I recently came across this video on Youtube which shows a plumber try to replace a water pipe in an apartment without turning off the water.
The video lasts 14 minutes. That’s 14 minutes of high-pressure hot water spraying everywhere. The plumber ends up drenched, probably with some minor burns, and the apartment (and the apartment below) suffered major damage.
Why did this happen?
Three main reasons:
- The apartment complex was badly designed, and the only water shut-off valve would have shut off the entire building (not just the one apartment).
- The landlord didn’t want to accept the inconvenience (and the cost – $150 apparently!) of shutting off the water for everyone, so decided to make the repair without shutting off the water.
- The landlord found a handyman (not a skilled plumber) who was happy to take on the job. He didn’t fully understand the risks, but figured he’d give it a try, because how bad could it be?
We are not immune from the same temptations
Before we laugh too much at the incompetent landlord and plumber, it’s worth noticing that we can be tempted in similar ways.
- Maybe your network (or your translations logic) is poorly designed, but it would be so much effort to fix that you decide to leave it alone. You comfort yourself with the old saying, “if it ain’t broke…”
- Maybe you want to make a “quick” change, or a “simple” upgrade, and you want to avoid the hassle of scheduling a maintenance window – so you figure you’ll just go ahead and make the change in the middle of the day. “After all, it’ll probably work out just fine.”
- You’ve identified an issue that needs fixing, and you’ve Googled around a bit, and you think you have an idea what to do. You don’t really understand the process, but you figure you’ll give it a try and see what happens. “What’s the worst that could happen?”
Don’t end up in hot water!
“Learn from the mistakes of others. You can’t live long enough to make them all yourself.”Eleanor Roosevelt
Anyone who’s been in this industry a while has some good stories about the mistakes they’ve made, or the outages they’ve caused. Not me of course. Every maintenance window I’ve ever been involved in has gone perfectly. Except for that one time… and that other time…
But looking to the future, let’s see if we can avoid some mistakes, inspired by this plumber.
- If some part of your network is a mess, eventually that’s going to come back to bite you. Maybe it happens to be working now, but as soon as something changes, you’re going to have a nightmare on your hands figuring out what to do. It’s much better to bite the bullet ahead of time – before you have a big problem – and address the issue head on.
- Be wise in your use of maintenance windows. I’m not saying every single change requires one, but you need clear guidelines for what does and what doesn’t, and you need to follow them. It’s also worth considering a “soft” maintenance window – where you make changes during a quieter part of the day, but not the middle of the night. Risk is a continuum, and you can have more than two options for when work is performed.
- If you are preparing for a project or a migration, and it’s out of your comfort zone, the wise choice is to ask for help from an expert.
The team at Award Consulting is terrible at many things (plumbing, for example – speaking for myself), but we have performed a lot of migrations, we have updated a lot of switch translations, and we have deployed a lot of Hosted PBX / UCaaS phones. So don’t hire us to do your plumbing, but if you are worried about an upcoming project, and it falls in our areas of expertise, why not reach out and ask for help?