urgent request, is it because of bugs in the systems, or is it because you fail to invest sufficiently in your backend infrastructure to ensure the lights are still on?

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