The reporting capabilities of RMS’s products are pretty good. And before you stop reading, this blog isn’t about how good they are; it’s about the things these reports can’t tell you. Yes that’s right, someone being honest about their own products’ shortcomings.
I can get a nice set of graphs showing free disc space on my servers. A breakdown of the computer systems by Operating System, with a pretty pie chart, presents no problem. And a report of Incidents for all our Customers, highlighting any that are close to breaching targets – very easy.
All of these are very useful, but illustrate a fundamental failing of all the traditional reports – you have to know what you’re looking for. In all cases you need to know what you need to know. In the words of Donald Rumsfeld, at the time United States Secretary of Defense:
“There are known knowns; there are things we know we know.
We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know.
But there are also unknown unknowns – there are things we do not know we don’t know.”
It is these “unknown unknowns” that are so difficult to find. For example, a graph of Incidents by Operating System over time might reveal a sudden rise for one particular Operating System a few weeks ago. This would prompt you to investigate, and discover that a new Service Pack was rolled out at the time of the increase in Incidents. Now you know you have a Problem, and you can start fixing it.
But why would you look at such a graph?
Modern Business Intelligence (BI) systems allow you to search for this type of information using freeform English – so called Google-like searching. A search for Weekly Incident Counts could suggest (amongst others) the graph above, and point you to an unknown unknown.
So do you use BI or are you like Bono? Cue music
“I have climbed highest mountains
I have run through the fields
Only to be with you . . .”
Follow Alan Jones on Twitter: @AJatRMS