Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Yes, reliability is important

(Excuse me for just a moment. last.fm is playing "Til I Die." Bliss. OK, I can resume now.)

We communicate with each other in a lot of ways, ranging from smoke signals to videos. I am currently exploring some alternate forms of communication (my LinkedIn friends may have seen my question on this topic).

In the course of my research, I ran across this post from Luis Suarez. He is trying to decrease the amount of work e-mail that he receives, and he's currently on week 6.

here I am again, folks, putting together this particular blog post to detail what my week has been like, trying to escape work related e-mail and divert, accordingly, most of the conversations into the social computing world.

Suarez continues:

This week would be the sixth in a row since I got started with this new experiment and so far it has been one of the most interesting, more than anything else because for the first time in all of those weeks, I have now found out what may be the one and only reason why I might give up on this initiative and go back to good old e-mail!

So, what happened?

[H]ere is the main reason why the number of e-mails has gone rather high this week, compared to other weeks: social software!!! Yes, that is right! The same social software tools that I have been using all along are the ones that have increased my weekly intake of e-mails! Can you imagine that? How did that happen? Well, because of something that is just so simple, that everyone takes it for granted: performance & availability!

Well, I won't mention Suarez's company (its initials are "IBM"), primarily because the issues that he faces are not unique to his employer - or, for that matter, to people outside of a corporate environment who are using social tools.

A good number of [his company's] various social tools are actually still running in pilot servers, while we test them and take them to the extreme, and with very limited support. Yes, the everlasting flavour of beta! And this week it has incredibly difficult for some of these tools because they have been more down than up, and when up rather slow! Yes, I know, one of those weeks that I am sure you folks could relate to as well.

So, the immediate consequence from that is that when people needed to get across through to me, they would be making use of whatever the social software tool we regularly use and instead of sharing the info they would not be able to because of those performance issues and they all diverted to what they know works consistently: e-mail! OUCH!!!

The lesson? Before you start an initiative to divert traffic from one server to another, make sure that all servers have equivalent reliability.

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