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IT Obstacles

As my team reviewed the system, I sat down with the system owner and called the vendor. They had been paying an excessive amount of money each year for support and I asked the vendor a simple question. “If the system goes down with a hardware failure, will you guarantee it will be repaired?” There was a pause, and then the answer came back. “Our SLA is we will have a technician on site within 4 hours.” I smiled, waited, and asked the question differently, “Can you guarantee you will be able to bring the system back online”, and the answer came back again, “Our SLA is we will have a technician on site within 4 hours.” We had some additional discussions but after the call I looked at the system owner, a non-technical person in charge of a major area and asked if they understood what had just happened, they were very thoughtful, and simply said. “I think we need to look at some additional options.”

We replaced that system with a newer box and worked towards replacement of the software. By utilizing virtual techniques we moved the system to a more resilient platform, ensuring the system would be online as necessary, and ensuring the solution would not be a tech onsite within 4 hours, but instead a system supporting 400 workers that would be online even in the event of a disaster.

So why did we make a good decision? It is easy. First, if the entity had gone down for even 1 hour, the 400 workers effected would cost an excessive dollar amount. Even if it is a minimum job at $10 an hour, which it was not, that is $4000 dollars an hour. If an outage was experienced it could have become a massive dollar amount in operating expenses in time lost that overshadows any other cost. Second, if the data had been lost, there would not have been alternate operating systems or hardware to bring the system back online and the cost of losing the data could be immeasurable. Third, the system itself, being out of date for so long had numerous security issues and could easily have been a breach of data that is protected by regulation. This alone can destroy both credibility of a business and business finances with minimal opportunity for recovery. Fourth, the system itself was impacting users and becoming less and less usable, causing actual workers to find workaround to do their work that was even more costly.

Of course there were many more reasons, but how does this matter to small and large businesses alike? Well, as the age of a system goes up, we add risk to that system and potential points of failure including replacement issues. The bigger the system, meaning the more moving parts, the more possible it is to run into issues as the systems can be affected more easily and impact users more easily.