Enterprise Software

What should "unusual" really mean?

Okay, this is going to be a bit of a rant, but stay with me — I have what I think is a valid point.

I prepare income tax returns. My original career was as a public accountant. I like tax preparation and I'm pretty good at it so I keep doing it. But incidents like last night make me question whether the hassle is still worth it.

As you may know April 15 (April 17 this year) is the deadline to file income taxes in the United States. It is a well-known date that almost everyone is aware of at some level. It is integrated with our culture — Jay Leno and David Lettermen makes jokes about it. April 15 does not sneak up on anyone, especially if you are in the business of preparing income tax returns. People seem to relish in being last minute tax return filers. Every year, millions file their tax returns either by mail or electronically on the last possible day they can.

Everyone seems to know this except Intuit.

Intuit, makers of TurboTax, shut down their electronic filing servers last night because they said they were experiencing "unusual network activity." My question is how can the rush to file last minute income tax returns before the midnight deadline be dubbed "unusual." It happens every year and Intuit should have been ready for it. There is no excuse for not having enough capacity to handle the inevitable rush of last minute electronic filing. It happens every year without fail. To say the activity is "unusual" is disingenuous and an insult to my intelligence.

As a information technology professional and possibly a network administrator yourself, would you expect to get away with the claim that the servers are down because of "unusual" activity in this situation? Isn't the ability to predict and plan for future capacity needs part of your administrative mission? If you knew every April 15th of every year there would be an activity spike 10 times normal, wouldn't you prepare for it?

About Mark Kaelin

Mark W. Kaelin has been writing and editing stories about the IT industry, gadgets, finance, accounting, and tech-life for more than 25 years. Most recently, he has been a regular contributor to BreakingModern.com, aNewDomain.net, and TechRepublic.

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