Secret CIO

Secret CIO firmly believes in the phrase, "Hell is other people".

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By  Secret CIO Published  October 26, 2008

I used to think I was a patient man. Keeper of the cool head when everyone else was losing theirs.

Never goaded into an argument regardless of provocation. Teach me the ways of the warrior, my hot-headed brethren from college would beseech me. Some things just cannot be passed on, I would reply sagely, while Asian strings fluttered in the background.

Barely a month since the departure of Secret CIO the Elder and not only I have been stripped of my "Iceman" status (quiet, Top Gun anoraks) but I've now got all the patience of a small child with a propensity for red faced temper tantrums.

Ah-ha, you say knowingly - it serves you right for slapping all those restrictions on people and foisting BlackBerries on them so they'd never get a moment's rest.

No, I reply - that plan worked rather swimmingly, because now everyone's as productive as humanly possible, knowing full well that they can't send a single personal e-mail without me knowing about it.

Paranoia is such a wonderful thing, especially when you start rumours about a hidden keylogger within the system - really does cut down on seditious gossip effectively.

No, what's got my goat (if I had one) is the fact that there's just no forward-thinking whatsoever in this organisation. Let's pause to reflect on that fact - nothing at all. The future? It isn't written yet. Hope? It springs eternal. Tomorrow? It never dies.

Er, got a bit carried away there.

My dearly departed (to another job) boss worked on the same principles as Sir William Lyons at Jaguar - if it is broke, don't fix it. In other words, replace at will and repent at leisure.

The only problem with that strategy is that it relies on the natural tendency of inanimate objects to fail completely without warning and then replacing it with another one. That's great - but shouldn't we instead be trying to preempt this sort of thing?

To give but one bitter example, this month a router failed in the networking cluster. Simple, straightforward - just pop another one in its place.

Except that we couldn't, because the vendor's warehouse was 300 clicks away and they would have to send a replacement via road - a four hour trip with our stress-free traffic system.

Oh, and that one tiny router? Turns out it was holding up some piddly, unimportant stock exchange or the other, which is now happily cut off from the outside world. And whose CEO doesn't want to yell at me one tiny bit about unprofessionalism and "failure to meet SLAs, you nimrod".

But, I hear you cry, surely you had redundancies in place, O Secret CIO the Younger? Another backup router that would start in case of failure?

Yeah, about that - turns out it's in the shop for some firmware upgrades which we couldn't do in-house because we let the relevant person go last year as he was getting awfully expensive (because of all that bothersome experience).

So while the replacement router (clearly a limited edition made from solid unobtainium as the vendor didn't have another one and would never again make another) travelled in the back of some sales rep's car boot, I had to make an unscheduled visit to the stock exchange for a healthy helping of the brown stuff.

On my return - after making sure a few people will need replacement eardrums - I've instituted CIO edict #555 - ensure redundancies are in place for everything from storage arrays to pencil sharpeners.

That's not the end of it - my staff in each department won't be getting so much as a cup of tea until they do a comprehensive SWOT-analysis of every point of failure in the entire organisation.

Once they do, I'll have them write up a big, thick, juicy stack of reports - which I will summarily reject until they rewrite it in bullet-point form. I'll then reject it again for "insufficient depth".

Next month - I'll let you know how my first GITEX goes. Oh, pure unadulterated joy.

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