Dealing with a clogged link

A friend asked me a question that reminded me of some great resources I want to mention here (in case I ever need to find them again…)

They are:

In my response to my friend, I also touched on something interesting I learned from Cricket, and from years as a consultant. Here’s the big lesson: Infrastructure projects don’t sell themselves.

Why? Because they are not sexy. Their payback is hidden down in the noise of day to day operations and (apparently) fixed costs. Once you get used to “we have to have 256 kbit/sec VSATs everywhere, and the WAN is too slow to do file sharing”, it appears to be the unchanging reality, the fixed costs that people just suck it up and pay. But if you measure a problem and show before and after pictures, then you can market the solution. It’s no secret that the farther up the management ladder you go the harder it is to explain what’s broken, why, and why it will cost $X to fix it. The charitable reasoning for why this is is that “those people are busy, they are big picture people”. The less charitable explanation is that the Peter Principle moves incompetent people up out of day-to-day work into management, where they need to be pandered to like children in kindergarten: “Ooooh, look at the pretty colors! OK, now sign here.”

We used to call it “the manager test”. Cricket passed the manager test because even a manager could understand Cricket’s output and agree to fund changes necessary to improve link utilization. At Microsoft, I can even remember one time that Cricket even managed to pass “the executive test”, when a link upgrade was going to be so expensive that a VP had to sign for it, and he only agreed to spend the money after seeing the graphs with his own eyes.

Pictures work. Everything else is a waste of time.

Here’s something else I wrote to my friend that I’d like to share:

It is the “measuring and marketing” part you need right now… Improving your bandwidth situation needs to be a stealth project, hidden under the covers of some other project.

This is how you raise the profile of and fund infrastructure projects, at least in dysfunctional environments where the hamsters in the wheelhouse need and want to be pandered to by bright colors and tender morsels of “synergy”.

PS: I’m keeping my friend anonymous, since we wouldn’t want his bosses to find this, on the off chance they might understand that the last sentence is talking about them. 🙂

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