My grandfather was born at home in the Benawah country of Northern Idaho. I have a friend who is a midwife and helps modern women have babies at home. Everytime I’ve watched a movie where a baby is being born at home, people are frantic. The midwife or doctor is preparing for the deliveyr. The nurse or helper is fetching and carrying. The mom is trying to push and not die from pain. Everyone has an important job to do. The dad also has a job and it’s always the exact same job: go boil some water.
I suspect that despite the hackneyed Hollywood aspect of it, there was a good reason for assigning the dad to boil water. And it had nothing to do with the water.
Much of my job is involved with computer system outages. My system outages fall into two categories. First are the outages that are my fault. And by that I mean outages that are caused by my engineers, or my agents. When I am on an outage call for these type of issues, I’m very involved. We have to first identify the problem system. Then, we have to analyize why it’s broken. Next, we devise a fix for it. The fix is implemented and finally we have to validate that the fix worked. I’m involved in nearly every aspect of that process.
The second type of outage is one that is caused by our client. My agents use the client’s systems and databases. If one of those systems goes down, the client has to follow the same process to get it fixed. The issue for me is that I don’t have access to the client engineers, or their systems. We spend a lot of time sitting on a phone bridge waiting for updates.
However, on every outage, at the beginning, I’m given the exact same job: gather impact counts.
And impact count is a record of how many agents are staffed and how many are affected by the current issue. I might have 300 agents, but only 10 are having trouble opening the Widgetcounter tool. Or, I might have 10 agents assigned to a particular line of business and all ten are having trouble opening the Widgetcounter tool. When you consider I have 4 sites, and several dozen different lines of business, the maxtrix to find the number of agents impacted for each line of buisiness is pretty big.
The impact counts let us know how widespread the issue is. However, they really aren’t necessary to determine that we actually have an issue. Occasionally, on a particularly long outage, the client will ask me to get “updated” impact counts. I can’t help but hear, “We need more boiled water!”
NOTE: Truth in advertising – Two of my lovely daughters are expecting babies. One in April, the other in August. . .You’ll find me and my son-in-law with a pot of water at the stove.
Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. His blog updates every weekday. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife, thirteen children and grandchildren.
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