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White House CIO Describes His 'Worst Day' Ever

Soulskill posted more than 2 years ago | from the need-a-bipartisan-effort-to-swap-out-a-machine dept.

Government 333

dcblogs writes "In the first 40 days of President Barack Obama's administration, the White House email system was down 23% of time, according to White House CIO Brook Colangelo, the person who also delivered the 'first presidential Blackberry.' The White House IT systems inherited by the new administration were in bad shape. Over 82% of the White House's technology had reached its end of life. Desktops, for instance, still had floppy disk drives, including the one Colangelo delivered to Rahm Emanuel, Obama's then chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago. There were no redundant email servers."

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Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348525)

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Re:Is you is, or is you ain't, a black people? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348567)

bury this moron...

prove us wrong

Re:Is you is, or is you ain't, a coon? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348897)

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NIGGER!

Not a bad number (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348531)

23% down sounds about average for MSExchange servers.

I'm sure they just wasted money buying more of the same crap.

Re:Not a bad number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348569)

If you're a shit administrator you would be happy with 23%...

Re:Not a bad number (0)

omni123 (1622083) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348715)

Suggested alternative?

Re:Not a bad number (4, Informative)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348751)

Zimbra. The enterprise version also has ActiveSync support.

Re:Not a bad number (2, Informative)

houstonbofh (602064) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348799)

Postfix. Yes, it is ONLY e-mail, but if you need other stuff, you can add it when e-mail is stable. It is also lightweight enough to handle the load on really old hardware.

Re:Not a bad number (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348993)

This is completely out of the question. Unless the email server also includes file sharing, calendaring, a contact database, all supporting multiple group and individual access rights, it simply can't be used for email.

And the product name must include "Windows" or "Live" in the title, preferably both. And if it can be configured to only support Windows machines, we'll pay double.

Re:Not a bad number (2, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349129)

Youre free to pretend we still live in a day where it is unnecessary to do group scheduling through email, but you would be wrong.

Re:Not a bad number (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349157)

Group scheduling and email are different applications. Combining them in one backend is shortsighted.

Re:Not a bad number (1)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349121)

Comparing Exchange to Postfix is ridiculous. Exchange can be used as a POP / IMAP server if you really want, and the maintenance goes into the ground.

Of course if you tried to convert to IMAP or POP (whether it be Postfix or Exchange), you would likely be fired when your employer realizes he can no longer use the groupware that was the center of most of his work....

Re:Not a bad number (4, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349417)

Other solutions allow you to use "groupware" functionality with IMAP (less so with POP, as that pulls all your mail in locally). Only Microsoft intentionally cripples their IMAP implementation so that you cannot see important fields (like Date/Time of meeting) when you try to browse the vcal messages that are stored in the calendar folder over IMAP.

Re:Not a bad number (2)

Errtu76 (776778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349467)

If it's only send and retrieve mail, I'd suggest postfix & dovecot. If you want the 'fancy' stuff, give Zarafa a try. It's Dutch, so it must be good (vim, python, etc) :P and under the hood it still uses postfix.

Re:Not a bad number (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348967)

Please fire the exchange admins you are hiring. If they can't maintain a 99% uptime they suck.

Re:Not a bad number (5, Funny)

X0563511 (793323) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349025)

Microsoft: where "five nines" means 9.9999%.

Re:Not a bad number (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349105)

23% down sounds about average for MSExchange servers.

Only on slashdot could such ignorance get modded up.

On a bad bad day as a consultant, I have to fix scenarios with Exchange where everything blew up and theyre down for a single day-- MAYBE 2-- out of several years uptime.

Thats with the clients who have no full time IT staff whatsoever and a shoestring budget.

Possibly if you have no idea what youre doing, or dont know anything about exchange, then yea 23% might be an OK guess.

Re:Not a bad number (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349191)

Seriously. I was thinking to myself, if any of my exchange servers were down for a whole business day, unless it was due to building fire at a location, they'd probably shit-can me.

None of them has been down for more than a couple scheduled hours in the middle of the night, and only for upgrades, over the last five or six years.

Re:Not a bad number (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349227)

The difference between government workers and the private sector.

my worst day ever (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348537)

When I don't get first post from my windows phone.

Floppy... (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348565)

All my machines have a floppy.

I don't understand how adding a peripheral can make the machine "worse"?

Re:Floppy... (4, Funny)

Fluffeh (1273756) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348819)

I don't understand how adding a peripheral can make the machine "worse"?

The same way that a Mercedes with an attachment on the front to allow it to be pulled by horses isn't as good as one with a normal bumper bar.

Car Analogy, Check. Snideness, Check. Condescension, Check. Now time to get that coffee I deserve...

Re:Floppy... (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348867)

fag

Re:Floppy... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349547)

Cafe Latte, twist of lemon.... Sweet N' Low.

Re:Floppy... (2)

Stormwatch (703920) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348947)

It does not per se, but it is a sign that it is an outdated machine.

Re:Floppy... (-1, Troll)

ArundelCastle (1581543) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349381)

I'm modding this -1, Per se.

Re:Floppy... (3, Informative)

jrumney (197329) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349449)

Not necessarily. Their purchasing contract may have adopted to the fact that Pentium II processors are no longer available, and now specifies a "required peripheral list", leaving the processor and RAM spec open to whatever is current at time of purchase. So the machines they are buying might be modern fast machines, but somewhere in the contract it says they need to have floppy drives, so they do (most motherboards are still coming with floppy controllers on them for some reason, so nothing has forced them to reevaluate whether they need one, and the supplier is probably happily collecting a premium for supplying them, so doesn't want to rock the boat).

Re:Floppy... (2)

peppepz (1311345) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349359)

I don't understand either (nor I understand why you were modded "redundant"). Some desktop machines you can buy even now still have floppy drives. It's even more understandable for PA machines to have them, since they may have had special compatibility requirements until a couple years ago. And even if we assume that those PCs were not exactly new, since they're not supposed to run Crysis, as a taxpayer I'm happier if my administrators can take the most out of not-so-old machines instead of watching them spend tax money on the latest hip hardware. Windows 7 runs successfully on Pentium IV hardware. Linux does even better.

Love it (1)

sixtyeight (844265) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348577)

TFA indicates clearly not only that there's no urgent need for IT geeks to unionize, but also what havoc they could wreak if they ever did.

Re:Love it (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348689)

Instead of starting a sick-out, start a server-out. That'll wake people up on every level of the organizational food chain.

Re:Love it (2)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349479)

My union covers our IT personnel (I am chair of the union's IT committee).

No surprise (3, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348583)

They inherited a system that "lost" months/years worth of emails during the Bush administration. Of course it all sucked, it was designed to.

Re:No surprise (2)

Vladius (2577555) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348657)

Working as intended...

Re:No surprise (1)

rhook (943951) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348963)

Big surprise. The contract (like all government contracts) went to the lowest bidder and they surely cut corners.

Re:No surprise (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349489)

You say this as if it is stupid, when surely you know it is the faux outrage from taxpayers that causes this shit.

Re:No surprise (5, Insightful)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349005)

Of course it all sucked, it was designed to.

It wasn't originally designed to suck, but when you refuse to spend money on infrastructure improvements,
you end up spending your time putting out fires instead of making improvements.

This applies equally to computer hardware/networks as it does to our highway/bridge, electrical, and water infrastructures.
FFS, there are critical metal pipes in DC's water distribution network that date back 150 years to Lincoln.

Re:No surprise (1)

FairAndHateful (2522378) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349047)

It wasn't originally designed to suck, but when you refuse to spend money on infrastructure improvements, you end up spending your time putting out fires instead of making improvements.

Ding ding ding!!!!

I think in Slashdotspeak, I should say "^This", and HARD.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349083)

Saying "This" is what twelve year old girls do when they see a new shiny on face-plant.

Re:No surprise (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349491)

^This!

Re:No surprise (-1, Flamebait)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349075)

Yes, but in the case of the email servers from the prior administration, if Dubyah, had updated the servers, we'd have enough to put him and the Dark Lord of the Sith Cheney away for several lifetimes, so it only makes sense to keep around hardware that would automagically hide the dead bodies.

Re:No surprise (5, Insightful)

LordLimecat (1103839) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349147)

Just a tip, if you ever want people (outside of a small echochamber) to take you seriously, you may want to grow up and stop referring to GW Bush as "Dubyah"-- its about as mature as calling Microsoft M$, or someone you dont like a doo-doo head.

Re:No surprise (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349181)

You tell him Lord Lamecat.

Re:No surprise (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349561)

Jews did WTC.

Re:No surprise (2)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349419)

It's not that they refused, but it's a typical government problem. You think corporations have budget problems wait until you see the government. Everything is cut to bone. If it still works then there's no reason to upgrade, and if it doesn't work well maybe you can share with someone. Even if it might cost more to maintain, that's a person cost and not a capital expenditure.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349493)

I lived in DC for twenty years. I can personally attest to the decrepitude of the water system. One night, returning from drinks w/ friends, witnessed a man-hole cover blown twenty feet into the air by a HUMONGOUS stream of water from a break in an apparently GIGANTIC underground pipe. HUGE the stream of water was. And loud. And with considerable force.

That break went on and on overnight and flooded a LOT of K Street undergound garages. Seems the pipe was installed about Civil War era, and not looked at since.

Was funny though :-)

Re:No surprise (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349023)

Well and as I have learned the hard way lately, if it's going to cost 500k per year to run IT for a couple of hundred employee outfit when it's government money, someone will complain. When I did private sector stuff the biggest issue was downtime, a million dollars, no problem if that means good uptime. I used to go into insurance companies and banks at 4pm, the regular staff left at 5 -5:30, if it wasn't ready to go the next day by 8 or 9am you were in seriously trouble. In government it's all about how much money they have to explain to some jackass who wants to make political hay out of it.

The way I count it from http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-srv/opinions/graphics/2006stafflistsalary.html the white house has about 400 employees. Figure 350k a year in desktop computers alone, for IT staff, another couple of hundred K in 'mobile' and accessory devices, ancillary office equipment you could easily be looking at 1.5 million or for just the non classified IT stuff. That isn't, in the grand scheme of things, a lot of money, but you have to know that whomever isn't in charge is going to want to curtail that spending, because it's 'wasteful'.

(how you count IT spending can vary wildly. When you're up into that many people you have a lot of dedicated IT staff in various sub groups who may or may not count towards the total and so on). On top of the mess that would be trying to deal with 400 spoiled brats who want everything their way (I'm sorry, executives who want to maximize their productivity), you have to try and plug into everything else in government and have the secured computers/networks as well. That isn't cheap.

Re:No surprise (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349397)

Meh, banks and stock markets are easy. Casinos on the other hand don't stop running. And there's sometimes a worry that the Casino Boss might resort to more traditional means of applying pressure on you. Deep sea pressure.

Appropriate (3, Funny)

sixtyeight (844265) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348601)

Over 82% of the White House's technology had reached its end of life. Desktops, for instance, still had floppy disk drives ...

Considering the sort of people who are using these machines, it seems almost appropriate somehow.

Maybe keeping them technologically underpowered is actually a good thing. Those crafty, crafty White House IT gurus.

Re:Appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348891)

No, it's a bad idea. Staffer (quite possibly high-ranking) comes in and gets sat at some sad slow old desktop -- before the end of the day they'll be working from their own phone/tablet/laptop "to get things done".

These people cost too much to delay. IT's job is to issue them new secure and familiar hardware the moment their butts hit the chair. You want as close to a seamless transition as possible. It's not cheap, but it's way cheaper than delays that far up the pyramid. We've got important shit we need them to take care of.

Re:Appropriate (1)

retchdog (1319261) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349109)

i think you missed the point. recall that a significant portion of slashdot would opt to abolish the federal government entirely.

Floppy drives caused 9/11 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348935)

If only Condi Rice had gotten around to the bin Laden memo, 9/11 could have been prevented. But the documents loaded too slowly for her to get to it in time.

Re:Floppy drives caused 9/11 (1)

Genda (560240) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349089)

Yeah, and the rumor about "Yellow Cake" in Iraq was a fouled up email about what Saddam had with his friends on his Birthday.

Re:Appropriate (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348979)

Maybe keeping them technologically underpowered is actually a good thing. Those crafty, crafty White House IT

Naa, they just moved everything to the cloud & outsourced to India...

Re:Appropriate (2)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349225)

Besides, in an environment like the White House, I think it's more than just a good idea to keep a few PC's with working floppy drives at hand. Preferably down to 8" drives. Just in case you need to read some long-archived file, that has never been put on a more modern medium.

Re:Appropriate (1)

scdeimos (632778) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349261)

You laugh, but I recently had to find a working 5 1/4" disk drive and an old linux distro (modern ones don't support them any more) to recover files from a floppy disk for an astronomy society.

Re:Appropriate (1)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349515)

What was removed that took out support? I'd think floppy controllers are still supported -- was there something special about those drives vs. current drives?

old PCs? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348619)

But there are receipts for new computers every year? Obviously the Obama administration doesn't appreciate a no-bid contract.

OMB IT has their hands tied. (5, Interesting)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348629)

The problem is the procurement process. It takes a hell of a long time to get IT resources ordered, and often by the time they are actually put into service half of their warranty life-time has expired. It has nothing to do with a lack of knowledge on the OMB IT front, it's got everything to do with the red tape they have to cut through to make anything happen.

Re:OMB IT has their hands tied. (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348759)

Well it sounds like a CIO to manage and streamline the procurement process is what is needed and well overdue. Obama did the right thing as past presidents were old and out to lunch in terms of technology.

If they need to check for spyware crap and security then set a budget with interns providing the wiping of the hard drives 7 times with an IT department to provide the encryption and come up with procedures to retire and fix PCS and so on.

I would think a job as important as the executive branch would be important enough. If I were president a 2% downtime would have someone's head on the block let alone a 23% downtime.

This is coming from someone who is fairly conservative I may add too. This is one cost that is needed

Re:OMB IT has their hands tied. (1)

gimmebeer (1648629) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348825)

I agree with you completely. The current CIO probably did crap his pants when he saw the state of the OMB networks in 2008 and realized what he had gotten himself into. But, interns are generally not the ones you want handling systems, and that's really not what they're used for in the WH environment. Everyone in that environment tends to think they are too good for any kind of menial work.

Indication of Government Ability? (0, Offtopic)

BoRegardless (721219) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348653)

Governments have a hard time keeping up. Doesn't matter what they do. Military might be an exception only since they spend so much.

And yet...governments want us to believe, yes I say believe that they offer solutions for every problem that ails ye in River City...because they KNOW what is best for you.

To quote George Dyson: unpredictability means you can never have a complete digital dictatorship with one government or company controlling our digital lives—not because of politics but because of mathematics. There will always be codes that do unpredictable things.

And by corollary, there are forces exerted by individuals and corporations and other countries that counter the forces of any government.

http://www.wired.com/magazine/2012/02/ff_dysonqa/2/ [wired.com]

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (2)

Billly Gates (198444) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348721)

The DOD still standardizes on IE 6 from what I am told.

It is not cutting edge at all.

Obama's staff at least did a WTF and quickly hired the first CIO to clear the red tape. True he was not a good CIO, but someone was needed. It is unacceptable to have email down PERIOD at such an important job. The president's job is the most important in the world and any loss of email or downtime when WW3 starts or something unrelated is unacceptable. In the private sector downtime is measured by costs with employees salary x time of outage.

  As information is needed rapidly the whiteshouse should have the most advanced technology second only to the DOD and IT needs to be involved.

Maybe Bush was out to lunch which is not surprising but if I were president I would be flipping the second email would go down for more than a few seconds as I know my staff needs up to the second information to do their jobs.

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (2)

v1 (525388) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348793)

Maybe Bush was out to lunch which is not surprising

Consider other people his age in that year. 2/3 of them didn't USE email. Many of us had parent that were that age at that time and know what it's like dealing with "old people that refuse to move out of the stone age".

It would not surprise me in the least to hear that Bush1 (or Bush2 for that matter) never opened email, ever, and got his information on dead tree and in meetings. "Email's down? is that bad?"

Fixed: Indication of Government DENYability? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348845)

No redundancy for their e-mail servers off the tails of ol' Bush? I wonder how many of the former president and vice president's e-mails were conveniently lost during some of these white-house e-mail outages...

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349475)

I do not believe the Oval Office has had a computer installed in i [gizmodo.com] t. Ever. If I'm not mistaken it is an even bigger deal than the Presidential Blackberry - it could be argued that every page POTUS surfed would be recorded and archived forever...

Do you really want your President to sit around wondering why his browser is frozen?

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (4, Funny)

sco08y (615665) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348857)

The DOD still standardizes on IE 6 from what I am told.

The different services have their own IT departments; they even have their own networks, NIPR and SIPR are just two of many. Not sure about the DOD proper, but even the Army is phasing out IE 6 and XP. I'm pretty sure the Air Force and Navy are mostly on Win 7, and the Marines got some new brightly colored rocks with sparkly beads.

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (1)

Huge_UID (1089143) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349219)

The Navy is mostly on XP & IE7.

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (1)

medcalf (68293) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348895)

Um, there were CIOs for the EOP before Brook Colangelo.

Re:Indication of Government Ability? (5, Insightful)

ryanov (193048) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349531)

Oh SHUT up.

The reason government can't get anything done, generally, is there's always some jackass out there questioning whether a thing is needed because it happens not to be exactly what they want, or why workers cost anything at all since their life is in the shitter so why should a government employee make money either?

There is a significant interest in this country in starving government, and then mocking it for under-performing. That's a combination of arguments only an imbecile would make.

You get what you pay for (2)

forgottenusername (1495209) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348707)

Too bad we probably paid billions for such crappy infra.

Floppy Drives! (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348753)

That's madness! Everyone knows that the floppy drive dictates the speed, quality, and age of the computer!

Re:Floppy Drives! (1)

93 Escort Wagon (326346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348811)

Yeah, it seems to me most Windows computers up until very recently came with floppy drives by default.

Having a floppy drive is not an indication that a computer is out of date - unless that's the only drive type the computer has.

Re:Floppy Drives! (2)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348865)

Yeah, it seems to me most Windows computers up until very recently came with floppy drives by default.

Whats a floppy drive?

Re:Floppy Drives! (2)

enemorales (1172133) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349351)

Have you seen the "save" icon in some applications? A floppy drive would let you put some of those (the real thing) to read or write information into them. Amazing, ugh?

Re:Floppy Drives! (1)

Sancho (17056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348917)

I want to say most vendors stopped shipping with floppy drives by default around 2003. Presumably there was a hardware refresh between 2003 and 2009. It seems likely, then, that the inclusion of the floppy means that the IT person specifically included floppies.

The alternative--that there wasn't a refresh between 2003 and 2009--is, in fact, a bit sad. Six years is a pretty long time for computers, and their value increased considerably throughout last decade.

An interested person could probably file a FOIA request to find out for sure, of course.

Re:Floppy Drives! (1)

FoolishOwl (1698506) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349049)

They've been obsolete for years.

From Wikipedia: [wikipedia.org]

In February 2003, Dell announced floppy drives would no longer be pre-installed on Dell Dimension home computers, although still available as a selectable option and purchasable as an aftermarket OEM add-on. On 29 January 2007, PC World stated that only 2% of the computers they sold contained built-in floppy disk drives; once present stocks were exhausted, no more standard floppies would be sold. In 2009, Hewlett-Packard stopped supplying standard floppy drives on business desktops.

Re:Floppy Drives! (4, Interesting)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349433)

OK, perspective is called for - Obama took the White House in 2009, up until 2009 HP had floppy drives STANDARD on business desktops - so as Obama took the White House, HP was still shipping floppy drives as STANDARD.

Yes, sitting in 2012 we can all agree that floppy drives have been obsolete for years, but in 2009 HP was still shipping them as standard.

The note about Dell Dimensions is nice, but those are "home" computers, not "professional".

And that 6 year-old software? I can guarantee you it was Office 2003 - sure, as Bush was preparing to leave office his staff certainly could have gone around and upgraded everyone to the latest/greatest version of office (Office 2007), but it is now 2012, and the latest version of Office on PCs is 2010 - does that have 100% market penetration, or are there a few stragglers on 2007 or even 2003?

Maybe, like most office users at the time, the Bush White House wasn't a big fan of the ribbon interface introduced in Office 2007 [wikipedia.org]

Re:Floppy Drives! (1)

tlhIngan (30335) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349163)

Yeah, it seems to me most Windows computers up until very recently came with floppy drives by default.

Having a floppy drive is not an indication that a computer is out of date - unless that's the only drive type the computer has.

Desktops maybe. Laptops though... I don't think I've seen a floppy drive standard on a laptop since the early 2000's.

Still blaming Bush? (1, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348781)

I have to say I got a chuckle when I got to the part about "inheriting" their IT problems. Obama "inherited" all his problems after all!

Re:Still blaming Bush? (0)

bmo (77928) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348855)

When people like you show up on Fark, it makes it easy to hit the ignore button.
--
BMO

Re:Still blaming Bush? (2)

INeededALogin (771371) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348925)

I have to say I got a chuckle when I got to the part about "inheriting" their IT problems. Obama "inherited" all his problems after all!

On day 1, every problem is indeed inherited. This is a fact. A big difference for me is that Obama is actually fixing issues.... especially in the executive branch

Bush's Whitehouse.gov [archive.org]
Obama's Whitehouse.gov [archive.org]

The Obama version is very nice IMHO.

Re:Still blaming Bush? (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349403)

I have to say I got a chuckle when I got to the part about "inheriting" their IT problems. Obama "inherited" all his problems after all!

Let's be clear on one thing - then-Senator Obama went around the country, gave countless speeches, shook innumerable hands, and raised a record amount of campaign contributions [opensecrets.org] to take on these very same problems he now blames the prior administration for... He asked for the job - he didn't draw the short straw [wikipedia.org] , and as a sitting U.S. Senator at the time, he was in the best position to know exactly what he was getting into.

The Flying Fickle Finger of Fate [tvacres.com] didn't pull him out of a crowd - he stood on a chair and yelled "Pick Me, Pick Me! I have the answers!"

'first presidential Blackberry' (1)

cervesaebraciator (2352888) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348821)

'first presidential Blackberry.'

Perhaps also known as the last presidential Blackberry. [vancouversun.com] Of course, parts of the government still favor Blackberry [570news.com] , but then apparently parts still like floppy drives too. With the recent /. posts on DOD Androids (not the kind that lead to Skynet comments) and the like, one wonders how much longer even this will last.

As a former employee, I can only confirm (2, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348829)

The equipment of some government agencies I have worked for is kind of prehistoric. I you are using Windows 95 as a file server, you are in serious trouble.

I so want to unload (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348839)

I used to work there, so I can't unload. Let's just say that the EOP has earned every bit of fail they've ever had. (Including the email system, which is what happens when you put brand new software on past EOL hardware against the advice of the people responsible for actually making it function.)

what if... (2)

slashmydots (2189826) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348875)

Too bad they didn't teach George W Bush about IT stuff. With how often he went to Texas to clear brush, he'd have that exchange DB backed up in 5 places, compressed properly, and on SSD RAIDs :-P

Could the editor at least read the article??? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39348887)

Of course not, this is slashdot.

Email wasn't down 23% of the time, the quote is "When it was all said and done, in the first 40 days of the administration we were down 23% of the time", referring to ALL systems, not just email.

That said, read to the end to learn of one of the new, high-tech applications in the White House:

"a printer dashboard to tell them when a printer was running out of toner"

AMAZING!!!!

Not like that is something any moron could whip together in 30 minutes with nagios,

Similar situation... (5, Insightful)

CAIMLAS (41445) | more than 2 years ago | (#39348899)

I recently took over for a staff which had been interned in their positions for the better part of a decade. Out with the old in-house staff, in with the new outsourced IT 'team'.

I can easily see how this happens, outside procurement and ineptitude problems on the part of the previous WH IT staff. When you've got what amounts to 'institutional knowledge death', with the institution carrying on, you've got to over-staff for some time or things fall apart completely while you play catch up. With a situation where you don't understand it all, are under staffed or under skilled, you're faced with only a couple options when you come in behind the curve, with aging equipment and software: you either start replacing everything you can, as you are able, as quick as you can, or you start suffering outages. It's even worse if things are mismanaged and things are failing all around you.

As for the claims of the article? Meh. I'm actually not that impressed by his claims to the poitn where I think 'this is bad':

  In 2008, "floppy drives" weren't all that uncommon. I remember servicing Core machines which had floppy drives, still. We're not talking biege boxes with ISA slots here, necessarily - with a 4 year replacement schedule for desktops, floppy drives don't speak of ineptitude.

The 80-hour-week thing means nothing. It might mean he was understaffed, or that he's a workaholic. To me, it sounds like the meaningless words of a political appointee.

"Over 82% of the White House technology had reached end of life" means nothing. If they were on a 3-year replacement schedule for desktops and they had 10/100 switching, I can easily see where you'd come to that number.

He had one "data center", with no redundancy. A bit of a contradiction, yeah? This is made somewhat less impressive by the fact that this administration, in particular, was a bunch of Nancys when they came in with "oh woes, look at this mess", quite obviously overstating things for dramatic media effect.

"Our email servers went down for 21 hours" isn't a statement of disaster, it's a statement of ineptitude. If they got the mail servers back up, with the data intact, the problem wasn't with the environment but the people involved (or the lack of staffing). His BB starting to have mail incoming suggests a reinstall wasn't required, so safe to say BES was OK, so who knows what the real 'problem' was which caused a day of outage...

Sorry, I've got a very thin skin when it comes to management making any sort of technical claim. They're usually about 50% lie, and of the remaining 50% truth, only about 1/5th of that is factual with the rest being augmented by misunderstanding, disillusions of grandeur, and over-simplification to pull up the full 100%. Realize that a) this is a political appointee talking, b) it's a seemingly non-technical manager (he's up in his datacenter, lookin' for redundancy!), and c) this is the government we're talking about, after all. Anyone who's had any dealings with them on a technical level realizes that 'setbacks' and 'shortcomings' or 'difficult problems' or the like are (probably!) due to ineptitude. Yes, sadly, even amongst the elite (though not necessarily of their own doing - thank you bureaucratic bullshit).

Granted, this may not have been the case when BO came to the WH and took over. They may have had previous IT staffers who stayed through the transition, but I'm guessing they did not (due to political mistrust issues). It could've been a genuine clusterfuck. Sometimes it's nothing and people cry about the sky falling as they pull down the curtain; sometimes, it really is bad. (If you understand weather patterns, you may recognize a summer storm to not be the disaster that chicken little claims...)

Re:Similar situation... (4, Informative)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349451)

Sorry, I've got a very thin skin when it comes to management making any sort of technical claim. They're usually about 50% lie, and of the remaining 50% truth, only about 1/5th of that is factual with the rest being augmented by misunderstanding, disillusions of grandeur, and over-simplification to pull up the full 100%.

This was the first relevant article kicked up by google:
http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9142268/_Lost_Bush_e_mail_settlement_requires_that_White_House_reveal_IT_practices_ [computerworld.com]

The e-mail problem began in 2002 and 2003 after the White House moved from Lotus Notes to Microsoft Exchange. As it moved to the new platform, the President's IT staff also discontinued use of legacy, circa 1994, electronic management and archiving system, called Automated Records Management Systems (ARMS.) Development began on a new archiving system that ran into its own issues and wasn't implemented.

Without an automated archiving system, the White House relied on manual processes to archive e-mails, and that's when the problems evidently began. Files were mislabeled and commingled on back-up tapes containing all types of information.

The public didn't find out about this for years until federal prosecutor Patrick Fitzgerald disclosed it in 2006 while investigating the outing of Valerie Plame.
The Bush Jr. IT infrastructure was broken from the day they installed it and remained broken for the full 8 years he was in office.

White House IT: thumbs down (3, Insightful)

mveloso (325617) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349589)

From what I've read, there's only one firm that does White House transitions. I think it's Bechtel, but it's been so long that I've read anything about transitions that I have around a 15% confidence level in that piece of data.

Google "white house transition" and you'll see that it's a total mess. If you want to read about it, there's info here:

http://whitehousetransitionproject.org/ [whitehouse...roject.org]

From what little I've read, you basically get a mostly empty building (the White House). It's up to the team to build/rebuild the infrastructure...but as any operations person knows, IT infrastructure is usually way behind everything else. The general executive branch IT has been a low priority for decades. What's more important, email or setting up the phone so the president can call someone (or someone can call the president)?

At that point, the team is probably so far behind that they're screwed continuously for the one or two terms.

Are the guys running the systems any good? I'd ask you: how many of you could pass a background and attitude check? You think the process etc at your workplace is bad, imagine how bad it is in the Executive branch.

That said, it might be fun...but it's probably a nightmare. "I can't print out this $15 billion dollar appropriation because the f*cking printer doesn't work!" "People in PA are starving because the email server ate all of our emails!"

Every minute is a crisis, with everyone breathing down your neck 24/7. Does that sound like something you'd want to do for 24/7/365/4 years?

What do computers do again? (1)

reve_etrange (2377702) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349101)

The intern convinced Colangelo that there was a great need for automation.

WTF did he think computers were for before that little piece of enlightenment hit him?

I really hope that was just some random idiot fluff from author of TFA and not an actual sentiment from someone with "Information" in their job title.

I doubt.. (1)

Jyunga (2040832) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349139)

he ever touched the 'real' computers the Bush admin used.

Running Outlook and Exchange (0)

AbrasiveCat (999190) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349161)

Who else remembers the issues http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2008/04/bush-lost-e-mails.ars [arstechnica.com] when the Bush's administration replaced the system, Lotus Notes, that the Clinton administration had been running with MS Outlook and Exchange. Then conveniently couldn't recover/find email messages. To give them their due, the Government Records Act does put some strong requirements on any email system being used. Its just that Exchange wasn't up to the task.

Poor white peoples problems (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#39349177)

Oh wait....

Emanuel end at the White House (1)

G3ckoG33k (647276) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349195)

"Over 82% of the White House's technology had reached its end of life. Desktops, for instance, still had floppy disk drives, including the one Colangelo delivered to Rahm Emanuel, Obama's then chief of staff and now Mayor of Chicago."

Rahm Emanuel has few redeeming virtues and deserved that fitting computer he got. He too had reached his end that the White House, no too soon enough, however. Floppy, Rahm? Memory? Nah...

end of life. (1)

carpefishus (1515573) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349275)

>> Over 82% of the White House's technology had reached its end of life. And all keyboards were missing the W.

At least... (1)

kenh (9056) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349339)

At least all the keyboards still had the "W" key [nytimes.com] !

More a problem of decade than of age (1)

Casandro (751346) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349361)

Apparently their systems are from the 1990s which was, in retrospect, the worst decade to buy any kind of IT equipment. Imagine they had some Unix system with VT100 terminals. This would have given them an easy upgrade path. They could have made simple and secure ways to remotely login, plus they could have simply replaced the system with a more modern Linux system, etc...

disorganized (1)

nthwaver (1019400) | more than 2 years ago | (#39349617)

Well that was a very disorganized, poorly paced retelling of what was probably an interesting talk.
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