What happens when a society gets hold of a new territory or a new technology? It usually starts by decimating the easy preys in that territory or by running wild with the technology. Using abundant resources (food, fuel or other) with abandonment, dumping waste everywhere. Then there is a crisis directly tied to this lack of restraint. Maybe an epidemic. Or starvation from the sudden disappearance of easy-to-get food (or fuel). Lack of clean water. Landslides from deforestation. Something is done to address that crisis and its direct causes. It starts with random acts of what is not yet called ecology. And then the best practices gets more widely adopted. But another crisis appears. Other changes need to be made. Eventually people start to look beyond fighting individual fires and towards managing the environment as a whole, in a way that aligns with the desired quality of life. Models are developed to better understand relationships and predict consequences. Comprehensive environmental studies appear. People take a lifecycle approach to managing the environmental aspects of development. Processes, policies and rules get defined. And of course, companies and consultants appear to help with these tasks.
This is a (widely) simplified description of how ecology appears out of necessity in developing societies and how its development is a gating factor for sustained economic development. Of course, this is the happy view, the one where the society is able to correct its course before collapsing.
Doesn’t this sound very similar to the way IT management appeared and is developing in enterprises?
When enterprises got hold of computing as a business tool, individual departments deployed applications with little planning and coordination, just to grab the low-hanging fruits of increased productivity. Then comes the crisis, a key system goes down and no-one knows what to do. Business suffers. Some early, localized, monitoring functionality is created to fix the problem. A random act of management that addresses a tactical issue. But more problems happen, the system gets more complex than niche management tools can address. Eventually people start to look at IT management more globally, to think of it as a way to align IT with business objectives. Models are developed to better understand relationships and predict consequences. People take a lifecycle approach to managing changes to the IT environment. Best practices, processes and even rules and compliance mandates get defined. And of course, companies and consultants appear to help with these tasks.
Does this parallel reveal any opportunity for one side to learn from the other? Will you hire Greenpeace to run your data center?