So I’m sitting at home reading an article on the NY Times website about the current travel mess in New England, and a statement within the article really scared me (about 2/3s of the way down).
“He wonders why during times like these, airlines, which are now profitable, cannot simply rent additional computing power and hire temporary customer-service workers.”
Now the person who is wondering this isn’t just your average guy on the street, he is Tom Groenfeldt who “publishes a blog on financial technology” (http://www.techandfinance.com/) so he should know a little something about technology, or at least I would hope so.
Computer processing power can’t just be rented, and as soon as you sign the contract everything gets faster. If you need more web servers, the site needs to be deployed to new servers, those servers need to be put into the load balancer. If you did go to one of the cloud sites like Amazon’s EC2, or Microsoft’s Azure and deployed your application to their web servers, you now need to reconfigure your network to allow these outside network connections in. But your back end databases aren’t going to get any faster, you just have more web servers.
Increasing the capacity of your database engine is going to require a little more than “poof its faster”. New hardware needs to be brought in, and the systems migrated to this new hardware. Before this can happen an OS of some sort needs to be installed, the system needs to be tested to ensure that there are no problems with the new hardware, etc. Now if this new hardware needs to be brought in, how is it going to get there? The airlines are canceling flights across the country, making it pretty tough to fly large computers around at the drop of a hat. Do you’ll need to truck that new equipment from where ever it is to where ever you need it. Assuming that you only need to go half way across the country that is still a 2-3 day drive (assuming that the roads are drivable).
As to the other half of his statement “hire temporary customer-service workers”, sure no problem. Do you know 500 people (probably more than 500 are needed, after all there are something like 10 million people that need to talk to customer service at the moment) that they can hire at the drop of a hat, that are located where their call center is? Does their call center have somewhere for 500 more people to sit? So we’ll have them all work at home. So we need to issue them computers, and phones, and they all need to have high speed internet. Assume for a moment that they all have high speed internet and a computer they need to either be given an office phone which will use their high speed connection so they can take phone calls, or they need to be given the companies Voice Over IP (VOIP) soft phone software which will run on their computer, and they will need a headset (something else which now needs to be purchased and issued, so we probably need to wait for these to be shipped in from somewhere).
Not to mention the little thing about these people need to be interviewed, and background checks need to be run since these people will be taking peoples credit card numbers, etc we’ll probably want to make sure that they aren’t going to steal the customers credit card information.
Needless to say asinine statements like the one above don’t serve anyone’s interest except to cause people to be pissed off for no reason. This person apparently doesn’t have a clue about how technology really works (I skimmed a couple of pages on his blog and I didn’t see anything about technology on there at all). He should stop talking about technology at all, unless he actually understands how technology works, and until he has worked with technology as a technology professional.
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