One of the questions that I often wish would be asked by potential new clients, but never gets asked is: what’s the difference between being re-active and pro-active when it comes to mission critical technology? This isn’t always an easy question to answer, but I believe I’ve got a very good analogy that makes the point easy and fast to understand.

You and a companion are walking along a well-traveled, wooded trail near a river. As you walk along you suddenly hear splashing, thrashing and someone yelling for help coming from the river. As you break through the tree-line to the edge of the river you see someone in the water who desperately needs assistance. So, you and your companion jump into the river and pull the drowning person from the water to the shore. As you’re calming the person you’ve pulled from the water and suddenly hear a commotion coming again from the river. As you look across the water you realize there’s another person coming into view who is also having a great deal of trouble, so you and your companion charge out into the water to retrieve this second person from the water.

Upon getting the second person to the shore you’re struck by the sound of a third person in distress. Now you begin to wonder what in the world could be going on that is causing these people to be falling into the river. You turn to your companion and announce that you’re heading up river on the trail to see what’s going on that could be causing these folks to fall into the river. You leave your companion to retrieve anyone else that might appear in the river and head up the trail. After traveling a short distance you find a place on the trail that is very close to a fast part of the river and has washed out by a storm. From your angle the danger is clear, however as you navigate to the other side you realize that the dangerous part of the foot path is hidden by the bushes and undergrowth growing over the washed out section of the trail.

Just then you hear more people approaching on the path and quickly warn them of the danger on the path. At this point you contact someone to alert them to the danger as well as place something across the path to divert foot traffic from the washed out section to prevent anyone else from falling into the river.

In this analog finding and pulling people from the river is reactive behavior whereas moving further up the trail to find the actual cause of the problem and then doing something about the problem is akin to pro-active behavior. Where technology is concerned having eyes on mission critical hardware and software on a regular basis affords the opportunity to see and catch things before they become a problem which will impact productivity.

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