A third option to when your frustrated waiting for a permit

Chris Crosby has a post on the frustration of waiting, fighting City Hall to get permits to build a data center.

Since 1 in 10 Irish jobs are provided by multi-national companies, and Apple certainly qualifies since you can pick up an iPhone in Astana, Kazakhstan, as easily as you can in Dublin, no one anticipated any problems as the planning and permitting processes commenced. Unfortunately, it was at this point that things began to go “off the rails,” as they say. As all involved soon found out, even a corporate behemoth is no match for a not so friendly planning appeals process. Apparently, two individuals stood fearless and undaunted in the face of what they felt was a corporate incursion that would change the nature of the town forever, and, using continual appeals as metaphoric speed bumps, thereby caused the entire process to drag on for three years.

Patience may be a virtue, but it also has its limits. It took Apple 1095 days to reach its limit before formally announcing the decision to end the project despite a personal visit from Ireland’s Prime Minister.

The Irish Times covers the specific that Chris mentions of effort by the Ireland Government to improve the process.

Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation Heather Humphreys expressed disappointment at the decision. She said the delays the project has faced have “if nothing else, underlined our need to make the State’s planning and legal processes more efficient”.
“The Government has therefore already been working, over the last number of months, to make improvements to those processes. This will ensure we are better placed to take advantage of future such investment opportunities, whether from data centre providers or other sectors,” the Minister added.
— https://www.irishtimes.com/business/technology/apple-scraps-plan-for-850-million-data-centre-in-athenry-1.3490316

The problem with trying to improve the existing process is people spent a lot of effort to make the process the way it is, and it is assuming the process is right and it just needs to be made faster. As many of you know the process has many flaws which cause the delays as departments requirements conflict with each other.

An example of a conflict that illustrates what happens when you let a department make its own optimal decision is from the Polaris missile program development.

In each subsystem difficult technical problems had to be solved by narrowly focused specialist, and there was always the danger that the solution they would choose would be detrimental to the larger system. For example, there were a number of methods for launching a ballistic missile from a submarine, but each was a bit different in regard to crew safety and submarine detectability. Permitting the launch mode decision to be made solely in terms of launch efficiency could, of course, jeopardize the value of the entire system.
— "The Polaris System Development, Bureaucratic and Programmatic Success in Government" - Harvey M. Sapolsky

The third option is to introduce to system thinking. You may want the permit faster, but if the requirements are still in conflict, you lose in your build. What we need is a better way to build for the overall good of the City and User.

Are you ready for Edge Computing in 2017? I started the discussion in 2010

Tom Krazit at Geekwire posts on edge computing. https://www.geekwire.com/2017/setting-edge-cloud-experts-sketch-edge-computing-will-evolve/

“The last ten years marked a centralization of computing, in which we moved away from relying on our individual computers to process our orders toward a world in which lightweight mobile apps and web services backed by powerful cloud data centers took over.

At Structure 2017 in San Francisco on Tuesday, it was pretty clear things are moving back in the other direction.

Several of the sessions on the opening day of the venerable cloud computing conference addressed the growing certainty that computing power is moving back to intelligent connected devices on the “edge” of the network. Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella made it a key theme of his opening keynote at Microsoft Build in May, and momentum toward this shift would appear to be growing.”

Data Center Frontier posts on who the players are. https://datacenterfrontier.com/edge-computing-101/

“Edge computing is a hot topic right now, and holds the potential to alter the geography of the data center industry, as infrastructure adapts to support the Internet of Things, virtual reality and connected cars.

As these technologies develop and gain traction, a number of companies are targeting the challenges address challenges and opportunities of deploying capacity at the edge of the network. Here’s our guide to the new players on the edge, which includes both startups and established names in the data center sector.”

You can run a google news search and find “edge computing” comes on a regular basis.

A few people have have contacted me to tell me about their efforts. I tell them I discussed this idea years ago. Here is a post from Feb 2011 where I wrote about DC Containers at cell towers. http://www.greenm3.com/gdcblog/2011/2/8/50-lower-carbon-footprint-with-new-cell-tower.html?rq=Cell%20tower

In 2010 is when I realized that compute was going to move to reduce the latency issues and network performance. The practice of having Points of Presence and Content Distribution Network was well established, but there was still an interesting opportunity to get close to devices. Since 2010 the growth of mobile devices has replaced the desktop and notebook use case.

The idea of edge computing is not new. It is just more popular. Edge computing is just one piece in the overall system and how it gets used takes time to figure out. I have had 7 years to think about it. We will see what others try.

With More Limits on Your Work, Are you Better? Great Example 25 sq m Paris Flat

Some people think think their work would be better if they had more freedom. There are another set of people who embrace the limits, the constraints on what can done as challenges. Below is a video of an architect sharing his design of Paris Flat that is 25 sq meters.  I enjoyed watching it and given this post has been live only 3 days and has 100k views many others do as well.

Thinking Differently about Data Centers

Apple is famous for the "Think Different" ad.

And here is a video of Steve Jobs explaining the ideas of "Think Different"

It has been said that Think Different, should have been said "Think Differently" for correct grammar.

I have been spending a lot of time thinking differently about data centers.  What are changes that are needed to promote innovation.  Thanks to clients who have pushed for tough problems to be solved I've been able to start to see a different way. 

Part of thinking differently is to think what aligns with a company's business model.  The flaw in so much is to take a commodity approach and apply it to take any situation.  Think of how many presentations you have seen that are selling you commodity approaches that apply to anyone.

What is innovative is figuring out how to solve problems that work for a company to give it an advantage over others.

Resiliency Approach to Data Center Availability

Everyone wants a highly available data center specifying 9s of availability or Tier levels, but what is harder to find is advice on approaching the availability problem.  Part of the problem is there aren't that many good writers who focus on data centers. 

So, let's switch over to the Harvard Business Review's senior editor, Diane Coutu and her article on "How Resilience Works."  Please read the full article on HBR to get the full set of ideas I am about to share below when applied to the data center availability problem.

The article starts describing a great newsman who had resilience.  This description could fit what you want in a data center - one that can endure an environment that at time can be hostile.

a quintessential survivor, someone who had endured in an environment often hostile

So you want your data center to be resilient.  What makes something/someone resilient?  Diane asked this question and this is what her article answers.

What exactly is that quality of resilience that carries people through life?
I have considered both the nature of individual resilience and what makes some organizations as a whole more resilient than others. Why do some people and some companies buckle under pressure? And what makes others bend and ultimately bounce back?

Resilience is so popular that even college graduates are saying they are resilient, but as the author points out resilience comes after you experience the things like in operations like an outage.

Candidates even tell us they’re resilient; they volunteer the information. But frankly, they’re just too young to know that about themselves. Resilience is something you realize you have after the fact.
“More than education, more than experience, more than training, a person’s level of resilience will determine who succeeds and who fails. That’s true in the cancer ward, it’s true in the Olympics, and it’s true in the boardroom.”

Surviving stressful conditions like concentration camps can provide insight to the psychology of someone who is resilient.

Looking at Holocaust victims, Maurice Vanderpol, a former president of the Boston Psychoanalytic Society and Institute, found that many of the healthy survivors of concentration camps had what he calls a “plastic shield.” The shield was comprised of several factors, including a sense of humor. Often the humor was black, but nonetheless it provided a critical sense of perspective. Other core characteristics that helped included the ability to form attachments to others and the possession of an inner psychological space that protected the survivors from the intrusions of abusive others.

So let's get to the core principle explained.  Three characteristics that resilient people and organizations exhibit.

Most of the resilience theories I encountered in my research make good common sense. But I also observed that almost all the theories overlap in three ways. Resilient people, they posit, possess three characteristics: a staunch acceptance of reality; a deep belief, often buttressed by strongly held values, that life is meaningful; and an uncanny ability to improvise. You can bounce back from hardship with just one or two of these qualities, but you will only be truly resilient with all three. These three characteristics hold true for resilient organizations as well.

Do you see the reality of the situation is the first characteristic.  This fits well with monitoring systems and assessments of the current state of operations.

“Do I truly understand—and accept—the reality of my situation? Does my organization?” Those are good questions, particularly because research suggests most people slip into denial as a coping mechanism. Facing reality, really facing it, is grueling work.
The fact is, when we truly stare down reality, we prepare ourselves to act in ways that allow us to endure and survive extraordinary hardship.

The second characteristic builds on facing the reality.  Your reason, your meaning for what you do.  What is your value system?

Strong values infuse an environment with meaning because they offer ways to interpret and shape events.
immutable set of values. Businesses that survive also have their creeds, which give them purposes beyond just making money. Strikingly, many companies describe their value systems in religious terms. Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson, for instance, calls its value system, set out in a document given to every new employee at orientation, the Credo. Parcel company UPS talks constantly about its Noble Purpose.

For those of you who think this is BS and you just hire resilient people consider this point made that values are more important at an organizational level than people.

Values, positive or negative, are actually more important for organizational resilience than having resilient people on the payroll. If resilient employees are all interpreting reality in different ways, their decisions and actions may well conflict, calling into doubt the survival of their organization. And as the weakness of an organization becomes apparent, highly resilient individuals are more likely to jettison the organization than to imperil their own survival.

When there is an outage speed of resolution is critical.  Which means you ideally are going to make do with what you have.  Placing an order for an item and having it FedEx will not be acceptable.

The third building block of resilience is the ability to make do with whatever is at hand. Psychologists follow the lead of French anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss in calling this skill bricolage.

I have shared the HBR article with a few other people and they have all enjoyed it.  Give it a read.  Then read it again.  There are some good ideas, well written on what it means to be resilient.