The network is my single point of failure. When it goes down, basically I become an astronomically well paid paperweight. Sure, there is a way to do everything I do manually, but because I wasn’t raised in the horse and buggy era, I don’t know what that way is because it was never covered in training and I’m certainly not old enough to have ever had to do it that way myself. And since everyone around me is in the same boat when it happens, after the initial bout of consternation and annoyance, the whole place takes on a bit of a snow day atmosphere. Which is great… for a while.
As fun as officially sanctioned down time is, it does highlight an issue that I don’t think any of us have spent enough time thinking about: What, exactly, is an army of technology workers supposed to do in the event of something more than a temporary outage? If we can’t email, can’t access the cloud, and can’t call out over VOIP, we’re pretty much just a bunch of people hanging out. What if it lasts for a day? Or a week? What if a network outage became the new normal?
Ninety nine percent up time sounds great until you realize that means you’ll be down for at least 3 and a half days every year. That’s annoying if you’re a dedicated gamer. It’s potentially catastrophic if you’re managing the world’s financial markets, running a war, or trying to manage the nation’s air traffic. Our reliance on computers and networks isn’t going to decrease in the future, so if we’re going to be so dependent on the network, redundancy and failover should be the standard. If the powers that be can’t manage that, they should at least spring for a cell booster for the building so we can play Angry Birds while we’re just sitting around.
Editorial Note: This part of a continuing series of posts previously available on a now defunct website. They are appearing on http://www.jeffreytharp.com for the first time. This post has been time stamped to correspond to its original publication date.