The joys of computer management data analysis
Summary: why do we enjoy computer management? One of my biggest answers is the joy of data analysis. Computer management involves a ton of diverse data, so the opportunities for data analysis are practically unlimited. That's part of why my joy continues unabated after 12 years of SMS work, and nearly 20 years of computer management.
I talk to a lot of computer techies, and occasionally the topic of retirement comes up. For a surprising fraction of techies (surprising to me), they can hardly wait for retirement, even if they're young. I have trouble understanding that. Why are they in a field they don't enjoy? Why don't they enjoy IT? How can they look forward at most of their life and not be enthused? Obviously a big part of the problem is that they're missing out on the joy of data analysis!
My earliest SMS memory is poking around the SMS database and finding the central table. It linked to all the other tables, directly or indirectly, making SMS 1.x possible. That was my 'eureka moment' for SMS. I'm not sure I can entirely explain it, but at that moment I knew SMS was the right product for this stage of my career.
In many ways data analysis is like exploring the world. Columbus, Cook, Kirk, and a large number of other explorers could relate, at least to the general principle. You have a general idea of what the world looks like, but until you poke around enough you don't know what you're going to find. Sometimes you find obscure inconsequential details, and other times you find whole new opportunities that will rock your world. When you bulid up a good map of your world you can accomplish great things.
In the case of SMS, exploring the data can tell you a lot about what your organization is all about. Where are the computers? What do the users use? What kind of data do they create? You can see a lot in what is actually out there. Theory is one thing, your data is the truth (if properly collected and analyzed).
But SMS data is also often about SMS itself. How fast did the patches get out? How successful are the software distributions? What client versions do you have? When is your inventory data being loaded? On and on it goes.
Then there's the joy of reconciling data. If one report says one thing, and a similar report says something different, why is that? That will inspire you to better understand your data (and your reporting queries). If you can't explain the discrepencies, then your missing part of the story, and quite probably important parts of the story.
If you look at my blog, you'll see evidence throughout of my enthusiasm for data analysis - so many queries, observations about data, insights about views and tables, etc. Hopefully I'm not overdoing that side of my take on computer management. But at least now you'll understand why I hit that side of things so often.
p.s. In the spirit of full disclosure, the truth is that I enjoy analysis generally. But analysis beyond data analysis is problem analysis, and that means you have to start with data collection (for good problem analysis, IMHO). I do plenty of that but it's more work so it's not as much fun as data anlaysis. And on rare occasions you can properly analyze problems without data, but only in cases such as philosophical problems, and unfortunately that work doesn't pay well. Of course you could improperly analyze real problems without good data, but who knows what kind of results you'll end up with? So data analysis is the best form of analysis. Bring on the data!