Here in these early days of January, it feels the same way weekends did on Saturday mornings when I was 8 years old—a giant bowl of Sugar Frosted Choco-Bombs in my lap, cartoons on TV, and hour after hour of joyful opportunity spread out in front of me.
However, in the years since I was 8, I have learned a few things:
- Don't turn up the volume on the TV before it turns on or it wakes up your parents.
- 2 bowls of cereal is awesome; 4 is too many.
- Carry the milk with both hands even when you are sure you can do it with one.
- Make plans or all those hours disappear before you know it. Then it's Monday again and you are explaining to Mrs. Tabatchnik why the answer for all your math homework problems is 12.
In the spirit of that last point, making plans, now is the perfect time to set some goals. One might even call them "resolutions" for things that should be on your 2016 bucket list. Here are 4 suggestions of things that should be on yours.
Turn off the noise
My first 2016 resolution suggestion is pure #MonitoringGlory. Nobody wants to get an automated ticket, email, or text for something that isn't actually a problem, whether it comes in the middle of the day or at 2 am. Resolve to spend some quality time with your alert triggers and their results. Does the trigger logic identify a real, measurable, actionable problem, or is it an "FYI alert" that merely pesters an actual human to go check and see if something is ACTUALLY wrong? Now dig into the results over the last year. Did this alert generate storms of alerts? Almost none at all? What did people do when the alert came in?
All of these questions will help you create a better, more meaningful alert. This leads to the recipient of the alert believing it more, which leads to better responsiveness.
In the 20 years since the protocol was released, IPv6 has netted only a 10% adoption in the workplace. With the oncoming storm of SDN, IoT, and BYOE—not to mention the general growth of networks and network complexity—there are alarming security risks in NOT understanding what is and isn't IPv6-enabled in your environment (and what it's doing). Finally, with the not-so-modest gains to be made with IPv6 in the area of clustered servers, domain controllers, multicast, and more, this is the time to get in front of the curve and start planning, and even implementing IPv6.
Commit to learning and testing now so you aren't under the gun when it's really crunch time.
Commit to security
In the same vein, your IT resolutions should include at least one security-related commitment. Maybe you make friends with the audit team for once. Maybe you scan your network device configurations and see if they meet SOX or DISA STIG standards. Maybe you use NetFlow or Deep Packet Inspection to identify the types of traffic on your network (as well as the source and destination of that traffic).
Heck, even just choosing and using a password manager for your own personal accounts would be a great start. If for no other reason than it would get you thinking about all the OTHER users in your organization and how they are managing their passwords. Which, as we saw throughout 2015, was the first line of defense to fail in every major breach.
Whatever it is, don't let security be someone else's responsibility this year.
Know the value of your monitoring
Coming back around to monitoring for my last point, commit to taking the time to understand what monitoring provides you. What I mean by that is, every time a specific alert triggers, what have you saved in terms of minutes of outage, staff time, and/or predictive vs reactive repair costs?
Calculating this may be time consuming, but it's not complex, as I've described in the past (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/geek-speak_tht/blog/2015/01/09/the-cost-of-not-monitoring).
Why should this be on your 2016 resolutions? Because it helps you identify which tools, monitors, and alerts cost your company (in time to create, maintain, and respond to) more than they are worth, and which have a high return on investment. Not only that, but doing this for existing monitors helps you evaluate which of your upcoming requests is most worth digging into.
Finally, having these numbers handy gives you the ammunition you need to face the bosses and bean counters when you request additional licenses—they need a justification.
Because I don't know about where you work, but it feels like my whole management and purchasing team is related to old Mrs. Tabatchnik.
Those are MY recommendations for what you should have on your 2016 IT resolutions, but your list probably looks a lot different. You really should put those resolutions to work. How? By entering them in the 2016 IT Resolutions contest (https://thwack.solarwinds.com/community/solarwinds-community/contests-missions/it-resolutions/overview?CMP=THW-GS-SWI-2016_IT_Resolutions_LA-X-THW). Meanwhile, I want to hear your thoughts about my list, your list, or your IT plans for 2016 in general, in the comments below.