How complexity spilled the oil


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Notice for regular readers (thanks!) I did not write or influence this headline in any way. If you follow the link you will see it is all the work of one of the most authoritative sources global research companies, Forrester, via the, ever reliable, Computerworld who will keep you up to date on IT and general “geekery”.

If the subject matter looks familiar that is precisely because IT IS! I have written about this specific incident in the blog on several occasions and from a couple of perspectives, going back to the days when it wasn’t fashionable NOT to have a daily dig at BP and poor wee Tony Hayward: a man whose, now legendary, gift for miscommunication, could have been learnt at piñata finishing school!!!

They had just placed themselves, respectively, in the positions of “Big bad Corporate” and “sacrificial lamb” for an outraged global population and US administration desperate to find someone to BLAME. WE already suspected that so much of that rhetoric was about deflection…we ALL knew, from the collapse of global banking, that, when it came to Corporate activities, regulation was a fallacy, only an effective smokescreen and that risk management perceived a mere drain on potential profit and bonus potential…therefore tax revenue!

Current societies…are characterised by their extreme complexity at a moment in history in which traditional political institutions have lost much of the power, a power which has now passed into the hands of multinational companies with their relocation strategies. In this situation, a growing deregulation can also be observed which, in turn, redounds in the appearance of new risks and uncertainties.

Ulrich Beck

The best any of us concerned citizens could hope for was that this incident would be, not so much a disastrous oil spill as an inglorious watershed.

The Gulf oil spill of April 2010 was an unprecedented disaster. The National Oil Spill Commission’s report summary shows that this could have been prevented with the use of better technology. Read more of this post

Enormous cost of IT failure: $500 bn per month – complexity often cited as culprit!


In a recent whitepaper titled “IT complexity: Danger or Opportunity,” Roger Sessions calculates that each year the U.S. loses $1.3 trillion to IT failures. Worldwide it equates to $500 billion per month or $6.18 trillion. Sessions says the culprit is almost certainly IT complexity.

Whether the figures are accurate or not the message is clear: Prevention is key because the price of failure is huge

Problem: there aren’t many companies ready, willing or able to invest the kind of money required to replace existing systems.

Answer: monitoring and maintenance…but who (in their right mind) doesn’t already do this?

It does rather appear that costs of the magnitude that, prior to the virtual collapse of global financial markets, were (almost) exclusively the domain of playground fantasy are being spent of “shutting the door once the horse has bolted.”

Solution: a reliable and proven means of mapping, monitoring and managing system complexity with inbuilt “crisis anticipation”…Ontonix

In the following example we refer to monitoring an IT system within a banking environment. Often, due to a mish mash of legacy and bespoke systems, amongst the most complex and, therefore, vulnerable. At the other end of the spectrum lie systems associated with Call Centres (link).

Experience: Major Polish telecommunications providers turn to Ontonix – Polkomtel acquires licenses of OntoSpace and OntoDyn.Plus

Existing clients

image Swisscom is Switzerland’s leading telecoms provider, with 5.7m mobile customers and around 1.8m broadband connections

Real-time Monitoring of IT Systems (Bank)clip_image002 IT systems in banks are extremely complex dynamical systems, composed of disparate hardware platforms, disk, routers, software applications, and are accessible by the bank’s customers via the internet. Clearly, the correct operation of a bank’s IT infrastructure is of vital importance. Real-time monitoring of the complexity (and fragility) of a large IT system may be used to issue early warnings to the system’s managers, helping intervene before the systems reaches a state of crisis.

The following graphic is not specific to IT or telecoms. systems but highlights some of the consistent and verifiable results of our unique research into system complexity. Our technology is in use in a wide range of sectors including Banking, Mining, Medical research, Healthcare and Air traffic control to Computer aided design and petrochemical manufacturing.

Principle of Incompatibility

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