Skip to main content

Why brown outs have the same consequences as black outs!


In technology terms a black is a full outage and a brown out is a congestion situation. The usual thing is that a blackout is debilitating while a brownout is an inconvenience. However, in many cases congestion is just as debilitating as an outage especially in the case of a network or even a service desk.

Domino effect

Let us assume that to deliver a resources we need 10 resources. These resources might be people, processes or tools. Now, assume there are only 9 resources. Logic would deduce that the delivery service would degrade by 10%. However, this is incorrect as the delivery of services immediately drops by 25%. This is because the impact of forcing other resources to try and close the gap, also reduces their effectiveness. Additionally, over time the service delivery starts trending further downwards because of a cascading dominoes effect where eventually a full outage situation might as well be declared.

Thus if you have a service desks that just survives with 25 people and you cut down to 20, expect chaos. If you have a 100 Mb/s network link and you try and push 150 Mb/s through it expect chaos. Don't expect a proportional degradation in service levels!


So if you end up with blackouts or brownouts, how do you solve it? We use the cow analogy! This is the advice that Anne Mulcahy have to successfully revive the ailing fortunes of Xerox, the well-known copying and printing firm as reported by the Economist here.

“FIRST, get the cow out of the ditch. Second, find out how the cow got into the ditch. Third, make sure you do whatever it takes so the cow doesn't go into the ditch again.”

Now the problem with Eskom in South Africa is that de Ruyter has no idea where the ditch is and what cow we are talking about.

Any further cow advice, please moo below in the comments.

This article was originally published over on LinkedIn: Why brown outs have the same consequences as black outs!


Popular posts from this blog

Why Madge Networks, the token-ring company, went titsup

There I was shooting the breeze with an old mate. The conversation turned to why Madge Networks which I wrote about here went titsup. My analysis is that Madge Networks had a solution and decided to go out and find a problem. They deferred to more incorrect strategic technology choices. The truth of the matter is that when something goes titsup, its not because of one reason only, but a myriad of them all contributing to the negative consequence. There are the immediate or visual ones, which are underpinned by intermediate ones and finally after digging right down, there are the root causes. There is never a singular root cause for anything but I'll present my opinion and encourage everyone else to chip in. All of them together are more likely the reason the company went titsup. As far as technology brainfarts go there is no better example than Kodak . They invented the digital camera that killed them. However, they were so focused on milking people in their leg

Flawed "ITIL aligned"​ Incident Management

Many "ITIL aligned" service desk tools have flawed incident management. The reason is that incidents are logged with a time association and some related fields to type in some gobbledygook. The expanded incident life cycle is not enforced and as a result trending and problem management is not possible. Here is a fictitious log of an incident at PFS, a financial services company, which uses CGTSD, an “ITIL-aligned” service desk tool. Here is the log of an incident record from this system: Monday, 12 August: 09:03am (Bob, the service desk guy): Alice (customer in retail banking) phoned in. Logged an issue. Unable to assist over the phone (there goes our FCR), will escalate to second line. 09:04am (Bob, the service desk guy): Escalate the incident to Charles in second line support. 09:05am (Charles, technical support): Open incident. 09:05am (Charles, technical support): Delayed incident by 1 day. Tuesday, 13 August: 10:11am (Charles, technical support): Phoned Alice.

Updated: Articles by Ron Bartels published on iot for all

  These are articles that I published during the course of the past year on one of the popular international Internet of Things publishing sites, iot for all .  These are articles that I published during the course of the past year on one of the popular international Internet of Things publishing sites, iot for all . Improving Data Center Reliability With IoT Reliability and availability are essential to data centers. IoT can enable better issue tracking and data collection, leading to greater stability. Doing the Work Right in Data Centers With Checklists Data centers are complex. Modern economies rely upon their continuous operation. IoT solutions paired with this data center checklist can help! IoT Optimi