Dysfunctional Outcomes In OIT
I shouldn't admit this publicly, but I have very little work to do these days. The reorganization of the DBA team within OIT has whittled my list of "DBA" responsibilities to installing Oracle software on servers and forwarding email requests for additional disk space. There's a reason I bring all of this up, though.
There are a lot of efforts under way at the University to cut costs and centralize services. In short, it is a mantra of doing more with less. That's admirable, but it has been so awkward in its implementation that I've been seeing a lot of dysfunctional side effects. People are working at the lowest levels to implement things as they are directed, but at the top it is not all coming together with the desired outcome.
So remember, I am someone working at the University without a lot to do. In recent weeks, I've been told that we have no money to invest in new software. I've been told that we can host databases for University departments with no limits on size, but also with no allocation of staff support, all without charge to the department. I've been told that we do not currently have any more disk space available to allocate to database servers. In short, we have no money, we have no more disk space, we have a surplus of staff time. We will not charge for the resource that is scarce; we will withhold the resource that we have in surplus.
At the lowest level, people are working toward the cause of reducing redundancy by centralizing services. They're saving money by not buying new software and hardware. But when you put it all together, you get a recipe for unbridled consumption and poor allocation of resources.
I received a request today from a web developer to create a new series of Oracle databases for a project--yes, that is the bee in my bonnet that started me on this tirade. In 2008, I did a study that determined such a setup would cost the department about $700 per month. Spending $700 of University money is as easy as sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and asking for a new Oracle database, and we'll give you as much storage, RAM, and CPU as you'd like. (Ignore for now the obvious security risk associated with affording anyone the ability to make such a request.) A 2,000 user CRM app is the same as a 10 user sudoku game in our eyes.
I can't order software to help me in my job, but you can spend $700 a month for a database to manage your fantasy football team.
It's dysfunctional at the management level because it gives no consideration to return on investment for a project relative to other projects. It does not allocate resources strategically. It encourages unbridled consumption. It gives away for free the resources that are scarce and limits those that we have in excess. The individual charges that led us to making these low-level decisions are thwarted by the lack of an overarching vision in their implementations.