When asked to improve, what is ITs obsession with the dream of total automation of everything?
Is it the ultimate exercise in black-and-white thinking? Given the reality of countless failed automation efforts marked by dead-bodies, is there a better middle road?
This basis of my ensuing posteriori-logic-trap becomes especially apparent when one begins to peel away at the thin veneer that obscures the complete failure of IT at large to operate in the realm of the scientific method.
In my dictionary, automation merely consists of defined practices, values and expected outcomes committed to code. But I have found that in the crucial connective fascia between; Project Management, DEV, QA and Ops, IT often lacks substantive specification, accurate documentation which often yields non-deterministic untraceable outcomes (action x and y caused effect z).
Ok, this may be a pretty harsh statement, but one that is borne out of over 20 years in IT, working with hundreds of IT organizations that struggle to accurately articulate either the goal or the definition of IT operations. If nearly every implicit destination defined below those two map coordinates is off by even single digit percentages and we consider the length and breadth of the IT journey, not to mention the height of the weeds we can get caught up in, well let’s just say chronic ITFAIL pain is both aft and on the horizon.
In the great book, Why Smart Executives Fail: And What You Can Learn from Their Mistakes the classic story of GMs “must replace labor with robots” fail is told in brutal hindsight. The lessons are clear but are an order of magnitude harsher when one considers the lesson that history has now taught us. Not only was the money they spent on those automation efforts lost to their deficient consitency of practice (automation just accelerated their rate of failure) but they could have purchased Nissan, Toyota, Honda and maybe even Mazda with the money they squandered on robots.
Only after years of trial and error have manufacturers struck a balance between automation and human involvement. Shigeo Shingo, the first person to document the Toyota Production system author of many amazing books including, Kaizen and the Art of Creative Thinking - The Scientific Thinking Mechanism, formalized this approach by refining the Japanese concept of Jidoka or Autonomation. Simply put, Autonomation is automation with human intelligence. This is the direction we need to explore in IT for our command and control systems.
To help define just where the intersection and labor divisions should best occur there are several Toyota Production system terms that are worth investigating as a path to improving your shop’s performance
Muri - Overburden - Is every day an exercise in futility? The email piles up the issues escalated, phone calls from execs, standing daily or weekly outage conference calls? Is your IT organization behind or stuck on projects? How many of these precious business projects are missing their commitment dates, over budget, under resourced because your team is overwhelmed with unplanned firefighting and drive-bys?
Mura- Inconsistency - Routine tasks and changes are like roulette with a two out of ten ending in unexplained failure that consumes your brightest staff for hours or days? Is patching or upgrading a fearful event which is marked by all knocking on wooden or even wood veneered objects and the presence of a shaman or holy person to ward off evil fail spirits?
Muda -Waste-All of those operating expense dollars lost to firefighting, audit corrective action drive-bys, shadow IT projects, unauthorized changes and root cause analysis meetings that take weeks to recommend the same trifecta of we need more budget, more staff and more time to focus on proactive tasks?
Right now many IT organizations are looking at Muda or waste in order to drive down costs. I posit that understanding Muri and Mura would be a much more valuable use of time and ultimately will reduce waste and increase IT throughput
Inevitably the solutions recommended by IT teams to these issues will involve automation or tools. This is not all bad, but the focus should be on building more deterministic ways of working for humans and considering where automation may help humans interact with their IT infrastructure more consistently.
This process of self reflection or Hansei is important fuel for Kaizen (continuous improvement). It becomes essential to distill all of the undesirable symptoms of overburden, inconsistency and waste and understand the few root causes that drive them all.
Did you know that the “Just In Time’ concept was pioneered by a group of Toyota Employees? These Toyota team members were lead by Taiichi Ono on a trip to the US in the 1950s to visit US auto manufacturers . They journeyed to Michigan and walked through Ford plants and were generally unimpressed by the high amounts of inventory they required to operate and the variance in labor output from day to day.
During the visit they stopped by a Piggly Wiggly grocery store and were amazed by their inventory replenishment system that only requested new items when they were sold. From this focus on Kaizen and Hansei they developed what later became the famous Just-In-Time philosophy that has become a pillar of the Toyota Production System.
It is not merely enough to improve in this economy, we are faced with the imperative of only improving the most important functions so as to quickly improve execution and IT throughput. As we set out on our journeys and investigation of other practices let’s make sure we are attacking true root causes of overburden and rework not just merely their undesirable effects.
I think that the Toyota Production System offers us many valuable insights in to building better IT. I find the thinking behind the system to be more enlightening than the practices. I encourage you to view all TPS, Lean and “Best Practices” in this light. Often the answer to “why” is more important than the “what” IMHO.
I will be writing more about the intersections of TPS and IT. I will be focusing on universal principles, that draw from Goldratt’s Theory of Constraints work, Steven Spear, Taiichi Ohno, Shingeo Shingo, Deming and the 10 years of research Gene Kim and I have done around IT high performance, in the coming weeks.
Have you ever read “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering“?
If so you are a rare bird (or over 45) in today’s tech zoo.
I wish I could drop this book (among many others such as The Goal, Critical Chain, The Machine that Changed the World, Great Boss Dead Boss, and Chasing the Rabbit - see the right side column to buy them!) out of airplanes and organize study groups with my IT; operations, security, audit, project management, executive management and yes especially development brethren.
I was reflecting on this text and several other seminal management books I have collected over the years and I decided I needed to write a series for my blog on this topic. As of late Gene Kim and I are working on some amazing projects for fun and exciting internet 2.0 companies. We have been writing a new IT management novel with George Spafford (think “The Goal” for IT) , and helping a bunch of IT shops solve the quality, reliability and cost reduction realities that have now become must-do (all at the same time mind you).
Just yesterday we began working with long time collaborator and joyful subversive, Eileen Forrester, from the Software Engineering Institute at Carnegie Mellon University.
We are shaping up a few writing projects for the newly released CMMI-Service model. Eileen has been in charge of getting the new model released on time and has actually over-performed and it is out much earlier than expected for the first time in history.
I relish the opportunity to exchange ideas and approaches for improving the delivery of services with folks from all sectors of the economy (especially those disciplines outside of the IT world).
Many of these industries and business disciplines have a long history of systems design and improvement that reads like rich history.
Where is this similar lineage taught and practiced for IT today?
As I work with many IT executives and teams around the globe I often find myself wondering if the collective “we” has forgotten more than we have learned up to this point.
For a community that not only leans towards scientific interest our entire profession exists on the shoulders of science (knowledge and technology are the output) so little of the way we actually do IT is built on the scientific method or around what I have dubbed the “System Building and Continuous Improving Arts” (SBCIA). We often are just reacting rather than treating every request as a hypothesis and making sure we have built a repeatable response that correctly satisfies all of the implicit assumptions in the request.
To better explain what I am talking about I will use the Japanese term RYU, which denotes the flow of water. The idea represents formal Japanese traditions such as the Martial Arts. In Karate fluidity and finding one’s path are compared. Water will find its own path in balance with the terrain it is surrounded by, just as the Karate student must advance through his or her path by practice and training.
Bringing me to the point of my concern in this post…
Much of “the path” for IT practitioners and managers of all levels travels through the acquisition and appropriation of myopic technical domain knowledge (yes even auditors). In other words “what we must know” so “we” know how to react in a given technical situation”.
What is missing? What we need to understand holistically (see) to decide how we should work together as a system . This information is both timeless and too time consuming to amass through trial and error in our own life experience. The old adage applies here “Time may be the best teacher but it kills all of its pupils”. In order to amass the collective wisdom about how to see the work in order to build an effective system to do the work, we need the collective wisdom of our predecessors and our current community at large. We also need to look outside of our industry and find analogs to improve our execution, quality and safety with larger and scientifically validated levers. Stop chasing consensus based “Best Practices” and start purpose-building systems around scientifically proven practices.
There is much room in IT to build a new flow of knowledge about the “System Building and Continuous Improving Arts” (SBCIA). This economy is shaping up to be the ultimate Dojo for us to do so. Let’s just say performance is no longer optional but survival is.
So pick up a copy of “The Mythical Man-Month: Essays on Software Engineering” and start a study group and learn from your ancestors. Create a culture of Kung-Fu, a Chinese term that means “individual accomplishment or skill cultivated through long and hard work” . Set the tone with your team and define skill from a systemic and improvement standpoint rather than merely a technical one.
Check out the books in the far right column on this blog to find a handy DOJO compendium to get you started on this journey. If you are serious about improving IT flow, reaping the drastic cost savings, increases in project execution and infrastructure reliability that result, feel free to contact me about mentoring and staff coaching. It really does make a huge difference!
If you have stumbled upon a nugget on your journey please let me know I am @kevinbehr on Twitter - join the conversation!
*Put down the Blackberry. Step away from the Blackberry please.”
When I read this article about Obama’s Blackberry use, I rolled my eyes at some of the intellectual stretches it was taking. While I agree with the premise and I do certainly understand the Blackberry-jones (nervous separation anxiety and the compulsion to thumb it when the little red light blinks) premise, I was far more interested in the work that Gloria Mark was engaged in.
“When Gloria Mark, professor of informatics at the University of California, Irvine, shadowed employees at two high-tech firms, she found that the average worker spends only 11 minutes on any given project before being interrupted and asked to do something else. IT workers have it worse, switching attention every three minutes, on average.” - Newsweek Magazine, 2/16/09
Over the last ten years, Gene Kim and I have been inside of and benchmarked hundreds of IT organizations, conducted numerous research studies and written a LOT about this very topic of unplanned work. We have come to believe that, largely, IT management as a whole has not built an effective system for “Doing IT.” This study from the University of California dovetails with some of our findings from benchmarking nearly 1000 IT organizations.
Namely, the first finding that Unplanned Work, which by definition is the IT equivalent of task assignment by drive-by-shooting (fire-fighting outages, urgent security patching or compliance related work, essentially anything that takes a worker off of the planned task list of things that are important) is virtually non-existent in high performing shops compared to everyone else. This is evident both by the low amount of it (expressed as a percentage of labor opex often as low as five to ten percent, compared to the rest at twenty to fifty percent of labor opex lost to heat) and by the advantage high performers have over everyone else in project execution. High performers get up to 8X the projects done, 14-16x times the infrastructure changes with one-half the change failure rate. Also, their mean time to repair an outage is as low as 1/10 the time of low performers! All of this creates higher availability and the ability to execute more projects in a more controlled manor with less negative business impact.
Oh yeah, did I mention that they do this with as little as 1/4 of the system administrator staff when compared to low performers?
By building an effective execution flow system it is not only possible, it is probable that you will outperform your competitors and actually help your company meet its goals.
Over the last ten years Gene and I have learned:
1. Constant fire-fighting and uncontrolled change weakens infrastructure and creates security problems,
2. The hero culture that ensues accelerates the rate of outage entropy because little information and visibility in to the known good state exists for others to draw on,
3. Your best and most talented people are stuck on the fire-fighting line instead of solving business problems,
4. Your ability to demonstrate proof of compliance diminishes with the more outages you have,
5. More fire-fighting = less project and planned work = less credibility with business peers = shadow IT = failure,
6. This can all be fixed by building a system based on Flow and controls. No, I am not speaking of a never-ending-death-march of process analysts and skies darkened by consultants. I am talking about building a deliberate discovery based system that illuminates what is actually happening versus obscuring it. This type of system learns from every mistake and seldom repeats the mistakes made in the past.
Sound interesting? If this is the direction your organization wants to move - Dramatically Lower Cost structures, Drastically Increased Project Delivery capability, and Rock Solid Reliability, then contact me here and let’s talk about how we can help!
We are currently doing just this for some of the most advanced and largest IT operations in existence today.
You can download the PDF of the article here. This is a great overview of Visible Ops for execs. If you want to talk to your boss about adopting Visible Ops, ITIL or just some of the concepts in the book. This document is nice and portable and has pretty colors (hint: execs love color).
If you are interested in improving your IT organization’s ability to focus on and complete planned work, such as projects and proactive info sec work, feel free to contact me here to find out about the workshops, benchmarking and briefings I do to help get folks started!
I loved the early hours at the office. They were even better after I found out about my own private coffee machine and secret stash of amazing bean. It was day 3 on the job in my new role and as I gazed out over the gray and cloudy horizon of my office windows, I felt a strange rush of adrenaline. Maybe it was just the coffee, but I felt a charge of voltage in my chest today. I had entered the proverbial lion’s den yesterday and walked out with a pretty satisfying victory. Not many execs have the facts to call each other’s behavior out. I had not only caught my peers red-handed circumventing the rules, I had the data to prove that they were part of the problem that necessitated those very rules.
Still I knew that until we cleaned up the IT side of the street the cadre of spinning project-plates was in real danger of crashing to the ground all at once. It’s one thing to call foul on my business peers; it’s another altogether to solve the problems that forced them to break the rules in the first place.
When IT gets in the way of the business as bad as this shop has, successful executives (especially the type-A variety) will circumnavigate the obstacles and go direct to the folks that deliver. I had merely put everyone on notice of one part of the problem by stopping the pressure against the outer walls of IT. Now I had to figure out why we had so much work in progress but so little being completed.
I picked up the phone and pressed the speed dial button for Rob, figuring I would leave him a voicemail to come see me when he arrived in a couple of hours.
“Good morning sunshine.” He answered.
“Ha-ha, Good Morning Rob! What are you doing here so early? I figured I would leave you a voicemail.”
“Since you started I have been here every day at 7am and plan on it until you start coming in later. I overheard you walking through the office on day one muttering to yourself about how no one is here on time and everyone is gone at 4:59. So if you are here, so am I.”
This delighted me beyond words. I do not equate long hours with high performance, actually just the opposite, but I knew I needed at least two hours a day of undisturbed planning and reflecting time and I was usually out of the office by 6:00pm anyway. I really liked this Rob guy and it felt good to have a partner that not only had my back but was at my side when I needed it.
“Great news Rob, you just made my day. Now get down here stat. We need to plan.”
“Be there in a sec Chief.” And we hung up.
Sixty seconds later Rob knocked on the open door of my office and walked in.
“What’s on your mind?” he queried as he pulled up a chair in front of my desk.
“I have been thinking about the meeting yesterday and how we had better come up with a plan to clean up our side of the street in this whole project situation. I feel like I can hold back the water from my peers for a while but I need to get our execution up to par. ”
Rob was nodding with every word
“Yeah you were fun to watch in the board room yesterday, but if you don’t feed the sharks some meat they will turn on you out of pure hunger. By the way you did realize when I gave you the list of 100 active projects from my discovery interviews they were in addition to the 39 approved projects?”
“You have to be kidding!” I exclaimed.
“I wish I was, Phil. I even combed the list and found any projects that were really just tasks or sub-projects that belonged to an approved capital project. So that list is fully in addition to the approved list. Your team is working on 139 projects. ”
“Wow. This is not a small number” I reclined in my chair and let out a loud exhale.
“How do you let things get this out of control?” I wondered aloud.
“This place is amazing, I have never seen anywhere like it.” Rob chuckled.
“I wish that were true, Rob. It is depressingly all too common. Every shop I have been in has struggled with this very issue. Some worse than others, I will admit but I think this number of projects may take the cake. I mean, how does a CIO get so far removed from understanding what is actually going on inside his own shop? ”
“His door was closed a lot. His two lieutenants were essentially yo-yo’s for his peers. I mean they were the spinning end of the yo-yo and the VPs were working them. You have some issues with these two guys. I think they are underwater and have no idea what they need to be focusing on. You need to deal with this quickly. You have a clear vision of what needs to happen and in many cases they are telling your team to do things that fly in the face of your intentions.”
I knew Rob was spot on here. Not only were they often clueless but they were doing a lot of harm to both the credibility of our department and themselves. I had already been confronted on day two of my post by two of my peers who made it clear they thought I should cut both of them loose to pursue other career options.
I really believed that my VP of IT ops and VP of Engineering meant well but I also knew that they were threatened by me, by the mere nature of my position, and plans to bring sunshine to the way we were working. In every conversation I had with them, I noticed the deer in the headlights look in their eyes as I further painted my plans.
George Spafford has built an amazing resource with his Yahoo news group. Read by executives in; audit, IT managemnt, the C-suite and consultants world-wide he provides some great information and links thought-provoking articles. Highly recommended!
I arrived at the boardroom five minutes early so I could get my thoughts together after the nearly 2 hour barrage of background information from Rob. A week prior I had also asked him to account for each IT department’s workload across projects and support related activity. While doing so, he had gathered some very interesting data. From the budget worksheets I pulled a list of approved and funded IT capital projects, of which there were nearly forty, but the list of project activity from the IT team was alarming. If I was reading this right there must be over a hundred IT projects in progress. My mind was instantly flooded with synapses. Where were these projects coming from?
I thought that having forty capital projects was overload, but over a hundred was just ridiculous. I now had proof of some serious shadow IT going on. The question wasn’t who in the boardroom was guilty, but rather, with this number, who was innocent! I started to make tick marks against projects outside of the approved list that were easily attributable to marketing, finance or operations just so I would have an idea of who the worst offenders were. I did this until the room began to fill with my peers.
We were all waiting on Paul, our CEO, when I overheard our CMO, Skip Sorrenson, complain about IT being in the way of his marketing data warehouse project. He wanted to hire new staff but I had told HR to hold off on any new IT hires until I could figure out who and what were needed. According to Rob, this project had been a money pit since day one and had sucked up millions of dollars in capital and had distracted at least a dozen team members between marketing and IT for over five years. The kicker was that it had delivered zero value to the company. I knew this was a touchy subject with all and that I would need to get my arms around this project and rescue it fast.
“Ok everyone, sorry to keep you waiting, my call with the street went a little over. I had to explain our crazy high EBITDA again for the third quarter in row. Thanks Skip.” He joked dryly to a chuckling-murmur in the room. Skip was obviously a rising star in the company and due to his marketing prowess we were enjoying unprecedented quarter over quarter profits.
I heard the conference room door close and noticed my Deputy CIO slip into a chair along the wall in the back of the boardroom. I told him that he should be here in case I needed backup and to document any deliverables I might get assigned.
“None of us has any time to waste, so let’s talk about IT projects. Everyone here knows Phil, our interim CIO, by now. Phil I know you haven’t had much time but can you give us an update on the major capital projects? I would like to know, first of all, how much of your capital allotment budget has been spent, where the completion status is for the projects, and then answer any questions anyone else might have.”
“Sounds reasonable” I replied confidently, although not sure why.
“Well it is now the third quarter and we have spent less than 25% of our capital budget. I have some serious questions about the way IT projects are run and why our completion rate is so low. I certainly understand the concerns, regarding IT project effectiveness that many of you raised during my one on one interviews with you a few weeks ago.
It seems that we have far too many IT project planes taking off and landing with little to zero tower oversight. I compiled a list of 39 approved capital projects, most of which are major, by the way. I then sent Rob McNunzio on a bit of a skunk works project to see what my team was actually working on. The results are preliminary but it looks as if the actively worked project list numbers well over 100.”
I made stern eye contact with all of my peers shooting the I-know-you-are-killing us-all look, followed by a smile.
“Truthfully I was going to come to you today and say that this list of 39 capital projects needs to be prioritized and paired down to 10 major projects and 5 mid size projects just to get things under some sort of control. But after finding out about over 100 projects being active I would say we have a fundamental problem here, and by here I mean in this room.”
I had just thrown down in my first senior leadership team meeting. I had the worst performing department in terms of credibility and satisfaction ratings, I was in my post less than a week, my department was in the way of company strategy execution, and I had just went type-a on a bunch of sharks…in the shark tank.
It’s a gorgeous orange and blue hued morning as I look out the west facing glass of my spacious corner office. I walk behind the cherry desk and return and sit in the Herman Miller chair. After fuddling with the controls I get the chair to fit me correctly.
I open up my laptop and begin to connect the power adapter and arrange the desk.
“Hello?” I am startled by a voice from the door, which I had apparently failed to close.
“Good Morning!” I replied, if not a bit too enthusiastically, I thought.
“My name is Mariah Hansen and I am your assistant. Can I get you anything?”
Mariah was certainly not hard to look at and that was a perk. Now I needed to figure out if I could confide in her. The role of interim executive is often not a popular one. When a senior leader moves on from a company it can create some serious uncertainty amongst the staff. I made sure that everyone knew that the previous CIO had asked me to take over after he left. I had met with every peer of the CIO to establish a social rapport and let them know I was here to serve. I had attended company holiday functions and been entertained by the President and also by the divisional CEOs. But I have found that IT staffs are often the hardest to win over. I have found that many feel a new CIO will fire them and bring in their own dream team. I knew that the only way to convince these folks was by painting the path we needed to get on and earning their credibility day by day.
I walked over to the door to shake Mariah’s hand.
“Great to meet you Mariah, I am Phil Chairs. I would love to get some coffee, but I haven’t been able to find it.”
She laughed musically “We have our own machine.”
I figured an IT department of nearly 800 people, in this location alone, would have its own coffee break room.
“Could you point me in the right direction? I need this stuff to get going.” I smiled.
“No, I meant you and I have our own machine! I have one of those pod machines that makes amazing coffee one cup at a time. It’s in my cubicle towards the back next to the color laser printer. The coffee pods are in the locking shelf above. You can just email me or call and I can bring you a cup anytime you want.”
“Wow, I love that idea Mariah. Consider yourself emailed then. I need two cups, and do we have any half and half?”
“Coming right up! Oh and we should talk before your Leadership Team meeting this morning. Paul, your boss wants to get an update on all IT projects and their status. Now before you panic I have already got all of that information for you. I put a folder in your basket that has the printouts. I have also had your new deputy CIO, Rob McNunzio, put the data into power point slides that are waiting in your email. Look all of that over while I get you coffee and we can chat about your scheduling this week when I bring it to you.”
“Sounds great. Thanks so much! See you in about fifteen then.”
As I walk back to my sleek cherry desk I find the bulging folder of project updates and begin to leaf through it.
As I sit down I wonder if this data is accurate. When was any of this was audited last? What is our project management process, and who was in charge? Who managed the budgets and performed the plan updates? What kind of oversight was currently in place? I needed my right hand man. I reached for the phone and buzzed Mariah.
“Hello, office of the CIO this is Mariah”, she answered.
“Hey it’s me again, could you get a hold of Rob and have him meet with me after you and I are finished? I need to get answers to some questions before the leadership team meeting.”
“It would be my pleasure. Is that all?”
“Yep, thanks Mariah.”
After going through the project Gant charts and looking at the slides Rob had created I had many more questions swimming in my head. I pulled out a yellow legal pad from my briefcase and began listing them out as they came.
1. Is there an established PMO?
2. Who are our project managers?
3. Who controls the purchasing for capital projects?
4. Who reports on status?
5. How many projects are on the docket?
6. Who prioritizes them and how?
7. Do we have a project methodology?
8. Who is in charge of resourcing and time tracking?
9. Who is in charge of the financial side (tracking capitalized labor, P&L reconciliation, etc.)?
10. Who manages the project risk issues?
11. Why are so many of the large projects at 80% completion with more time left than has elapsed?
Just then Rob knocked on my door sporting a huge grin.
“Good morning, Chief.” He joked dryly
“Morning Rob” I cracked a smile.
“I guess we should talk about this circus of projects. Mariah just called me and I was relieved. I didn’t want you going in to a bloodbath this morning. You need some background and history on the key projects or else you will look like a wounded fawn in there to those jackals. Believe me, you have a couple of guys, namely the CFO, Dave Williams, and the CMO, Skip Sorrenson, that will go type-a on you and try to assert dominance so they can horse-collar you like they did the last CIO.”
“Nothing like a friendly meeting of the leadership team” I thought aloud.
Follow the high-paced adventures of international interim CIO for hire, Phil Chairs and catch a rare glimpse inside the corner office. Become a fly-on-the-wall in the boardroom, carefully contain auditors, watch Phil masterfully lower marketing’s expectations and attempt to coach his CEO through cutting the capital project list in half while single handedly gaining funding for IT test and staging infrastructure.
This irreverent weekly blog novella from Kevin Behr, coauthor of Visible Ops and consultant to CEOs, CIOs and CTOs, will make you laugh, cry and hopefully, feel some sympathy for the IT-big-guy.
Make sure and RSS this blog so you won’t miss a single installment!
I rounded the corner adjacent to the break room and overheard what started as a distant, dull roar and bloomed into a full on verbal cacophony as I peered inside the door. My nose immediately detected the smell of burnt coffee and some sort of Indian food in the microwave. It was not an appealing combination. The noise was emanating from one our helpdesk managers, a guy that I recognized from an audit, and two folks from information security.
I could not make heads or tails of the conversation except that the auditors wanted to know why there were so many helpdesk workers with the ability to grant administrative privileges to IT staffers without a clearly defined approval and decommissioning process. Apparently there were more exceptions to the policy than actual IT workers. Man, I did not want any part of this. If only they knew how many shared admin accounts I had with the creds tucked away in my cranium, they would all have heart palpitations so bad they wouldn’t even be able to steady their little hands to write an urgent doomsday opinion letter to management.
I decided I would actually rather get robo-coffee from the vending machine than even walk through that fray so I backtracked and headed downstairs to the vending room.
As I approached the row of machines I spied Dick Majors arguing with the candy machine. Dick was our VP of Marketing and a major pain in our collective IT posterior.
“Hey you’re an IT-guy maybe you can make this thing give me the Baby Ruth I paid for”, he vented.
“Well let’s just say we have both met our match. I call that machine the bully. It has stolen more lunch money from me than any actual bully I ever knew. You are pretty much screwed, I’d say.”
“Hey, so how are you guys coming on the new web property launch for corporate? I keep getting told there are all kinds of technical issues and they are being blamed on network and security engineering. What’s your take?”
My internal klaxons are ringing at 120db and my prefrontal cortex just went to maximum self control status to prevent a major career-threatening verbal miscue of stupendous proportions.
“You got me on that one sir. I just found out about it two days ago when the developers went rogue and somehow overran data center security and were actually installing apps on servers without any change approval or ops guys in the loop. The only reason I know that the roll out was happening is because they called my desk when they ran in to problems.”
“Really?” He shrieked.
“Your boss said he had you clear the way for them and that you had set all of the firewalls and other network gear up for them over a week ago and that the servers were done three days ago. Are you telling me this is not the case?”
Crap. My prefrontal cortex had just panicked necessitating a cranial reboot. This was not the time to tax my caffeine deprived brain.
“Well the network gear was set up, although I did not realize it was for this project. I still have the servers to complete. They should be easy as soon as the dev and staging team tell me what they need them to do.”
In the back of my head a growing sense of foreboding met up with a wave of nausea as I realized there was no way the launch would work. No one had ever told me what I was setting the gear up for. All I had done was set up interfaces, vlans, routing, and trunking. There were no rules permitting the traffic to and from the various segments the dev guys had mentioned. I had to get out of here…… and fast.