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Episode 8

BOFH 2003: Episode 8

BOFH logo Sigh.

I don't know what it is about 24x7 Operations, but the thought of it seems to make most IT Managers weak at the knees - and The Boss is no exception. I'm sure in his mind he sees a clean, shiny computer room with suited professionals striding purposefully betwixt machines, engrossed in their continuous 24x7 work - all accomplished with the professional care and attention you expect from a full time operation.

Tapes whirring, lights blinking, just like in the movies…

In REAL life however, the situation is generally:

  • one of the three night shift staff sleeps under the boardroom desk
  • another racks up humungous long distance phone calls in between porn marathons
  • the remaining person (if they turn up) doing the crossword between half-hourly trips to the tape library media bay

But of course, telling The Boss this is about as useful as explaining the beauty of Open Source to a Windows geek. His 'Field of Dreams' view of 24x7 makes him think the company's backlog of work will suddenly flood into the place of an evening and his plan end up becoming the efficient cost-saving exercise of the century.

As opposed the the money soak that everyone else knows it will be...

So, at a departmental meeting…

"...and what I'm after is a rough idea of the setup costs involved in running the place round-the-clock" The Boss rambles, addressing The PFY, me and the Helldesk people.

"You're going to need a lot of Helpdesk cover!" a phone geek in a headset burbles "…to handle all the calls."

"What calls?" The PFY asks in an annoyed manner "Don't your calls taper off exponentially after 4:30pm?"

"People will work late if they know there's support!" the helldesk geek Kevin Costners.

"People wouldn't work late if there was sex involved!" The PFY counters, annoyed.

"I THINK you'll find that people would enjoy flexible working hours," The Boss responds.

"If by flexible you mean coming in at 2pm, saying you started at 7am, and leaving at 3pm, then yes, I think you're right."

"Or…" The PFY adds, "If you mean going out on a bender, missing the last tube home, realising that you could clock in at 2am and be able to go home at 10am when you wake up under your desk..."

"It would be more structured than that!" The Boss explains. "People would be rostered on…"

"Ah - so you'd need to organise your bender in advance," The PFY replies sagely. "Tricky…"

"So what I'm after," The Boss continues, ignoring him, "is an estimation of what we'd need to put in place to allow us to supply 24x7 service."

"Well let's see - there'll be more staff for a start - at least two more Operator/Admins, shift allowances, an account with a restaurant…"

"What?!"

"For meals - the company cafeteria won't be open, and most contracts specifically include provision for meals for shift workers."

"We would provide meal preparation facilities for out-of-hours use!"

"QUALITY meals, of a standard available at the cafeteria during normal working hours - so as not to unfairly disadvantage shift-work staff?"

"What are you suggesting?"

"Nothing ambitious, a chef's oven, a vertical griller, industrial fridge, fresh food and vegetables, a selection of meats and cheeses, breads and dips. Some wine perhaps?"

"I'll go as far as pizza!" The Boss replies, closing the topic.

. . . Three weeks later . . .

"What the bloody hell is that?" The Boss gasps, as a large crate is slowly wheeled in the direction of Mission Control.

"The Pizza oven you okayed."

"I never okayed a pizza oven!"

"Sure you did" The PFY responds, scrabbling around the desk to find a piece of paper. "Look!"

"I didn't sign that!"

"Yes you did, see!"

"I most certai...That was for a pizza! 14.95!"

"A pizza oven, £14950.00, yes."

"That's preposterous! You changed the order!"

"I never!" The PFY cries, offended

"You bloody did!" The Boss blurts, realising what a purchase like this could potentially do to what remains of his reputation.

"We can't send it back - it came from Italy!"

"You ORDERED A BLOODY ITALIAN PIZZA OVEN!" The Boss blurts, in danger of bursting a major artery.

"YOU did, yes."

"Get rid of the bloody thing before someone sees it!"

"Where? The guys in the store won't have room for it, and the Importer probably won't take it back."

"I don't know, just get rid of it and don't ever mention it again - Surely one of you could use it?" he asks sneakily.

"Nah, not really," The PFY says disinterestedly, in less time than it would take The Boss to say "Excuse me officer but I believe that one of my employees has been involved in some theft-as-a-servant".

"Well can't we pay a restocking fee to the Importer and vanish the thing from the purchasing records.... somehow?"

"You mean you'd like us to modify the purchasing database to substitute "Pizza" for "Pizza Oven", modify the purchase price, ship this back to the importer, pay the restocking fee without causing another transaction to be logged into purchasing system, and generally not mention a word of this ever again?"

"Yes"

"200 quid"

"Why, that's... that's bloody"

"..Far too small a price to sell out our professional dignity, yes, you're right! Make it an even 500."

"FI.." The Boss bubbles, passing out.

"It's funny isn't it," The PFY mumbles through his Pizza. "Some people would see an empty packing crate on the street and think 'rubbish', while you immediately think 'opportunity'."

"Yes, I'm a glass-half-full sort of person," I admit. "Now what else has The Boss signed up for recently?"

"Ahhhhh.... Night Shift Workstation, 800 quid."

"Night Shift Watchman, 8000 quid?"

"Nah, What would we do with one of those?"

"True - Swiss Night Glow Watches - for accurate time keeping?"

"I like the way your thinking!!!..." ®

BOFH is copyright © 1995-2003, Simon Travaglia. Don't mess with his rights

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