Tales from the Machine Room
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No, I didn't suddenly become a pirate, not yet at least. We're talking about AAR, what the heck is it, you ask. Well, AAR stand for After Action Report, that is that thing that nobody wants to do ever, but it should be done, all the time. Basically, after you do something you should look at it, what went well and what went shit, and then ask yourself why this went well and that went shit and then try to formulate a plan to keep what went well and try to improve the shit. In the sens of making it less shitty.
And if said like this it sounds like something very logical and smart to do. Just like a lot of things that sounds very logical and smart and I wonder why nobody ever wants to do those things.
The reason is simple: NOTHING EVER GOES RIGHT or even LIKE IT'S SUPPOSED TO GO, and to take a closer look at what went shit and why means, most of the time, to have to came to terms with the fact that you've been a real idiot. And nobody wants to admit to have been a real idiot, not without a gun to the head.
When a project enters its "spiral of death" phase and then collapses in a giant pile of smoldering wrecks and spill toxic fluids all over the place, everybody turns around and walk away casually and pretend to have never have worked on that thing, ever. This also means that nobody learn anything ever. So we shouldn't be surprised when the next project does exactly the same. And the next project. And then ...
Let's not forget that everybody can learn from its own mistakes, but first you have to accept that, yes, you've made some mistake and you have to own it.
While to learn from somebody's else mistakes you have to be very smart, but very VERY smart. And obviously, everybody think they're very smart indeed, but since nobody ever recognize a mistake, it doesn't really matter in the end.
And after this introduction, we'll talk about $projectperfect, a company that did several things and for whom several things where done. With variable results. And after the various UL/SL had walked away from the latest smoldering wreck, somebody had the horrendous gall of asking "how the fuck did this happened?", and then I jumped up with the proposal of an 'AAR' to put the dots on the b and the line on the l... or somesuch.
We're in a meeting then with SL1 and SL2 of $project while on our side there is me and DB obviously.
SL1 - (in pain like a bassethound on the snow) ...so... where do we start?
Me - From the beginning obviously.
SL2 - What do you mean?
Me - So, the project was the migration from a mail system with $productX to another one absed on $productY, with the corresponding migration of about 3500 mailboxes, mailing lists, calendars and the like.
SL1 - ...yes... sounds correct...
Me - What do you mean "sounds"? You two put down the requirements, right?
SL1 - Yes but... I mean, I wasn't the only one to manage the thing...
Me - All the mails have your name on them.
SL2 - Hu... but the number of mailboxes was changed on a later date...
Me - Yes indeed, and that means that when we received your request, at the begin of february, we sent a proposal that you... hummm... ignored until the end of march, when you requested that change, halving the space reserved for the mailboxes, removed the backup and other stuff.. like the "management portal"...
SL2 - The backup wasn't very useful...
Me - We received 49 requests to restore mailboxes in a year, almost once a week.
SL2 - Really? I didn't know!
Me - You are in CC on all the tickets.
SL2 - Yeah but I usually just trash that stuff...
Me - I had no doubt of it, but let's proceed. The second offer has been "discussed" until half may, when you gave an ok to the implementation of a test system to "check the functionalities". We noted that the license for a test system is limited to 1 week and 10 mailboxes and so is not really realistic, anyhow, we did the installation and then we heard nothing for a couple of weeks.
SL1 - That was a little slip in the scheduling...
Me - With the result that when the test had to start, we needed a new license, but at this point you started talking about "budget constraints" and the whole thing was parked unti the end of july.
SL2 - Well, the budget revision was a bit a surprise...
Me - Strange, since you were talking about it since january.
SL1 - ...but we confirmed...
Me - Yes, you confirmed another temporary license and I think you run 2 tests in total
SL1 - The test wasn't realistic anyway...
Me - And then we noted that was time to get a real license... and everything stopped again unti the beginnning of september.
SL2 - The mother-company started a revision procedure that...
Me - (weaving an hand) At the beginning of september you realzied that the license for $productX was to expire at the end of december with the hosting contract and to renew both was quite pricey, so you decided to require the full migration for the middle of december. But no word about a new full license for $productY. After a bunch of mails and phone calls at the end with got the ok at the beginning of october.
SL1 - We had confidence in your capability to...
Me - Concentrate 3 month of work in 1?
SL1 - ...no to optimize the criticals activities and to proceed with the definition of essential prorities that...
Me - Yeah sure, whathever. Anyhow, after repeating numerous time that the infrastructure had to be built before we could start something, you gave a verbal ok in mid-october and we had to wait until the end of october to get an official ok.
At this point a guy with a DDHL jacket poke his head into the room.
DDHL - Hemmm.. I've got here a big pool full with wather and 1200 piranas... where should I put it?
Me - Leave it in the parking lot near the blue container thanks. As close to the pavement as you can. Thanks.
DDHL - The blue container?
Me - Yes, there is a container in the parking lot. It's blue. It's the only one that is in the parking lot. Thanks.
The DDHL dude disappear. I smile to SL1 and SL2 that are looking puzzled.
Me - So... We are at the end of october with a deadline for half december. At this point the possibility that everything will be completed on time is basically zero.
SL1 - Actually, based on our estimates, the project could have been completed for the cutoff date.
Me - When we started the process for migrating the mailboxes, migration that was found impossible because the time required to copy the whole thing was (looking at my paper) about 23 days.
SL2 - But the bandwidth price...
Me - And since we slashed in half the size of the storage only part of the mailboxes could be migrated.
SL1 - But the price of the storage...
Me - So the testing was postponed to the end of november.
SL2 - But to test we needed the data...
Me - And at the end of november you confirmed the increase of the storage that we requested since the beginning.
SL1 - But the price of the storage...
Me - And at this point, you realized that the "management portal" and other things like "self-service password changes" that you've removed at the beginning where actually required, so we had to change the infrastructure to add those.
SL2 - The portal was deemed critical for the good functioning of the infrastructure and...
Me - And at this point we go to the end of december, when all the 'testers' were on holiday and nobody did anything until january, when the old system was shut off and the license expired. So, to complete the project we need access to the old system, that require both a new license and a new hosting contract.
SL1 - ...why do you tell us this?
Me - Because you have the contract with the hosting provider and you need to provide the licenses, we can't do nothing about that stuff, is all on your name. Oh, and obviously in the mean time, the new infrastructure is still active even if is not used.
SL1 - And what does that means?
Me - That you're going to pay 2 infrastructure to use none.
SL1 and SL2 look at each other, then both jump up and out of the window.
DB - BUT!!!?? What the....???
Me - Don't worry.
DB - Don't worry???
Me - You remember the guy with the pool and the piranas? The one that is parked near the blue container?
DB - So?
Me - Where is the blue container?
DB - Well, it should be just by the wind... ooooohhh...
...and then I woke up...
Comments are added when and more important if I have the time to review them and after removing Spam, Crap, Phishing and the like. So don't hold your breath. And if your comment doesn't appear, is probably becuase it wasn't worth it.
By Messer Franz posted 25/11/2019 16:09
> ...ed ovviamente a questo punto mi sono svegliato...
ridendo di sicuro, ma quanto sguaiatamente? I vicini hanno chiamato la polizia?
ps: piranas...cosa faremmo senza di loro...-- Messer Franz
By Anonymous coward posted 25/11/2019 20:59
FANCULO! ho letto fino alla fine.
Alla prima menzione della vasca dei pirana ho avuto un sospetto, ma pirla io che ho continuato a leggere... per una volta che sembrava possibile dargli fuoco, si e' rivelato solo un sogno... o una storia preparata ad arte.
-- Anonymous coward
By Anonymous coward posted 26/11/2019 09:01
Si. Immaginavo che ti saresti svegliato, ad un certo punto.
Solo per curiosità: perchè questa storia è datata 25/11 e quella successiva 04/11?? Problemi conla macchina del tempo ed un pacchetto di cereali ?
-- Anonymous coward
@ Anonymous coward By Davide Bianchi posted 26/11/2019 09:06
Solo per curiosità: perchè questa storia è datata 25/11 e quella successiva 04/11??
Perche' le ho scritte in tempi diversi e poi pubblicate in tempi diversi?
-- Davide Bianchi
By El Can posted 26/11/2019 10:53
Ho cominciato a sospettare che stessi perculando i tuoi lettori all'accenno della vasca dei piranha... da lì ho riso come un matto fino alla fine.-- El Can
By Bubu7te posted 26/11/2019 15:24
Urk, qui ci sono quasi cascato come una pera cotta! Anche se l'introduzione davvero troppo filosofeggiante per il tuo solito e l'accenno alla vasca coi piranha a due terzi mi hanno indotto notevoli sospetti - ma che finale da buttare ai piranha! Come quando leggi un avvincente romanzone da seicento pagine e nell'ultima il protagonista si sveglia e scopre di aver sognato!-- Bubu7te
By Anonymous coward posted 28/11/2019 08:40
Avreste dovuto capire che era un sogno quando i due SL stavano, a modo loro, ammettendo di aver fatto una pirlata... Non è MAI colpa del SL. "È sempre colpa del Sysadmin".
Sigh...-- Anonymous coward
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