The SLA



  • In a previous job I was both desktop support and server support for a small online college that was part of a bigger college system. Each brick and mortar campus had their own IT infrastructure - switches, servers, and some of the larger ones had SANs and reliable backup systems. At the hub of these campuses was central IT. They provided shared services such as web hosting for each of the colleges' sites, email, Active Directory, licensing servers, etc. Each campus had its own servers for local things like file serving, printing, DHCP, etc.

    Our office, having a small staff of 10 people but supporting an enrollment of around 2000 students and growing, was moving from the building that central IT was located in. Before that we were using their servers and such for our needs. With the move, however, we needed to secure a box for file serving, DHCP, printing, etc. So I got one, set it up, and things were going along swimmingly.

    Long story short, our campus moved buildings a few times due in part to a failed merger with another division. Meanwhile, I went to work at a brick and mortar campus until they could find a new IT person. In all of this shuffle, the server I had procured was removed and was replaced with a virtual server in a data center that I had no physical or virtual access to.

    I came back to the online campus just as they they were preparing to move to a building that they had secured a long-term lease with. From day one I fought to have our old server brought back for the same purposes it had served in the past: DHCP, printing, file serving, etc. This time, however, the central IT manager would not have it. "You can continue to use our services," he said, brow furrowed. "You'll be on fiber at the new location and we have this wonderful new data center that can do everything: DHCP, file serving, print serving, the whole nine yards."

    I argued back. "What about redundancy? What if the data center goes down for some reason? We'll be completely offline, which is bad enough, but things are a little worse when you're an online campus."

    "Nonsense!" the IT manager said. "The data center doesn't ever go down." This statement was absolutely false because it had gone down a few times while I had been at the brick and mortar campus. But this guy was the latest in a seemingly unending parade of IT managers so I gave him some slack.

    Unfortunately, my supervisor ended up agreeing with the IT manager. We all came to the mutual decision though that we should have a Service Level Agreement (SLA) in place to cover our critical needs.

    A few weeks later the IT manager came back with an example SLA mostly filled out. It still had the website branding from the site he had plucked it from. It was missing some essential services that we needed covered and had some services, like Wordpress, that we didn't even use. 

    A few days later he came back with a more polished SLA. The website name had been blotted out with some white-out (apparently he didn't know how to use page setup in his browser to eliminate that header but hey, whatever). More importantly though, we were able to get our services listed on there with three levels of support: Critical, which covered services that we had to have or we'd be dead in the water, Medium, which covered some services we could go a few days without, and Low, which covered everything else. The key part of these levels were the response times: Critical had a response time of an hour 24/7 with regular communications at 30 minutes if the issue wasn't resolved. Medium and low had more relaxed times. 

    It was 9:04 AM on a clear, sunny Tuesday when the data center went down. The first indication that something horrible was wrong was when our shares became disconnected and we couldn't access files. A few moments later the printers were not responding. Suddenly, internet connectivity started dwindling because the one hour lease times on the DHCP server were expiring (I know, I know - one hour was their "standard" lease time and no amount of arguing would make them budge. Seeing that many of their departments were still using mandatory static IPs because DHCP is 'inherently insecure' I wasn't going to push the issue). So now here we were, an online campus with no Internet, no file serving, no printers, no email, and no word about what was happening and when it would be fixed. 

    I got the Internet to limping by assigning static IPs. I created temporary connections to our networked printers to print via IP, something I should have done to begin with I guess since the office was so small. But we still had no file server access. Per our SLA we were due a phone call or some sort of communication within a few minutes of the response time. 

    Nothing. 

    So I called. "We're busy! We're working on it. Don't bother us"

    "Well, what's the problem?"

    "We're looking into it."

    An hour goes by. I call again. Same response.

    Lunch comes and goes. Still no call. I call again. "We're busy! Stop bothering us!"

    "Look," I say. "We're dead in the water here without file access. Can you give me any sort of ETA or let me know what's going on?"

    "No. We're busy. We're looking into it." The line went dead, 

    Eventually the data center comes back online around 4 PM. I go home, stopping at a liquor store to grab a six pack of cold ones to relax after a shitty day.

    The next day I go to see the IT manager. He wasn't expecting me and I could tell that I was the last person he wanted to see. But I cornered him in his office and demanded to know why our SLA was ignored. "We both agreed in good faith that you would regularly call me to update me on what's happening!" I said calmly but exasperatedly. "Instead we spent all day being down and I still don't know why."

    "A router went down and we had some complications replacing it." he said.

    "Well, that's nice, but again, why wasn't I notified and told this? Why didn't anyone call me and keep me updated?"

    The IT manager leaned back and folded his hands together. "It's just a piece of paper." he said. "I wrote it up and signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better. Besides, what happened yesterday will never happen again. The data center usually doesn't ever go down." 



  • So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.



  • I'm with Rhywden. I don't really get it... did he literally sign an SLA with ZERO negative consequences for when it's ignored? Then he ignored it? Then you were surprised? Even though you already knew he was a liar?


  • Impossible Mission - B

    It's still kind of douchy to agree to something in writing (or not) and then not even attempt to abide by that agreement.



  • Yeah but the guy already lied once about their uptime, and he already stole an SLA from another company without even bothering to remove the letterhead.

    So. I'm not saying it's right or good, but it should have at least been unsurprising.



  • @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.

    The OP doesn't actually say who the SLA was with but I get the feeling that it was with their own "central IT" that he describes at the beginning of the story.  Which means there is no "punishment" to be enacted other than maybe trying to get someone fired.  And then there's this:@citking said:

    The IT manager leaned back and folded his hands
    together. "It's just a piece of paper." he said. "I wrote it up and
    signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better.

    I suspect there actually was no SLA.  The manager just printed it out, signed it and showed it to them, just to shut them up.

    Nah.  Nobody would ever do that.

     



  • Give the OP a break guys, handling awkward human beings who use manipulations like lies or aggression is not straightforward. If it was, nobody would be telling lies.

    Also, everyone knows that the punishment for knowingly signing a fraudulent SLA for purely deceptive purposes is beheading, due to an unrepealed law from Edward VI. He passed the law when a leper tried to bet him something and grab his hand to shake on it without permission, claiming it was legally binding. Interestingly, the same law was used to indirectly save the president's daughter from illness. It's probably on wikipedia.



  • @Shoreline said:

    Also, everyone knows that the punishment for knowingly signing a fraudulent SLA for purely deceptive purposes is beheading, due to an unrepealed law from Edward VI. He passed the law when a leper tried to bet him something and grab his hand to shake on it without permission, claiming it was legally binding. Interestingly, the same law was used to indirectly save the president's daughter from illness. It's probably on wikipedia.

    Is this thedailywtf or /r/shittyaskhistory?

    Not that I mind, it's still funny! :)



  • It would cost you less to work around this prick and procure new onsite hardware, even if you paid for it out of your own pocket, than to continue to put up with his bullshit.



  • @ekolis said:

    Is this thedailywtf or /r/shittyaskhistory?

    Isn't this Facebook?


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @Shoreline said:

    It's probably on wikipedia.


    If it wasn't, it will be.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.

    I get the (possibly wrong) impression that there wasn't actually an SLA in place - it was merely something presented to the OP as if it did exist; i.e. he was lied to:

    @IT Manager said:

    I wrote it up and signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better



  • @PJH said:

    I get the (possibly wrong) impression that there wasn't actually an SLA in place - it was merely something presented to the OP as if it did exist; i.e. he was lied to:

    @IT Manager said:

    I wrote it up and signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better
     

    I got that impression, too - but I've no idea how the IT manager can get away with a statement like that. Even if he wants to pull a fast one over citking's eyes, he's pretty much stated upfront that he's untrustworthy and unreliable.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    This all brings back really bad memories, tense shoulders and a sinking feeling in my stomach. Thanks a bunch...


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @PJH said:

    @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.

    I get the (possibly wrong) impression that there wasn't actually an SLA in place - it was merely something presented to the OP as if it did exist; i.e. he was lied to:

    @IT Manager said:

    I wrote it up and signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better

    Isn't the act of affixing your signature to a document legally binding? Granted in this case there were no stated consequences, so the agreement equated to "we guarantee this level of service or else whoops, our bad." You can't say the agreement doesn't exist because there it is, in writing, signed.

    Edit: Maybe you mean the document was a forgery? That would seem to actually create some kind of legal liability of its own, but I ANAL as well.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @joe.edwards said:

    Isn't the act of affixing your signature to a document legally binding?

    Not within an organization. You cannot ever have a contract with yourself, even if you happen to be a corporate entity rather than a physical person. Contracts are defined to be agreements between two (or more) legal entities. Corporations also tend to be very careful with who is actually allowed to commit them to a contract; Joe Random Manager virtually never has that power.

    Still might be consequences for doing that sort of thing though, like the C*Os getting upset and making some people rather more “employment challenged” than before.


  • Impossible Mission - B

    @dkf said:

    Corporations also tend to be very careful with who is actually allowed to commit them to a contract; Joe Random Manager virtually never has that power.

    The law's even more messed up than I thought. You mean someone can sign a contract and when they break it their company can say "Got you! That guy wasn't authorized to commit us to a contract."?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @joe.edwards said:

    The law's even more messed up than I thought. You mean someone can sign a contract and when they break it their company can say "Got you! That guy wasn't authorized to commit us to a contract."?

    That's why if you deal with contracts (other than a few specific types, such as staff employment contracts) you see that companies don't just have an officer sign the contract but they also attach the company seal to the contract. This is also part of why it's a PITA if you're trying to get a new supplier set up; the corporation typically wants to set up a framework contract (with all the fancy stuff) and then use abbreviated ones thereafter. It all makes sense on one level, and on another it's WTFs all the way down.

    It's simpler for a small business. There, it's only the owner (or one of the partners if it is a partnership) who can sign contracts and that's that. Simple. Doesn't scale.



  • @joe.edwards said:

    You mean someone can sign a contract and when they break it their company can say "Got you! That guy wasn't authorized to commit us to a contract."?
     

    No. Contracts are legally binding. If the contract is broken, the company is still liable - it was their fault they permitted someone to make legal commitments on their behalf.

    The OP was talking about and AGREEMENT, not a contract. You can't have a contract between two parts of the same organisation.


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @joe.edwards said:

    @PJH said:
    @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.

    I get the (possibly wrong) impression that there wasn't actually an SLA in place - it was merely something presented to the OP as if it did exist; i.e. he was lied to:

    @IT Manager said:

    I wrote it up and signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better

    Isn't the act of affixing your signature to a document legally binding? Granted in this case there were no stated consequences, so the agreement equated to "we guarantee this level of service or else whoops, our bad." You can't say the agreement doesn't exist because there it is, in writing, signed.

    Edit: Maybe you mean the document was a forgery? That would seem to actually create some kind of legal liability of its own, but I ANAL as well.

    I'll expand on my impression: IT Manager and OP are with the same company. The non-existent SLA was with another company. IT Manager lied to OP about there being an SLA in place by showing them a false/non-existent contract.



  • Legal issues aside, this leaves him wide open to snide comments.

    "This thing never goes down."
    "Like the data center."

    "I signed off this document."
    "Will it make us feel better? Because the last time you signed something it didn't even do that."

    And of course:
    "I hear the data center goes down more often than your wife."

    It might seem bitchy, but if they're going to lie to you without remorse, you shouldn't have to feel remorse when bitching about their lies.



  • @Shoreline said:

    Legal issues aside, this leaves him wide open to snide comments.

    "This thing never goes down."
    "Like the data center."

    "I signed off this document."
    "Will it make us feel better? Because the last time you signed something it didn't even do that."

     

    I wasn't going to suggest the passive-aggressive approach but.. ... .. I approve.

    There. I said it.

     



  •  @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.

    Absolutely nothing. That was the highlight of our pointless SLA that guranteed everything but nothing.

     



  • @El_Heffe said:

    @Rhywden said:

    So? What kind of punishment did you enact? A SLA is worthless without specification of what the guilty party has to pay in case they don't do what the SLA demands.
    The OP doesn't actually say who the SLA was with but I get the feeling that it was with their own "central IT" that he describes at the beginning of the story.  Which means there is no "punishment" to be enacted other than maybe trying to get someone fired.  And then there's this:@citking said:
    The IT manager leaned back and folded his hands
    together. "It's just a piece of paper." he said. "I wrote it up and
    signed it because I thought it would make you guys feel better.
    I suspect there actually was no SLA.  The manager just printed it out, signed it and showed it to them, just to shut them up.

    Nah.  Nobody would ever do that.

     

    It was with our own central IT. So it was like an 8 year old signing a pledge with mom to promise cookies after dinner. When mom doesn't keep her end of the deal then what's the 8 year old to do?

    You're right. No one, not even  alazy, inept IT manager, would do something that diabolical.

    /snark

     



  • @dkf said:

    It's simpler for a small business. There, it's only the owner (or one of the partners if it is a partnership) who can sign contracts and that's that. Simple. Doesn't scale.


    Unless the partnership agreement states that two (or more) partners are needed to sign a contract. Then it's a whole new world of WTF because any contract requires co-ordination, and if it's an important contract there would be extra witnesses, e.g. a lawyer, etc. I've seen a case where two small partnerships took months to sign a contract with each other (which they were all desperate for), because they couldn't arrange a meeting between all the required parties...



  • @configurator said:

    …two small partnerships took months to sign a contract with each other (which they were all desperate for), because they couldn't arrange a meeting between all the required parties...

    Isn't that was escrow is for?


  • Discourse touched me in a no-no place

    @havokk said:

    @configurator said:
    …two small partnerships took months to sign a contract with each other (which they were all desperate for), because they couldn't arrange a meeting between all the required parties...

    Isn't that was escrow is for?

    No. Escrow is used to place something of worth in independant 3rd party hands (e.g. money, or source code) to prevent (1) the source of the worth reneging on a deal and (2) the destination of the worth receiving the worth before the conditions for its reception happen.

    Typically both sides need to agree on (a) the worth (how much money, which source code) and (b) the conditions of hand over, before the escrow is used. Which means having... a contract (actually, I'd imagine, a 3-way contract - source, destination and escrow) in place.



  • @PJH said:

    @havokk said:
    @configurator said:
    …two small partnerships took months to sign a contract with each other (which they were all desperate for), because they couldn't arrange a meeting between all the required parties...

    Isn't that was escrow is for?

    No. Escrow is used to place something of worth in independant 3rd party hands (e.g. money, or source code) to prevent (1) the source of the worth reneging on a deal and (2) the destination of the worth receiving the worth before the conditions for its reception happen.

    Typically both sides need to agree on (a) the worth (how much money, which source code) and (b) the conditions of hand over, before the escrow is used. Which means having... a contract (actually, I'd imagine, a 3-way contract - source, destination and escrow) in place.

    Meeting escrow should be a thing for when you don't want to meet with your clients personally.



  • @Ben L. said:

    Meeting escrow should be a thing for when you don't want to meet with your clients personally.

    Wouldn't that just be a very inefficient form of email then?



  • @MiffTheFox said:

    @Ben L. said:
    Meeting escrow should be a thing for when you don't want to meet with your clients personally.

    Wouldn't that just be a very inefficient form of email then?


    Email. Escrow.


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