I’ve been thinking a little bit about the Amazon S3 incident. Not really the incident, actually, but the responses to it. More than once I read something along the lines of “I’m sure that guy got fired” with regard to the engineer who entered the fatal command.
Sure, that’s kind of funny for a quick tweet or in the greater context of a blog post on change control, but for me, I’m not sitting at my desk shaking my head right now. Instead, I’m reminded about the times I did the exact same thing (on a much smaller scale) and will probably do it again.
Here are a few of my most memorable:
- Remotely shutting down the only WAN interface on an edge router in another country.
- Accidentally flipping the second and third octects in a script for modifying production site-to-site VPNs.
- Applying a service policy to the wrong interface and killing all phone calls.
- Forgetting to disable the reload in command after a successful change.
- I even destroyed several physical ports in a core switch by accidentally ripping out cables while trying to make the rack, which wasn’t bolted to the floor, line up better with the floor tiles.
I’m not really thinking about the S3 incident itself, and I’m not too concerned with how a manager should handle this type of situation with someone on their team. I don’t know that much about either of those things. What does come to mind is that I’ve been there to one extent or another more times than I care to admit. In the context in which I work, that could just as easily have happened to me.
I’ve never taken down huge swaths of the internet or services for thousands of customers, but I have had those moments in which I went from confidently hacking away at the CLI to staring wide-eyed at my screen in a cold sweat and with a sinking feeling in my stomach.
I guess this is just part and parcel of the human interaction we still have with our infrastructures and why we have change control. In any case, I’m not judging the engineer who took down S3 accidentally. I’ve been there in my own small way, and I’m sure we all have to one extent or another.
Feel free to leave some of your most memorable blunders in the comments or tweet them out.