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Chapter 18. Case Study: High-Hat Delivers!
To augment his already-stellar decision-making skills, High-Hat Airways' CEO employs a diverse squadron of soothsayers, astrologists, and fortune tellers. For months, these experts have been pushing him to enter the lucrative package shipment marketplace. The CEO has been reluctant; he can't exactly explain why, but he's been waiting for a signal. Finally, the sign arrives in the form of a dream: rows of singing cardboard boxes, each stuffed with cash. The next morning, the CEO summons his executive team to an emergency meeting to deliver the great news: High-Hat is entering the shipping business!
With lightning speed, High-Hat's IT department springs into action. Impending layoffs are delayed. Vacations are canceled; several projects nearing completion are put on hold as the entire team works around the clock to realize the CEO's dream.
This Herculean effort pays off: An entire package tracking application infrastructure is built and deployed worldwide in a matter of weeks. Of course, QA is a bit behind; performance testing isn't even a consideration.
Initially, the new package tracking service is a hit. Wall Street raises earnings estimates, and many executives receive bonuses. The previously delayed IT layoffs now proceed, adding even more to the bottom line.
From a systems perspective, everything appears fine. The new applications have relatively few issues. Results are accurate, and response time is reasonable. During the course of the first month, however, things begin to change. Mysterious reports, detailing sporadic yet horrendous application performance problems, start arriving daily from High-Hat's far-flung empire. Rumors of severe problems leak out to financial analysts, who promptly cut earnings estimates, thereby decimating the stock price. Several executives are demoted, while numerous midlevel managers are moved from their offices into tiny cubicles.
A desperate CIO calls you late one night. High-Hat is very sorry about laying you off, and wants you to return to help overcome these problems. After renegotiating your compensation package, you're ready to go back to work.
Being an astute performance-tuning expert, you know that the first task is to accurately catalog the problems. Only then can you proceed with corrections. Your initial analysis separates the main problems into the following high-level categories.
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