No big deal

Mainframe security pilot fish works for a company that has big iron in the U.S., Europe and Asia -- and a help desk on each of the three continents, too.

"Each desk worked during its daytime, to provide 24/7 coverage for the company," fish explains. "Each desk could work on any mainframe, so those of us in the U.S. who occasionally worked evenings knew to route requests to the European or Asian desks for prompt service."

One evening fish signs onto a mainframe from home to check the status of a job. But while he's signed in, his connection drops for a moment. That means before he can log back on, he needs to get a help desk tech to force a log-off on his ID.

That's no big deal; fish calls the help desk, asks for his ID to be reset, and asks for the ticket to be routed to the European or Asian desk so it will be done by the time he gets home from a workout -- about two hours.

An hour later, fish gets a page asking him to dial into a conference call having to do with a problem on the U.S. mainframe. That's uncommon, but not unheard of, so fish dials in and announces his presence -- and is informed that the team is about to shut down the company's entire North American mainframe system -- on fish's authority.

"More than 20 people were on the call, ready to shut it down and fix whatever I ordered," says fish.

"Turns out that my original request was being expedited because of my position in mainframe operations, and in the process of the ticket going from America to Europe to Asia, something had gotten mixed up.

"The request for an expedited user reset became an expedited mainframe reset became an emergency mainframe reset for a code fix.

"There was much rejoicing when the folks who were looking at an all-night rebuild were told that I simply needed a user ID reset."

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Copyright © 2008 IDG Communications, Inc.

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