Thursday, July 13, 2006

Here is something broken:

We have a software product made by HP called OpenView. OpenView is actually a whole suite of software, encompassing real-time monitoring for servers and networks, reporting and web site optimization, among other things. It is a lot of software, and it isn't cheap.
To give you an example of how not cheap it is, HP actually has a division that shares the exact business model with where I work. Since they expense even internal software purchases, they don't use OpenView because it would make them unprofitable on paper.
So we use it.
Alright, the short story goes like this:
(Company name deleted to comply with the non-disclosure agreement) wants OpenView monitoring. Because no one else has it, they pay licensing and start up costs and fund the full-time employee to run it and cover the support agreement.
Since that is all covered, our company sells the service at a discounted rate to other companies. These companies love it, but eventually we need more licenses and, after a while, it starts to become cost-heavy again. Maybe (company name deleted to comply with the non-disclosure agreement) leaves or decides they don't like OpenView. Either way, it goes from profit center to cost center and people start to get bitchy.
The companies that signed up for the cheaper service still have contracts so we owe them service. However, the support agreement is used up and not funded. Also, the full-time resource hired initially took another job for more money or stability and no one on staff knows the tweaks he employed.
Eventually, someone lands a deal big enough to fund a new age of enlightenment or (more likely) someone has one too many drinks at lunch and deletes the whole installation prompting an emergency purchase order to HP.
Until then, we limp along, barely able to meet our contractual obligations.
Apparently, every year there is a discussion about killing the product and every year someone threatens to sue so we keep it. . . And while we have it anyway . . . Why not sell it to other customers who can later be angry when we can't support it and want to take it away?
I don't know if that is how things work outside of I.T., because I can tell you as messed up as that sounds it is pretty typical.
Do doctors wait for someone really sick with good insurance to pay for new equipment that can be used for other patients?
Do builders use sub-standard materials and tools until someone specifies that they want a building that is completely up to code?
As I've tried to let people around me know, when I become the moral compass -- things are probably beyond saving.
Plans for today include completing a software fix I've cobbled together using babblefish and a German language message board. I hope it works, but I won't be surprised either way.


Andrew Rhodes said...

How the heck do you keep track of all that.....No wonder someone puked in the server. It was an act of self defense.

Pamela Moore said...

Heck, with all that going on it would be a moral imperative to puke in the server. Maybe you can do your part by downing a bunch more diet Coke for your next big prize, then upload hurl into the server.

Take one for the team.

Andrew Moore said...

It's as if Franz Kafka wrote an episode of The Office.