On Customer Choices – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly

So, I received a call today which related to a client whom I act as a specialist for. They wanted my assistance to implement a solution which their customer was very adamant about. And there’s the first yellow flag – the end customer was adamant about the solution they had personally dreamed up “because it worked”. In this case, the end customer was putting a debian file server as a guest OS on top of a Windows Home Premium system desktop class system. Why did they want it set up like that? “For reliability”. I know, I can hear all the system admins in the audience cringing and gritting their teeth.

“Why, what’s wrong with that?”, you might ask. First things first. You don’t base a system you’re trying to maximize reliability onto a Windows Home operating system – “Premium” or not. The operating system and the hardware it’s generally found on are not conducive to the high loads one would expect from a virtual host, let alone a data storage unit. Yes, that was the second yellow flag. The customer had decided it was reasonable to build their File Storage system as a virtual box. So, now, before we even get into the software which will actually hold the data, we’ve already got 3 full systems to manage and maintain. The Windows OS, the Virtual host application, and the guest OS. Now comes the red flag.

My client talked to the customer and asked them to talk with me, their Linux and business system administration expert. The customer replied indicating roughly, “OK, I’ll talk with them, but if they don’t agree to do what I want in five minutes, I’m going elsewhere.” … I never did actually receive a call from the end customer, and I’m OK with that.

Why is it that a small business owner whom finds themselves incapable of installing and configuring a system the way they want, call for help, then immediately reject the the advice given to them by experienced professionals? Strange, very strange.

Please, business owners large and small, if I tell you something is not a good idea, I probably have a reason or two, maybe more. +15 years of experience as a system administrator for everything from mom and pop to mega multinationals has allowed me to learn a thing or two. If I am offering you a touch of that experience, free of charge, maybe there’s something to it – maybe there’s a reason.

Good luck to the gentleman on the end of the phone. I wish him well because he’ll need it. Even if he gets his task performed by someone else, and it’ll look great to start… He won’t suffer now, nor tomorrow, but experience tells me it’ll come. Sooner or later, cheaping out and ignoring experienced advise starts to show. And worse yet, it may cost the man his business. But, that’s a story for another day.