“Can’nae take any more, Captain!” - How operations guys are like Scotty

Watching Star Trek II - The Wrath of Khan a while ago gave me an idea for a theme (which I would later use on stage at SplunkLive! London). The reference really resonates for me because there are so many similarities between Star Trek and modern business. Stay with me...

Your organisation is the USS Enterprise. Your mission: explore strange new worlds, seek out new revenue opportunities and to boldly go where no business has gone before. James T. Kirk is your over-zealous CEO, and he pilots the Enterprise from his boardroom, a.k.a the bridge.

One of Kirk’s most trusted crew members is of course, Scotty. Chief Engineer of the Enterprise. I find Scotty interesting because he embodies those who work in ops; capable of fixing everything thrown at him, doesn’t seek reward or recognition, and just loves being an engineer. More often than not, when facing serious, imminent (IT) destruction from the Klingons (or a database outage), it’s Scotty who saves the day. He always finds a way; by diverting power from somewhere else, or plugging the dilithium crystal exhaust into the rear deflector shield. Sounds a lot like IT Ops to me.

Let’s take a look at how Splunk would help the ‘Scotties’ of the business world.

IT is today’s business driver  

Just like the USS Enterprise’s engine, IT drives any modern business. IT incidents slow impulse engines down, and outages leave your ship motionless with no forward shields to defend an attack.

Can’nae change the laws of physics

You cannot change the laws of physics, but you can find innovative ways to get more from your engine, and fast. Lack of innovation in IT risks organisations being “Uber-ed” (surrendering to an alien race with technologically superior weapons!) So what if Scotty only needed 1.5 minutes instead of thirty? Customers such as Tesco can solve problems 95% quicker with Splunk.

quote Star Trek Scotty

The need to go at Warp Factor 9

Time is your enemy. Fast isn’t fast enough. Propulsion comes from organisations’ ability to develop good quality digital services for customers and creating market differentiation. DevOps is taking IT to Warp Factor 9 (whether Scotty likes it or not!) The need to innovate faster, release quicker with constant feedback to improve what is delivered to Captain Kirk is putting the engine room under more pressure than ever. No matter how much Scotty claims “she can’nae take any more, captain”, CEO Kirk will always reply “Scotty - I need more power!” Splunk customers such as Family Search accelerates its time to delivery drastically with 900 deploys per day, and with Splunk Enterprise, Vertu ensures optimal quality of its code.

“Giving her all she’s got!”

Despite aiming for warp factor nine, execution is rarely the case. Under resourced, just like operations teams; Scotty spends too much time in the engine room fixing that damn deuterium injector. Over time, the Enterprise’s engine room grows in disjointed but well engineered systems. The warp coil keeps getting upgraded, but that has a knock-on effect on the plasma generator. As in modern IT you work with a mix of cloud, on-premise and mainframe. This just adds to the complexity when things get tough, and Kirk wants more power to the torpedos. These issues cost businesses dearly; being reactive to problems leaves little time for innovation. Unicredit is the perfect example of analysing hundreds of different data sources to reduce incidents before they have an impact, whilst delivering real business value too.  

Scotty needs to be on the bridge

Scotty should be with Kirk on the bridge, steering the Enterprise; helping reach new worlds (all whilst defending the next Romulan attack). It’s the equivalent of IT having a seat at the business table. Organisations such as Shazam are pioneering how IT teams use machine data to align to business objectives. With the help of Splunk, it harnesses information to better understand customer behaviour; enabling development of new products and offerings to increase revenue.

I’ll drink a good scotch to all the Scotties out there. Oh, and I couldn’t resist the big data pun… Guillaume out.

Guillaume Ayme

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