Tuesday, April 14, 2009


Last week the meeting invitation for the weekly Monday morning staff meeting contained a special addition.
What, it was asked, was our problem.
What hinders our progress? What gets on our nerves? What process halts progress?
I thought about it most of the weekend, since not having a problem outside my control firmly places the blame for any future shortcoming firmly in the area of "my fault". That, unlike every other area of my life, is an area I strive to keep completely clutter-free and spotless. Even if that means I have to just put down new carpet and stomp the lumps flat.
Anyway, the meeting progressed as normal until ten minutes from the end when the discussion began about calling the meeting off early and getting back to work.
But I prepped! I never prep!
"Hang on!" I looked up from my doodle of aliens attacking a tank,"You asked what we would change and I have an idea!"
All eyes turned to me.
"I did some research and learned a little local I.T. history. Eight years ago there were fifteen servers and less than a thousand workstations. It was decided that these machines would be patched and upgraded on Sunday nights between 5pm and 9pm. And everyone was happy. Today, there are three thousand servers and almost seventeen thousand workstations. The outage and upgrade window hasn't budged. To make matters worse, everyone shares this Sunday night outage window. If we patch something and run into issues, the email server is down and we can't pull up contact information for the application owner. If we finish up at nine and want to submit our time for the week, we can't because the mainframe is down. Also, the volume of servers and perceived time-compression makes everyone rush through everything at a time when we can't contact anyone to test before starting the business day on Monday morning."
In retrospect, I should have spoken with my team before voicing this. I didn't ask anyone their opinion and I didn't spend any time examining the feelings of my fellow geeks.
Also, change doesn't happen here overnight. Obviously, the outage window is set in the stone of corporate procedure somewhere in a loose leaf binder labeled "The Way Things Are". The fact that that binder has a picture of the original Knight Rider on it has little bearing on anything.
Side note: Mr. Hasselhoff, how about releasing another album here in the states? I think Americans are desperate enough for it to work now.
Anyway, five hours and sixteen minutes after leaving the meeting, my concern was addressed by management in an email to the team.
Our outage window is from 5pm to 9pm n Sunday nights. However, if we don't get it all done we can also patch at any other after-hours time provided we send an email to the Change Management Office.
Effectively, the whole week is an outage window now, if we want it.
Speaking as an hourly consultant, I can only hint at the number of new pairs of backless business casual shoes in my future:

No comments: