BOFH: The ONE-NINE uptime solution

Yes, 9%. AAAND the server just crashed... literally


Episode 2

"So what's the problem again?" the Boss asks, lurching into Mission Control like a Dalek with stepper motor problems.

"We're not sure - it's not internet connectivity because we can get to other sites ok, but we're definitely having problems with the email site."

"We shouldn't be!" he snaps back, presumably thinking that a quick statement of the obvious is a corrective procedure.

"Yes, we shouldn't be - but we are."

"So how long till it's back again?"

"That's largely dependant on our email supplier."

"I thought you said this would never happen?"

And there's the issue. When the mail server hardware you're using is so old that all the plastic in the badges (with a vendor name no-one can remember any more) have started to discolour and peel off you know you have a potential problem. When you suggest to Senior IT Management for the third year running that if they're going to save money on some project, perhaps it should be the intranet portal, which does nothing, links to nothing and produces nothing (apart from seething anger in the users who are forced to use it to submit online holiday and sick leave requests), your problem is a little bit larger.

Instead of raging against the machine as it were, I take the moral high ground and point out to the Boss that this problem has occurred because we were forced into taking our mail into the cloud.

I'm not actually against cloud-based email - so long as people understand that split-second response times they envisage are potentially not going to be realised.

It's my own fault for not nipping this in the bud when the portal idea first raised its head. Miles after everyone else had realised that portals were last year's nightmare the company decides that we need one (thanks to a consultant who appeared out of absolute nowhere, made some outrageous recommendations and disappeared like magic before the project could be implemented. [By 'magic' I mean very much like the cement that was poured into the foundations of the building across the road around three-and-a-half years back when the project kicked off.]).

And the project - unlike the consultant concerned - just would not die. You get a couple of senior managers of some departments keen on an idea with lots of flashing lights and potential glory and they'll be throwing money at it like it's a stripper with a vacuum cleaner. And the more money they tip into it, the less likely they are to axe it, so in the end it's a vast black hole of cash threatening to suck the company into the void.

MY cash - destined for good, not for waste.

So when the time comes to invest in a cloud solution to email problems (because although we don't have a capital budget to buy hardware we do have an operations budget they can fillet) we choose the cheapest solution there possibly is. One with what the PFY has called the ONE NINE uptime solution. That's 9 per cent, not 19 per cent.

Support is non-existent, because the 24-hour support lines are run over a proprietary VoIP audio conference platform which - surprise, surprise - has performance issues at exactly the same time as the mail server has issues (i.e. work hours).

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