There’s no NIT in IT services - Don’t cut your provider any slack

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It's been an interesting March for many of us. And things just haven't seemed the same. If you're a college basketball fan ... and here in North Carolina, you'd better be ... you know that the North Carolina Tarheels didn't make this year's NCAA tournament. Yes, they had an impressive win in a failed bid for the NIT championship, but no Final Four. No Elite Eight. No Sweet Sixteen. No nothing. It's the first time in 27 years that's happened.

To be fair, many of the Tar Heel faithful are pretty understanding. It's relatively easy to do that when your team won the national championship the year before. But let it happen again, and chances are pretty good that Coach Roy Williams will have a lot of ‘splaining to do.

In the same vein, you can think of your IT service provider as coach Williams, and you're the Tar Heel fan. Except you're not willing to cut him any slack at all. Nor should you.

You have a lot more riding on critical issues like uptime, security and throughput than mere bragging rights. And unlike the Tar Heels, if your infrastructure goes down, you may not be able to say, "Wait ‘til next year;" there may not be a next year.

You and your providers must be constantly vigilant, watching and anticipating. For your service providers, that means around-the-clock monitoring of your network from various perspectives including security, storage and applications. But you're not excused from doing any work. Quite the contrary.

While your provider may be able to ensure maximum uptime for your infrastructure, you need to remember that something as important as a disaster recovery plan is only part of a wider business continuity strategy.

So, firstly, you need to develop a strategy. Then test it. And test it often with input from your provider; remember, even the best plans may need constant tweaking to adjust to changing conditions.

Companies that allow their plans to become obsolete may be in potentially worse shape than those that have no plan at all, because they'll have placed their confidence in a plan that may not work at the precise moment they need it to do so.

My guess is that Roy Williams is already planning ways to make it back to the top of the ACC next year and back to the Big Dance. (NIT stands for, "Not Invited There," right?) In the meantime, you shouldn't guess whether your infrastructure and your company can withstand a disaster. You should know the answer.