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Jerry Bishop uses his experiences on a submarine to illustrate some best stress test practices that all of us can use in IT. The first tip is to "rig for silent running": in the sense of a sub, this means going slower, securing loose obje

IT Stress Test Lessons from Submarines

Jerry Bishop uses his experiences on a submarine to illustrate some best stress test practices that all of us can use in IT.  The first tip is to “rig for silent running”: in the sense of a sub, this means going slower, securing loose objects, and avoid unnecessary activities. In the IT world, Bishop is referring to slowing activities, avoiding changes in operations, and only doing essential work. In other words, processing standard requests but perhaps not enhancements. This would allow you to understand what work was absolutely necessary (used during “silent running”) and what work wasn't, allowing intelligent decisions on what work to decommission or reassign. There is also the “ultra-quiet” test: For an IT department to rig for ultra-quiet you would effectively suspend all operational support services and projects  unless they were vital to the continuation of the business. If it wasn't required to sustain life, fire your weapons, or track down sources of noise you just wouldn't do it. If a CIO were to rig for ultra-quiet for a year, like going on life support, just how much could be cut from the total cost of IT? This is another IT stress test. Other tests include the Test Depth and Crush Depth tests: how far can your IT department be cut and still be able to “get back to the surface” when needed. For the IT Crush Depth test, determine at what point of cutting back your IT staff, services, and processes the IT organization would implode. While the origins of Bishop's suggested exercises may be a bit unorthodox, the value of them is apparent: CIOs can certainly benefit from knowing what work is essential in their organization, how well they could survive with only core work to do, and knowing how much the IT group could be cut down before failing.

About Anne Grybowski

Anne is a former staff writer for CAI's Accelerating IT Success, with a degree in Media Studies from Penn State University.

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