"Do you think the guys running Azure or AWS care if a server gets rebooted in the middle of the day?" I asked the Help Desk analyst when he protested my decision to reboot a VM just before lunch.

 

"Well, uhh. No. But we're not Azure," He replied.

 

"No we're not. But we're closer today than we have ever been before. Also, I don't like working evenings." I responded as I restarted the VM.

 

The help desk guy was startled, with more than a little fear in his voice, but I reassured him I'd take the blame if his queue was flooded with upset user calls.

 

Such are the battles one has to fight in IT Environments that are stuck in what I call the Old Ways of IT. If you're in IT, you know the Old Ways because you grew up with them like I did, or because you're still stuck in them and you know of no other way.

 

The Old Ways of doing IT go something like this:

 

  • User 1 & User 2 call to complain that Feature A is broken
  • Help desk guy dutifully notes feature A is busted, escalates to Server Guy
  • Server Guy notices Feature A is broken on Server A tied to IP Address 192.168.200.35, which is how User 1 & User 2 access Feature A
  • Server Guy throws up his hands, says he can't fix Server A without a Reboot on Evening 1
  • Help Desk guy tells the user nothing can be done until Evening 1
  • User1 & User 2 hang up, disappointed
  • Server Guy fixes problem that evening by rebooting Server A

 

I don't know about you, but working in environments stuck in the Old Ways of IT really sucks. Do you like working evenings & weekends? I sure don't. My evenings & weekends are dedicated to rearing the Child Partition and hanging out with the Family Cluster, not fixing broke old servers tied to RFC-1918 IP addresses.

 

As the VM rebooted, my help desk guy braced himself for a flood of calls. I was tempted to get all paternalistic with him, but I sat there, silent. 90 seconds went by, the VM came back online. The queue didn't fill up; the help desk guy looked at me a bit startled. "What?!? How did you...but you rebooted...I don't understand."

 

That's when I went to the whiteboard in our little work area. I wanted to impart The New Way of Doing IT upon him and his team while the benefits of the New Way were fresh in their mind.

 

"Last week, I pushed out a group policy that updated the url of Feature A on Service 1. Instead of our users accessing Service 1 via IP Address 192.168.200.35, they now access the load-balanced FQDN of that service. Beneath the FQDN are our four servers and their old IP addresses," I continued, drawing little arrows to the servers.

 

"Because the load balancer is hosting the name, we can reboot servers beneath it at will," the help desk guy said, a smile spreading across his face. "The load balancer maintains the user's session...wow." he continued.

 

"Exactly. Now  you know why I always nag you to use FQDN rather than IP address. I never want to hear you give out an IP address over the phone again, ok?"

 

"Ok," he said, a big smile on his face.

 

I returned to automating & building out The Stack, getting it closer to Azure or AWS.

 

The help desk guy went back to his queue, but with something of a bounce in his step. He must have realized -the same way I realized it some years back- that the New Way of IT offered so much more the the Old Way. Instead of spending the next 90 minutes putting out fires with users, he could invest in himself and his career and study up a bit more on load balancers. Instead of rebooting the VM that evening (as I would have had him do it), he could spend that evening doing whatever he liked.

 

As cliche as it sounds, the new way of IT is about working smarter, not harder, and I think my help desk guy finally understood it that day.

 

A week or two later, I caught my converted help desk guy correcting one of his colleagues. "No, we never hand out the IP address, only the FQDN."

 

Excellent.