Red Tape Anyone?

December 18, 2008

An important goal for most IT shops, at least most that I’ve been in contact with, is to have their software and/or hardware at high availability. Although outages will happen, why would a company want to prolong the outage? I don’t know either, but it does happen. I for one, think processes and procedures are needed to keep an IT shop running smoothly, but when is it too much? Generally when a company has to present to a committee of what the outage is, why it happened, estimated time of repair and whose fault it was.

Personally I’ve seen these meetings take hours!! When all along the problem is a one line code fix! BUT you still have two committees to go through before you can even push the code to production! After the problem has been explained in 14 different ways to 14 different people and a developer has been sacrificed, NOW you can propose your solution and hope they don’t decide to stone you! (Oh yeah, expect about 14 more questions on your solution) Now you get to do the one line code fix, test and build. (This whole step probably took about 10 minutes)

Then you get to present to a committee who will decide if they want to take the responsibility of building/pushing your code or not. Look on the bright side; this meeting won’t take as long as the first meeting and less questions! Once your one line of code has been built/pushed, now you can test – AGAIN, and present your results to the last committee. At last, your code is pushed to production. This whole process can take anywhere from 6 to 24 hours, but the actual fix (the important piece!!!) took less than 10 minutes!! And yes, you the developer get to work the whole time. This is when processes and procedures, or as I like to call it “red tape” get in the way of what is really important – high availability to the customer.

Here at SoftLayer we know what is important to our customers. We also know that high availability is most important to our customers. As a developer, I personally empathize with the customer when sitting during an outage or downtime. We know how crucial it is for us to keep our customers running their business at ALL times, so we keep our processes and procedures streamlined to benefit us developers and most important our customers. We want to stay away from the saying “we need to cut the red tape”. Working here at SoftLayer, I have now seen both sides and believe me when I say “No red tape for me!”.

Remember a goal of 99.99% availability throughout a year does not leave much room for downtime, so use that time wisely. Whew!!! Just be glad it wasn’t a two line code fix.