This is a special news flash blog entry from a real life, so do not interrupt your set. We’ll return to our regularly scheduled blog shortly.
My company has established some pretty good controls and redundancies for handling a variety of scenarios relating to software and hardware failure. For example, my book is backed up on a RAID drive on a server and has a redundant copy on my laptop in case the ceiling falls in on my server. The server is under a main support beam in the building and nowhere near a water supply, so it’s even somewhat protected from an earthquake. While flooding is a possibility, the rest of Toronto would be lost first, so I think it’s an acceptable risk. Anyway, to the point. Tonight, a Friday, all of a sudden after 14 months of working properly one of our primary third party software publishing products stopped working because it hit a “genuine version violation”. I’ll leave you to guess who made that product. Anyway, I can’t install the product on another machine because it already hit the violation and wouldn’t be able to be activated. I should mention that we have a very strong anti-piracy policy and I’ve got the original software media on my desk beside me. So now we’re down because we’re unable to use a key resource of our company. The response from the vendor is that the situation will be resolved within 1 business day, which puts it sometime at the end of Monday. The rating assigned by the vendor was “Minimum business impact”. Ha!
So how does this relate to indestructibility? Well, it shouldn’t, but it does. Because a key service is no longer available, our business is interrupted. It wasn’t because of a process issue or a procedure issue in our company. Nor was it a hardware or software failure. It was a flaw something the vendor of our document preparation software did or did not do properly, their assessment of the severity of the issue, and their responsive times – all of which are outside our control.
Vulnerabilities to your ability to deal with failures come from all over the place. Sometimes they’re in your control. Sometimes, like tonight, they’re not. And it’s extremely frustrating and in this case embarrassing. But mostly it’s because of the unplanned and unacceptable outage for an unreasonable amount of time.
More to come on perceptions soon. Come to think of it, this is a partly a perception issue, isn’t it? A difference in the perceived importance of a service from a client’s point of view compared with a vendor’s.