Is this the start of a trend?
Apolgies in advance for this rant.
I think nsld's cynical comment maybe very near the mark. If you are an affected O2 customer and were also hit by the RBS network going tits-up a couple of weeks ago you could be forgiven for worrying about other rather important tech reliant services.
O2 have been boasting that they have 200 engineers assigned to network quality. I hope that doesn't equate to 200 "engineers" doing everything needed to keep things going, from physical station maintenance to network systems admin and the rest for all those shiny 23m+ mobile devices.
The companies we rely on to deliver services essential for our day-to-day survival are in practice totally big-tech reliant these days. If the big-tech screws up, within a day we don't get our daily bread in Tesco's, Veiola don't pump our water for our cuppas, Esso don't have petrol for our school run MPV etc. etc.These companies really don't care how much we are totally in thrall to their big-tech reliant, and frequently interdependant, services, and these days we really don't have many choices apart from using the big-co's.
For most big publicly listed companies, the old style belt & braces & and a spare pair of trousers approach to vital big-tech doesn't happen anymore. Unless there has been continuing and realistic levels of investment in the infrastructure over the lifetime of the systems, these very large scale services supplier systems have become too big, complicated and fragile to NOT fail. O2 probably doesn't employ directly anymore the people who might understand the core systems issues they have experienced.
it's almost inevitable given the relentless squeeze on tech budgets these days. The IT director (in the unlikely event the business has one) has to produce cost yearly efficiency savings to get his bonus. If well managed, you can nibble off a couple of percent a year for a long time before problems become "Big", the front page headline kind of Big. Outsource it, then the outsourcer also outsources some etc. etc. Before you know it no-one has good expertise and experience of how the overall system actually functions and where the most significant practical operational risks lie.
As with the retail bank systems (and lots of others), those responsible for driving and devising these unrealistic long term operational budget strategies will usually have moved on long before the shit hits the fan, be shaking their heads sagely and counting their fully translated share option packages.
Notice that the very last budgets to get seriously cut before big problems come to light are those that service the board remuneration and to a lesser extent (dependent on shareholder identities) the shareholder divvies. If RBS / O2 style failures happen piecemeal over a few months, the pain will be soon be forgotten by the markets on which these companies rely for THEIR well being.
Once the mess has been cleaned up, it will be business as usual again -"it was just that XYZ junior techhie screwed up", or "those problems were an abberation" and " just a very unlikley set of circumstances" etc. etc.
Of course the one market segment that most fully realize their very direct fiscal dependance on big-IT systems are the market-makers and traders - they will no doubt continue to make sure THEIR systems and contingencies are really tight as the gnats proverbial and that is why they tailor their IT budgets accordingly regardless of short term conditions.
With IT security difficulties growing like topsy and yet more budget stress on the way for our big-co service suppliers, and with many supermarkets, banks, telco's etc. running on ever more complex and increasingly unpredictable tech services, those survivalist nutcases start to look less like fruitcakes and more like the main course.
I don't fancy bottled water and baked beans for the next 5 years, so any suggestions for a tasty but long shelf life dry goods diet? What's the flag for dead in the water? "M" for Mike ?