House cat vs Lion: Personal laptop vs Business IT

Sam has a cat that he calls George. He’s had George for about seven years. Each morning, George will bump against Sam’s jaw and emit a throaty purrrrrt sound to wake Sam up and remind him that it’s time for breakfast.

Sam dumps a cupful of dry food into the red dish near the refrigerator, and as George starts to crunch away, Sam yawns and bend down to pick up the silver water dish to refill it. As he puts it down, he scratches George behind the ears before he turns on the coffee maker.

When Sam arrives home from work, and he sees the carnage of one of his houseplants strewn across the living room rug, he knows that George did it and that he’ll be hiding in his favorite corner, tucked into an impossibly tight ball between the leg of the couch and the wall. With some coaxing, George will slowly emerge and watch balefully, tail twitching, as Sam quickly cleans up the mess. The two have a happy relationship, broken houseplants notwithstanding.cats

That weekend, Sam decides to go to the zoo. He stops in front of the lion exhibit, Panthera leo. Two lions, a brother and sister, gaze at him with eyes that remind him of George’s. A zookeeper asks if he has any questions about the majestic creatures

“Oh yes,” says Sam, “I’m glad you stopped by. I want to let you know that I have a cat of my own, and I’m very good at cleaning up his messes and feeding him and keeping him happy, so in case you might need any help with the lions, which are really just big housecats, just let me know. I’d be happy to lend my expertise.”

The zookeeper laughs. Sam frowns. The zookeeper stops laughing suddenly. “Oh, I thought you were kidding,” she says, with an uncertain smile on her face.

“It’s the same thing, isn’t it? My cat. The lions?”

“Oh no, sir. No. Not really at all. They may look the same in a lot of ways, but their behavior and working with them is wildly different, and the strength and speed of our lions here should be respected.”

Think of the housecat George as your computer setup at home, and think of the lions as the computer setup at your business. They may look the same, with one just bigger than the other, and while there are some similarities, taking on your IT system at work with the same tools that work for your computer at home would be like sending Sam in to feed the lions.

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