Thursday, August 7, 2008

The Inmates are in Control, Part B

Now let us return to that special place that resides between what is and what could be, in a dark corner of the improbably chaotic, surreal, and ridiculous. That little patch of insanity that I call Work Is Hell, otherwise known as my job.

Previously our hero was attempting the herculean effort of navigating the red tape and barriers thrown up by the dastardly staff of the infrastructure services group. Ginger Lynn* and her cronies were stonewalling our man in his attempt to order some mission critical (at least to him) equipment. As we join him he is on the brink of snapping.

The problem is this. These people are morons. Complete. Utter. Morons. And I can't go around them.

For example, the friend who writes hardware specs I mentioned in Part 1 of this little saga, is actually the hardware procurement manager for a major web-based service provider. I sent him pretty much the same information I sent my infrastructure team. He replied within 10 minutes with a basic server configuration specification. I'm still waiting on the infrastructure team more than a week later.

Even if I had the exact hardware requirements and great documentation, I would still have to deal with this. I'll write up the spec, and then these same people will again say, "You can't do that -- we have to have meetings and discuss the funding and the purpose and whether it fits our strategic goals (which we haven't looked at since they were written five years ago) and by the way, have you checked to see if you could do this in Excel?"

And that is not bullshit.

This should only take 10 f*king minutes. But instead it will take at least another week of my time. A week I don't have and will never get back.

After multiple secondhand conversations, between my engineer contact and Ginger Lynn* and Ron Jeremy*, the infrastructure team has this recommendation: if we want to integrate the help system content with the ERP, we will need, get this, three servers. One database server (for the content indexes), one web server (which has to be secured out the wazoo because it is "public" facing), and the App server (contains and pushes the content out).

On a side note, perhaps you can explain this to me -- since the Help system will only be available to the "outside world" through the exceedingly secure ERP, why does it need to be so heavily secured itself. I'm sure there are a lot of good reasons, but nothing explains why we need to secure a server that contains absolutely no sensitive data on it. Unless we're worried some hackers are going to steal Mighty Mouse's Social Security number, or get Bruce Wayne's employee ID, I don't think we have to worry about this stuff. Most companies don't even bother securing this type of data. Is anyone really going to be able to hack our system because they know how to use the ERP to assign Service Indicators? I don't think so.

And here's another logic-challenging conundrum. Apparently, since power is such an issue here, we need to host these three servers on three separate machines -- that's physical machines, not virtual machines. Huh? Apparently our power problems mean we aren't configured correctly to power Blade Servers, and I guess I'm crazy to think one can create virtual servers on anything other than a Blade, ergo, our power problems require us to use three servers instead of one. Does anyone else expect Alan Arkin to show up just about now?

Now, if we decide not to integrate the help (which makes complete fucking sense since we wouldn't want anyone to actually know how to use the new system), we will still need two hardware servers. And, unless we can somehow manage the help system development without any administrative rights, we will have to purchase and support these servers ourselves. At least that's what I understand from my conversations with my engineer contact. Of course it would be helpful if we could have a meeting about this, but since I don't know the answers to the question I want to discuss in the meeting, I can't call the meeting. Makes sense.

I think the infrastructure team is possessed by the spirit of Dilbert's pointy-haired-boss. Either that, or that other Dilbert character, Mordac, The Preventer of Information Services, or probably the guy with the spoon - Phil, the prince of insufficient light, the ruler of Heck, the punisher of minor sins, the dark angel of demos:

Yossarian: Let me see if I've got this straight: in order to be grounded, I've got to be crazy and I must be crazy to keep flying. But if I ask to be grounded, that means I'm not crazy any more and I have to keep flying.

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