Wine, Religion, Dinosaurs, and IT - The Blog That Should Never Be Written

Before you start lobbing holy hand grenades at me, open your mind and read!

I was just in Napa, which for a guy like me is effectively the same as sending my 9-year old Lily to Disney Land. Overwhelmingly wondrous. I went to speak at Barracuda's 2013 kickoff meeting. More on that in a few.

My trip was short, or at least was intended to be short. Playing with weather in Boston in January is playing Russian roulette, except at least half the chambers are loaded with bullets. I got there in time to watch the Niners pull out a victory and the Pats choke down a loss. (Self-rationalization: New Orleans is worse for me than Napa, therefore it is good that the Pats lost. Plus, I missed the game, which is even better since I was in Napa drinking wine instead of sitting in traffic massively irritated.) As I was waiting for a ride to my hotel like room/condo (Silverado - a zillion condo/room things, none of which anyone can walk to - and weirder, they didn't sell their own wine at their own bar. Fortunately, the Barracuda execs like Silver Oak and Mt. Veeder. I felt a kinship growing from the start), there were a few folks waiting for the shuttle, talking about "God." I'm not sure the point they were getting at (seemed like they were trying to argue over who was a bigger God fan), but what was apparent was that they, like most I think, were interchanging God with religion. I found that interesting. People interchange the concepts of a higher power with the way they choose to worship that higher power. People don't really argue much about "God." They argue about how they "practice" their belief in God.

If you argue about there being a higher power or not, you are at least arguing about the same thing. It's very binary—you either believe in it or you don't. Since there is no absolute proof either way, it's an individual belief. Not a lot to argue about. However, when listening to this animated "discussion," it quickly devolved into justification (of what I still am unclear since the two participants clearly both believed in "God") of some point based on their individual belief systems around the PRACTICE of worship—i.e., religion. As soon as one started quoting the Bible, it was no longer about "God" but what that religion believed one should do about God.

For the record, I find most all organized religions absurd, however I'm a big fan of God. I'm living proof that a higher power exists and pulls strings. I've had WAY too many crazy things happen (for the good) in my life to argue this point—not the least of which was discovering a lump the night before the Sox lost game 7 to the Yankees in 2003 (Grady Little), and remembering to ask my Vasectomy doctor the next day, after the lump had totally disappeared, which turned out to be cancer—caught on DAY ONE and thus treatable (I still cannot scientifically dismiss the cause as either Diet Pepsi or my ex). Plus, have you seen my wife? I rest my case. I'm also completely fine with those who don't believe in such concepts. Or those who believe in 97 different gods. And I'm just fine with people choosing HOW they wish to interact with their gods—as long as they don't attempt to inflict or force their methods upon me. And that, my friends, is the crux of most of our humanity's historical issue around religion—we just don't like people doing things differently than us! Different scares people.

Which gets me to IT. Please take this as intended: as an (poor, most likely) analogy. In IT, we (mostly) share a common belief that at our core, "data" represents our higher power. How we use, interpret, define, protect, etc. that data is our "practice."

Yes, I had ingested several excellent reds by this point.

If we all fundamentally believe that data is the reason for IT—and what pearls of wisdom we can glean from it (along with what riches, both literally and metaphorically we can take from it), then where we differ is how we act in our "worship" of said data. And in that respect, we can differ wildly. (Sound familiar?)

One company can believe so strongly in the righteousness of that data they will make it the absolute center of their being. They will spend enormous amounts of resources to build a shrine for that data that is second to none—because they know the importance of that data to their organization. They will protect it at all cost. They will secure it. They will look to it for answers and they will spare no expense. They will always try to do more—proactively.

But others will pay that data lip service. They don't truly believe. They have it, they maintain it more as a necessary evil than as the potential solution to all of their problems. They act on that data only after they are forced to.

And there are a thousand variations in between these extremes. Like religion, some are completely nuts, but most are fundamentally sound at their core. The differences manifest themselves over time. A thousand years ago people believed in God, but they also believed the earth was flat, or was at the center of the universe. Things change, people learn, we evolve. Ten years ago, people did a full backup to tape every single weekend, even though 99% of the data never ever changed—thus keeping a million copies of the same, unchanging data. No rational person would ever do that intentionally, would they? Yet a lot of people still do. They are the IT equivalent of the "world is flat." They aren't "bad"—they just haven't been convinced that changing their belief or their practice is important enough to them yet. They are fighting other demons, perhaps.

Adapt or perish. Dinosaurs (unless you don't believe in them, in which case I'd love to have a cocktail or two with you!) lived for millions of years, and were wiped out suddenly. They didn't see it coming. IT, as we've known it for 50+ years has slowly evolved (relatively, of course), and then BAM!!! In just a few short years, incredible environmental changes are forcing dramatic adaptation!!! If "virtualization" was the meteor, then Social, Cloud, and Mobile represent the fallout that traditional IT will have to deal with to make through to the next era. In short, they disrupt everything we've known before—so we'll adapt or perish. This ain't the Mesozoic anymore!

Full circle: Barracuda. I knew nothing of them, other than they really like to consume airport billboard space. They recently lured BJ Jenkins from EMC to run the place, which made me pay attention. Now I'm a fan. First, they are a $250+ million dollar profitable company that no one knows anything about—including most of the 150,000 customers they have. (No kidding.) Second, they are a classic example of my prior point (somewhere in there): They are delivering IT stuff for the modern world (security and storage stuff predominantly) in the way that the current world wants to consume said solutions—as an appliance (virtual or physical) or a cloud service. They already adapted to the new realities. Their claim to fame is set it and forget it—make solutions brain-dead easy so people with other things to worry about can do just that. Solve a problem, don't add to it.

Protect, defend, store, and access your data. No matter how you "practice" IT, that's something we can all agree we need.


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