There’s a saying – “there are no Atheists in foxholes” – and I have to confess that most of my conversations with God tend to happen when I’m working on a downed server. But that’s not the type of Religion I’m talking about. Same word, same meaning, different context, makes all the difference. Religion, by definition, is based on faith; and faith, by definition, is a belief in the absence of proof. In the world of IT, Religion in anything other than small amounts can only hurt you.
This has nothing to do with God, or Allah, or Yahweh; no, the Gods of IT are Microsoft, Apple, Linux, Google. The demigods are HP, Dell, Cisco, Sun and their like. We’ve all been exposed to it – or even gone through phases ourselves. How many times have you heard that “Micro$oft is evil” or “Macs don’t get viruses” or “I’d never buy a Dell desktop” or similar statements? It doesn’t even have to be a brand name; it could be a solution “VPN always sucks” or “hosted email is teh bad”.
Religious IT folks fall into two groups: Evangelists and Inquisitors. Evangelists just love their product/brand/widget. It can do no wrong. Purchasing their product/brand/widget will solve all your IT problems, and cure cancer at the same time. Anytime a Facebook post goes up with a “I’m having problems with X” – they respond with “You should have bought Y“.
As positive as the Evangelists are, the Inquisitors are negative. They don’t have a favorite God – but they do have Devils. When their Devil shows up, the Inquisitor goes into attack mode. They’ll list, with great enthusiasm, all the bad experiences they’ve had, or have heard of, with Product X. They will continue to do this even when it’s clear that the other individual may have a significant investment in Product X.
Although one group is positive, and the other is negative, both have the same trait in common. Both tenaciously stick by their opinions despite actual facts or proof to the contrary. We -all- have our technical prejudices, our likes and dislikes, and our favorite products. But the best IT workers are those with a full toolbelt. And at the end of the day, everything is really just a tool to get the job done. It does you, and your firm or clients, a disservice to turn a blind eye to either the positives or negatives of those tools.
We also all know that IT is an ever-shifting landscape. A product can be absolute trash at version 1.0 and a worldbeater at 4.0. This concept applies to companies as well as products; at times, there’s a leadership change with different priorities; sometimes the company is sold to someone else who doesn’t care as much about feature X. Hard and fast rules that “X always sucks” or “X is always the best” go counter to how we know the industry works.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned in IT – and it may well be only one – it is that every firm has a slightly different feel, a different approach, a different environment, even if the differences can seem very small. And there’s very few “this fits all scenarios” types of solutions out there. To be assured that you’re best serving your company, or serving your clients – leave your Religion at home.