In my last blog, I wrote about system High Availability (HA) and mentioned the word “resiliency” a couple of times. I described how resiliency improves the probability our systems are fully operational 24/7 and improves our chances to recover quickly from a technical issue. It improves our ability to overcome challenges even when we have not defined the cause of an issue.

Data Centers

I don’t remember where I first heard the saying but it still rings true: “If you only have one, you have none”. Failover is one way of achieving high availability (HA). In our case this involves dual data centers with hardware redundancy. My wife still wonders why I buy two of everything that I feel is important.

Resiliency also means change. We recently updated our Secondary Data Center, and the Engineer and Project Manager on the project sent me the following note that I wanted to share with you all:

“Reaching out as we get your Data Centers Infrastructure near the finish line. It’s been 6 years my friend, and the State is in a much healthier place than when we all started. Over the past 7 years, you’ve led the methodical modernization effort of the State mission critical infrastructure – the people and things that insure we work. Much has happened to be proud of. Pandemic – nailed. Statewide work- from-home – no problem. Service continuity – uninterrupted. Service consolidation – streamlined. Service/Help desk – strong. Server/Storage/Network and Physical infrastructure – resilient. Services for the State – a north star to guide other states.”

Data Center 1

Resiliency is also a tremendously positive personal characteristic. I have never willingly read a book on psychology, but my daughter has a master’s degree in social work and analyses me and everyone else in the family, so I feel like an expert—or an experimental rat. If she finds out I mentioned her, I will probably be re-evaluated. In college, I did mistakenly take a psychology class thinking it fulfilled my humanities requirement, just to be informed by my faculty advisor (thanks Joe Popp) after I finished the class that I was supposed to take sociology. Big mistake as the sociology class was a lot easier. But, from both experiences, I learned how to define character traits.

Resiliency refers to the ability to recover quickly to adversity or change. Resiliency is life-strengthening. Every day in technology we face some type of adversity or challenge. Research suggests we must deal with adversity and failure daily if we want to get better at something and enhance our learning. If that is true, Technology workers must be the smartest people ever. Everyone is afraid of failure, but to be successful in our business, you have to learn to deal with it, and, when possible, minimize it. We complete Problem Reports (PR’s) to learn from our past mistakes and focus on the positive aspects of solving an issue. We try a lot of things that don’t work, but we don’t let it bother us. Like Ted Lasso says, “Be a goldfish,” because they only have a 10-second memory.

Data Center 2

Why is any of this important? Because if we want to become successful in life, we must be resilient. We must keep moving and looking forward even when were frustrated, and we must understand that effort is more important than talent. Every setback that we experience paves the way to our success. I never learned a better lesson than when I have failed at something. That is why experience is the best teacher. I was told recently by another ex-State CIO that everyone thought I would never succeed in the public sector and asked me how I did it. I told them that I had to learn to become a leader in a new way. I realized my private sector leadership style would no longer work. I recognized early that my long-practiced leadership style had to change in order for me to be successful.

Resilient people are realists that, when faced with difficulty, either on the job or outside the job, have an inherent ability to improvise a solution.

As always, I appreciate your efforts to provide quality services to the State and the Citizens of Nebraska!

Ed Toner