Saturday, March 24, 2007

The $38 Billion Checkbox

How many people does it take to lose billions of dollars worth of data? 2, actually. Someone working at the Alaska Department of Revenue accidentally reformatted a hard drive that contained $38 Billion worth of oil fund account information held in 800,000 PDF files. To make things worse, the backup tape data was also unusable. They weren't alone in this. A Dell storage specialist was party to this, watching the entire thing unfold on a remote session and providing (bad) guidance. Why? It turns out that someone didn't select the checkbox (tick box for you Europeans) next to the .MDF file to "backup this database." $38 Billion of data and they had an interface that had a backup mechanism with a checkbox to invoke backup? Is there no product lifecycle in the Alaska DOR that would have caught this?

It ended up taking 10 weeks to rescan 200 boxes of paperwork and costing $220,700. Next time hire a good user experience designer [I'm making the 'call me' signal next to head here].

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