Levi, Ray & Shoup, Inc.

Radiators, Missed Meetings, and Lifecycle Discipline

5/16/2024 by Patrick Schmidt

I’m not much of a car guy. For me, an automobile is something that provides transportation in an efficient and economical manner. Or it could serve a specific purpose like a pickup truck hauling construction materials or passenger van that serves as a shuttle bus.

Now, I’m not knocking those who love cars and admire their style, their quality construction, and, yes, their speed. I respect those who have the avocation to restore and display classic muscle cars and even those who enhance the performance of factory stock cars. Well, that is except for the loud mufflers.

For the past 11 years, I have driven a minivan. Minivans are not cool, but it’s amazing how much stuff they hold when the seats are folded into the floor. And even though I replaced my brakes more often than I liked, I stuck with the minivan after our children “outgrew” it.

Heck, I even told my family that I was going to drive it until it died on the road. That is one boast I hoped would never come true, but on April 18, 2024, at 2:52pm, my 2012 Chrysler Town & Country with nearly 190,000 miles overheated and died… on the road.

Steam poured out from under the hood and the temperature warning light flashed and rung with urgency. I was stuck. It was time to contact roadside assistance to save me.

In what seemed like record time, the tow driver arrived and offered me a ride back to my home. I accepted and we dodged the ever-increasing rush hour traffic across the Twin Cities.

I was a bit concerned where to go for repair because we moved to a new home last summer and I no longer have the local shop up the street that I trusted. But after asking my neighbors who they use I found another reliable shop and hoped for the best.

What was the total bill? $1008.45 – to find out what was wrong with it. The shop told me the hoses that supply coolant to the rear heater had burst and they couldn’t do a true evaluation of the engine and cooling system without making this preliminary repair.

Long story short, I declined the service and drove the mile and a half back to my home. I decided not to repair because I did not know what else could be wrong and I did not want to end up putting several thousand dollars into a vehicle that was only worth about $3500.

Truth be told, I had not been taking very good care of my venerable minivan. Because I work from a home office, it mostly sat in the driveway to make room in the garage for newer vehicles. I changed the oil less frequently than I should and I can’t remember the last time I flushed the radiator. I’m sure that my lack of care contributed to the blown hoses.

Failures happen at the worst possible times and my van failed me when I needed it most. Because I had never experienced any real “problems” with the vehicle, I always assumed it would get me where I needed to go. Not so on April 18th.

I was on my way to a board meeting for a non-profit organization I serve when I was stranded. It was the last meeting before our annual fundraising gala, and I needed to deliver a preview of my speech to the board. Not a great time to be late or missing. Fortunately Zoom exists and I was able to join while the tow driver handled the driving.

If you’ve read any of my blogs before, you’ll know this is where I relate my personal experiences to information technology. No surprise here – this month’s analogy is obviously vehicle maintenance and its impact on lifecycle discipline.

So, what about your organization? Are there imminent failures lurking in your datacenter?

It is very common in most IT enterprises to pay attention to the primary production systems. But are there systems you have been neglecting because they are legacy equipment or systems holding historical data? Are you performing regular health-checks to ensure the systems are available when you need them?

Perhaps you are one (or more) years past the time to replace your production systems.

Migrations work best when full lifecycle discipline is applied. It is not ideal to be “forced” into a change because equipment is end of service life, your software version is unsupported, or even worse, your application is “stuck” and cannot run on more modern hardware.

The good news is LRS IT Solutions has the subject matter experts to ensure you are up and running on your schedule. We can work to provide the right coverage levels on all your equipment, perform regular heath-checks, and recommend appropriate proactive support. Contact us to find out how the LRS team can help prevent critical downtime.

I need to admit I learned my lesson as I was not able to “upgrade” my vehicle on my schedule – I was forced into it. And, while it seemed like an ideal time to downsize, we bought another minivan. While a Leopard may not be able to change its spots, I did. I purchased the prepaid maintenance plan.

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.