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IT MANAGERS ARE ATTACKED FROM ALL SIDES - JUST ANOTHER DAY IN IT

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October 01, 2003
A Look At | Technology
Dan Phillips - dphillips@its-services.com

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© 2003 Hospitality Upgrade. No reproduction without written permission.

When he had answered most of the phone calls from employees, the front desk called. The hotel was unable to process credit cards, produce electronic guestroom door keys or completely check in a guest. We ended the interview so that he could get into action.


I followed the poor guy around for a bit. We went first to the phone/computer room. Everything he looked at had green lights. I tried my best not to yank any cables off of the walls as my feet danced around the spaghetti on the floor. He then started making his own phone calls and I left him.

It appeared that another virus, possibly Sobig.F, may have hit the corporate office and their e-mail server was overflowing with traffic. The T-1 connection to the corporate WAN went down, reason unknown. This hotel was connected to corporate for some PMS functionality, credit card processing and electronic keycard generation.

In the matter of a coincidental hour, no hotel staff could access most of their work files, the restaurants and front desk couldn’t process credit cards, no new guests checking in could get into their rooms or ride elevators requiring keycard access, and staff couldn’t communicate via e-mail. Is this an IT manager’s nightmare or what?

In a hotel like this, and really in any hotel catering to demanding guests (that means just about every hotel), why isn’t there a local e-mail server instead of relying on corporate? How do you spell F-I-R-E-W-A-L-L? Why is there no automated dialup back up system to the credit card processing system? Why can’t a cable plan be labeled and orderly? And, why is a keycard machine tied to corporate over the WAN with no local solution? The corporate office has taken a few days to rid itself of whatever worm was eating at its e-mail server. The ISP provider found out the problem with the T-1 connection and had it fixed about four hours after the incident was reported to them. And, I guess it wasn’t so bad that those $250 ADR guests had to go back to the front desk and check in again or go back to the retail outlets and get their credit card receipts. At least the staff
knew them by name.

Am I to learn from this that you still can’t judge a book by its cover or that a hotel is a hotel? I hope not, and I know better. I have seen hotels where the cable plan makes sense and the servers and applications have fallbacks that work. Not all hotels suffer from a fence post IQ when it comes to IT.

Dan Phillips is COO of ITS, a consulting firm located outside of Atlanta, Ga., specializing in technology in the
hospitality industry. For comment or question he can be reached at dphillips@its-services.com.

 

IT NIGHTMARE

In the matter of a coincidental hour, no hotel staff could access most of their work files, the restaurants and front desk couldn’t process credit cards, no new guests checking in could get into their rooms or ride elevators requiring keycard access, and staff couldn’t communicate via e-mail. Is this an IT manager’s nightmare or what?

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