Data Center Management by Continuous Partial Attention

This audio was created using Microsoft Azure Speech Services

Stop. Before reading any further, think about the number of computing and communication devices you have within arm’s reach of you right now.

Finished? …

I have (in no particular order):

  • The laptop I’m using to write this blog entry
  • My Blackberry
  • A desk phone
  • An iPad

At any given moment any one or all of these devices may make a sound or provide a visual queue indicating some new bit of information requires my attention.

… OH! Sorry, hold on … it’s my Blackberry … three vibrations and three beeps. My daughter just sent me a text message … brb

I’m back. Where was I? Oh, right … I am surrounded by devices and software and apps that are all designed to keep me connected to important elements of my work and personal life, simultaneously, at all times. It’s become so incredibly easy for me to stay engaged without all that bothersome distraction of intentional and often tedious multi-tasking.

A visionary thinker, writer and consultant by the name of Linda Stone coined the term “Continuous Partial Attention” to describe this mental state that many of us have adopted, and some openly embrace, where we are intrinsically motivated by our desire not to miss anything. In her own words, “We are reaching to keep a top priority in focus, while, at the same time, scanning the periphery to see if we are missing other opportunities.” It’s an excellent characterization of …

<blip> Oh! Sorry again … an Instant Message from my boss, Kevin … I’ll just ignore him for now.

It’s an excellent characterization of my connection with these technologies around me, but where her interest is in studying the health implications of being continuously on “high alert,” my interest lies in making sure our Data Center Management software delivers the right information to the people who need it using all the technologies available in the typical user’s arsenal.

My honorable intention is to make sure that the information we deliver is timely, relevant, and actionable such that, when our software does capture a moment of that partial attention you have, we empower you to avoid crises of a more physical – dare I say, career-ending – nature.

It’s for this reason that we like to engage our customers in our software development, both as direct participants in the definition and development stages, and through the feedback you provide us once you become a user of our software tools. Our data center management software provides the robust functionality you need when you have the time and attention to determine where you can place that new high density zone for an optimal balance of reliability, and power and cooling efficiency. It should also respect your time by taking the initiative to let you know when you may have some problems to address, clearly, and with a goal towards maximizing your efficiency. But otherwise it should operate silently and diligently, continuously surveying the real-time state of your data center physical infrastructure, so you can get on with the dozens of other things you need to do today.

<ring> “Hello, Hugh speaking. No Kevin, I wasn’t ignoring you…”


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