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Optimize IT

Level 13

Maximize your resources’ utility

In the previous week, I covered security as a skill to take your IT career to the next level. This week, I’ll walk through optimization as another high value add skill in the virtual environment. To truly appreciate the importance of optimization, you have to understand the blood, sweat and tears that one endures when gaining optimization wisdom.

Optimization: More than meets the I → T

Optimization is a skill that requires a clear end-goal in mind. Optimization focuses on understanding the interactions of the IT ecosystem, the behavior of the application stack, and the inter-dependencies of systems inside and outside their sphere of influence in order to deliver success in business objectives.

If one were to look at optimization from a theoretical perspective, each optimization exercise would be a mathematical equation with multi-variables. Think multivariate calculus as an IT pro tries to find the maximum performance as other variables change with respect to one another.

I’m positive that Professor sqlrockstar could lead us through a database optimization course leveraging multivariate calculus to analyze the deterministic SQL systems with N-degrees of freedom. Meanwhile, I could leverage my ECE background and lead a discussion on applied control systems theory and its application to optimize performance in your dynamic, virtual data centers. This begs the question: is calculus knowledge required to optimize your virtual environment? The answer is no. While it may help to formulate theories and visualize the overall concepts, IT is all about keeping IT stupid simple. That should be the IT ideal after all.

Optimizing for everything is really optimizing for nothing

Optimization is a skill forged from focus tuning to achieve a desired end-goal. As such, the one trap that all IT pros should avoid is trying to do too much. Optimizing for everything and everyone more often than not ends up in disappointment as the optimization efforts end up making the Quality-of-Service worse for everyone involved.

To avoid such pitfalls, have a simple optimization plan. Prioritize your most important deliverable as defined by all the stakeholders. Optimize with that deliverable as the focal point. Understand the behavior and relationship of change as it pertains to your optimization goal. And if additional optimization tasks are appended to the original task, communicate the risks clearly and concisely. And understand that sometimes, there is no convincing an IT executive looking to make their mark, even at the expense of their direct reports.

Closing

Optimization is a high reward skill that builds upon the DART skills framework. It seeks to maximize the utility of IT resources as it delivers the best in class Quality-of-Service to end users. Next week, I’ll discuss the Automation skill, another of the SOAR skills that virtualization admins need to take flight in their careers.

10 Comments

Many thanks for pointing this out, kong.yang​.  Too many times optimization is missed or assumed, and not kept up as a regular recurring assignment.

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Planning Optimization is like planning to lose weight. Once you reach your goal you don't stop else you'll slip back to whence you started. Instead, you adopt optimization and you practice it in all that you do. Your goals are important. If your goal is to reduce VM instances and data by 10% then once you reach it you'll be struggling to strategically define your next one.

A more strategic goal would be to review server resource utilization reports, generated weekly. From this report you'll look for over-allocated servers by a threshold of 25%. Once you clear the 25% you can tighten to 20%. Procedural and operatonal optimizations which are rooted in IT can be explored and identified using a similar approach. In relatively short time you'll find yourself continuously seeking out new, and bang-for-the-buck, optimization opportunities.

MVP
MVP

Right on! Things should always be optimized for sure.

MVP
MVP

Optimization like anything else in the IT world is a living thing...as the environment changes through patches, softwares changes/upgrades, hardware changes, etc. so does optimization.  It needs to be planned for and constantly checked...

Great write up  kong.yang​ !!

Level 13

Great point Jfrazier​! The IT ecosystem is dynamic and optimization changes over time. I tried to address that scale and change in my US Patent -- http://www.google.com/patents/US8176497. I could argue that I was auto-scale before auto-scale Everything is always built upon the shoulders of IT giants. And I had some great IT mentors and friends who helped me and continue to help me on my journey.

Level 14

Great point Jfrazier​!!! Optimization is most definitely not a set it and forget it process. The more we do, the more we find.... I've always likened it to maintaining an old car, or in my case an old house. You are never done, and at times what is need to be done is downright suprising.

Outstanding article kong.yang​... thank you.

Level 14

Optimize where possible, always looking for the most bang for the buck.

Level 17

Great write up kong.yang​; Thanks.

I think gsutherland@sharoncu.com​ has the idea spot on...The lack optimization is what will keep you banging on the dash and kicking the tires more than cruising. Before you know it you've got this classic that isn't so classic with it's rusty, cantankerous personality.

Level 14

Rusty and cantankerous.... yup .... that's me! 

Level 21

One of the shortfalls I most often see when it comes to optimization is folks that fully understand the ecosystems and how all of the different inter-dependencies.  As you pointed out, without understanding these things what you think may be optimization on one hand may only be a bottleneck on the other.