One of my favorite hospital CIOs is a man named Will Weider, CIO of Ministry Health Care. He’s also a fellow blogger that started blogging about the same time I did at Candid CIO. Plus, he’s just an all around thoughtful CIO. He sent out the following tweet which highlights “3 scary changes” that it sounds like were happening in his hospital system.
3 scary changes: Cisco core switch firmware upgrades; SAN upgrades; and interface engine version upgrades.
— Will Weider (@CandidCIO) October 16, 2013
I agree with Will completely that each of these changes is extremely scary. If something goes wrong on any of those things life in the hospital won’t be the same. The real problem with many organizations is that they kind of forget about these type of regular “plumbing” maintenance that’s required. They’re so busy working on their EHR implementation or dealing with ICD-10 that they forget that the backbone of their computing environment needs upgrades and maintenance as well.
In many ways we’ve reached a point where we just kind of take these things for granted. We assume that the internet line is just going to work and that the Cisco switches in the closet down the hall will keep working like normal. We assume that our applications will have access to the data on the SAN (Storage Area Network). Most people don’t realize that’s even happening since it’s all done in the background. If you’ve ever dealt with an interface, you know the problems that are caused when the interface has issues. Another thing we just take for granted.
I hope we can be reminded of these scary IT upgrades that we rarely talk about. It’s not sexy to write about the latest firmware upgrade to your core switches. However, if you don’t handle it well, you’ll be dealing with the downright ugly situation called network downtime.