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I.t. Strategy & Charging

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Long story short - Big company, IT dept has been split off and made a seperate company (primarily tax reasons) which now means we have to make sure we charge back for everything to the main company.

Fairy nuff, except the management have come up with these Service Level Agreements (Low, Medium, High, Premium - different uptime, support and recovery times) and in order to have some difference between the SLAs (and therefore the amount they can charge) when in comes to stuff like backup & recovery they're simply replacing our current processes with a less robust strategy. No difference in the cost to the IT company but it will increase the time to recover and the potential to lose more data.

To me this seems counter-intuitive. Any other company we've always strived to make our backup & recovery as robust as possible with the given hardware and standards of the day.

Surely there must be a better way to charge rather than simply downgrading what we've already got?

So for example, we always perform full database backups every night (we have about 500 servers and 1000's of databases), as the majority are less than 10Gb in size (we do have some 1Tb + db's but that's anoither story) and the fact we use some pretty nifty compression the backups run really quick and take up very little space.

Under the new proposals only SLA High and above get a daily full backup. Lower levels get a full backup every 2 weeks and a transaction log backup daily. WTF ?

Analogy - To me this sounds like if you wanted to hire a car and told the hire company it was only for 2 people (and you would get charged less for this) and they still give you a 4 seater car but take 2 of the seats out. All the shag and hassle of removing the seats just to make sure the customer can't possibly carry the extra people.

Another example, we're quite big into using Virtual Machines for our smaller systems. Beauty of this is you get high availability from the underlying clustering. You set it up and pretty much forget about it letting the virtual software move stuff around depending on load and server failures.

Management are talking about re-configuring servers that aren't on High SLA or above so that automatic failover doesn't happen.

If you ain't paid for it, you can't have it!

Jeez, that's gonna be a bugg3r to maintain.

This is just a small example of the cr4p that's going on here.

Anyone else seeing this kind of thing where they work?

This just seems so wrong to me. I'm sure there must be a better way to do it rather than deliberately removing functionality to fit into a charging model.

Comments please.

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Analogy - To me this sounds like if you wanted to hire a car and told the hire company it was only for 2 people (and you would get charged less for this) and they still give you a 4 seater car but take 2 of the seats out. All the shag and hassle of removing the seats just to make sure the customer can't possibly carry the extra people.

Comments please.

Isn't this just the modern way? Like charging to sit together on an aeroplane. Surely to incentivise you to actually pay this, they have to ensure that those not booking seats do actually end up sitting apart. Thereby creating work where none existed. And are they really saying that they would sit my 3 year old next to a complete stranger if I don't stump up?

It's the same process at work in running down the Post Office, so people will be willing to pay more for a private competitor to provide worse service than they were getting in the first place. I disagree with Trickster though, you may well get away with it. In my experience people seem to like being treated like shit whilst paying for the privilege.

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Most SLAs i deal with involve time rather than reliability - your company's strategy does indeed sound utterly stupid.

If you've got the hardware and storage capacity to do daily backups on everything, don't see why you wouldn't. For new archive requests, sure make the lower cost/availability/reliability options available.

Cost differentiation is normally how long you take to restore backups when they request them etc.

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They want everything codified so that they can then present this to other companies for lower quotes. They will certainly get lower quotes from India. Your company, having the single client, will become insolvent.

Thus they manage to get rid of you lot without paying any redundancy money.

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They want everything codified so that they can then present this to other companies for lower quotes. They will certainly get lower quotes from India. Your company, having the single client, will become insolvent.

Thus they manage to get rid of you lot without paying any redundancy money.

Damn that would be a clever plan. And i bet the managers that pull it off get bigger bonusses for reducing costs to!

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Every couple of years they consider outsourcing (and i've been here 10 years so know how regular this is).

So far, probably due to the complex nature of the business (how sh1t our systems are) no one has yet been able to be cheaper than we currently are.

I do expect my job to disappear within about 5 years though due to changes on the horizon.... :(

Or relocate to another country.

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Sounds like insourcing....been there, done that....I worked in an IT department for a defence company who were OK...I was then TUPE'D across to the "IT" arm of the company. Appallingly, dreadfully run...I could swear about how crap they were, but I'll just have all the words blocked on here.

The problem is that a lot of firms don't understand how crucial IT is...they just see it as an overhead that doesn't make any money...they soon bitch if the network goes down for a nanosecond, or that they cannot recover a file they want...

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I've seen worse, in the NHS we have individual email systems for each of the 1000 odd trusts and also a centralised (not very good) NHSMail system

All of these connect over the NHS network, encrypting the network traffic to make all that email secure is as simple as ticking a box Encryption=YES

Ahhhh but the company the network is subcontracted to (BT) say "you didnt specify encryption in the contract so you dont get it, end of story" this means that no-one can send any patient data securely to or from the central NHSMail system.

Now you might think this wouldnt matter if only everyone would just use NHSMail all the time then nothing would need to travel across the network, but someone has to go first and no-one no one wants to use the system that doesnt allow sending secure email to the rest of the NHS.

So we have a stalemate, where a 90 million investment is mostly being ignored. Clinicians who travel between different hospitals generally end up with multiple email accounts, and all this stupidity means they have to deal with a ton of duplicate emails when everything gets sent to all their accounts.

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Sounds like insourcing....been there, done that....I worked in an IT department for a defence company who were OK...I was then TUPE'D across to the "IT" arm of the company. Appallingly, dreadfully run...I could swear about how crap they were, but I'll just have all the words blocked on here.

The problem is that a lot of firms don't understand how crucial IT is...they just see it as an overhead that doesn't make any money...they soon bitch if the network goes down for a nanosecond, or that they cannot recover a file they want...

Thales?

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Isn't this just the modern way? Like charging to sit together on an aeroplane. Surely to incentivise you to actually pay this, they have to ensure that those not booking seats do actually end up sitting apart. Thereby creating work where none existed. And are they really saying that they would sit my 3 year old next to a complete stranger if I don't stump up?

Stupidest thing ever. It was £30 to book seats for my family to sit together when we went on holiday. We took didn't pay it and hey presto they sat us all together anyway. No airline, anywhere, ever is going to try to sit a 2 year old apart from his parents.

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They want everything codified so that they can then present this to other companies for lower quotes. They will certainly get lower quotes from India. Your company, having the single client, will become insolvent.

Thus they manage to get rid of you lot without paying any redundancy money.

+1

Read between the lines. Becoming a service company is never a good sign. You may have kept the terms and conditions of your original contract but they mean jack sh1t when you are at arms length from the company you work for report to.

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Under the new proposals only SLA High and above get a daily full backup. Lower levels get a full backup every 2 weeks and a transaction log backup daily. WTF ?

..

Management are talking about re-configuring servers that aren't on High SLA or above so that automatic failover doesn't happen.

If you ain't paid for it, you can't have it!

..

This just seems so wrong to me. I'm sure there must be a better way to do it rather than deliberately removing functionality to fit into a charging model.

Hard to comment on your particular specific situation, but this sort of approach happens everywhere: the "standard" product is downgraded, and a "premium" product is introduced. The premium product is actually more or less the same quality as the previously cheaper standard one.

So rather than appearing to put prices up (which is what has actually happened) the company likes people to believe that a new, higher end range has been introduced for the discerning customer but there are still products for everyone else, which makes them feel they can have a piece of the action that those with more cash can have.

Examples: premium pizzas, downsizing of items in supermarkets, broadband

Not sure if this is strictly relevant, but:

When I started my company and an ex-collegue started theirs, we both strived to win customers by providing very good, very personal service. Basically, what the customer got was way, way above what they could have had for the same money elsewhere. Like having telephone based support without a fixed monthly commitment; out of hours servicing, being able to select the priority of "tickets" themselves (big, big no no in IT) and so on.

As you grow, you then eventually come to realise that you can never keep all of the people happy all of the time. Which is disappointing, since it's what you wanted to accomplish. But it is impossible. So you end up segmenting the customer base - only a small percentage of the customers drive the majority of the income. And you then try to tailor the level of service to what the customer is prepared to pay.

For instance, if a customer won't commit to pay me something monthly, there's no phone support and no SLA. At all. Ever. No matter how urgent their case is. It's the equivalent of a company selling stuff at a loss because the customer disagrees with or cannot afford the price. Nobody wins, not even that customer in the end, when it all goes tits up.

What is painful is implenenting these sorts of policies with customers who have been there from day one. However the best customers tend to understand it. After all, they might have been some of the customers in the phone queue for 30 minutes while we sort out setting up Mrs. Jones POP email in outlook for her costume jewellery site turning 5k a year because she cannot be bothered to read the online guide and do it herself, while they have a genuinely urgent issue.

With respect to transaction logs, it's been while since I ran hosting (use to manage 2 x web, 1 x mssql, 1 x iMail + stats box) but I do recall that the overhead of having full recovery mode on is significant compared to simple mode even when the logs are on a separate physical drive, and so I myself differentiated on that. You can have full recovery mode, or daily backup. If the customer has an e-commerce site which takes ten orders a day then losing half of them by regressing back isn't the world's biggest disaster. If the customer loses 200 transactions they then tend to see the point of the full recovery mode and the higher price quite quickly.

In summary however there's a line to be drawn between improving or perfecting a business model, and introducing draconian or uncompetitive practices which make customers feel shafted and then leave.

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Isn't this just the modern way? Like charging to sit together on an aeroplane. Surely to incentivise you to actually pay this, they have to ensure that those not booking seats do actually end up sitting apart. Thereby creating work where none existed. And are they really saying that they would sit my 3 year old next to a complete stranger if I don't stump up?

Where genuine competition exists that sort of thing won't work for long. KLM used to have a system whereby if you were silver level or above in their frequent flyer scheme, you could reserve an exit row seat online at the time of booking your economy class ticket - once you enter your FF number, certain seats are no longer greyed out and you can click on them. As I'm 6'6", the legroom on a nine-hour flight is a major issue for me. They stopped this earlier this year: now all exit row seats are designated as 'economy premium' or some such thing, and everyone, including people like me who book around 10 long-haul trips a year with them, has to pay £50 extra to sit in an exit row, unless any of them are unsold and you get lucky at the airport. As a result, I am in the process of using up my KLM miles and will join either American's or Continental's scheme when I've done so in December, both of which are a lot more generous to people with my pattern of flying (i.e. who do a lot of it, almost all between Britain and the US or within the US, and almost all in economy), and which still offer this benefit.

Likewise, if any airline is silly enough to seat your three year-old next to a complete stranger unless you pay extra, sooner or later a rival will come along advertising their child-friendliness, which will then scoop the business of parents with young children.

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  • 331 Brexit, House prices and Summer 2020

    1. 1. Including the effects Brexit, where do you think average UK house prices will be relative to now in June 2020?


      • down 5% +
      • down 2.5%
      • Even
      • up 2.5%
      • up 5%



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