IBM insiders say CEO Arvind Krishna downplayed impact of email issues, asked for a week to sort things out • The Register


IBM CEO Arvind Krishna addressed the company’s email issues on Wednesday in his monthly video message to employees.

Krishna, we are told, said that the disruption of the emails caused the company to lose only one deal worth around $ 10,000 and he said the situation would be completely rectified. within a week.

The chief executive’s comments appear to address The registerreported last week that IBM’s partial messaging outage could impact the company’s revenue. If the figure quoted by Krishna is correct, the sales impact of the email disruption is negligible in terms of the Big Blue’s overall finances. The possibility of brand damage remains, however.

Our first source at IBM described how Krishna compared IBM employees to “children of shoemakers,” a reference to the proverb that children of shoemakers walk barefoot and a suggestion that IBM is too busy to work. looking after its customers to provide reliable email to its employees.

“I took it as ‘we’re too busy doing other things’,” said the person who said The register about the video.

Krishna, we are told, spent several minutes on the subject, claiming that IBM sends 4.2 billion emails per week and that IBM employees only endured about 30 minutes per day of break time. Our source told us that was “just not true”.

On Tuesday, that individual said thousands of people had been reached and described 27,000 people in the company’s Slack help channel posting support requests.

“[Krishna] made a list of things that should have been done better, “said a second IBM insider The register. “So I expect some people to be canned. “

A third IBM insider suggested it was instead 100,000 people having difficulty accessing their email on Tuesday and compared the situation to an outage affecting an entire country. This individual called the situation a major embarrassment for a company that manages computer systems for a living.

But figuring out a specific number of affected people is difficult because, as we understand, email will be fine with some employees on one day and then die the next day, so not everyone is affected at the same time or the next. same way.

While a previous source described an uneventful migration, we also heard about meetings held yesterday afternoon that then went missing and emails with invitations visible but won’t load.

“My help desk person doesn’t even have an email,” our first source said. “But with Slack, we get by.”

This individual said that Krishna in his video attributed the outage to a lack of resources, especially people and money allocated to migrating emails from HCL to IBM servers. The message was that more capacity, testing and planning were needed.

This critical situation, he said, did not stem from a single mistake – which could have been corrected immediately – but from several cumulative decisions made over time due to a lack of resources.

When in doubt, spend

The register was informed that IBM had ordered 15 new server clusters on Tuesday to support its messaging system. It has been suggested to us that this represents an attempt to distribute the load on the server.

“They keep saying things like they’ve moved 1,400 users from one cluster to another, but people in an ‘un-impacted’ cluster are still complaining,” our first source said.

Our third source described this as diluting the problem without fixing the broken system architecture.

This person said the situation could be attributed to one or two IBM managers making bad decisions: Taking a strong, stable environment and throwing it into chaos requires a manager making bad calls.

Recent email issues did not have a significant impact on our quarter

The central problem, said this person, is a terrifically engineered solution. When the servers go down, a support request is opened with HCL, they send a fix, it is applied, and the server crashes again.

Initially, this person said, the CIO posted regular updates to Slack. At first, employees appreciated the effort and responded with thumbs-up emojis. Lately there have been angry face emojis and thumbs down.

IBM, we’re told, moved its messaging system in-house because HCL, which bought Notes in 2018, decided to shut down its email hosting service, SmartCloud Notes and IBM had no choice but to create its own servers. There were several reasons for shutting down SmartCloud Notes, our third source said, but one was related to an IBM vice president that made it extremely expensive, high-maintenance, and without clients.

The failed email migration, said this person, is the result of incompetent people.

“Recent email issues have had no significant impact on our quarter,” IBM spokesperson said The register. “Almost all of our messaging systems are operational and we expect all remaining issues to be resolved in the near future.” ®

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