Where’s Your Tribal Knowledge Going?

The other day, I met with a customer who had recently been promoted to senior administrator for a company serving the auto industry. His old boss had retired, and now that he was in charge, he was on his way to Rochester, MN from the company’s west coast offices to learn more about IBM Power server VIOS technology.

As employees leave for retirement or other jobs, a lot of tribal knowledge about your systems goes with them. In this case, the new administrator had very little education about changes occurring on their system. I asked him questions like:
  • What libraries or directories are changing the most?
  • How do you know what to replicate or backup?
  • Are you storing things that could you don’t need?
Extra objects on the system are bad. They make backups and batch processing runs take longer, plus they can affect overall system performance. But the new administrator had another, more serious problem with his systems: The old senior administrator had effectively retired three years earlier by not keeping their software current. Their Robot software, for example, was three versions behind. And now our friend was tasked with bringing everything current.
If you don’t keep up with software maintenance, eventually you’ll be so far behind you’ll have to go through multiple steps just to use new features, or even be able to use it with an upgraded system. Our support team is here to help you move forward with these upgrades, of course. But how will you verify and audit your backups and high availability (HA) plans? How do you get that knowledge back?
My suggestion to the new admin was to look at the growth patterns of his libraries and directories. Based on what he would find, he could fashion his backup, recovery, and high availability plans around them.
As a new administrator, don’t assume your predecessor did the right thing. If backups and HA are your baby, you better audit what was done. And if you don’t have tools that can adequately point out that changing data, you better write them or go shopping. (We can of course help you with the shopping trip.)
Over the next five years more and more administrators will retire, and when they leave, so will their tribal knowledge. If they didn’t keep everything up to date, you too may find yourself in the hot seat. Are you ready?


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