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Virtualization and Beyond: Scouting Your IT Future

Virtualization and Beyond

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Scouting Your IT Future

Written by James Honey, Sr. Product Marketing Manager, SolarWinds

When I was a Boy Scout I used to love to go on camping trips. Not only was it a great time to get away from my parents and hang out in the woods for a few days, but it was also a time when we would put some of the things we were learning into practice. Some of my favorite activities were orienteering, backpacking, pioneering and wilderness survival.

A key lesson I learned through all of these was making sure to have a plan, and then a plan for when the original plan didn't work out.  Looking at the world of IT today, I can see where some of those same scouting skills and this important lesson can and should be applied. After all, as you and I both know, the only thing in IT (and business in general) that's constant is change. Whether it's a new storage deployment, deploying a new application or a move to the cloud, having a fully developed plan is critical to avoid disaster.

So, how exactly can these skills perhaps you too learned in your youth help build a plan for succeeding in IT?


Orienteering is the use of a map and compass to find locations and plan a journey. In the IT world, this comes down to knowing where your business is and where it wants to go. It comes down to asking questions like:

  • How has the business/data grown over the last year?
  • What is the trend for the next year, three years, 10 years?
  • What are the key business goals that are in place?
  • How will the current business and technology landscape affect where we want to go with our business?
  • What does our performance needs look like today and how will they change tomorrow?


The trick to efficient backpacking is knowing what equipment is needed and what is not. In scouting as in IT, having wasted resources is as much of a problem as not having enough. Ask yourself:

  • What hardware and software is needed to achieve the goals?
  • Does our current data center have the right equipment?
  • What needs to go and what needs to be added?

In addition you need to know what the new technologies are that can help you with your plan. So, you also need to ensure you have a robust enough monitoring solution that can grow and adapt to new technologies.


Pioneering is the knowledge of ropes, knots and splices culminating in the ability to lash things together to build structures. Having not only the right skills, but the know-how to pull things together is a critical in IT. So, ask the following:

  • Does our team have the right skillset to achieve your goals?
  • Do we need to bring in outside help or is there a way to get our team trained on the technology needed?
  • Has the team been using our skills or have they been dormant?
  • Do we have a wide enough understanding of different processes to integrate them together?

Wilderness Survival

In scouting, wilderness survival is critical for when problems disrupt the plan and things go wrong. In It, this translates to ensuring you can properly answer the following questions:

  • Is the team ready to react to problems?
  • Are we able to distinguish between a bump in the road versus a mountain that cannot be overcome with the current plan?
  • When outside help is needed, do we know where to get it quickly and easily?
  • Can we discern and identify hidden dangers before they become problems?

Being successful in IT, just like successful scouting, requires planning, planning and more planning.  Having the right map and compass is the first step to knowing where you want to go. Knowing what tools you need and do not need along the way lets you assess if you are prepared. Having the right skills to design, lash and build makes sure your solutions are sound. Finally, being prepared for when challenges arise is critical to keeping you on track and avoiding disasters.


Read more articles from the Virtualization and Beyond Series.  

About the Author

James Honey is a sr. product marketing manager for IT performance management software provider SolarWinds. He has more than 15 years of experience in the IT industry focused specifically on storage technologies and virtualization solutions for SMBs to enterprise environments. His current role includes responsibility for all storage monitoring and management-related product marketing initiatives, including SolarWinds Storage Resource Monitor.  

Published Thursday, July 21, 2016 7:06 AM by David Marshall
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