If you've ever been party to an Internet access horror story then maybe you will empathise with me on this one. If, by chance, you've never experienced the pain-in-the- backside frustration that comes with Internet downtime, be warned. Get yourselves a watertight agreement with your current service provider and ensure that you have Plan B on standby if, and when, that dreaded moment arrives.
But what's with all the commotion? It's only an Internet connection and its usually restored in a matter of hours, I hear you say.
Wrong, big time!
Try four-and-a-half days of complete isolation, cut off from the outside world with not even a hint of an imminent solution to the problem during that period. Also throw in mass confusion between Telstra/Big Pond (the ISP we now use) and Access One (the ISP that stuffed things up), and you have the ingredients for a massive powder keg of feral, angry journos just itching to write back-stabbing stories about both organisations - just for the fun of it, of course. No malice intended.
A history lesson shows that Access One refused to accept IDG's request to claim ownership of its own ISDN link. That's fine, a simple misunderstanding and the mess can be sorted out with one phone call. Or that's what our IT department expected. It turned out that Access One didn't muck around when it came to informing Telstra that our ISDN link should be disconnected until further notice.
The result. Access to our worldwide Notes-based news service and incoming e-mail messages was unavailable for nearly five days. In effect, the entire company was shut off from the rest of the industry. Our daily services had to be postponed, our Web sites could not be updated. In essence, everything we stand for as an IT news provider was blown off the face of the earth while Telstra and Access One pointed accusing fingers at each other.
Just imagine the ramifications a similar period of Internet downtime could have on your organisation. Say, for example, your organisation just launched a whiz-bang, first-of-its-kind e-commerce site featuring current stock levels, and product pricing and delivery times.
Imagine if you came in one morning to find the switchboard lit up like a Christmas tree, full of irate customers and partners all asking the same questions: "Where's the product I ordered yesterday?", "Why can't I find out when that load of PCs we ordered two months ago will arrive?", "That's the last time I ever do business with you hopeless jokes again."
This is no laughing matter, folks. You don't need to be a rocket scientist to work out that Internet downtimes of this magnitude cost organisations millions of dollars, even send them to the wall.