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The Storm Before The Calm

December 18, 2018

We wrapped up our testing call at 10:00pm tonight. The engineers will keep at it for another couple of hours, but my testers part was finished up early. And by early, I mean, “before midnight.”

I sang in church on Sunday. It doesn’t happen often, but my lovely wife was responsible for putting together a group to preform a medly of Away In a Manger and Baby In a Manger. I’m a reasonable tenor. I’m more of a baritone.

Fortunately, I don’t get performance anxiety. We rehearsed a few times and we were definitley ready. The meeting starts at 1:00pm, but we would be performing around 1:45. Unfortunately at about 1:10 my phone started blowing up. Something was broken at work.

I normally take the call when something breaks. I’ve taken calls in the back of school auditoriums as my kids performaned on stage. 7,000 feet up the side of a mountain because I had a clear signal and something broke. And on Sunday, I took the call in the middle of Sunday services. Services where I was on the agenda.

Okay, I didn’t take the call. I did take the text and email.

I’m not going to be able to join the call for an hour. Send me the impact counts.

It’s the time of year. This is the storm before the calm. IT companies rarely work over Christmas and New Years. Maybe we all got burned out in the run up to the Y2K events of December 31, 1999. And despite what you may have heard about IT overblowing the seriousness of Y2K, it really was as potentially devastating as your IT guys said it was.

Anyway, the fact is that IT guys typically don’t work over the holidays. Many IT departments take the last two weeks off. And you might think that the slow time is a good time to get maintenance done.


IT departments implement a freeze sometime in mid-December. The exact date various depending on the company. It generally starts anywhere from a week to a few days before Christmas. During the freeze, no changes are allowed on the network. No regular maintenance is allowed to be scheduled.

Obviously things can break, and when they do, emergency maintenance typically needs to be approved by a senior vice president.

The goal is to keep the system as stable as possible through the end of the year. I think they need it so that accounting can run end-of-year reports. Those reports are super time sensitive. At least I think so.

The point is that we have this Freeze to look forward to every year. The downside of the freeze is the time before the freeze. Most IT departments work on an annual timeline. Q1 starts in January. Q4 ends December 31.

Many projects need to be wrapped up before the end of the year: that does not mean December 31. It means whenever the Freeze starts. So, every year the Freeze starts. And every year the weeks leading up to the Freeze get really, really busy. Typically it ends on January 2.

Our performance on Sunday went off flawlessly.

I expect at least a couple more outages or last minute maintenance events over the next few days. We’ll get through it. We always do.

After all, this is just the storm before the calm.

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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(c) 2018 Rodney M Bliss, all rights reserved

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