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Essentially Useless

July 16, 2019

I normally don’t set an alarm. But, I also don’t normally get up at 3:45 in the morning. But, today wasn’t a normal day.

What is a normal day, anyway? If a “normal” day means “like most other days” that’s kind of boring sounding. Today wasn’t boring.

I arrived on site about 5:00AM. I was planning for 4:30, but yeah, I guess I’m not really a morning person.

I was at our location in Louisiana for a migration. We have to update 600 computers over the next three days. Meanwhile, the client will migrate, or “flip” our agents. If a “flipped” agent sits at an updated computer, they can log into the new version of VMWare, a program that allows my clients to log into a virtual desktop on the client’s system.

This is our forth and final migration.

I once took an airplane ride. Well, I’ve taken a lot, but on this one, after we’d taken off and started to climb to our cruising altitude the captain come on and said,

We’ve now completed the most dangerous portion of journey.

The most dangerous portion of our migration is the the very beginning of the first of the three days. We cannot upgrade the computers until after the agents log off. And once we do the migration, only “flipped” agents can use the migrated computers.

But, if we screw up that migration piece, if we miss a step in the install, the agents won’t be able to log in. We’ll have to redo the migration. It takes a couple of hours.

We start taking calls at 6:30 in the morning. Our desktop engineer needed to be there at 4:30. Two hours. The math was simple.

That explained why the desktop engineer needed to be there. But, why was I there? I was essential. And useless.

The engineer was running a set of scripts. The scripts had been written and tested multiple times. They were the exact same scripts we had used at the previous two sites. They were not the same scripts we ran at the first migration, but you learn from your mistakes.

I was not going to be able to run the scripts. Honestly, I don’t even know the names of the scripts or the commands to launch them. I wasn’t going to be any help with that. If the scripts failed, I wasn’t going to be able to help debug them. I might be some help if we had to try to do the upgrade manually. We did that the first site because the scripts weren’t working.

But, lots of things would have to go wrong for us to switch to manual. It would represent a big problem. I wasn’t expecting one.

No, I wasn’t there to do anything. I was there to be. I was there to be a support. I was there to be a representative from management. I was there to be with the engineer while he did the work.

It was my call to ask our engineer to get up at oh-dark-thirty and come into the site to work. The least I could do was show up and put in the time that I was asking him to.

So, there I sat. This morning, well before the crack of dawn I was sitting in a supervisor chair trying to not distract our engineer and watching the clock as the seconds ticked down to 6:30 and the chance to see if our prework had paid off.

Whether it worked or not wasn’t really going to be up to me. It was all in the hands of the engineer. I was useless. Or, essentially useless.

(Oh, the migration went flawlessly. The engineer did his job brilliantly. I was no help.)

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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