But they WERE fast

This big utility company has staff scattered over a wide area, and that means lots of small offices and field teams, according to a pilot fish working at HQ.

"Other than their network connection, the field staffers have very little need for server infrastructure," fish says. "They come into the office, check e-mail, get the day's job sheets and head out to do a day's field work. They only come back to the depot to lock the vehicles in for the night.

"Things get a bit messy when some manager decides to fill a spare desk with an engineer who will spend his day working on large CAD files. All sites that have more than a defined number of staff regularly in the office get a local file server to help with this situation."

And major staff changes at the small offices are pretty rare, so requests to add a file server -- and all the associated design and requisition headaches -- are rare too.

But one day a call comes in, complaining that the network speed between two of the small offices is painfully slow. The call is routed to the netadmin team. Within a minute, they've determined that all traffic between the sites is being routed through the main data center.

The netadmins can't change this. Their suggestion: The IT operations team that's responsible for servers should take a look to see whether one of the sites should get a local file server.

A few seconds later, the call has bounced straight on past the operations team, which wants nothing to do with cost justifications for installing a remote server. The suggestion from operations: Maybe the design team could investigate and decide whether it's worthwhile to put a server there.

That's how it lands in fish's lap.

A quick survey of the user's original complaint and the four -- count 'em, four -- minutes of technical investigation shows no reason to believe that a local server will help. But fish decides to spend another minute or two on the problem anyway.

He pulls up the details of the remote site, looking for information on number of staff and PCs there. Very interesting: The site turns out to be well past the threshold for justifying a server.

"In fact, the details also show a fully running server is already located there," says fish. "It was installed a year earlier, which makes my final recommendation quite a bit easier.

"The previous teams who were meant to have investigated the problem are fully responsible for the day-to-day operation and maintenance of the server.

"Maybe this time they'll ask the user some questions about the problem instead of just deciding it must be someone else's fault."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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