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The Blue Screen of Death

A few weeks ago, I was lucky enough to be going away on holiday to Greece. We drove to a well-known airport, parked at the car park and jumped on the bus to the terminal. After going through the usual process of check-in & bag drop followed by security, we emerged into a carefully structured retail experience with strategically placed signs and thought-out music selections; each shop front vying for our attention.

After being offered a glass of single malt whisky at 8:00 am, we walked into an open area and behind a very nice coffee shop there was a huge monitor screen, placed to provide maximum impact.

I couldn’t help but chuckle when I saw what was displayed on this expensive piece of equipment.

A good old fashioned blue screen of death.

I’ve experienced plenty of blue screens of death (BSOD) in my career. Many years ago, when I first started presenting to large audiences, I once used a BSOD in my presentation, to highlight the show-stopping impact of IT failure and the need for good IT support. Everyone in the audience reacted to the BSOD as it ’interrupted’ my presentation. It seems that we’ve all experienced one at some point in our lifetime and we understand the show-stopping implications.

When IT failure strikes, the impact can be huge. I’ve seen entire companies come to a standstill; waiting for the server running their ERP system to be repaired. Having also been that guy responsible for repairing the BSOD, when employees are pacing the building and the chief exec is on the phone the pressure is intense, let alone the impact to the business that can’t function.

So you can imagine my reaction to this BSOD. When you’re at an airport, you like to think everything is extra stringent and well-taken-care-of. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter whether you’re a small start-up company, a medium sized business or an international airport; you cannot escape the need for good strong IT support and management.

In fact, the larger your IT estate, the greater the need for best practice, principled methods to achieve maximum availability to critical IT equipment.

I’m sure that there was an engineer on route at the moment I snapped this picture, but I couldn’t help but wonder what could have been done to avoid this embarrassing situation and deliver a quicker resolution to the problem. At the very least they could have turned the screen off.