Working in the IT department of a big company, all too often corporate bureaucracy interferes with day-to-day operations. Offering solutions or asking for clarification are dead ends -- we are given our instructions and expected to carry them out. Our role is made clear: We are the hired help that appears when management's summoning bell rings.
Case in point: Our company had recently acquired a new division located on another continent. The division's former company had outsourced IT services to a global TLA (three-letter acronym) outsourcer as a cost-cutting measure, and part of the deal when we acquired the division was that TLA would continue providing services for 24 months while our IT department prepared to take over.
[ Want to cash in on your IT experiences? InfoWorld is looking for an amazing or amusing IT adventure, lesson learned, or war story from the trenches. Send your story to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we publish it, we'll send you a $50 American Express gift cheque. ]
My company had never worked with TLA -- or any outsourcer -- before and The Head Honcho was determined that we'd get our money's worth.
One day a high-priority problem arose at the new division: A VPN data link was very slow and unusable, stopping productivity, and TLA wasn't having any luck solving the problem.
Because TLA was involved, The Head Honcho insisted on calling the shots. I was the unlucky one who was told to "look in" on the problem and dial in to a conference call or two. I was not allowed to change anything -- strictly "look but don't touch."
Many conference calls and e-mails later, TLA's proposed solution was to buy a new router with four times the processing power required and with every bell and whistle imaginable, at substantial cost. They claimed it was the "TLA standard" for all new router deployments. The Head Honcho thought it was too expensive, so gave me the green light to offer alternatives.
After remotely looking over the equipment and the configurations, it was apparent that the gear was out of date and underpowered. The router ran 100 percent CPU at slightly less than half the bandwidth on a VPN tunnel. This pretty much proved that TLA didn't do such a great job of monitoring the network -- there was nothing wrong with the router, it was just too slow for the job it was asked to perform and had been that way before we acquired the division.
I suggested that we ship a less expensive, proven firewall VPN solution. It would do the same thing, as demonstrated by our numerous installations around the globe, and it would shift the VPN duties to a dedicated VPN appliance and allow the router to just route. The Head Honcho agreed.