Over on O’Reily radar, Jesse Robbins posted about an experience he’d had helping at an emergency incident. He uses the analogy to point out the fact that at an emergency incident you have diverse emergency services working in a (hopefully) coordinated and managed way all in an aim to achieve a shared desired outcome.

Jesse contrasted this to the situation within the corporate world where traditionally there exists a number of discrete and siloed departments – IT, Marketing, financial etc. As he said;

The CEO cannot shout or fire the website back up. The CFO cannot account, control, or audit the website back up and the Chief Counsel cannot sue it back to life. The CMO, if there is one, and their entire marketing & PR team will not spin a website back online. The CIO or CTO probably can’t recover the site either, at least not very quickly.

Jesse went on to assert that today, when web presence is a mission critical attribute for business, the web-operations team needs to work like emergency services work at an incident – in a coordinated and symbiotic way.

What Jesse doesn’t mention however is that there needs to be a balance in web-operations. The flip side of the emergency services mentality is a gung-ho, damn the torpedoes, rely on the heroes type mentality. Arguably the fact that the engineers can pull all nighters to fix problems that arise, can create a mentality of sub-optimal design.

So what is needed is the things that Jesse leaves unsaid – the reason emergency services work so well together is because of the countless hours they spend planning, training and maintaining their equipment. Bringing this over to the web sphere and it’s easy to assert that the problems Twitter had with scaling were a direct result of not baking in the operations focus right from the start.

Ben Kepes

Ben Kepes is a technology evangelist, an investor, a commentator and a business adviser. Ben covers the convergence of technology, mobile, ubiquity and agility, all enabled by the Cloud. His areas of interest extend to enterprise software, software integration, financial/accounting software, platforms and infrastructure as well as articulating technology simply for everyday users.

1 Comment
  • We’ll summarized, thank you! You’re right, there is much that I left unsaid. I’ll be doing a number of follow-up posts where I walk through the way that effective and proficient operations organizations are created.

    -Jesse Robbins

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