North American Network Operators Group

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Re: Is your ISP Influenza-ready?

  • From: Marshall Eubanks
  • Date: Tue Apr 18 14:44:33 2006


On Apr 18, 2006, at 1:53 PM, David W. Hankins wrote:

On Mon, Apr 17, 2006 at 02:05:41PM -0400, Jared Mauch wrote:
	Back to the original question, how well could you cope for such
an event?  It's always challenging to think about what would happen
as sometimes it includes the unexpected.
All the guidance suggests you're going to lose as much as 40% of your

Well, what intrigues me, is: which 40? I don't think the virus is going
to select sales, marketing, and Tech support in that order (unless it's
an STD epidemic, har har). Were that the case we might actually look
forward to such outbreaks.

The most likely disease vector is, from what I have heard, airline travel.
Assorted people from all over are brought together for a meal (or, at least,
bogus pretzels) in a confined space for a few hours, then released back into
the general population.

So the NANOG and IETF crowd would probably be the first to go. Since I travel
a lot, and to the same meetings, I can't say that that this seems like a good
idea to me.

If any of this actually starts happening, we all may become very interested in
video conferencing.


On the other hand, at *every* substantially sized network I've worked
at, the Network Engineering types that might reasonably do something
useful in such an emergency situation are generally:

1) A close-knit group, going to lunches together and cohabitating
cubicles so as to avoid exposure to aforementioned sales, marketing,
and tech support or customer service. Indeed, at a few places I
worked, they even spent most every weekend together. For all
the rest of the world decrying geeks as socially inept, they are
highly efficient at social assimilation of their own kind.

2) Given a 'low desirability' office space. No windows, usually poor
air circulation. It is often called "The Back Room" or similar, or
is located in a space you wouldn't expect to find humans. This isn't
(usually) anyone being mean: engineers seem to like dark corners,
something about making it easier to read monitors, and locations that
provide fewer interruptions due to unlikelyhood of foot traffic.

3) Better at taking care of their networks than themselves. Or at least,
more willing to - too frequent is the case I see an engineer, hacking,
coughing, and wheezing at his monitor, plucking away at the keyboard
deep into the night.

So there you have it. They're likely to come to work even though they're
sick (presuming they don't know it's a lethal virus), where they work and
spend all their face-to-face time in close quarters with recirculated air
with the rest of the company's engineers.

It's like someone intentionally optimized this function specifically to
be the most pessimal.

So I think it's actually highly probable that a meatspace-viral vector
would take out the entire engineering staff at most service providers
I've worked at if only one of them caught the bug. I have to imagine
this is representative of other work environments. We all seem to share
the same collective experience in this sense, at least the folks I've
talked to.

And that loss would be way under 40% of the total company's staff, a
mere blip really.

So, which 40% can you afford to lose? How likely is it that the 60%
that's left behind will be able to do the job? Will they need step- by-
step instructions so that even an untrained monkey can muddle through?

David W. Hankins "If you don't do it right the first time,
Software Engineer you'll just have to do it again."
Internet Systems Consortium, Inc. -- Jack T. Hankins