A question of QoS

commentary All geared up for the new year and nowhere to go. This is how employees at a Sydney company felt when production drew to an abrupt halt due to the incompetence of its Internet Service Provider.

commentary All geared up for the new year and nowhere to go.

This is how employees at a Sydney company felt when production drew to an abrupt halt due to the incompetence of its Internet Service Provider.

Quality of service, it seems, is not in the ISP's vocabulary. Despite "numerous attempts" to regain Internet connectivity, it was fruitless.

Subsequently, the company was laden with other problems -- uptime a distant pipe dream and the ISP's reasoning for the downtime sounded all too familiar.

When the ISP was first notified, the company was told "we're looking into it". That grew to "we're working on it", then, "we're still working on it". Thirty-six hours later and it's still being worked on. What exactly is being fixed remained a mystery. It was one excuse after another.

Flipping through the contract, it was obvious that a lose-lose situation beckoned for the company -- there was no inexpensive way of terminating it since the lock-in period was three years.

While the company's chief financial officer calculates the impact (read losses) on the business, a few obvious questions immediately come to mind: Why was the contract structured that way? Why does the ISP have the upper hand? Who is the customer in this instance? And yes, what was the company thinking when it signed a three-year non-negotiable deal?

But surely there's some form of escape clause built-in to guard against shoddy service? No such luck apparently.

Here's the interesting bit ... the IT manager who allegedly signed the contract is no longer with the company so in essence, there's no neck for management to wring at the moment. Were there any checks and balances when the contract was being reviewed or did the company have complete (blind) trust in the manager?

While it's too late to cry over spilt milk, many lessons can be learnt from this unfortunate episode. Reflecting on the questions posed above might be a good start.

How can companies avoid being caught in this conundrum? Have you any bad or good ISP experiences to share? Talkback below or e-mail us at edit@zdnet.com.au.

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