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With a budget big enough to build the Death Star, how would you control your IT Galaxy?

Level 16

The annual IT budget has just been released and you’ve hit the jackpot! Now that it’s time to think big and not count the bitcoins, what would you buy?

You can invest in anything you want to help you do your job – what would you buy? Unlimited backup storage? High-spec servers with 1TB RAM? Wearable watches which send you alerts? SAS SSD arrays? Robot assistants?

What would you invest in to make your job easier? Please use the comments section below to tell us how you’d spend your unlimited IT budget. We want to hear, in as many or as few words as you’d like, what you’d dream up if money was no object. Share your thoughts with us by Monday, February 22 and we’ll give you 250 thwack points in return (sorry, it’s a bit too early for chocolate Easter eggs).

28 Comments
Jfrazier
Level 18

First I'd start with a scalable framework, that sits up top.

Must have event correlation and abilities to deal with incident ticketing and interfacing with notification tools (telalert, xmatters, etc.)

From there point solutions that are best of class for each OS  environment (Windows, Unix, Mainframe, etc.).  These tools need be able to understand a service (tell it what components make up the service, its hours of operation, ability to interrogate the service for status/health, know when it has completed initialization, startup initiated, shutdown initiated, etc).  They need to have state engines for monitored objects/services. Ability to create alerts or update status of object from log file entries, traps, snmp polls, command line commands/scripts, and other external sources.

It would also need to work with log file tools such as splunk.

Integration with a enterprise job scheduling tool (workload automation) for batch job related monitoring.

rschroeder
Level 21

I'd start out by giving my team 20% raises. 

Then I'd hire a team of Solarwinds experts, and bring in all the Orion modules, installed on top-of-the-line hardware VM solutions.

After that was in place, I'd create a new Orion Monitoring Department, and I'd head it up.  With plenty of training for all team members.

Follow that up with bumping up all my WAN feeds to 10 gig.

Next I'd hire a dozen CCIE's with overlapping specialties in a number of areas, including (but not limited to):

  • ISE/Security/ASA/FireSIGHT
  • Wireless/PRIME
  • WAN/I-WAN
  • LAN
  • ACI
  • UCS

Then I'd create an initiative to train all our help desk and IT staff how to use all of Orion.

And with the right budget (a Death Star IS pretty expensive, after all) I'd hire George Lucas's team AND PIXAR to design and deploy multiple NOC's with giant high-res displays to show the Orion modules to all the folks who can benefit from them.

That would be a good start--but ONLY a start.

Proper staff levels and Proper Pay

To me there are 2 wrong ways to staff a business:

  • A whole lot of underpaid staff. (Quantity over Quality)
  • Not enough average paid staff

What I would do is invest in my people.  I think you save money in the long run when you pay your people what they are worth.  I have seen through my years that the managers who pay their people well can operate more efficiently with less staff when they pay well and 4 well paid good people can do more / better work that 7 underpaid average people while having a lower overall budget in total payroll cost and retention of employees..

We see it all the time in our company.  some managers pay well and staff well, while others hold money tight and try to understaff.  Needless to say, the cheap managers constantly lose employees to the other type of manager or to other companies.  Those employees have lower moral and these teams continually lose productivity to turn over and training.

With the pay you raise moral, keep good talent and recruit good talent

Good talent allows you to focus on:

  • Automation
  • Release Management
  • Creative Solutions
  • All of the things you want to beyond keep the ship afloat.

Without good pay and proper staffing you lose good talent and recruit scout team talent or people just getting their foot in the door

  • Your good / marketable employees leave
  • Your average / poor employees stay
  • You lose creativity / innovation
  • All you do is keep your head above water

gfsutherland
Level 14

Well said !!!!

gfsutherland
Level 14

I'd start by getting my team staffed up to meet the challenges. Then I'd make sure I had the best, brightest and fun staff I could hire, paying them a premium for what they can accomplish. I would make sure we had the tools needed to do all of this.....

Lastly I'd make sure the team had time to investigate and learn about the newer tools. Let them attend offsite training sessions.... (even letting them fly 1st class!)....

tmichael
Level 9

I'd start with a high speed fiber connections between the several buildings I have throughout town.

Upgrade the switches and backbone wiring.

I would move to a hyper converged infrastructure and run everything from that.

kdeal
Level 10

I'm with bsciencefiction.tv​  A properly compensated and staffed Company (not just IT)

Also ALL the MONITORING tools, cause really, can you have too much data about your environment

...and a pool table in the break room.  Cause I miss the days of having one at the office, not because there is any real IT need ;-)

tinmann0715
Level 16

Experts! Experts! Experts!  (we have too many JOATS on staff today)

Our entire network architecture is screaming for an overhaul. Too many flat networks, too much PRD & non-PRD cohabitation. Large volumes of back-up and replication traffic traversing PRD data networks. No network-layered security between our remote locations and our mission critical systems. AIYYEEE!!!!

Next, a magic wand that will allow us to lift many of our legacy apps that are running on Win2003, or worse W2000, servers off of them and onto W2012 and beyond.

Finally, a Service Desk package that will incorporate with our SolarWinds as well as help us manage our Problem, Change, and Vendor Mgmt.  Hmm......

rschroeder
Level 21

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mikegale
Level 12

I completely agree with bsciencefiction.tv that life would be so much easier if we had a whole bunch less warm bodies replaced by just a few ninjas and top guns. There'd definitely be some hardware upgrades to my now ancient'ish laptop and most importantly I'd have a slide down to the cafeteria and electric scooters to use around the building. Maybe I'd invest in a "schoolbus" type of thing where employees can ride buses from various places. The bus would offer company wifi and the time spent connected and working would count towards ones workday. I know a fair amount of people that commute approx an hour each way every day who would benefit greatly from a service as such.

ecklerwr1
Level 19

One things for sure... all my client PC's will come with these:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=9SIA5EM3KG5754&nm_mc=AFC-C8Junction&cm_mmc=AFC-C8Jun...

OVERVIEW

The Ultrastar® SN100 Series is an NVM Express™ compliant family of PCIe solid-state drives that delivers unprecedented performance acceleration for today’s most demanding cloud, hyperscale and enterprise applications, allowing them to scale to new heights. The HGST architecture has been designed to tightly integrate different kinds of Flash media, hardware and software to deliver memory-class performance with storage-class capacity and persistence. It is offered as a low profile HH-HL extension card as well as a highly serviceable and hot swappable SFF 2.5-inch drive, both with capacities up to 3.2TB. The devices connect using PCIe 3.0 x4 slots and support various operating systems through open-source NVMe drivers.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Supports standard NVMe drivers
  • Up to 3.2TB capacity in both the HH-HL add-in card and SFF 2.5-inch drive form factors
  • Supports the latest generation PCIe Gen 3.0 server platforms
  • UEFI boot support
  • Advanced power management
  • Enterprise-grade reliability: Flash-aware RAID, end-to-end data-path protection, advanced
  • ECC, secure erase, power fail protection

Then of course 84" monitor:

LG 84WS70 - Newegg.com

Of course use vcloud for everything on the server side with a few racks of UCS.  For the linux side a HPC cluster of course.

Like has been said you have to pay for the best employees of course too.  And without a doubt use the entire solarwinds orion product set with SLX licensing!

rhidians
Level 11

Well after buying a Death star .... or at least an equivalent amount of blades (Like Vblocks ;p) I'd ramble on about understanding

It would be a matter of investing in staff and investing in training, specifically:

  • Understanding the cost of Not monitoring - the Gotcha's, the lack of visibility, spending money on duplicate technologies when capacity is at hand, Capacity forecasting, ease of identifying the cause of the problem vs not being able to etc
  • Tailoring Traps and tailoring Syslogs - All to often companies want it all (All Traps, All Syslogs!!!) with out understanding what it is they are asking for. So with good tailoring of the traps and syslogs being sent to the Solarwinds platform you can gain the information you want with out the noise.
  • Understanding SNMP and specifically SNMP-gets
  • Understanding Orion administration (resource creation with data manipulation, view creation, using views as reports, user admin, assigning views etc)
  • Understanding Solarwinds Modules (I could go through them all )
    • NPM including undps, nd creating pollers through the web console
    • SAM including monitor creation / template creation, Appinsight templates and what the AppStack is showing you
    • NTA and IP groups, flow type definition
    • NCM, config up / down load, script libraries, change control, policy violations (Plus remediation)  and ios vulnerabilities
    • Vman integration  and how / when to use the over or under allocation tools, how to create resources
    • SRM, IPAM, UDT, WPM, DPI, PM Serv-u, Kiwi Syslog, LEM - none of these are small modules!
    • You know I don't want to leave any out .... but even if you don't work with the technologies directly I would want people to have a greater understanding so they can expand their own IT View
    • Wish list: And closer integration between LEM and Orion (Might as well ask!!)
    • Wish list: CMDB integration with ServiceNow <$insert CMDB of choice>, pretty please

... And whilst we are at it can I have a new laptop please?

ncogdill
Level 8

Training, bigger/better/faster hardware, and compensation.

bradhoude
Level 8

I agree with bsciencefiction.tv as well!  I think that's the proper attitude and treatment of employees to encourage growth and productivity.  I would also upgrade our backbone to a high speed fiber connection.  Pay for all employee training to encourage personal AND professional growth.  I'd have an amazing cafe/break room for employees to unwind and decompress in/at during breaks & lunch with beer on tap and a pool table!  I would remove all legacy apps and servers from our network and overhaul our infrastructure.  Standardize hardware for all end-users or outsource BYOD support and re-survey all field offices locations PRIOR to setting up wifi in an overly-congested location.

gapconsulting
Level 7

First thing is to cover up that thermal exhaust port.  You know, the one that comes out near the main reactor?

I think most of my dream list could be accomplished for much less than the GDP of Coruscant.  Cisco backbone, Meraki, CUCM, VM licenses, Airwatch, some decent monitoring software like SolarWinds provides (shameless plug here) cloud backups and exchange journaling, Citrix or maybe 2012 remote desktops keeping the helpdesk calls down.. stable and solid, easy to support and maintain.

Enough money to either pay specialists to set things up when we buy them, or train people inhouse to do it correctly.  Regular training and proper staff levels.  Enough time to actually set up the self-help portal, so we can have time to do something besides doing password resets using the smartphone-based system we bought, and finally figured out how to set up but still haven't trained anyone on.

Decent snacks in the breakroom.  Stop ordering the jars of pretzels from Staples.  Is there a checkbox for 'not stale'?

I'd trade all of that above for a door that everyone has to knock on before they come in the IT department.

kurtrh
Level 13

I would buy higher speed circuits, more equipment without going through all the political bureaucratic stuff (So I can get the Vendor I want for my equipment, not have to explain why I need it). Additional SolarWinds Software, at least the ones we do not have already. More people, more training, better pay, a better building, and then the rest can go to charity since there will be more then enough left over.

vjerez4129
Level 13

Well to address our current needs would be a ton more storage. Replace and upgrade all our current servers, switches, APs, etc. Purchase all of the SolarWinds Modules, Invest heavily into training and certifications for employees as well as pay raises and benefits.

Then with all the extra money needed to build the death star we would have left over, I would also build a additional building just for our IT dept. fully loaded with all the amenities of a spa, with an additional break time sleeping area and food. Since that would still not be enough to use up the entire budget, might as well build a new campus for our college and start up our own scholarship for students who work for our dept

rschroeder
Level 21

With Death Star budget available, and as long you've dropped us in fantasy world, I'd go to the Resistance and ask Leia and Rey and Luke (and maybe Admiral Akbar, but I'm little iffy on him) and make that budget available to them to make a safe Galaxy for everyone.

Then I'd rewrite all the dictionaries and encyclopedias so they'd have a picture of me next to the definition of "Altruism."

goodzhere
Level 14

I would do just like many others.  I would start with ALL the right people and I would make sure they ALL have the right pay.  I would setup a Google type environment.  I think they have the right idea when it comes to employee satisfaction.  I would definitely want the unlimited storage to begin with.  Since the budget is unlimited, I would buy Google and then I would purchase SolarWinds.  I think I would follow that up with Juniper, Cisco, HP, and a few IT security companies.  Sorry Microsoft, I won't be purchasing you.  I would probably buy Symantec and McAfee just so I could shut then down and produce some excellent new freeware line of products.  Of course all their valuable employees would now be working for me.  I would ensure all of my purchases stay privately-owned subsidiaries to my company.  Then let the games begin.  The top task will be vendor support across as many platforms as possible.  I would focus on IT for the IT professional.  Since the budget is pretty much unlimited, it would be IT for IT and not IT for profit.  If someone could SHOW me how something could benefit the IT community, it would be a worthwhile endeavor.  There would be no "How can I recoup the costs associated with this project?" or "How can I pay for this technology?" or "I can't get that approved!".  I would start the first true IT for IT company.  I know...wishful thinking!

goodzhere
Level 14

And then I'd buy the moon and build my company there.  How's that for effective access control?  I'm going somewhere safe to perform testing and development.  I'm looking at the future.  The present is so yesterday!  He we come teleporters, warp drives, tractor beams....  Time travel is off limits.  Too much to mess up there! 

tcbene
Level 11

Well of course I would first take care of the people by providing a raise and adding to the engineering staff, as you know most of us are overworked, under paid and under staffed.  Next I would upgrade the death star network infrastructure to the latest and greatest hardware/software, upgrade to hyper drives.  Next I would buy the full suite of SolarWinds products.   I would increase the training budget to ensure we preempt the rebels .

rschroeder
Level 21

Goodness, I forgot I'd buy Avaya and Cisco, and then convert all of the Cisco gear to run off new/secure versions of Nortel's Java Device Manager.  Man, that product was sweet!  Fast, reliable, complete and fully-featured/fully-functional!  Not to mention intuitive!  It beat CLI all to heck for minimizing learning curve.

And when bundled with Nortel's Enterprise Switch Manager, it reported full inventory, mapped/displayed QoS, enabled NAC displays, showed mismatched VLANs, displayed maps of the network and then showed VLAN's in every device and across every uplink/downlink--by COLOR!  Click on a VLAN on the side of the map of the entire network, and EVERY switch that contained that VLAN turned that color.  AND every uplink or downlink or port-channel with that VLAN would turn the same color, too. 

It saved us MANY times from deploying equipment that had a missing VLAN on one side or the other. 

Come to think of it, THAT functionality would be mighty nice for a Solarwinds product like NTM or Atlas.  I miss Nortel's JDM and ENSM.

Deltona
Level 15

There might be some logistical issues involved in this plan but the maintenance trips would be highly enjoyable.

Here's what I'd do, in short:

- Build a lunar base on the moon (failover site)

- Build and deploy 8 satellites equipped with low range laser cannons, for private LAN/WAN

- Buy a mountain located at least 230 feet above sea level (primary site)

- Buy a nuclear submarine and place it inside the mountain.

- Dig trenches between offices for dark fiber (10x 10Gig)

Power/Facility:

I'd have nuclear reactors running in both sites to power up everything.

Liquid cooled rack towers. 3 stage Biometric security. Heat seeking, motion detecting surveillance systems.

Systems:

4 dozen liquid cooled Flex System Enterprise Chassis running in HCI trim. eXFlash and NVME everything. Maybe some Violin or Pure for backup storage.

Network:

Mellanox Infiniband fabrics connecting most things. Arista for everything else (Endpoints). Nothing below 100G for connectivity (except backup).

Palo Alto for security. No Cisco. No WLAN infrastructure.

Endpoints:

Satellite smartphones .Workstations and Laptops (by then) would have 3D xpoint storage and 100G ethernet adapters.

Software:

Infrastructure: Lots of crapware that I am forced to use, sadly.

Monitoring: The full SolarWinds Orion technology backbone for monitoring, yes sir.

Clients: Linux if I can get away with it.

joel.schreiber
Level 7

Clearly it would have to be some 802.1x/ISE action. I mean see below, but lack of that port security was clearly the Empire's downfall, especially on the death star...

SW-PortSecurity.png

Alternatively, more staff.

Zxa5vaY.jpg

tomiannelli
Level 13
  1. At least 10 more staff in my department.
  2. Additionally, 25 more staff in the rest of the Technology Service Group. Technical writers, help desk, project manags - etc.
  3. Raises for current staff.
  4. The entire suite of SolarWinds products.
  5. Metro Ethernet links in all of our offices with NO soft bandwidth limits for internal WAN
  6. Redundant Metro Ethernet connections for HQ and DR site for internal WAN
  7. Redundant internet service providers and HA infrastructure between HQ and the DR site.
  8. The Storage and Server infrastructure for a real DR site in our second largest office.
  9. Private Content Delivery Network
  10. File system Authorization and Auditing tools.
  11. Self Service Portal for our employees - Passwords, Group Membership Management, etc.
  12. A new datacenter for HQ
  13. New cabling infrastructure in HQ with redundant and multiple fiber paths to all IDFs.
  14. New edge switch infrastructure in all offices.
  15. Dual factor Authentication for everything.
  16. Regular TRAINING - both for IT staff and employees
  17. Treadmill desks for all IT staff that want them.
  18. In-house coffee shop!

I am sure I could think of more if I had time.

jeremymayfield
Level 15

Does Ditto work for everything above?   No? OK big deep breath and exhale.....

1. backup generator

2. new server room with sub-floor cooling and halon gas for emergencies

3. expert wiring for a neat and clean patch panels and wire tracing.

4. full Cisco UCS blade system with Fabric and interconnects

5. 10G network backbone for offices and plant

6. 150 TB redundant SAN on and cloud storage

7. Full security and audit tools

8. token authentication for all vpn and internal connectivity

9. training

10. in house gym and rec area

11. in house masseuse

12. Full time assistant

13. more staff

14. Raise

15. department trip to the 2016 MLB All Star game. 

desr
Level 12

Oh Boy....unlimited budget

1. Get me a raise

2. Get me an intern for help

3. Definitely training employees

4. A second server

5. Backup Cloud Storage

6. Larger area to work in

7. Better computer for users

shuckyshark
Level 13

I'd get sharks with freakin' lasers to shoot end users.