Tuesday, June 24, 2008


Chuck is blowing off a little steam
I hate this job; toc bitch, S-3, Operations Officer, whatever you want to call it. I've done it everywhere from Kuwait to Kosovo and all points in between. It's a job where the boss is never happy with you, and the people who actually need your products never get them in a timely manner because a font is wrong, or a slide isn't formatted properly. Worse still, the end users never provide good feedback to tell you when your products help, how to improve to better help them, or when you are 90 degrees off true.

Lesse - I spent half my time in the service working for various '6 shops that share the same woes Chuck writes about: when the coms are bad, no one is happy. When the coms are good and the bits are flying to and fro, you're just doing your job.

For that matter, I've been a system admin for over a dozen years after I left the service - same issue. Maybe I'm a glutton for punishment - but there are compensations.

Organizations that depend on the web will die if their site crashes and they don’t recover. The longer the outage, the worse the damage often is. The same kind of Operations culture is required to effectively respond to, recover from, and prevent outages.

While this seems obvious for many people with years of experience working on the web, it is a significant and often difficult shift for those in the mainstream. This seems particularly true for executives who think of Web Operations as an extension of corporate IT. This gap becomes especially painful when people accustomed to traditional “command-and-control” management styles and models try to apply it to this new type of organization.

The CEO cannot shout or fire the website back up. The CFO cannot account, control, or audit the website back up and the Chief Counsel cannot sue it back to life. The CMO, if there is one, and their entire marketing & PR team will not spin a website back online. The CIO or CTO probably can’t recover the site either, at least not very quickly. The fate of the company frequently and acutely rests in the hands of engineers who do Web Operations.

No, not fire-fighting - putting out fires is the least rewarding aspect of the job. Barring acts-of-God, most fire-fighting happens because someone took their eye of the ball, ignored the warning lighs, failed to tighten a nut. All fire-fighting gets you is grumpy and tired and you snap at your kids in the morning when you finally get home.

Naw - it's the simple things, done well and in a timely fashion in the broad light of day that make the job a fun one.

That and I'm not sitting in the woods for the summer a thousand miles from hearth and home dealing with fug heads.
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