a long delay

I have not posted in a little while due to being kept significantly busier than normal… I have heard from a few people who actually noticed that nothing had been posted since the 10th and were wondering what the delay was about.

Last week, I was in Texas on a benchmarking trip where I spent two days at Dell in Austin and then a day at Rackspace Managed Hosting in San Antonio.

As a part of a small group of business owners from throughout Canada and the U.S. who were able to take part in this unique opportunity, we spent a day with six senior executives from Dell who spoke about some of their best practices, as well as failures, in managing their amazing growth.

On the second day, we were led on very in depth tours of Dell’s Optiplex (one of their PC brands) manufacturing facility. Most importantly (for me) was then getting a chance to visit their central command station where they coordinate all emergency response to their commerical clients (like Provident), who pay for immediate on-site part replacement for their Dell servers. Given that Dell has thousands of clients like Provident where the importance of immediate response to equipment failure is huge (hospitals, military facilities, financial institutions, etc.) it was very re-assuring to see how they guarantee their four hour response despite hurricanes, black-outs and other disasters.

I have travelled to dozens of central monitoring stations in the past, but was very impressed with Dell’s facility. It is certainly one of the best monitoring facilities that I have seen and I was able to create a list several pages long of ideas for implementation at our own operation centre here in Kerrisdale. After only a few days, we are already working on a few improvements that will serve to improve our own service delivery.

The other company, Rackspace, is located in San Antonio and provides the physical infrastructure for just over 1% of all internet traffic worldwide… which is a very big number. They have been recognized many times as one of the fastest growing companies in the United States and are a great model for many of the inititives that we are currently working on at Provident. We spent half of a day there talking with Lanham Napier, Rackspace’s President, about the things that they have done to grow quickly while taking very good care of their existing clients. Again, a long list of ideas came back with me that we are implementing here.

Two days after I got back into town, my wife went into labour a little early… and by Friday night we were parents of three kids under age 4.

All in all, a busy couple of weeks.

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