According to the official WordPress blog (which I assume was also unavailable during the downtime), the problems were likely the result of an “unscheduled change to a core router by one of our data center providers [that] messed up our network in a way we haven’t experienced before, and it broke the site.” Worse, the outage broke all of the company’s mechanisms for failover in San Antonio and Chicago.
I’ll be interested to hear about WordPress’ stopgap solutions in the case of blog failure. In the meantime, I’m left to ponder — and point out to our readers — that having a disaster recovery and business continuity plan isn’t necessary only for such catastrophes as hurricanes — or a massive data breach that leaves you scrambling to explain to irate customers what went wrong (I gather that WordPress did an admirable job updating users via Twitter during the outage). But how do you prove this to the business so you can get the resources you need? Consider piggybacking disaster recovery efforts on other projects or mapping availability risk.
The WordPress problems also underscore the importance of properly vetting your providers, whose data center outage could negatively affect your business and its customers. For more information about assessing potential sourcing partners, check out our FAQ on getting started with IT outsourcing.]]>
This isn’t the first time I’ve heard of virtualization licensing terms being violated. A systems integrator told me that a customer had to pay Microsoft $300,000 after an audit of an application virtualization project. Apparently, the company was using Symantec’s Norton Ghost disk-cloning technology to create ghost images of four different desktop models. The company had licenses for four images, but they were being used by 800 users.
So how are vendors counting licenses under the virtualization model, and how can you avoid violating virtualization licensing terms?
Duncan Jones, a licensing expert and analyst with Forrester Research, gives some background in a recent report on counting virtual licenses:
For decades, many software vendors have licensed their products by hardware-based metrics such as server, processor, or device. The definitions they have used in their license agreements assume a permanent assignment of software to physical assets. The licenses are like labels that the operations manager can attach to a piece of hardware to say “this device is licensed to run Product A.” But the lawyers who wrote these agreements never envisioned today’s virtualized data centers. Increasingly, applications now run in software-controlled bubbles, called virtual machines (VMs), which usually cannot be permanently associated with the physical resources supporting them. This makes it hard for software vendor managers to ensure that their organization has sufficient license capacity — one can’t affix a license sticker on a virtual machine. If they’re not careful, these sourcing and vendor management teams may find themselves facing a large unexpected bill after a software audit.
Jones offers a few steps you can take to avoid violating virtualization licensing terms. These include:
Burton Group’s Chris Wolf believes it is time for those serious about virtualization to get a third-party licensing management tool. IBM offers such tools, as does ManageSoft.
ManageSoft, for example, allows you to audit the software you have in a virtual infrastructure and maintains an online database that will validate compliance for the applications and operating systems running in a virtual environment.
License compliance is no joke, as those who’ve been fined can attest. The onus is on you to figure out what you need and work with your vendors on the terms you need.
Let us know what you think. Email me at email@example.com.]]>
Though nearly all the players have since moved on to other things, this episode takes us back to a time that wasn’t good for this state’s IT. Indeed, the IT organization was apparently nothing but a pawn in this transaction, as the House speaker and his associates took seeming advantage of a CIO office in transition.
The time of the alleged activity found the IT organization in the hands of an acting CIO, the previous two CIOs having left after short tenures in apparent turmoil over an open document standard. CIO Peter Quinn resigned in late 2005, and his successor, Louis Gutierrez, lasted just 10 months. Gutierrez resigned in October 2006, citing a lack of funding for the commonwealth’s technology initiatives. Interesting how the House speaker pushed through legislation for $15 million for a BI project just a short time later. (He resigned earlier this year and is a key figure in the indictment.)
The acting CIO then signed off on the Cognos BI deal; in one account, this interim leader said the influence of top politicians didn’t affect her technology choice. However, the project didn’t get far. The commonwealth finally hired a permanent CIO in July 2007, Anne Margulies, who soon “raised concerns about ‘discrepancies’ in the bids,” and ordered the review that eventually uncovered the alleged activity, according to one report.
Now, anyone who pays attention to the news knows that there’s plenty of influence peddling out there, and much of what we find out about is in the public sphere, where everything from construction contracts to political office seems to be available for a price. CIOs are hardly immune to similar temptations. Whether it’s Lakers tickets or a pool in your backyard, CIOs do encounter vendor bribes, and it’s my guess that not all of them are as honest as the CIOs we interviewed for a story on steering clear of vendor bribes a couple years back.
Still, in Massachusetts, it’s notable that only elected officials and their lobbyist face charges as a result of the investigation into the bribery scandal. But the fact that no one from IT was fingered isn’t exactly good news, either. If elected officials (or executives) are steering the IT ship, choosing the technology path or big package that will perform key functions for years to come, something is wrong. Of course, with a revolving CIO door, Massachusetts already knew that.]]>