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Ecomm Window Tonight

When I started planning my big trip, the group that was planning to go(that then numbered four), agreed that the best time to do the trip would be for the week of the 4th of July, to take advantage of the holiday time off. I put in a vacation request, which was filed away and forgotten by my boss at the time. I too had put it out of my head, just assuming that having gotten the vacation request properly submitted many months in advance would be more than sufficient for getting the requested days off. I was foolish, it turns out. Wayne, a guy at work, drew up the on call schedule for 2007, and had me signed up to be on call for the week starting on July 6th.

At first glance, this doesn't look that bad, but trust me, it is. Being the first full week of the month, that means that the weekend before it is the principal maintenance window for most of our most important systems for which we have very very expensive service level agreements. As such, tons of maintenance work gets dumped into this window. So much, in fact, that the person that will be on call has to basically shut themselves off from the world and get prepared for all the scheduled changes, which usually number around one hundred or so.

So, besides requiring the actual time spent on call, working an "Ecomm Window" demands that the week leading up to it be spent doing roughly 15-30 hours of preparation. The dates for the Great Canadian Brewtrip are from the 30th of June to the 8th of July. I was naively confident when I saw the first draft of the oncall schedule. I figured that there must have just been some mistake. So I approached Wayne and mentioned that he erroneously put my name down for a time period during which I was scheduled to be on vacation, and he assured me that no such word ever got to him.

I approached my boss, and his simple response was, "Oops." It looked like we were going to have to find another time for the trip, only that none of the other times I proposed worked for anyone else. Things were looking grim. It looked like I would probably have to cancel the trip altogether, or go alone. That was when our boss, tired of the increased hours and responsibility without any additional compensation, arranged to get transferred to another group, and management replaced him with our current boss.

Once our current boss had gotten acclimated to his new surroundings, one of his first orders of business, that I saw, was fixing the situation with my vacation request. The unfortunate thing about it was that there was nobody that could effectively switch with me. I asked Eddie to switch and he initially agreed, but got vetoed by his wife. James had successfully asked for the same time off. I suppose he had put more pressure on the previous boss about it. Brad would just be coming off a rotation, and Wayne would be just following the one that I worked. In short, I determined that there was no way to switch with anyone without screwing them over.

The new boss brought it up in a meeting, and Brad spoke up. He had a float trip planned for a weekend that he was rotation in June, and offered to take my July rotation, even if it meant working two weeks in a row. So hooray for him.

So, I'm on call again. It's a rough three weeks. I'm on call for two of them. This is the second one, and is, predictably, a big Ecomm maintenance window. I definitely prefer it this way though. This way, even though I won't really get any solid sleep for the time I'm on call, getting paged every couple of hours or more, I won't be on call again until mid-August. In a couple of hours, I'll be heading into the office for the actual maintenance, and will likely be there through the night, until well after the sun comes up.

I spent most of my work-related time in the last three days writing a script to ease the implementation of filesystem growths. I have been polishing and polishing it, and even though everyone else assures me the commands are all fine, I'm still not convinced that it will work that well. If it does, then I'm in for a much easier time than previous oncalls have had to deal with. If it doesn't, I'm in for a spot of hell. Wish me luck.

2:03 PM, Jun 9, 2007

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