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The “Winter” that Winter Forgot

Last Wednesday into Thursday, February 14th to 15th, it snowed about 5 inches at my home in the Twin Cities. So, you are thinking, what’s the big deal? It’s February in Minnesota and that doesn’t seem so unusual. But, this year, it is. Let’s take a look back.

Meteorological Winter is considered December through February. Astronomically speaking, it is calculated as December 21 to March 21. This year, we thought we were in for a serious, old fashioned Minnesota winter when it snowed about 3 inches on October 30th. As the trick-or-treaters began showing up through newly shoveled walks on Halloween, I thought “Here we go again.”

But it was not to be. That snow melted and the next round did not arrive until several days after Christmas. It has been warm – very, VERY warm.

Usually, my neck of the woods sees a subzero temperature reading sometime in early December and we experience a spell of brutal temperatures sometime in early February. This year, we stayed in positive territory until Saturday, January 13th when the mercury dipped to -5°F overnight. Except for the week that followed, temperatures have been well above normal.

The winter I thought would be brutal was shaping up to be a real snooze-fest.

According to the Weather Underground, December 2023 went down as the warmest on record with an average high temperature of 40°F near my home. Okay, okay, for those of you down south that may sound cold. But our normal average high is about 29°F. And we had really warm days like the 24th. It was 55°F. Weird doesn’t begin to explain it. I wonder if Bing Crosby would be dreaming of a “brown” Christmas?

So, what happened when the snow did fly last week? Minnesota residents had apparently forgotten how to drive in adverse conditions. But the poor condition of the roads was partly to blame.

We all knew the snow was coming but being nearly 30 inches below normal for the season meant that snowplows had been idle for nearly two months, snow shovels were gathering dust, and bags of ice-melt were left unopened. Our storm response skills were rusty and untested.

Most years in Minnesota, city public works budgets are strained by the triple-threat of freezing rain, blowing snow, and subzero temperatures. Fortunately, the “winter” of 2023-2024 has been easy on the pocketbook.

The quiet, dry, and warm winter has presented a danger, however. We have been lulled into “complacency” and failed to respond adequately when necessary. The risk of being unprepared could be lurking in your enterprise as well.

Regular readers of my blog are thinking: “there he goes again, relating some part of an ordinary event to lifecycle management.” In my defense, I dedicated a quarter of my blogs last year NOT talking about my job. You can check those blogs out here, here, and here.

In this case, I believe my analogy holds up. Just when we think everything is going swimmingly, we risk drowning.

When was the last time your company reviewed and tested its disaster or cyber-attack recovery plans? Would you be able to meet your Recovery Point Objective (RPO) and Recovery Time Objective (RTO)? While most have an “idea” of what these are, few have the infrastructure, processes, and procedures in place to meet the demands of their enterprise. If it has been a while, it may be time to look at recent developments by IBM that ensure a return to service with its Cyber Recovery Guarantee.

If an asset in your datacenter failed, would it be replaced or repaired in a timely manner?

Analyzing and implementing appropriate service levels (SLAs) may not be “sexy”, but the devil is in the details when it comes to ensuring your enterprise stays up and running. Knowing that you have appropriate SLAs on your equipment gives you peace of mind and can even save you money. Is it time to review where you stand with the LRS Lifecycle Management Review?

Finally, what about your team’s skills? Sometimes you can “sharpen your saw” with training to build your internal proficiency. However, there are times you need supplemental services. Our organization offers deep expertise in Analytics and AI, Security, and Infrastructure for one time engagements, or long-term services.

Make 2024 the year you triumph over IT complacency and contact us to find out how we can complement and enhance your own staff. After all, keeping your enterprise running smoothly can be like preparing for and reacting to the changing weather. Today’s forecast high in the Twin Cities is 43°F, rising to 58°F on Sunday. I have my shorts ready, but you’d better believe I still know where the shovel is.

Patrick Schmidt is a Technology Lifecycle Management Specialist with LRS IT Solutions. For more than 27 years, he has been helping customers get a firm grasp on their asset and contract management with a combination of comprehensive service level analysis and lifecycle management best practices.