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Technology Lessons from Star Wars

July 25, 2016

It’s safe to say that Star Wars is in the top five of my favorite all-time stories. The one thing that always frustrated me, though, was the Millennium Falcon. It was (allegedly) the fastest ship in the galaxy. But something broke nearly every time it needed to make the jump to hyperspace. What’s the point of having a powerful engine if the components that supported it failed constantly? That’s the point of today’s blog.

 

Only as Strong as Your Weakest Link

 

The old saying, “You’re only as strong as your weakest link,” is applicable to technology. We invest a lot of money in the best tech, but pinch pennies when it comes to the technology that supports the cool stuff we just invested in. We run across it all the time: companies devote the budget to “big” technology and then cut corners to save budget on the supporting technology. 

 

Spoiler alert: The cheap stuff fails. Constantly. 

 

I know– Blame Chewie!

 

Poor Chewbacca. The Wookie co-pilot on the Millennium Falcon was always getting yelled at when stuff broke. But by all accounts, Chewie was a great engineer– he was just supporting crap components. Didn’t matter, he always seemed to be the Wookie who took the heat.

 

When the cheap stuff fails, people are shocked. Managers and leaders fret about how much budget was spent on a system that constantly breaks. “What do we do?” And then a smile creeps across someone’s face, “I know. Let’s blame our managed services provider.”

 

What’s that? Never happens? We run across it quite a bit. We then show partners the fail rate of their components’ is 100% higher than the fail rate on slightly more expensive supporting equipment. 

 

We can play the blame game all day, but there’s a familiar saying: “You get what you pay for.” And in the case of supporting technology, it’s no different. 

 

The Real Value of Managed Services

 

Here’s a secret: a managed services provider (well, the good ones at least) don’t make money when things break. We make money when things hum along. There are providers out there that will only charge on a break/fix basis. But guess what their incentive is? To make sure there are broken things to fix! Do you think someone who charges on a break/fix basis has any real incentive to create long term solutions?

 

When our team has to dig in and constantly fix things, it costs us money. Our efforts are put in to long term fixes because the less we have to engage? The more we make. Our incentive is to make sure your system works as designed, all the time. 

 

So when we tell partners to replace those cheap, failure-prone components? We’re not doing it because we sell hardware (side note: we don’t sell hardware!) and get a nice commission. We do it because it’s the right thing for your long-term stability. Because your best interests align perfectly with our best interests. We both want your system to hum; you want a partner who has the same goals as you do. 

 

You have a choice to make. You can continue to be like the Millennium Falcon. You can invest in a great hyper drive that’s (allegedly) super awesome and then use cheap components to support it. Or, you can spend a bit more on the supporting components for long-term stability. However, if you go the Millennium Falcon route? You better be prepared to keep your system glued together with Wookie fur and duct tape.

 

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