James Governor's Monkchips

HugOps is the best ops. On empathy and site reliability engineering

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My sister spent most of the day trying to work out why her outlook.com account wasn’t working – emails wouldn’t leave her outbox. This was pretty annoying, obviously. About 5pm I noticed that “outlook” was trending, on trending, and sure enough, the site is down. She decided to head home early because she couldn’t get any work done.

Just before dinner (she’s staying at our place), she said:

“I really feel bad for the Microsoft staff.”

I was really impressed. It’s all too easy to be angry and just vent when a service is down. Saffron helps me run tech conferences, but she’s not a techie. She is however really good at empathy. One of the hot ideas in the DevOps and Site Reliability engineering movements is that teams should have more empathy for the service user. But that cuts both ways, am I right? Teams are running around with their hair on fire doing their absolute best to get things up and running again. They may well have been paged at 3am. They are having a really bad day.

As Saffron said, it would have been if the home page explained that there was an outage. Good status pages are super useful. If you’re in tech, maybe try showing a little empathy the next time a service goes down, and explain it to other folks you know. Ops people are generally doing their best, in a high pressure environment. Hugs.

update – “They did it. i was impressed.” Saffron says outlook.com is up again.


for full disclosure: Microsoft is a client, but the opinions expressed here are mine alone.

thanks Matthew G for the lovely photo.

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