Wednesday, December 11, 2013

ICEpocalypse Impediment

Our company just discovered an interesting impediment this past week.  The Dallas ICEpocalypse of 2013 resulted in many companies shutting their offices, ours did this also, both Friday and Monday (Dec. 6th & 9th) - someone even opened an outdoor ice skating rink in Dallas.  Yet many team members worked from home, and to do this many had to use the Virtual Private Network (VPN) to access secure systems.  Guess what impediment a few thousand employees all working from home the same day causes?  The VPN is a licensed infrastructure with a license limit.  Yep! only a fraction of the people working from home could access the limited licenses of the software VPN.

So I wonder if there is a system, known to mankind, that is designed to deal with this sort of constraint and surge in usage....  isn't that new fangled cloud computing environment designed to handle this very sort of on demand scalability?

So I understand the need of the company IT department to purchase a limited number of licenses.  I understand the VPN vendor to limit the users of the system.  I understand the workers wanting to stay within the safety of their warm homes and use those new high tech remote computing platforms and networking that we are so famous for creating.

I understand that we as a company have spent millions of dollars on fail safe redundant data centers to server our customers.  We have fault tolerant fail over systems, disaster recovery systems.  But we don't have them fool proof.  And one weather system proves it.  While I'm sure the customer systems continued to hum during the ICEpocalypse of 2013.  The support and development groups got taken out by a VPN license agreement.

I'm not an expert on contractual license agreements - but when I was tasked with writing a license monitoring framework for our network infrastructure product many years ago - I chose to buy one from a company that's core competency was licensing.  We integrated it (FlexLM) with our software.  It had the capability to change license restrictions with the editing of a file and restarting a license manager service.  We could have easily given a client a thousand licenses for a week if asked, we could have charged them for this service or done it for free.  All because the license manager company had already solved these problems before.

So I wonder why that capability doesn't manifest itself today in core infrastructure, as part of disaster mitigation plans.


References:

FlexNet http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/FlexNet_Publisher
OpenLM  http://www.openlm.com

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