As I watched the stock market spiral downwards and the series of depressing economic announcements, I knew the storm enveloping our IT operations would not be far behind. I’ve dreaded opening the business section of the Wall Street Journal for the past two weeks; the pages have been filled daily with poor earnings reports and layoff announcements.
Coffee table book sales down = force reduction
When the “Warlord” called a special all-hands meeting yesterday, I had a good idea as to the reason for the meeting. With sales for several of our primary product lines, including an all-in-one coffee table book that folds out into small coffee table (an idea we got from Cosmo Kramer on Seinfeld), tethered to the winter holiday sales season down more than 75 percent, the Warlord announced five percent staffing cuts across each business unit during his quarterly call with the financial and industry analysts. The C-man gave me the translation after the meeting: I would need to identify one headcount.
Headcount down, carbon credits up
While normally a difficult decision, one that creates great consternation, I didn’t need to worry for long. As soon as I got back to my office after the all-hands meeting, Berkeley’s cousin, Ashby (her parents attending UC Berkeley in the late 60s and named each of their three daughters after famous landmarks from the student protests: Ashby, Hearst, and Telegraph), who manages backups on our IBM AIX systems, asked if I had time to speak with her. She explained that a new tree-sitting campaign was being organized by her friends in People’s Park to protest the how the university had become too conservative and needed to return to its liberal-activist roots. The year-long campaign would also provide her with a means of rebuilding her carbon credits, which had descended to “all-time lows” due to all of the long hours she had to log managing the Tivoli environment over the past year.
All said, with the tendering of Ashby’s resignation, the angst of identifying and then laying off the one headcount was solved. Regardless, Ashby would be missed, starting with the electronic battery she plugged into her bicycle each morning and then plugged into her workstation upon arriving at the office (she refused to use the electrical grid to power any of her devices. As a result, she invented a small generator for her bicycle that recharges a small battery during her 15-mile trek to work that she uses to power her workstation and Apple iPhone. I’m sure the team will also miss her monthly internal newsletter and blog in which she lists URL links and tips on ways to reduce your carbon footprint—both the pedestrian and the radical.
A cancelled project, an angry sales SVP
Beyond these issues, however, the biggest regret will be the loss of our dedicated IBM Tivoli backup administrator. As I cannot replace Ashby, I must find a way to cover backups on our IBM systems. The other backup administrators only know their individual product sets and platforms (Veritas NetBackup for the Sun Solaris systems, CommVault Simpana for the Microsoft Windows systems), and thus I cannot shift her responsibilities to one of them.
The options are limited. I guess the bet is Zack, the "Zamboni" (he got the nickname because he drives the Zamboni on the weekends for the local semi-pro hockey team and has been known to take his dates—which isn’t a long list—to the rink to ride on the Zamboni), who has prior experience managing IBM Tivoli. The is only one problem: he is currently in the midst of launching a six-month development project for sales. Nonetheless, as backups are not negotiable, I guess I need to ring up the sales SVP and let her know that we will need to indefinitely postpone her project. I am not looking forward to that call.
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