SQLServerCentral Editorial



Motorola Microtac

I can be hard on cell phones at times. Overall I've had pretty good luck since 1997 when I got my first Motorola MicroTac and entered the "tethered" age at work. However I left a Startac on top of a car and bounced it pretty good off the pavement; it worked, but had a cracked case. I had the famous "flushing" incident with a Nokia 6800 that I dropped into a toilet, and now we have the chocolate Dash.

I came home one night after karate, too many bags of groceries in hand, my very handy and enjoyable T-Mobile Dash gripped by two fingers, and set the groceries down on the counter next to a pan of brownies that were cooling. My oldest son had agreed to help my youngest daughter make some before I left. The phone slipped out of my hand and landed on the pan of brownies.

And sank!

Apparently 15 year olds think that 3 tablespoons are equivalent to the amount of water leaving the faucet during a verbal count of "3" and so instead of cooling brownies, we had brownie soup. If you're interested in what it looked like, check out the video podcast.

Now I didn't think to grab the camera and get you a picture, instead grabbing the phone, wiping off the sludge, powering it down and trying to rinse it a bit. It powered up the next day and for a couple days I had the strangest sensation for coffee and dessert every time I had a call, but a few buttons didn't work, the internal mic and speakers were just about shot, and so I had it replaced. However I was without a phone for a couple of days and somewhat incommunicado.

I had people unable to reach me for work, and more importantly, additional errands and shopping items from the household. While I enjoyed the quiet, I received more than a few "when are you getting a new phone" comments and I couldn't check email while running errands. I somewhat depend on that to keep in touch with the site throughout the day if I'm not at home. I had to make sure I could still be reached and provide some alternatives for people.

Being able to reach someone is important in today's world. If your customers can't reach you, they get upset, and you might find your small company out of business, or the need to start a small company because your big company is upset with you. Your customers don't care if your bill wasn't paid or your phone was dropped in a swimming pool of brownie mix; they just want to reach you.

The title really says it all for a whole series of web sites that were down for 5 days as a large hosting company was consolidating data centers. Apparently they planned on transferring a bunch of data through dedicated lines, but had bandwidth issues and then had network problems when the physical transfer didn't work. With a lot of small companies hosted there, there might be some bankruptcies or at least credit issues with some of them because of the downtime.

I wanted to point out a few things here that I found problematic with the entire process. First, you get what you pay for and a low budget hosting solution, whether for a company or individual, means that you get low service and low priority when things go wrong. It's one of the problems of cloud services that I see. While we want to pay as little as possible, the actual value is much higher to us than we realize. Buy quality when it matters.

Lesson One: Pay for Quality if you can

Second, you need to have a backup plan. If I ever get a notice of work being done on servers or infrastructure at my facility, I'm getting a backup offsite before they cause me problems. I'd for sure have a copy if they were moving data centers. As DBAs we should be aware of significant work being done so we can plan for our data to be available elsewhere, even if no one else does.

Lesson Two: Be prepared for Murphy's Law

Third, the hosting company shouldn't attempt such an all or nothing move over a weekend. 850 servers?!?! I hope they tested with 2 or 3, but they realistically should have spread this over 4 or 5 weekends, moving maybe 100 servers at a time.

Lesson three: don't bite off more than you can chew.

Fourth, it seems that the hosting company didn't really communicate well with the customers. I'm sure that they weren't sure when things would be resolved and didn't want to set unrealistic deadlines or expectations. But you have to say something. This is the biggest problem I think IT has in a crisis. They don't want to give a "wrong" answer, so they don't say anything.

In my experience, you should communicate often. More often than you need to, even if you report that "we haven't forgotten about you, but we don't know when it will work." And be sure you let people know that you'll be back to them in an hour, a day, two days, whatever. Just touching base is often more important than having the answer or solution.

Lesson four: communicate often

Today's world runs on communications. We expect shipping notices from suppliers, we expect emails to be returned quickly from people, we even want to be able to call someone on a cell phone any time we want. The ability to communicate definitely gets abused, and I hope we can learn to respect some limits here.

But the inability to reach someone resonates for a long time. Web sites being down, phones being unanswered, they're one sure way to lose a lot of business these days.

Steve Jones

The Voice of the DBA

Robin Stine

The podcast feeds are now available at sqlservercentral.podshow.com to get better bandwidth and maybe a little more exposure :). Comments are definitely appreciated and wanted. You can get feeds from there.

Today's podcast features music by the beautiful, jazzy, Robin Stine. Check her music out at www.robinstine.com.

I really appreciate and value feedback on the podcasts. Let us know what you like, don't like, or even send in ideas for the show. If you'd like to comment, post something here. The boss will be sure to read it.


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