Friday, May 05, 2006

Fawlty Admins

Install the Application, Manuel!



The customer's in Spain. They're using our old-as-dirt (6 years) version of $OurBigApp. The Win32-based one. The totally Win32-based version. It had a lot of problems and we were dependent on a particular piece of software I'll call $Balance to handle -- what else? -- load balancing.

The weird thing was that it shared a few DLLs with $OurBigApp. If you installed it, it had to be installed before our software. We'd pick those DLLs up and run with 'em. If you didn't install $Balance first, you'd have to completely uninstall our software, install $Balance, then re-install our software from scratch.

We told people we recommended installing $Balance even if they didn't think they'd use it, and if they installed $Balance on one machine, the should definitely install it on all of their boxes since machines using different DLLs equals anomlies.

Comes the ticket:


we're studying to install a new application server. The question is: Could we install the new server whithout configuring $Balance on it?

Thanks in advance,
What I wanted to write was "No! Install $Balance! Save yourself and us a lot of headaches! Install it beeyotch!" But I couldn't. Our Supported Systems Guide (SSG) says that it's not mandatory. That means I have to say it's not mandatory. I squirmed.

If your system is currently using $Balance then you should install it on the new server. If you don't, $Balance isn't required but it is recommended. If you choose to load balance the system later, you'd have to uninstall $OurBigApp on each server, then install $Balance, and then re-install the $OurBigApp from scratch.

If you're not actually running $Balance, it doesn't have to be configured and running but it must be installed before $OurBigApp.

There came a reply.
Thank you for the answer. Could you be more explicit with your explanation?. We're not using $Balance, but it has actually installed and configured on the five Servers on the Production Environment. When we're going to install the new server, MUST we install $Balance software in this one although we aren't going to use it, as is in the five Servers mentioned? We don't use to load balance the system in a future.
Didn't I make myself clear? Apparently not. Let's try again.

Since $Balance is installed on all other servers we would strongly recommend installing it on the new server as well.

That seems to me to be pretty damned straightforward.
Excuse us, we don't understand if your answer is a recommendation or is obligatory. Please, do you mean we HAVE to install $Balance on the new server because is mandatory?
He's joking, right? Has he still not comprende'd this yet? Son of a bitch!

I cannot tell you that you're required to install $Balance because the SSG lists it as optional. HOWEVER, we STRONGLY RECOMMEND you install it anyway for the following reasons:

* You've installed $Balance on all the other servers
* Effort should be made to keep Production machines identical
* $Balance and $OurBigApp share certain DLLs.
* Without $Balance on the new server these DLLs will differ throughout Production
* We have seen cases of odd and irreproducible problems in mixed systems

I'm not allowed to tell you that you must install $Balance; all I can tell you is that it would be a VERY GOOD IDEA to do so for the reasons stated above.

There. I'd spelled it out and still managed not to violate our guidelines, which include not claiming something is mandatory when the SSG doesn't say so. He wrote back a couple hours later. It seems Enrique finally saw the words I'd been writing...
You say in last letter install of $Balance is not required, we won't. Thank you. Please close ticket. Thanks, Enrique
This isn't a language barrier. Ricky doesn't want to do any sort of installation, not even one that requires five minutes and seven mouse clicks.

We'll be hearing from him again in a couple weeks. I'll cut and paste the answer to his upcoming problem from this very blog: Uninstall $OurBigApp on each server, then install $Balance, and then re-install the $OurBigApp from scratch.

Root Cause: 17-Fuckwit
Pay attention, people. Just because we Monkeys aren't supposed to tell you things doesn't mean we don't try to anyway.


Blogger shashwat pulled out a crayon and scribbled:

Ouch, I can feel your pain! It would probably be worth trying to get the SSG to include a mandatory installation of $Balance but then again as you mentioned the version is old-as-dirt.

05 May, 2006 17:10  
Blogger ReallyEvilCanine pulled out a crayon and scribbled:

Yep. I tried. I still know the Documentation Change number by heart. It was rejected for no better reason than "We're not making this version anymore. They should move to our newer version." Which, because I'm easily a 34, I actually argued and escalated internally.

Fat lot of good that did.

05 May, 2006 23:53  

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