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Written By

Jim VanderMey

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Written By

Jim VanderMey

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February 17, 2016

Do you remember the satisfaction as a child of finding the right Lego piece to make that perfect construction,? Or when the snap-together model finally snapped together?  Perhaps it was the satisfying interlocking of the pieces of a jigsaw puzzle with a bazillion pieces and the circumference is complete.

In each case, the right piece in the right place creates a sense of completion that is so tangible you can feel it.  You know it’s right.

Great systems architecture can be the same way.

When you have been analyzing the market for months, and when a vendor finally offers up something that really begins to solve a problem in the industry and it has a capability to solve a thorny problem at scale, it clicks.

When you have been wanting to create a strategy but you didn’t have the right combination of skills and capabilities, when the right people and insights come together around the white board, it clicks.

When you have a very complex combination of business issues, scaling and design and the architecture comes together in a profoundly simple and elegant way, it clicks.

Sometimes, when people share something with me and the discussion ensues that illuminates a problem space deeply, it clicks.

Is it subjective?  Yes.  And because it is subjective, you have to test the assertions and hypotheses rigorously.  You cannot allow bias to creep in and promulgate a problem simply through your force of will where you desire something to be true.

Because the solutions, design or plans are simple; they can easily be undervalued.   I’m reminded of a quote attributed to Oliver Wendall Holmes Sr., “I do not give a fig for the simplicity on this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

The OST Cloud strategy is clicking with the integration of Managed Services for Cloud and hosted IaaS/PaaS for IoT and AppDev.  Microsoft’s Azure on-prem solution is beginning to click.  Helping clients with a roadmap to the cloud, I hear the faint sounds of clickingthere.  And our largest data center clients are starting to ask for help in their realization of cloud benefits (click).

Failures or semi-formed solutions are necessary as we iterate in complex problem spaces because the process of hearing from customers, testing our ideas, investigating the market will allow us to sift the good from the bad and our messages will become more mature and fully formed.   Some offerings will disappear under the weight of low customer adoption, and we will say, “it was good we didn’t invest too much there…” but they will be a rung on the ladder to the place where we will be ultimately successful, if we keep learning and are willing to move quickly, and when it all comes together, well, it will click.

The same processes have worked in the past, I have a long list that I quickly made that reflected on many of our long-term relationships and most valuable customer engagements.

It takes work.  It takes listening.  It takes knowing enough about the goals and long-range objectives so that you know how the pieces should fit together even through the state of the industry or the maturity of OST isn’t where you want it to be.  Great artists do it.  Great architects do it.  Great designers do it.  Great technologists do it.

Click.

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About the Author

Jim VanderMey is the Chief Innovation Officer for OST. Jim has provided the technical leadership and product strategic planning for the organization since the very beginning. Jim is a technology visionary who sets the long and short-term direction for OST. He specializes in seeing the “big picture” of technology, the computer industry, and the business objectives supported by IT. As OST has gained an international reputation, Jim has taught and spoken at conferences in Europe, Japan, and throughout North America.

Jim attended the Grand Rapids School of Bible and Music as a pastoral ministries major, and went on to manage significant scale applications and infrastructures in the healthcare, manufacturing, and insurance industries. He has served as a consultant to many large organizations such as Herman Miller, Boeing, Priority Health, Magna-Donnelly Corporation, Hewlett Packard, Amway, Meijer, Komatsu, Mercedes, Navistar (International Truck), Flextronics, the US Navy and many hospital systems including Spectrum Health, Bronson Hospital, and HealthEast.

Jim has senior level data center skills in performance analysis and systems architecture, enterprise UNIX, reliability engineering, SAN design and implementation. He is a voracious learner and has held many technical certifications ranging from UNIX and Cisco administration through cloud architecture and design. As OST has grown and diversified, Jim has engaged with clients on product strategy, IT transformation, cloud enablement, CIO-level organizational change management, DevOps and IoT program leadership. Creating value by connecting the Data Center disciplines of the past to the Design-centric disciplines to help businesses leverage technology more effectively is a place of special focus for Jim in his recent engagements.

Jim has been heavily involved in OST’s healthcare initiatives where he has leveraged his decades of experience in healthcare, enterprise applications and systems architecture to design high performance infrastructures for the Epic EHR application and the client systems such as VDI for the access tier. He has also been directly engaged with the OST analytics team on assisting customers in the adoption of analytics to create substantial value and new revenue opportunities leveraging Big Data. In this space the combination of architecture, data visualization and design can be used to develop important new actionable insights.

Jim sits on the advisory board for the computer science/IS departments of Calvin College and Grand Valley State University Computer Science. He is an avid reader of all types of non-fiction and literature and most mornings can be found paddling a kayak, canoe or SUP before work. On the weekends, family and serving with his wife Ann at their church is a major focus.

Lastly, we must confess that some of OST’s peculiar culture is a direct derivation of Jim’s unorthodox style.