What time is it? Money saving time!

Epoch

Today marks the beginning and the first full day of Knowledge 2017 for me and 15000 other ServiceNow enthusiasts. Either due to excitement, time change, or the fact it’s harder for me to sleep though the night, I woke up early this morning and glanced at the clock to see just how early I had beat my alarm, and was shocked to see it was already 6:00. I then thought to myself how how dark it was outside in Florida for 6:00 am. It’s not a vastly different latitude in Florida than it is in Texas, so something seemed out of the ordinary. To be sure I wasn’t losing my mind I checked my Fitbit and quickly became confused. It’s 4:00 in the morning according to my wrist and through the fog I realized that perhaps the time on my Alta didn’t adjust to the time change. I needed a source of truth and needed it now. Do I have another hour to sleep, two hours, or am I late for breakfast!?

What time is it

For the record, it was 5:00 and I did end up sleeping another hour. As I tried to drift off to sleep again I started thinking about one the most enthralling subjects I could come up with; CMDB. Thinking about CMDB is far better than counting sheep. Just try it next time you’re having difficulty getting back to sleep, trust me. But what I was really thinking about was how three different sources of what should be the same data were so wildly different and how ultimately I had to choose one to trust. I ended up choosing my phone because it is connected to the network and syncs to a network based time source that is synced back to an atomic clock somewhere upstream. It also has enough intelligence built in to adapt to changing conditions like my current location and time zone, and then automatically present the time accordingly.

Preference

While I was at dinner last night I noticed my peers from EMEA had time displayed in 24 hour format on their phones. Same time, just shown differently. That’s their preference and that’s how they have customized their display, but still share the same single source of truth. They connected to the same network and updated to the same upstream time even though they were half way across the world. The time being displayed on my Fitbit is another example of changing the view, but not altering the data itself. It was showing me time from my home time zone instead of my current location which I actually prefer that so that I know what time it is when I text my wife at night or in the morning. Being able to generate a customized view of the time data seems to be important to folks.

Who’s job is it?

What about the clock on the nightstand? That was a time source that was updated manually long ago and didn’t get updated when the time when DST took effect this year. Twice a year in this hotel, hundreds of clocks have to be reset. Think about how long it takes you to run around the house and update all of the clocks you have at home. Since it wasn’t my clock I didn’t feel like it was my responsibility to keep accurate. Hopefully the housekeeping staff will notice it today and update it, but for the rest of the conference I’m using my single source of truth for time. My phone.

Quick Math

Let’s assume the housekeepers do update my clock. How much does that cost? According to the Orlando Sentinel (http://www.orlandosentinel.com/business/tourism/os-cfb-cover-orlando-hotel-growth-0411-20160407-story.html) there are 45.6 million rooms in Orlando. Let’s do some quick math. If it takes housekeeping staff 5 minutes to change the clock in the room we are talking about almost 95 million dollars in lost revenue. (25K per year equates to about 12.50/hour or 1.04 for 5 minutes work. 1.04 x 46.5M rooms twice a year = 94.8M) That’s 95 million dollars each year that is lost to changing the time on a clock in just a single city!

Single Source of Truth

CMDB and CI’s really aren’t different from the experience I had trying to figure out what time it was this morning. Frequently there are multiple sources of data in an organization that your teams are levarging to answer their own version of “what time is it”. Engineers are maintaining their monster spreadsheet of CIs, there is a tool that is scanning and populating a list of workstations that the desktop team manages, a feed is being synced from your vendor which populates assets as they’re ordered for the finance team, and depending on who you are and what you have access to much of this data may not match or might be redundant. How is the effort spent collecting and collating all of this data returning any value? It’s not. How can you expect your teams to trust this data? You can’t

Atomic Clock

The solution is to define a single source of truth and make a cultural shift that encourages the entire community to leverage that database. Essentially you need to designate the “phone” to answer “what time is it” in your environment. Build your CMDB on a platform that can adapt and change. Have a feed from a vendor? Federate it. Need to import a scan done with another tool? Sync it. Have legacy content stored in a database? Import it! Need to customize the presentation of your data? Now that it’s stored in centralized database so you can generate views for any user that accesses the system. If you want to maintain trust you need to keep the data accurate. Manually population doesn’t work as we saw with the nightstand clock, so instead automate the population with a discovery tool so that you won’t have stale data. Assign ownership of your CIs to “housekeepers” so that nobody can claim it wasn’t their responsibility. Everybody shares the job of maintaining data integrity.

No more middle of the night panic over what time it is! Sleep easy.

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