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The data center where this pilot fish works relies heavily on one major IT vendor -- but the company's CEO is having second thoughts about that.

"He thinks our favorite vendor might be charging a lot for less than the best technology," says fish. "So we buy a fully redundant box from a different, younger vendor, and we put it to work automating a time-critical data acquisition.

"Every day it does its thing -- well, almost every day. Every month or so, it does not fetch the critical data on time. We research the issue and determine that the data source is occasionally not ready at the deadline.

"But when we explain this at the IT operations meeting, the other attendees are clear they think we are covering up the fact that the real problem is the worthless 'foreign' computer.

"After a few seasons, they get the money to buy from our favorite vendor, and re-implement the data acquisition system -- at about twice the cost of the first effort.

"However, when the data is still late about once a month with the new system, we have clarity: The data source is at fault after all."

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