My frustration with the quality and education of CIOs, CTOs, IT Directors, what have you… what caliber IT manager should you choose?

As a matter of course, I deal with all kinds of IT manager types during the course of a campaign.

Sometimes said managers are well-versed in technology. Other times they have biases, are bigoted, and so on. Which is fine, I’m more opinionated, cranky and obnoxious than most.

It agitates me encountering IT management types that:

  • Have no technology experience
  • Have no concept of how IT relates to the business
  • Have no idea how much technology costs
  • Have no idea how much being penny wise and dollar foolish can hurt their business
  • Cannot recognize an amazing deal due to their lack of a holistic viewpoint.

However, as annoying as the above bullets are, someone with sufficient intelligence and perserverence that cares will eventually “get it” and become able to at least have a conversation about technology. No, what bothers me more are the managers that:

  1. Do not care about technology
  2. Were promoted “from within” because they either knew someone or they were just the nearest body whose temperature was higher than ambient and are also guilty of #1
  3. Have an IQ less than their shoe size (US units)
  4. Are unable to delegate
  5. Are unable to pick proper subordinates (invariably they pick people whose IQ is in the single digits)
  6. Due to their unbelievable ignorance, pathologically distrust whatever vendors tell them or (the even more irksome)
  7. Get blinded by inane and irrelevant marketing gimmicks (look, the box can do a million IOPS with 10 drives, yours is nowhere near as fast!)
  8. They just believe whatever the last vendor told them
  9. Do not value the work solid partners do for them – there are truly few people that will actually add value, instead of just wanting to take your money!

I lost a couple of deals recently because of #7 and #8. If you’re reading this, you fully well know who you are. Here’s an example – would you not be pissed if:

  • You educated the customer far more than any other vendor – they freely admitted they had no idea what they’d need and indeed asked you to figure it out and suggest a way forward
  • You analyzed the performance of their environment and properly engineered a solution that will, scientifically, accomodate what they have plus a pre-stated amount of future growth without just throwing product at them
  • You analyzed their actual business needs and where they need to be and provided a plan to get there
  • Used best practices for DR and backups
  • Did it all while being less expensive than the competition, especially when considering the lack of essential features the competition suffered.

And what happens? Next thing you know, they’re picking the competitor that:

  • Is unproven (not even a handful of installs where we are)
  • Does not have useful functionality that they will need a few years down the line (VMware SRM anyone?)
  • Did not educate them – indeed ,recommended plainly wrong “best practices” that could bring an iSCSI environment to its knees (interesting what you hear when a storage vendor has no idea about Ethernet, switching, port channeling etc)
  • Blinded them with things like “look we have more cache” or “our box takes more drives!” (they’ll never need them)
  • Did not do thorough (or any) performance analysis (“looking” at random perfmon data doesn’t guarantee success)
  • Cannot even do replication
  • Did not offer them snapshots or any application awareness for backups and DR

I guess I was outsold. As someone I greatly respect and like but am frequently infuriated by likes to say, “tell them what they want to hear”. Maybe I need to become more corrupt.

So what would an ideal IT higher-up look like? I know I could do the job while being drowned and quartered, let alone in my sleep. But I’d get bored. A few pointers on who you should hire:

  1. Someone with real IT experience – ideally someone that started on the operational side and migrated to management
  2. Someone that not just understands but actually likes and appreciates technology (too hard to keep up otherwise)
  3. Someone that understands the financial and business ramifications of action or inaction when it comes to IT purchases
  4. Someone that understands the value of partnerships! Indeed, someone that already has solid partnerships.
  5. Even if you have semi-competent people within, sometimes it’s better to just hire someone with real experience and not wait till the internal hire figures it out, especially if you have projects on the line
  6. Get someone that understands RPO, RTO and what those mean in financial terms
  7. Find someone that used to work in a large corporation but “just had enough” – their experience is invaluable but they’re looking to go to a smaller outfit
  8. They should be able to sell better than most salespeople that visit them!

I could go on but you get the idea.


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