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Communication Clinic #1: "Brief Downtime Tonight"
06-26-2001, 03:59 PM
Post: #1
Communication Clinic #1: "Brief Downtime Tonight"
Welcome to Communication Clinic #1!

In this series (maybe only a series of 1?), we'll examine the ways in which DH communicates with its users... and the ways in which DH could and -- IMNSHO -- *should* be communicating with its users.

Alright, class... Let's get started, shall we? (Tommy... Please stop hitting Cindy. ...Thank you.)

Now. Here's Dreamhost's latest message to some of its users:

-----------------

Quote:Subject: Brief Downtime Tonight Type: Downtime

You may experience a very brief period of downtime tonight when we remove
/ move a shelf from one of our data machines. The total estimated downtime
is about 2-4 minutes. Please contact support if you have any further
questions or concerns. We do not anticipate problems with this move, but
if there are, we'll try to post an announcement as soon as possible.

-----------------

Some of us have services on more than one machine, so we need to know exactly which machine "you" is referring to. In addition, there's no mention of the starting time for this move.

So, here's an example of how the message could and should read (using "Hoggle" as an example servername):

-----------------

Quote:
Quote:Subject: Brief Downtime Tonight (Hoggle) Type: Downtime

You may experience a very brief period of downtime tonight when we remove
/ move a shelf from one of our data machines on the Hoggle cluster. The
total estimated downtime is about 2-4 minutes. Please contact support if
you have any further questions or concerns. We do not anticipate problems
with this move, but if there are, we'll try to post an announcement as
soon as possible.

Event Summary:

Event ID: DHMID 2001-06-26-0001
Event Type: Data Center rack reconfiguration
Scheduled event start: Tues., June 26, 3:00 am PDT
Scheduled event end: Tues., June 26, 3:04 am PDT
Scheduled event duration: 2 to 4 minutes
Server affected: Hoggle
Services affected: web

-----------------

And in addition to clarifying this message, an "Event Resolution"-style message should be sent. Even if it only says something like:

-----------------

Quote:
Quote:Subject: Downtime Completed (Hoggle) Type: Downtime

The Data Center rack reconfiguration was completed without much fuss at
all, and the systems are back to normal. We hope these necessary changes
didn't cause much disruption to your service. Thanks!

Event Summary:

Event ID: DHMID 2001-06-26-0001
Event Type: Data Center rack reconfiguration
Event start: Tues., June 26, 3:00 am PDT
Event end: Tues., June 26, 3:03 am PDT
Event duration: 3 minutes
Server affected: Hoggle
Services affected: web

-----------------

Creating a Web form that helps automate the inclusion of this level of detail would be really easy. Except for the "Event ID," it wouldn't even require a ticketing system.

Like I suggested to Josh, if DH is frightened of revealing this level of technicality to its more inexperienced users, then create two mailing lists; one of which receives only the main paragraph of the message, and another that includes the whole message, including the more technical details.

There. Now that wasn't so hard, was it?

Class dismissed.

<g>

...Bob
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