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A Bold Leap


OK, I admit it. I'm a tech head. I have three functioning computers in my house-a PC running Windows* 2000 Professional and two Macs running OS X (not to mention the three other Macs I have stuffed in a closet)-a wireless network, a scanner, two printers, a stand-alone fax and a host of other peripherals. Compared to your average business, that may not sound like much, but for a single household (with a single tech-support person-me), it's a chore to maintain.

To that end, I recently decided to purchase a multifunctional device that would take the place of the printers, scanner and fax machine. Aside from the coolness factor, I reasoned that having one machine take the place of four would free up valuable space and also lessen my maintenance burden. So I did my homework, searched for the best price and ordered one. Six days later (or three days after the promised three-day delivery), it was at my doorstep. Anxious to get the marvel of modern technology working, I ripped open the box, read the quick-start setup guide, installed all of the necessary components and gave it a whirl.

As so often happens, however, there was a problem. One of the print heads wasn't working properly. So I called the toll-free technical support hotline and, after holding for about five minutes, spoke to what sounded like a pimply faced teenager. I described the problem, walked through his suggested fixes (all of which I had already tried prior to the call) and patiently waited again as he consulted with another tech-support wonk. Finally, he told me hed send me another print head.

Not a big deal, really, especially in my case, because I can quickly develop some type of temporary work-around. But for a large enterprise dependent on this type of equipment or other mission-critical software, the problem can become huge, especially if the company has a 24 X 7 requirement. Consider in particular if there were a weak link in a company's back-up process. Data would be precariously stored on a single machine, and if that machine were to fail, well, all might be lost.

While Iceland Telecom wasn't quite in that dire strait, the data-replication application it had been using was particularly finicky, being slow, prone to overlooking bits of data during the replication process and requiring almost-constant hand-holding. Initially, Iceland Telecom hit the tech-support hotline, hoping for a quick fix. But when the quick fix didn't work, the company began shopping around for another solution, finally finding one from a vendor on the opposite side of the globe. Taking a chance on Maximum Availability's as of then yet-to-be-released application, NoMax, Iceland Telecom now has a very efficient and stable data-replication environment.

Defeating the Purpose
The Reykjavik, Iceland-based Iceland Telecom offers a variety of services to its customers, including both land-based and wireless telecommunications, broadband Internet access and cable television. Established in 1906, it's now one of the largest companies on this North Atlantic island, servicing (as dictated by law) customers throughout the country, no matter where they're located (urban, rural and everything in between). As Sigfus Kjaran, department manager with Iceland Telecom, puts it, "This is a European way to make sure all the small towns, all the farmers, have the equal right to the same service as the people in the big towns have at the same cost, no matter how much it costs."

 

Jim Utsler, IBM Systems Magazine senior writer, has been covering the technology field for more than a decade. Jim can be reached at jjutsler@provide.net.



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