Monitoring for the Unexpected


Monitoring for the Unexpected: I didn’t expect “the Spanish Inquisition”

This line from Monty Python always made me smile although events of today have made it strike home with more resonance than I would like. You may think that you are prepared for every eventuality but sometimes it is all too easy to become complacent and take your eyes off the ball.  Something that has been a routine part of your daily life may now test your contingency plans to the limit. Is monitoring for the unexpected a real possibility; are you adequately prepared or will you face a visit from ‘the Spanish Inquisition’?

As I write this, it is just past nine o’clock on a weekday morning when under normal circumstances the Halcyon office would be a hive of activity with developers coding our niche products and our technical team busy on webinars advising our many customers on how to adopt best practices for their businesses.

As it is, I am the only one here.

Don’t get me wrong, webinars are still scheduled, meetings should be underway and rather unfortunately, the coffee machine has developed a leak. I can of course, take temporary action to resolve each of these issues in turn but what is more annoying is that I suspect the reason for the unexpected absenteeism is something that we have all been aware of for a number of weeks and for which we could have been proactive in resolving before it became an issue.

Halcyon’s UK offices are near a large arena which is used most weeks of the year for major events such as concerts, motor shows and themed festivals. Consequently, on our way into the office we each pass numerous yellow signs warning us of yet another event to be held at the arena. The signs and messages are always there, it is just the words that are different.

Signs for the current show have been up for a number of weeks now and activity at the arena has been a little more intense than usual, but hey, it’s just another event, right? Wrong. This is a full scale agricultural machinery and equipment exhibition, the like of which this arena has never seen before and is the exception to the rule. Because we are so used to seeing the same old signs, we’ve switched off and not paid attention. A simple Google search would have revealed the traffic problems that this event has caused in previous years, wherever it has been held in the UK, but nobody bothered as ‘it’s just another event’.  I now suspect my colleagues are all stuck in the predicted 25 mile traffic jams as a result.

This is of course, a fantastic, albeit unexpected, opportunity to put our business continuity plan into action. Developers have been contacted and told to head home and access their workstations via the VPN. Technical staff can run webinars from their iPads and a small area of a local service station has been temporarily converted into a makeshift office from which key workers can operate. As a resourceful, pioneering company we are used to finding quick solutions to unexpected problems but if Halcyon, with years of experience in providing systems monitoring and management can get caught off guard, then surely no company, no matter how diligent, can ever claim to be able to always expect the unexpected.

You see, our brains become accustomed to seeing the same messages week in, week out and when everything is running smoothly and without exception we tend to lose focus and become blasé about our environment. In short, we operate entirely in our comfort zone, paying little regard to things that may occur out of the ordinary.

Which is why, when you have finished reading this article, downed your beverage and finished the third cookie (that you promised you’d give up as part of your New Year resolutions), I’d like you to take five or ten minutes to review your systems and their monitoring and management requirements.

When undertaking this review try and consider the exceptions to the normal routines for which you already have adequate plans in place.

Are your system replication requirements up-to-date and being adequately monitored? Are you confident all of your critical business applications are operating as expected? How would you cope if you (or your entire team) were stranded away from the office? Can you monitor your systems remotely and take automatic actions should any issues arise?

Always expect the unexpected.

If you find that you have any gaps in your monitoring and management requirements then you can discuss in detail with one of our technical experts by contacting us online or call your local Halcyon office or IBM business partner or use the Live Chat facility on our website. We have a highly trained technical team ready to help you resolve any problems or issues that may be causing you concern. Alternatively, you may decide that you currently have all your bases covered, but know there must be a much more efficient way of doing things. Halcyon can also help in these scenarios and are held in high regard for finding solutions for many operational issues affecting businesses like yours on a daily basis.

All of which leaves one question unanswered.

How have I managed to make it into the office when everybody else is stuck in traffic?  I cycle to work. I am the exception.

And an important lesson learnt about those innocent looking yellow signs telling us what the next event at the arena is. Yes, we will be paying much more attention in future so we can set up early warning systems – by checking with Google prior to each event.

Thanks for reading and until next time, just for fun – here is a reminder about that infamous Monty Python sketch… Nobody expects the Spanish Inquisition (YouTube)