Saturday, 16 April 2011

Why I am quiet at the moment...

What a week…

I wish I could say that things are going well at the moment, but I would be totally lying if I did…

For once though it has nothing to do with GD or anything in my private life; that part is going fine at the moment. There is still a large degree of uncertainty at the moment, but that is not causing any problems in day to day life.

No, this week it all came at work. More than that it all came from one department: ICT. I’ve talked about this department before, and no doubt will again, but things just got to me really badly this week – leaving me tired, depressed, unable to do my job, and with a very, very painful hand.

It seems that they have decided to work to rule, causing all sorts of problems for the whole company. We are currently trying to improve our deploy process for the web site, and ancillary applications. At the same time we are looking at upgrading our servers from Windows Server 2003 to 2008 R2 and our SQL servers from 2005 to 2008 R2. We have a new UAT server (which is also used as a staging environment for user configurable data), this replaces an existing machine, and when we asked for it we simply stated ‘same connectivity as the existing machine’. The machine was delivered (several weeks too late – I always thought that having a virtual server environment was supposed to increase flexibility, but in our ICT department it seems to take more time to get a virtual server than it takes to get a physical server that has to be ordered from an external source). We installed SQL server and set all of the databases up.

On Wednesday we commissioned the server and users started to use it. Well, at least that was the plan… All of the database admins could use it, but no one else. The error message that was coming back simply stated that the server did not exist. But only for non-admins… I went up to speak to the ICT department only to be told ‘Yes, that’s right. You just said the same connectivity – we won’t work with that we want to know what IP addresses to what IP addresses. We didn’t know that you wanted people to be able to use the machine’

WTF! Yes, we want to spend weeks setting a new server up so that no one can use it. Does the name ‘USER acceptant test’ in the name of the server not give the game away? I kept reasonably calm whilst explaining that with the machine not being available we had a production issue and then left. Walked outside where our DBA and web master were having a smoking break and lost it. In itself it’s a small thing, but this happens a couple of times a week at the moment and has been carrying on for months. I’m sick to bloody death of the crap they pile on the rest of the company. I also lost it and punched the wall… Take my advice, don’t do that even if you are ready to explode. It still hurts now (though the swelling has gone down). It was a choice of doing that or breaking down in tears, which I didn’t want to do…

That was incident one. The second was on Thursday – I had a day at a VDI workshop (the ICT department want to virtualise all of the desktops – because they have done such a good job of doing that to the servers…). The workshop was good. There were some very knowledgeable people from the consulting company there and gave some good insight into what is possible, and where the technology currently is.

After a day of meetings and discussions it became obvious that it will not work for the developers (actually I don’t think that it will work for the rest of the company either – if you actually want to provide them with a reasonable working environment, something that ICT doesn’t actually care about; their exact phrase ‘regular users will not notice if we give them a broken desktop, they should just be happy they get something’ kind of says it all about their attitude) and that either it will cost a lot of money or it will not provide the functionality we need. The response from ICT ‘Well, the developers will just have to change their requirements then’. Then they asked if I thought this would solve the issues that we have working from home. Let’s see… Working from home is a nightmare as we have to be permanently connected to an RDP connection (meaning no one else in the house can access the internet due to the bandwidth that is required for remoting to your office machine) to do something as simple as read email. In the new situation it will be exactly the same. How is this going to help us exactly?

Even just typing this is sending my stress levels skyrocketing…

Friday I was screwed, I sat at my desk and stared at an empty screen for the day – I went for a walk with my boss and explained the situation, along with my inability to work due to the stress, and the fact that I just didn’t want to go into the office on Friday. We’ll see what comes of it.

Sorry for the rant… But I am so stressed at the moment that I have to try and work it out somehow…

There is much good going on at the moment, and I can’t bloody enjoy any of it due to the crap that this department throws around. In my whole career (now spanning 15 years) I have never had to work with such a group of incompetent, useless people (I refuse to use the word professionals) or such a poorly designed infrastructure (and I use that term very loosely) – it works well for them, just a shame about the other 97.5% of the company.


  1. Hi Stace,

    Love reading your blog :)

    Re the working from home requirement for your work...what is required just 'normal' office functions such as email, calendaring etc?

    If so have you thought of Google Apps or another similar offering?

    I only ask because that's my area of expertise. :)

    On completely different note I do enjoy reading of your exploration through your gender issues, I've now been FT for over 9 months here in the UK so have tread the same path.

    Take care and don't let the buggers get you down!


  2. I can't imagine how any company can let an ICT department get away with the things that you've told us about but then we've got a friendly and pretty helpful bunch of people working in our ICT department.

    Glad that your hand is recovering. A friend punched a wooden door in frustration a few years ago. Didn't realise anything was wrong until he went home and is wife, who is a radiographer, took one look at his hand, drove him to hospital and had it x-rayed to confirm that he'd broke it.

  3. Tanya Jayne: Thanks! It's always nice to know that people are enjoying my posts.

    I need occasional access to our SharePoint and then I need access to office apps (Visio, MS Prooject, Word and Excel) but I also need access to Visual Studio and SQL Server Management Studio.

    The problem with Google Apps is that I would still need internet access to work.

    As to the journey and explorations of my issues, I wonder what it is going to be like reading this blog back in a couple of years... I know that I am a totally different person from who write the Life CV for me therapist last year - the facts are all correct, but I'm going to have to rewrite the document as outside of the facts it does not reflect who I am any more.

    Jenny: I think there are a couple of things at play to be honest.

    One is the constant fight between developers and ICT (I've never worked anywhere with a specific ICT department where this does not happen - though it's never been as bad as here) and the other is just that the team where I work have the lowest level of professionalism that I have seen in such a department. As developers if we delivered a web site with the same level of service the company would go bankrupt within a year.

    Oh dear, that wasn't very polite was it...

    The hand is not too bad now - the blue has all gone, most of the swelling has gone and it's almost painless. But I think next time it happens I'll just find somewhere quite and alone to work it though without hitting anything :)