Communication is a fickle thing, especially when talking with executives about tech needs.
We made a standard request to the vice president for a couple of new computers for a remote office. The existing computers were Windows 2000 boxes and were experiencing all of the normal problems you'd expect from computers of that age and operating system. The users required the basics, such as Internet, PDF capability, and email. Still, with the bloat of today's programs we needed something that wasn't built when gas was $1.35 a gallon.
[ The tech inferno is not buried deep within the earth -- it's just down the hall. Do the nine circles of IT hell sound familiar? | Follow Off the Record on Twitter for tech's war stories, career takes, and off-the-wall news. ]
The remote office's manager and I crafted a request with expertise, emphasizing the computers' vintage and sprinkling in all the buzzwords, like "productivity," "ROI," and "inefficiency." We thought this would be a no-brainer. The VP had signed off before on replacing far newer machines having far fewer problems.
Ding. I opened the first email we received from the VP, expecting a response along the lines of "Yes, proceed." Instead, I received this cryptic question: "Are they using the PC, or do they just need a connection to the server?"
Huh? Perhaps somewhere along the line we had not made ourselves clear. I wrote a more elaborate response, providing a detailed explanation about their job descriptions, required tasks, and what resources might be necessary to accomplish those tasks. If they gave a Pulitzer for a good email, I would have won it.
Ding. Second response from the big guy: "So a PC is required to have access to the servers?"
Am I taking crazy pills? How else would they get email and Internet -- osmosis? How do I ask the boss, "What in the world are you talking about?" without him hearing me say, "Just fire me now"?
The office manager gave me a call, as confused about the response as I was.
I figured it was time to talk to the VP in person, but was told he was in meetings for the rest of the day. But after re-reading the email thread a few times, it started to dawn on me. Could he, in his own strange and abbreviated way, be alluding to VDI technology?