One of the negatives of providing a solution is that it necessarily assumes there is a problem. That’s actually a fair assumption in the technology world, as problems seem to abound with no end in sight. What it also does, unfortunately, is lead to a culture within IT that is more tactical than strategic. Because IT is almost always trying to put out one fire or another, they rarely have time to think – and plan – ahead.

Honestly, that’s the responsibility of directors and C-level executives, anyway. It’s their responsibility crystal-ball to look ahead not just months but years and determine how best to address business and technology needs in the future as well as right now. When we look deeper at what that means it all comes down to one thing: delivering applications. And while the responsibility for grand strategy may come from the corner offices, the actual implementation and technical details regarding the delivery of those applications is generally left to you, the technology expert.

Whether it’s concerns about uptime and availability, performance, or security the focus is the same: applications. And not just any application, but critical business applications without which the business would be hard pressed to function. Revenue generating applications. Partner and supplier and distributer collaborative applications. Customer service-oriented applications.

It is no news flash that these applications need to be available, performing well, and secure.

So it should be surprising that IT doesn’t often plan for the inevitable. The sheer volume of components necessary for any given application to be delivered today makes the inevitable failure of one of those components a sure thing. And while there may exist a grand data center scale disaster recovery plan, rarely is there a localized disaster recovery plan. IT fails to plan for the inevitable, and inadvertently ends up planning to fail. “We’'ll cross that bridge when we come to it” assumes the bridge is already in place, and too often when it comes to technology solutions, it isn’t.

If the business needs an application to be available, it becomes necessary to ensure that availability by planning for the inevitable failure of any – and all - its requisite components. That means load balancing and failover support is a requirement, not a “nice to have”. If security is a concern – and if it isn’t, it should be – then tactical “patch it, quick” plans are like plaster on a cracked dam. Eventually the plaster isn’t going to dry fast enough and the application will be compromised, with potentially expensive results.

strat·e·gy  n.

     A plan of action intended to accomplish a specific goal

The key word in the definition of strategy is action. Having a plan is nice, but if that plan is never acted on, is never implemented, is never carried out then it’s nothing more than wasted bits on a disk somewhere. Availability and security just don’t “happen” they are achieved through the execution of a plan requiring some forethought and, yes, investment in the infrastructure and solutions necessary to carry out the plan.

Simply “having” a plan or process in place to deal with the eventual failure of application and infrastructure components may appease stakeholders – until the failure to implement (act on) those plans or processes results in a complete meltdown of the applications on which those stakeholders rely.

As IT and the applications it is tasked with delivering have become crucial to the businesses they support it has also become imperative that those tasked with insuring the availability and security of those applications think and act strategically. That means putting into place the systems and infrastructure (the bridge) necessary to deal with inevitable failure. It means looking for solutions that can not only address problems you have right now, but that are flexible enough to adapt to the problems you may have in the future; the ones you discover by asking “what if” and the ones you know will appear but can’t articulate definitively because they haven’t happened yet.

If you aren’t asking “what if” now, and acting to avert inevitable failure, then you will be asking “why me” in the future.

Hopefully not while polishing up your interview skills.

Follow me on Twitter View Lori's profile on SlideShare friendfeedicon_facebook AddThis Feed Button Bookmark and Share