If you go to Google news today and type in the word “router” – you will see approximately 2,150 news articles and just about all of them have to do with the Federal Aviation Administration and the huge flight debacle that occurred yesterday. It’s unlikely that you would not know about it by now, even if you are like me and rarely ever fly anywhere. The story was on most network news programs and people all over are talking about it.
What hits home for me, however is that there is some guy in charge of that router. His or her day probably started like any other day – coffee, breakfast whatever. I guess in reality, it was probably a team of people – but still. Just another day when people are thinking about weekend plans and the latest movie openings and suddenly all heck breaks loose.
If you think everything will go back to normal, it won’t. It will never be “normal” again or should I say, the normal these people knew is now gone forever. The long-term problem with any kind of failure like this is that once enough managers, and in this case probably politicians, get involved the day to day routines of anyone in that department will be scrutinized time and time again. It’s not just a router – it’s ALL of the routers, all circuit boards, all computer systems. Everyone has something to say about it from flight attendants to college professors.
Here is just one quote from an AP article printed in the Star Tribune:
“A good communications system should have enough redundancy that a failure shouldn’t hurt it that badly,” said Michael Ball, a University of Maryland professor who specializes in aviation operations research.
I’m not disagreeing with him or any other critic, I am only stating that whatever life the people in charge of that router had – is gone now. Every day will be filled with questions, interrogations and requests to put together and follow all kinds of new checklists so that hopefully it won’t happen again.
Won’t happen again is a phrase people love to say in these situations. “Let’s see that that doesn’t happen again” or “Let’s take steps to make sure this never gets to this point again”. “Let’s” – that means “you”, Mr. System administrator.
Has this ever happened to you? Maybe you are a system administrator who oversees a small or medium-sized network for your organization. You get paged because something has failed and even though you are able to turn the issue around quite quick and restore everything to working order – you still get called into someones office or boardroom and you have to:
(1) Explain the issue
(2) Explain how you fixed the issue
(3) Explain why the issue occurred
(4) Describe how you will never let this happen again
(5) (and this is the best) Defend every other machine, device, and program you or your department has ever touched, looked at, reviewed, purchased, or installed – because maybe, just MAYBE they are all ready to break as well.
And you get to do that every single day for the rest of your time there.