Terrorists or freedom fighters in corporations


Political spin particularly in corporations who should know better is something that always gets on my nerves, currently one of my clients is moving to an outsource model for everything , this has come with a new CIO and is expected as every director wants to stamp his mark on the enterprise, this time there are some bits that are new to me, the particular one that gets my goat is:

“High operational risk due to dependency on few individuals” errr that was because these were specialists that dealt with the products day in, day out for years and knew not only the products but the underlying business and can identify and fix issues in minutes, even seconds, as a business side colleague pointed out, if this was in brain surgery rather than high finance, the suggestion that there are too few proper brain surgeons and they cost a too much, so we should give the work to ordinary doctors, would cause an outcry,

It only works in a corporations because the people issuing them don’t actually understand what their business REALLY does, yes its bad for redundancy purposes and horrible for the day to day running cost to have specialists, but the reason it looks like an easy target is because there have been no problems so everyone thinks the work is simple to do,

This problem was exemplified by an issue in which a instance of Jboss on Redhat became ill during a end of day run and would not restart with the normal scripts we had written, the cause was not a code based one, it is a dedicated box that does nothing else, and we were in a time sensitive situation, the new support personnel (who have been in the role for 8+ months now), were completely at a loss as this scenario was not on their sheet of “how to do stuff”, a suggestion of “Restart the bloody box”, was treated with blank stares and a question of “which script is that”,

It took over an hour to even get them to mail the hardware administrators to get them to do a restart of the physical box (something they could have done them selves in 2 mins with a “sudo Reboot”) , all in all nearly 2 hours of run time was lost making the business very unhappy, this is not intelligent support!!, this is not an improvement!!!, I would say that we now have even higher operational risk than before as we have NO individuals that we can depend on .

To conclude, the support and growth of any business is a balancing act, if you only have 3-4 line people then day to day its very expensive (often unjustifiably so), but you most likely wont ever have a major disaster, if you only have 1-2 line people, then day to day it will be cheap as chips, but when a change is needed to fight off your competitors or deal with a major disaster you will face a sea of blank expressions all saying “that is not on my script sheet”

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