Summoning the IT bogeyman for fun and profit

Vendors do it, and so do admins, but don't get cocky -- the IT bogeyman can turn on you at any time

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I suspect this happens far more often than we're led to believe. Data carriers are particularly susceptible to invoking this fake bogeyman. After all, they can easily make changes to their own gear without letting anyone know, at the same time disavowing they're doing anything at all.

We do the same in IT, though generally for more altruistic reasons. While we may not all treat user problems with the same snobby air, it still happens, especially when desktop admins have to deal with pesky Caps Lock issues. But in deeper IT, we can invoke our own bogeyman when dealing with budgets and nontechnical management.

There are times when problems arise out of nowhere and present us with an opportunity to fix other, quasi-related issues behind the scenes. This is how virtualization crept into many companies several years ago. Problems arising from older physical servers were replaced with much beefier new servers running a virtualization platform, which allowed the original application to be rebuilt, but made room to replace many more physical servers before they too bit the dust.

How do we get away with it? It's because humans have long accepted that the bogeyman is a fundamental part of computing. Rather than trying to learn how to fix a problem, many people will just roll their eyes and say, "It's a computer -- what can you expect?" and reboot the thing. This stems from tech's ancient history when home computers were notoriously unstable -- basically from Windows 95 through Windows XP.

Few other fundamentals of modern life are granted such leeway in properly functioning. We wouldn't put up with a refrigerator that randomly stops keeping food cold or a stereo system that occasionally blasts Justin Bieber. However, when a computer has a "bizarre" issue, we tend to be more accepting, even if there's no reason to expect a modern operating system to blow up in our faces like Windows ME did every other minute.

It's like that legend of Bill Gates comparing computing with the auto industry and saying, "If GM had kept up with the technology like the computer industry has, we would all be driving $25 cars that get 1,000 miles to the gallon." The punch line: "OK, but who would want a car that crashes twice a day?"

I suppose that the bogeyman -- and his fabricated counterpart -- will continue to be part of IT for many years to come. Summon him while you can, because there will surely come a time when both users and administrators are less forgiving of his antics.

This story, "Summoning the IT bogeyman for fun and profit," was originally published at Read more of Paul Venezia's The Deep End blog at For the latest business technology news, follow on Twitter.

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