Aug 19, 2015

CIO Balancing Act

By Tom Kozielski

For decades, CIOs have faced a myriad of challenges, which are growing continuously in complexity. One current challenge is striking a balance between high availability and aggressive application deployment schedules. Organizations that have successfully optimized both sides of the equation have usually achieved their success through art or talent, not based on a tangible repeatable business process.

To minimize risk, organizations need to establish a business-based availability management process with a foundation in empirical data. It must allow decisions based on simple rules that any CIO can establish with minimal cost, regardless of the size of operation.

Excelacom CIO-Balancing-Act

Disadvantages of Traditional Availability Metrics

Traditional availability metrics, such as Six Sigma and five 9s, have based their foundation in representing up-time to clients. Unfortunately, traditional metrics have two deficiencies:

  • IT clients don't care about a number when a system isn't available to run the business.
  • This metric is reactive. An alarm turns red after threshold has been exceeded.

Advantages of Focusing on Downtime

Instead of trying to manage your IT organization with metrics that demonstrate system availability to IT clients, CIOs need to turnaround their thinking. Instead, focus on the minutes of downtime that can occur to achieve the availability goal. At first this may seem odd, but when you actually show employees the number of downtime minutes per day, week, month and year, they quickly realize it's very little. Excelacom's availability management process will establish this proactive focus on availability. Our process also flags when an application overspends its downtime budget, allowing the CIO to tighten the change management and control that application to bring it back within the year-to-date tolerance.

Once this methodology is in place, you simply marry the proactive availability management with throttling change. With these metrics, you provide an objective tangible process for striking the balance between your application development build and operational run functions. Now there's no big debate on whether the next change should be implemented.

Client and Employee Management Benefits

The first benefit occurs when a client organization gets aggressive with demanding that a particular change be implemented. It's easy for the CIO to demonstrate the decision not to implement a given change to keep the existing application stable until the outage root cause has been corrected and the subsequent change has been tested more thoroughly.

Secondly, on the employee management side, the CIO simply rewards the developers that have the least amount of application failures because eventually they will test more thoroughly to avoid heightened scrutiny in the change control process and the possible performance hit of missing a client promised delivery date. Most importantly, it eliminates placing the CIO in the traditional more subjective decision making process that can over time put the operations and the development folks at odds with each other.

Excelacom's recent perspective paper, " CIO Balancing Act," walks readers through that process at a high level. For more information on how to implement the best CIO practices into your business strategy, please contact Excelacom at

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