IT Management is a Marathon not a Sprint

Running a marathon Watching the preparations for the Boston Marathon last month and more recently the Edinburgh Marathon this past weekend, I couldn’t help but relate them to our work in IT Management. My conclusion was that IT Management is a Marathon not a Sprint. Both are challenging, both need expertise and training by the participants, and both result in either praise or disappointment by the management. So what are the main differences in characteristics that took me to this conclusion?

While marathons and sprints are both running events, what happens between the start and finish couldn’t be more different. A sprint is a short distance, and runners try to go as fast they can right out of the block. In a sprint, the effort is focused on the activity of seconds or perhaps minutes, and the runners push hard, giving everything they’ve got with each foot travelled. It doesn’t matter if they collapse after only running a few hundred yards – as long as they got over the finish line first, they’ve won. The start is critical, as it makes up a huge percentage of the race, and as the race is run, a tiny stumble spells total failure. An IT Management system installed with a short term perspective would be a disaster.

There is no need for a rapid high speed start, ensuring you have the right solution is more important than the speed of deployment. A stumble that brought down the system would be unforgivable and possibly unrecoverable for more than just the systems as it could bring down the entire company. In IT Management stumbles are recoverable, as long as the overall solution is durable and resilient.

The most obvious difference is that a marathon has to go the distance, it is just over 26 miles long and requires that the participants pace themselves, just like setting up an IT Management system. Once the training and research is done and the race has started it is pacing that secures a successful outcome. So it is with IT Management, once the training is in place and the system is installed it requires patience and sustained operation. It is the long term that counts. Everyone knows as they leave the starting line that they’re going to be running a long time, and that if they don’t pace themselves they’ll never make it to the end much less have the best time. The start is important, but pales in comparison to sustained progress. Even a large stumble disappears into the noise of the race so long as it doesn’t result in any physical damage. The equipment used being flash is less important that the equipment used being reliable, and fit for purpose. The support network around the race is a critical part of the overall success. And the race is as much against the clock as it is against the other runners, with everyone striving towards their personal best.

Opengear customers are in it for the long term, they need their equipment to be right and their support network from re-sellers and suppliers to be reliable, and the installation is less about winning and mainly about achieving the best possible solutions for the company – their personal best.