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Thursday
Aug282003

Outlook, Corporate IT, "Trustworthy" Computing & Reliability

Matt sent me a link today to Good Times, a very funny and pointed rant by John Gruber of Daring Fireball. John discusses the scourge of Outlook and Exchange, how IT departments put more emphasis on job security than on "Trustworthy" computing, and his solutions to the problem, which include making systems (Windows, Linux or Mac) truly reliable.

I love that John takes the time to step back and take a broader, common-sense look at computer reliability. Why do viruses and Outlook seem inseparable? Why don't corporate IT department CIOs and workers understand their systems better? Why we should require much more of IT people on system reliability. In short, he suggests IT people should be expected to make their systems as reliable as plumbing.

Here's a long, but hilarious quote from the article:

Imagine if the plumbing in corporate America worked with the same degree of reliability as their computer infrastructure. This would mean that individual sinks, urinals, and toilets would go out of order on a regular basis. Water from drinking fountains would turn brown, but, hey, that’s just how it is. Every few weeks, teenage pranksters from Hong Kong would overflow every toilet in the building, knocking them out of commission.

In response to these problems, large companies would have large in-house plumbing staffs, led by a CPO (chief plumbing officer) reporting directly to the CEO. New restroom equipment would be chosen by the same plumbing staff that is employed for maintenance, thus providing a nearly irresistible disincentive to choose reliable low-maintenance equipment from other vendors.

In fact, all of the plumbing comes from a single company based in the state of Washington. This company’s plumbing equipment is engineered such that it is extremely difficult to see how it actually works. The corporate plumbers are often equipped with certifications from this manufacturer, but they (the plumbers) in fact understand very little about how toilets and sinks truly work.

Woo hoo! Go read the whole thing! :-)

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