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When Your Systems are Melting Down, 24×7 vendor support may come in handy

by | Nov 9, 2011

As I write this blog, RIM suffering its worst network failure in its history is still a recent memory. Given the firm’s market challenges with the iPhone and the Droid phone makers, will its leadership vanish like Motorola and Nokia?  A week ago, Bank of America experienced a mysterious slowdown that affected them for 5 days.  A few months ago, a major airline cancelled hundreds of flights and lost untold millions because its reservation system failed.  Even the DOD drone operations center has been attacked by viruses.

These companies aren’t badly run or incompetent, they’re just dealing with extremely complex computerized systems that aren’t perfect – because none of them are.  In the face of imperfection, how do you protect your company and yourself?  Do you have redundant data centers running in parallel, do you have exhaustive pilot testing before going live, do you have training drills for every contingency?  The answer for many of you is yes in all or in part – if your analysis justified the cost and your senior management listens to recommendations.  We find some do and others don’t.

It comes down to risk analysis.  What will it cost your company if a critical component or system fails?   And don’t forget the personal component – how will a failure affect your job standing?  Should you acquire protection resources that will help you avoid or moderate that risk?

Many companies buy 24×7 emergency production down support for their major systems.  That’s usually easy to prove in a cost analysis.  However, sometimes your smaller systems are a key component to your production as well.  The wise IT manager reviews all their critical systems to make a decision on what emergency support services should be acquired.

In many of the forms or records processing applications where Snowbound products provide critical functions, a priority support service plan often makes sense.  When a third-shift manager suddenly discovers that some documents aren’t viewable or are being processed incorrectly, it is important to isolate and understand the problem quickly, or potentially a whole shift’s output could be wasted.  They need to know what system is at fault in order to focus service to the right place. And, it is also helpful to know what system isn’t the issue. If a quick phone call or support ticket submission helps you eliminate a possible problem area, that’s a very good thing. That’s what priority support systems are for – to help your staff deal with critical production down issues via workarounds or actual, immediate solutions.

So do the analysis.  What’s it cost to have a production-down situation and what does it cost to mitigate the risk?

Simon Wieczner