Data Centers

Journal of an IT manager: Putting out fires

In the midst of acting as technical liaison for the closing of a divisional office, this IT manager finds himself dealing with virus scares and invoice problems.


By Jerry Bujaucius

This week, IT Manager Republic will feature the daily diary of Jerry Bujaucius, an IT manager fora Fortune 100 retailer/wholesaler of commercial products. Bujaucius’ divisional office is set to move 1,500 miles away in six months, and he’s overseeing the transition of an IBM AS/400 computer system and 14 PC servers running various business applications that are vital to his organization. His main goal is a smooth transition that minimizes downtime.

8:00 A.M.
I check my e-mails. Apparently, there was a problem with one of the order entry programs. This probably involved some code that was changed over the weekend. The program did not run until last night, and it was unsuccessful, to boot. Unfortunately, we had the problem before we ran our nightly backups at 1:00 A.M. To accomplish our nightly backups, we kick everyone off the system (remember, we are a 7x24 operation), kill all jobs, and copy the AS/400 SAVF to disk. We let everyone back on about 20 to 30 minutes later and copy the SAVF out to our backup tape throughout the night. The off-shift operator got paged at 1:30 A.M. and looked at the message. But, based on the error message (a program call ended in an error), the operator assumed that the job had simply failed and that it was not hanging up anything else. So the programmers will look into the root cause today and monitor the job when it runs again.
About the author
Jerry Bujaucius moved into IT management and project management roles in the 1990s.
As IT Director for the Connecticut Economic Resouce Center in the late 1990s, he created an award-winning business services Web site (www.cerc.com). Presently, Jerry
is IT Manager for a division of International Paper located in central Connecticut.

Catch up with these
journal entries

Monday: l Moving a divisional office
Tuesday: l Strategic meetings


9:00 A.M.
We’re in the process of divesting one of our other corporate divisions from the company. I act as the technical liaison between the corporate staff involved in mergers and acquisitions and our own division management. The programming staff is honoring a number of requests for information that will be passed along to the potential buyers. For some reason, they are passing all of this information on 3-1/2-inch floppy disks. I don’t even have a 3-1/2-inch floppy drive on my laptop anymore.

10:00 A.M.
I meet with a member of my staff to discuss some of the to-do items from our meeting yesterday. One chore is to summarize how our AS/400 controllers were set up at each of our facilities. Another is deciding how to handle AS/400 security at the new location.

We also need to review each of the software packages on our AS/400 to see if they will be affected by a change in IP address. When we move the AS/400 to the new office location in Memphis, the machine’s IP address will change. All our application interfaces that use the IP address will have to be changed. And we push a lot of data from our AS/400 to our PC application servers on a daily basis. Also, some of our applications use an ODBC connection to push data back and forth on an instantaneous basis. All of these interfaces will need to be documented.

11:00 A.M.
A member of our finance group came to me with a serious problem. He thought he had uploaded an entire folder of files from his PC to a recruiter’s Web site. He had only intended to upload his resume. It turned out to be a false alarm. The Web site index box truncated the absolute file name and only the “folder” part was displayed. Whew!

2:00 P.M.
Uh oh. I just got an e-mail from an end user who wants me to alert the whole organization about the “A Card For You” virus that he just received. This sounds suspicious. McAfee has a great Web site for virus hoaxes. I take a quick look there to see if this is real or a hoax. And there it is—right near the top of the list—the “A Virtual Card For You” hoax.

3:00 P.M.
IBM just contacted me and said my account has some credits that I need to either accept checks for or apply to other accounts. We have maintenance contracts with IBM for our AS/400 and most of the peripheral equipment (controllers, printers, etc.) attached to it. In January of last year, we submitted our annual payments for maintenance at all of our locations for IBM equipment around the country. Then in February, our corporate office announced that it had negotiated quarterly payments—at great rates! So we then started getting quarterly invoices after we had already paid our annual bills. Since we had already paid, we thought there was no problem. Well, it turned out IBM credited us back 11 months of what we paid. Needless to say, our Accounts Payable people were rightfully confused about it all. It took months to straighten it all out. And we are still seeing the repercussions months later.

4:00 P.M.
I update my agenda for tomorrow’s regular weekly operation/support and projects meeting.

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