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The Nine Circles of IT Hell 126

snydeq writes "Dan Tynan takes us on a tour of the nine circles of IT hell, a place 'not unlike the underworld described by Dante in his Divine Comedy.' 'But here, in the data centers, conference rooms, and cubicles, the IT version of this inferno is no allegory. It is a very real test of every IT pro's sanity and soul,' Tynan writes. From IT limbo, to tech lust, to stakeholder gluttony, to tech-pro treachery, the IT inferno is not buried deep within the earth, it's just down the hall. 'Thankfully, as in Dante's poetic universe, there are ways to escape the nine circles of IT hell. But IT pros beware: You may have to face your own devils to do it. Shall we descend?'"
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The Nine Circles of IT Hell

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  • by aBaldrich ( 1692238 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:27PM (#37591212)
    If he adds a "how to escape" for each circle, then he did not read it. Virgil had to convince Charon to let them in...
    • by TheLink ( 130905 )

      Well his escape tips might not work 100%. For example:

      That means making sure you have the tech expertise in house to solve your own problems, going with open source to avoid vendor lock-in

      The last I checked, Reiserfs had vendor lock-in ;).

      Seriously though, not everyone can afford to have sufficient tech expertise in-house to fix say xorg or the linux sound system. Or network performance issues when you have 1000 vlan interfaces (issues which the kernel devs may not bother fixing since they don't run environments which need 1000 different VLANs).

      • The last I checked, Reiserfs had vendor lock-in ;).

        I know you're being funny here, but just remember how fast the reiserfs users escaped to ext3/ext4 when the "vendor" was locked in.

  • Users who can't find the any key.
    • Users who cannot find the power button
      • Users who are managers.
        • Users who are afraid they broke their monitor because it powered off after 15 minutes.
          • Users who are shocked to learn their mouse has a second button.
          • Users who are afraid they broke their monitor because it powered off after 15 minutes.


            Is everyone where you're at running laptops or something?

            • As if that weren't the standard setting for desktop these days...

              • As if that weren't the standard setting for desktop these days...

                Not any any place I've worked..or at home.

                I mean, no need to turn a desktop off...no need to conserve battery, just usually a screen saver that locks when you go away.

                But never heard of turning a monitor off before on a desktop....? Can't see a good reason for doing it...the inconvenience I'd think would outweigh any slight perceived savings in energy cost...

                • If you use a system that you have to log onto, having the screensaver activate after some period, then having to have your password to get out of the screensaver is a security measure. This is if you walk away from your desk without logging off.

                  I'm a little surprised it wasn't used anywhere you worked. It's Computer Security 101 stuff.

        • Why the tautology?

    • by Anonymous Coward

      You might want to take a refresher course on OSI layers.

    • That's a per user problem. There's an "Oh! Yeah!" moment at the end of it.

      For REAL Hell, from TFA:

      How many of us have been abandoned by our vendors to IT limbo, only to find ourselves falling victim to app dev anger when in-house developers are asked to pick up the slack?

      Here, spend YEARS supporting something you didn't write.

      I wish IT management would understand that part of their job is PRUNING systems. If it is unsupported / undocumented, then put together a plan to either remove it or further isolate it

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Synerg1y ( 2169962 )

        The key here is communication, I find the more of my day I devot to communication at the cost of getting less stuff done, the better my position becomes. As a coder you can spend a week fixing a part of the system of your own initiative and good will, my point is... propose your project, document it, explain the scope to the best of your ability, as a side-effect its a lot easier to ask for longer time lines when you follow all these steps. The disconnect between IT and senior management is communication,

        • The key here is communication, I find the more of my day I devot to communication at the cost of getting less stuff done, the better my position becomes.

          The problem with that is that all it takes to ruin it is someone claiming to be able to do more, better, flashier, etc.

          Particularly if they have access to a nice golf course.

          There will always be someone who devote even less time than you to getting something accomplished ... so that they can spend that additional time selling management on the latest fad.


  • if IT only put everything in da cloud they would spend days with their 72 virgins

    • by ColdWetDog ( 752185 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:35PM (#37591278) Homepage

      if IT only put everything in da cloud they would spend days with their 72 virgins

      Well that's a pretty large IT group, but from what I see around here, it seems that most IT staffs are largely comprised of virgins...

    • by SJHillman ( 1966756 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:37PM (#37591288)

      For large companies, their IT department *is* 72 virgins

    • by V!NCENT ( 1105021 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @05:04PM (#37593528)

      No. The only salvation is professionalism.

      I realise that I will be shot for saying this, but how come that the only thing that's running horribly in an entire company, is the IT department?

      There is a way to just make near-bug-free software on time and the evidence for that rediculous claim is NASA.

      I took the liberty of finding the answer to everyone's horror. But before you click on it, you do have to realise that your playground will be over once implementing the solution.

      All text-only print-format before your head realy explodes out of anger (ofcourse): http://www.fastcompany.com/node/28121/print [fastcompany.com]

      • If you want to pay for that go ahead, although most companies are more than happy to use their already overworked and underpaid staff, possibly add in a few contractors, and have (mostly) working software slightly after the due date (which nobody believed in the first place) that meets the business needs for 1/10th or less of the cost. Also, I don't know where you have been working, but IT is far from the only department running poorly in most companies I have seen. TL;DR version: most companies are not f
  • by balbord ( 447248 ) <balbordNO@SPAMyahoo.com> on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:37PM (#37591284)

    me: Bad password? I don't give away bad passwords. Not unintentionally, that is. What password are you using?
    user:I'm using the password you sent me! is: generic2011
    me: what? Are you sure? It starts with an 'i' and an 's' and it has a ':'?
    user: yeah.
    me: So when I wrote down "Your password is: generic2011" you decided that "is: " was part of the password?
    user: Well, Isn't it?

    • by tokul ( 682258 )
      Next time use better language structure. Don't confuse quotes with colon and tell user that password is without quotes.
      • by gknoy ( 899301 )

        Better yet, color code it.

        "Your password is the text in red: MyDogLovesPeas42"

        (Obviously, then you'd get calls about "how do I enter my password in red", but at least they'd have the right characters.... ?)

        • I'm colour blind you insensitive clod! If you wrote it on a green sticky note, it would look like a blank:
          Your password is:
    • This is why I often write passwords on completely separate lines. Even so: if I put a period at the end, people still don't realize it's part of the password..

      • by Eol1 ( 208982 )

        I have to agree especially as you get some complex password rules now days and some folk think you are cleverly using punctuation to meet that complexity. Usually I say something like:

        Your password is "generic2011" all lower case. It starts with a "g" and ends with "1". Do not include the quotation marks.

    • by aralin ( 107264 )

      Had to be a russian guy, they got no word for 'be' really. They would say something like: You smart. Your password generic2011. :)

  • 10+ Circles (Score:5, Insightful)

    by FatherOfONe ( 515801 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:43PM (#37591348)

    The 10th Circle of Hell is when upper management believes that outsourcing everything will save them money and time.

    The 11th circle of Hell is when someone in a high place reads a magazine and decides that the entire company needs to head off in some "new" direction.

    The 12th circle of Hell is partnering with Microsoft.

    The 13th circle of Hell is partnering with Microsoft.

    The 14 circle of Hell is replacing the guy who partnered with Microsoft.

    • by Belial6 ( 794905 )
      That is EXACTLY were we are right now.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      10a. The circle where a few managers have gotten to the vendors first, entered into financial arrangements with them and now have a vested interest in seeing that vendor's solution selected.
      People you meet there: The manager with the photo of him(her)self on his office wall shaking hands with the vendor's rep. The product is sitting prominently on the table in front of them. Next to that photo is one of the boss' new 42 foot fishing boat.
      How to escape: Leave the company. Such a blatant disregard for co

      • To an extent. There are many propagandist newsrags circularing in the manufacturing industry aimed at management level readership, and many CAD/CAM packages that are total garbage promote themselves quite heavily therein.

        If your manager has been brainwashed by a well trained industry evangeist, there can be simillarly nasty circumstances for everyone involved excepting said evangelist.

        Good companies ask their engineers what does and does not work for them, and buy accordingly, but good companies are becomi

    • The 15th circle of Hell is partnering with Oracle.

      The 16th circle of Hell is partnering with Accenture.
    • by Shotgun ( 30919 )

      11 isn't really hell until that magazine article is actually an advertisement 8*(

    • Then 15th circle has to be IT-Security. No matter if you're in it or just suffering from it.

      If you're in IT-Sec, you're the loneliest person in the company, because nobody even wants to talk to you, fearing they might say something that could "incriminate" them and constitute a security breach, so they avoid you altogether.

      If you just suffer from IT-Sec, you may rest assured that when you have everything planned out for your project that sec-idiot will butt in and tell you that whatever you wanted to do vio

  • by OzPeter ( 195038 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:48PM (#37591376)

    The Tenth Circle of IT Hell: Reading infoworld articles.

    Description An abomination of words that seem profound from a distance, but on closer inspection aren't

    The People you meet there Innocent people sucked into the morass of a less than worthy /. story

  • Regretting saying "yeah, we can make that happen" every day since.

    • I have found that the best way to respond when someone suggests 'we' need to do something is, "Sure, go ahead. Knock yer-self out!" Keep telling them, "Sure, go ahead. Knock yer-self out!" ten times, a hundred times, a thousand times if necessary. Eventually they will come out of denial and realize you are not thier thrall. Really, it works.

    • by mcl630 ( 1839996 )
      Same here... I've been working on a project for quite some time. I thought I was done other than some cleanup and improving performance. I met with management last week to show them the program and do some testing, and wound up with a whole laundry list of additional features to implement. I have a month to do 2-3 months worth of work (not to mention I have other projects I'm dealing with).
      • by hazah ( 807503 )
        I dunno about your personal situation, but based on my experience, if you can come clean now and say, "that's not what we talked about" in some way, then by all means do that. Otherwise, you're probably in a world of hurt right now. Sorry.
  • Hahahaha good luck (Score:1, Interesting)

    by unity100 ( 970058 )

    "We need to balance our capitalistic nature with some form of societal responsibility."

    with the above .... in a system in which only the most ruthless ones can survive and undo others, you cannot talk about social responsibility. at the point you become socially responsible, the shareholders, who have no obligation to morality, will pull their money from your company and invest it in socially irresponsible ones to make money.

    this is the fault of capitalism. it cannot be fixed without totally changing capitalism to something that is not capitalism anymore.

    • Or just put tax on socially irresponsible things.
      Every optimization problem has a fitness value, that you must maximize. In capitalism we call it money. We have to create the constraints where maximizing money leads to socially desirable things. Otherwise we will just reinvent the centrally planned economy that was practiced in the Soviet Union.

    • by hjf ( 703092 )

      So, are you the 99% or not?

    • Capitalistic nature? I didn't known that capitalism was part of our genes. I think we were merely brainwashed into it by society.

      And by the way there's this strange place called Europe. Maybe you heard of it. In many of its countries they are acutally practising a cult called "social market economy". Market driven economies and capitalism exclude social responsibility only if you are an asshole, as a matter of fact.

      • Sorry to pop your bubble, but we've abandoned that whole "social market" hogwash for the much more efficient and successful bail-out driven capitalist market system.

  • by NecroPuppy ( 222648 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:54PM (#37591430) Homepage

    And that's "Accreditation hell". Where policy prevents you from fielding systems that aren't certified to certain levels of robustness / security, but management hasn't (or won't) budget the time or money to actually secure a system.

    "Just stand it up now", they say. "We'll put the security money in next year's budget."

    Of course, it doesn't show up in next year's budget, and pretty soon, you're the next Sony (in the getting hacked repeatedly sense).

    • Tech's understand technology.

      Other people understand "magic".
      You say the right mystic words and make the right arcane gestures and the things that tech said could not be done get done.

      "Just stand it up now", they say. "We'll put the security money in next year's budget."

      That's powerful magic. It gets things done NOW.

      Other spells are:
      "I think you're over-analyzing this."
      "There won't be any problems."
      "My nephew says he can do it this weekend." This is a particularly dangerous spell because it releases dest

    • Accreditation Hell has another room wherein you have managers who push for a technology because it has attained Common Criteria EAL5 certification and even budget for it, but then refuse to allow it to be configured even remotely close to it.

  • by jjohnson ( 62583 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:54PM (#37591432) Homepage

    Have a chatty phone conversation or a drinking lunch with a consultant who's between gigs. Let him tell war stories. Organize according to some metaphor drawn from a widely known but poorly understood work of literature. Beat deadline, knock off early.

    • by nharmon ( 97591 )

      Seriously. The most awful part of this article were the solutions. For example, the solution to the problem of different vendors blaming each other (aka: limbo?) is...

      "When you're digging a hole in hell, the first thing to do is stop digging and climb your way out," says Roth. That means making sure you have the tech expertise in house to solve your own problems, going with open source to avoid vendor lock-in, and taking the time to refactor your code so you can be more efficient the next time around.

      ...to not have the problem in the first place? How utterly useless is it to advise someone that the solution to a problem is to not have the problem in the first place. Gee, thanks brother, I never thought of that.

      Instead, the real solution to this is to get out of the middle of the two vendors and insist they work together to fix the problem.

  • At least he's using the Layer Model, even if they are circles.
  • by Joe_Dragon ( 2206452 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @01:58PM (#37591458)

    and it even worse when management is hired on Business degrees / MBA's they may know a lot about management but not much on IT but they are running the it department.

    Also when they take people from top tear school where CS is far from the job that needed and far from what you pick up at a tech school and where people who have done IT work for years are looked down on as they did not go to a top tear school but when to a tech school.

    • Fortune 500s tend to only hire employees with degrees because it puffs up the credibility of an organization as a whole. Also there's that whole attitude of alumnis pulling for fellow recent graduates as well. You can thank the HR culture for that one really.

      I wouldn't worry too much about it though. Most of corporate America is SMB. Those will hire based on experience over degrees based on what I've seen. Unfortunately you don't get the cushy job perks and title that do go with a fortune 500 company. Consi

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Perhaps the people with degrees can write coherent sentences.

  • by Talderas ( 1212466 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @02:02PM (#37591502)

    Kudos to the guy that wrote the summary. He gave us an infoworld link that wasn't dumb by giving us the printer version.

  • by vlm ( 69642 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @02:04PM (#37591516)

    tour of the nine circles of IT hell

    I thought this was some kind of "Google+ in the Enterprise" story for a few seconds.

    In my experience, a G+ circle of hell is where some dude in the "Ham Radio" circle insists on a fox news headline post every thirty minutes, or religious crusader clutters up my "Linux" circle with daily bible quotes. Ugh.

    • Funny you should mention that, as enterprises will typically have Google Apps, and us Apps folks can't have Google+.

      • Which is amazingly annoying because those of us who just want Google to keep up the spam filters and ward off being blacklisted have Apps accounts for our personal domains. Google is so finicky about switching stuff later that I'm afraid to use/make an alternate vanilla gmail account and then find out in a year that I can't migrate it back to my "real" email when they activate Apps accounts on G+.

        • You can't just copy the mail over with IMAP?

          I don't think Google has squared away its policy of zero-tolerance account deletion for things that it doesn't like (e.g. false accusations of child porn) and your paying for their service. I've stopped using Google+ because I don't want all my Android contacts and my saved maps to disappear one day. Since there's no customer service, I don't feel the risk is warranted.

          • This. It's exactly why I (a long-time gmail and general fan of their applications) haven't started using Google+ -- and have no intention of starting with it any time soon.

            I've got paid Apps clients with them, I've used their mobile syncing, and plenty more...it's just too big a risk. And a shame they don't realize that's scaring you, me, and plenty of others. Or maybe they do, but don't care.

            Thanks for putting it so well.

  • I think the Level 7 Escape comment says enough to either prove complete naivete or complete ignorance:

    How to escape: Exiting the circle of company-on-company violence may only be possible via collective action, says O'Berry. "When you squeeze the ecosystem only to your advantage, not caring about the companies you've killed along the way, eventually people will say enough is enough," says O'Berry. "We need to balance our capitalistic nature with some form of societal responsibility."

    In the last thirty years

  • This guy got caught up in his metaphor and the article doesn't impart much useful information. There's probably a few nuggets of worthwhile advice there about documenting or specifications or vendor lock in. Next time, focus on the IT part and less on the "Dante's Inferno" part.

  • by Cutting_Crew ( 708624 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @02:57PM (#37592206)
    As a developer myself, i have found that the larger the corporation is, the larger the lock-in is. I am not sure whether a bigger corporation seems to feel that everything has to be the same across the board in all its departments or what. I have mentioned this in another post and i will mention it here. There is NO REASON...NONE..NADA for companies to still produce products in MFC(espeically since MS dumped it LONG ago). If a company has a vision to move on to something like QT or at least WPF then fine but when you see job ads for new software products and needing people familiar with MFC(that isnt related to specific porting to another environment) it really makes my skin crawl and it is really holding the developers there hostage.

    On more general company lock-ins i wonder how much money a large company would save if all (lets say 70,000) employees including the CEO were using openoffice versus buying a license for every single microsoft office suite. That to me in INSANE.
    • by Altrag ( 195300 )

      At that point its not vendor lock-in, its manager lock-in. Someone in your company has decided "if it works, its good enough" and doesn't want to fork out the $$$ for Qt/VS licenses plus all of the time taken to re-write their entire software base. Especially if its in-house software and they don't have to worry about first impressions when trying to sell it to someone else.

      Cobol programmers aren't even out of a job yet, and it was old news before MFC was a glint in MS's collective eye.

      Switching from MSOf

      • by jp10558 ( 748604 )

        Print to PDF - send PDF to customer. Or in OO, export to PDF. Or however you like to generate the PDF.

  • by medcalf ( 68293 ) on Monday October 03, 2011 @03:26PM (#37592564) Homepage
    when the customer hires consultants so that they (the customer) can have someone to blame when things go wrong, and then spends all of their time ensuring that blame is affixed for anything and everything (including "doing exactly as directed after warning of this specific consequence") rather than spending any time trying to make things better?
    • Fifth circle. Bureaucracy, deflection of responsibility. Alternatively, eighth circle sixth bolgia (hypocrites)
  • THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU for linking to the "printer friendly" version as opposed to the "50 words at a time so we maximize our page views" version!
  • Eighth circle, second bolgia for operating system fanboys, phone/computer platform fanboys, operating system haters, and phone/computer platform haters. Regardless of which platform and operating system the fanboys and haters hold forth upon, it's all lies and shit.

    Double depth for falsely accusing anyone who disagrees with you of being a fanboy. Though there's certainly applicability of the sixth, eighth, ninth (especially forum trolls) and tenth.

  • genious!! :D

    i recently had a project going that i can surely say that i meat ALL of these circles... one by one..
    how to escape?? is the project delivered?? abandon the project... :D
  • Couldn't help but read on the separate story about rogue admins, and my first impression is... All the cases used in the article features some truly stupid admins.

    They're not just stupid from what they did, but also how they did it. I mean logging on to systems directly from your home IP, not deleting incriminating logs and so on. But maybe the more clever rogue admins are clever enough not to have been found out?

    In any case, I'm nothing special but I can easily devise methods of accessing systems completel