4 Enterprise IT Lessons From “Office Space”

“Office Space” was not a blockbuster when it was released 17 years ago this winter, but it has since become a cult classic. Why? Part of its lasting appeal is its spot-on commentary about workplace politics and everyday IT issues. Its world may have been full of unreliable legacy printers and pre-Y2K hysteria, but its lessons about how to deal with these assets continue to be relevant. Here are four things that enterprise IT personnel can learn from this seminal movie:

1) Be pragmatic about technical issues

In a famous scene, several of the main characters take a malfunctioning printer outside and smash it up to the tune of “Still” by the Geto Boys. This temptation to just lash out at anything that doesn’t work properly is usually best avoided, though. Instead of obliterating it, the crew should have sent it out for repair.

In a similar way, network admins should take a pragmatic approach to WAN issues. For example, Lextron, a U.S. distributor of animal health products, once faced big challenges in supporting applications such as SharePoint and videoconferencing. It didn’t just rip up its old MPLS circuits and go all-in on Internet, but rather deployed a Talari software defined WAN to get more bandwidth and ensure the best possible connection, regardless of link type.

2) Plan for the future of your network

The Y2K bug looms over the entire company (Initech) in “Office Space.” While it turned out to be overhyped in real life, it played an important role in getting a lot of people, real and fictional, to update their networks and applications and plan ahead in the event of a disaster.

Network admins also have to prepare for worst-case scenarios. An SD-WAN is a powerful solution in this regard. It can aggregate bandwidth, scale via inexpensive broadband capacity and seamlessly enforce priorities during a failover situation so that single points of failure do not bring down the whole WAN.

Security was not Initech's strong suit.
Security was not Initech’s strong suit.

3) Stay vigilant to ward off potential dangers

Initech did not run a very tight ship. Its senior management completely overlooked an ongoing money siphoning scheme, as well as a disgruntled employee who ended up burning down a company building.

“Don’t be in the dark about what’s happening across your WAN.”

You can’t afford to be that in the dark about what’s happening across your WAN. Are your links experiencing higher than usual latency, jitter and packet loss? An SD-WAN appliance uses continuous monitoring to let you know if they are. It helps you be proactive about traffic management and head off any issues early on.

4) Don’t waste time if you don’t have to

“Office Space” took place in a time before VoIP. So incoming calls were handled by the office’s circuit-switched phone lines, with a receptionist telling each caller to wait “just a moment” while she put them through the board. Initech may have benefited from an automated interface that allowed callers to enter an extension to save time.

Enterprises can overcome these types of bottlenecks by using a Talari THINKING WAN that simplifies network administration, supports applications like VoIP and provides instant failover. Find out more about how an SD-WAN has already been put to work in the real world by checking out our case studies.

Categories: IT Challenges, Network Reliability