Why Skepticism is Good

Why Skepticism is Good

I suspect that there are more than a few voters in the U.S. that are not completely satisfied with the performance of candidates they helped elect last November.  Campaign promises point to a bright future and positive outcomes, but actual performance does not always meet rosy promises.  If only the voters had a “crystal ball” to look into the future – exercising skepticism at campaign promises and validating the actual outcome before casting their ballot.

This potential disconnect between promise and performance has strong parallel with IT solutions. Vendors and purveyors are full of promise and energy for a bright and positive outcome for your enterprise — if you buy their solution.  Fortunately, IT professionals do have a “crystal ball” and can exercise skepticism at promised outcomes!  A Proof of Concept project does just that for enterprise solutions and can give IT consumers specific insight into how the proposed solution will perform in their infrastructure.  Skepticism is good!

Proof of Concept

Whenever adopting a new IT solution or change in technology, a detailed Proof of Concept (POC) is the best practice to verify the solution’s performance and clarify provider and consumer expectations for the actual experience in a production deployment.  It requires time, assets and money to design and execute a POC, but it is well spent if the findings ensure the desired outcomes will actually be delivered.  Be skeptical!

The Proof of Concept should:

  • Operate in a subset infrastructure of the production environment
  • Be “discardable” – use copies of production data and ersatz interfaces to other production environments
  • Utilize virtual machines for necessary servers, or loaner equipment if part of the proposed solution
  • Involve key business users to participate, exercise, and evaluate the desired transactions and operations in the proposed solution.
  • Exercise high availability features and backup/recovery strategy as proposed.
  • Include a load simulation test that can be extrapolated to predict production scale and performance.
  • Conclude with an Observations and Findings report reviewed and endorsed (or rejected!) by all of the key stakeholders

Ideally, the POC will verify all of the promised and expected features and outcomes.  If not, it can identify the specific areas in need of altered design or remediation before deployment and provide for a superior and smooth production deployment.  In the worst case, it will reveal failure to deliver on the proposed solution and can save the enterprise significant time, expense, and hardship by voting “no” on the proposed solution.

Beyond the Data Center

A Proof of Concept can also be applied to solutions beyond the traditional enterprise data center model.  Internet based subscription services, or “Cloud Services,” can and should be subject to a Proof of Concept – with additional focus on options and methods to either on-board to the service, depart to another service provider, or on-premises IT owned and operated alternatives. Review of backup, recovery, and service continuity options and methods are essential as well. Perhaps the POC is even more important for Cloud solutions – your business view of risk, interruption, and recovery impacts will govern that.

Now, if only we could come up with a POC model for elected officials…

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