How I got the most powerful Work Station in the world.

Or How Government organisations work.


As many of you will know, I work in the IT department of a large government organization in Israel. Part of my job entails giving support to users. Over the past year I have had an increasing amount of support calls from users using Microsoft’s Windows 7 OS. This being the case, it was not unreasonable for me, about six months ago, to ask my boss for a second machine in order to install Windows 7.
 
I asked for a workstation with a minimum of a 64 bit CPU, 2 GB RAM, 200 GB hard drive and a PC Express Video Card to run my Samsung 22 inch screen which does not like cheap on board screen cards. After all the emails and talks about saving money in the department, this was a carefully thought out request for the minimum of the minimum.




About a month later I received a new Lenovo ThinkCentre m50 workstation. It turned out that my boss had ignored my detailed request and simply ordered me a standard machine that’s used throughout the whole organization.
It had an AMD 64 cpu, 1 GB RAM, 80 GB hard disk and one basic onboard screen card. This was totally unsuitable but after speaking with my dear fearless leader, he told me that he had had no choice but to order the standard machine but I could always order extra parts that I needed in order to bring it up to spec.




So, that day I ordered more RAM and a PC Express Video card. The total retail cost was less than NIS 500 so actual cost to my department would be considerably less.



First of all I thought it would be easy to purchase the parts as acquisitions of less than NIS 500 are considered petty cash and can be ordered without approval from the accounts department. However, when I went to speak to the acquisitions person he informed me that as it was computer equipment, it would have to go through the equipment suppliers which only the accounts department could order from.
So now, in order to order the new equipment I had to fill out an acquisitions form (in the form of a Word file) stating exactly what I wanted and the specific reason I wanted it for. This form was then sent it to my head of department. He then has to send this form with his approval to the department acquisitions person who sends the order to accounts for approval and ordering. I filled out the form and sent it off.




After a few days I happened to ask the acquisitions guy if he had ordered the parts yet. He told me that he hadn’t even received the email from my boss. Then began two weeks of constantly nagging my boss to send the form off. He promised to do it “in a minute” some 20 times. One day I happened to see them both in my boss’s room so I rushed in and asked my boss if he could send the form right now. Again I received the reply “in a minute”. Later that day I checked with the acquisitions guy and yes, you guessed it, he still had not received it. At that point I lost my cool and demanded he send it immediately. He told me to send the form again as he had deleted all his emails more than two weeks old. I went back to my desk and sent the form again and then went back to his room and sat over him whilst he sent to email. Fewww!



Two days later I spoke to the acquisitions guy. Had he ordered the parts I asked? "No" came the reply. The department had run out of money for that month so it would have to wait until next month. I argued with him but to no avail. The next month rolled along and I reminded the acquisitions guy that he had to order my parts. Of course he would do it he told me, that is, once he received a new order form with approval from my boss as there was an expiry date on the order.



At that point I gave up. That was two months ago.



Last Monday morning I was sitting with a colleague working on a problem when he told me about this huge multimillion shekel deal with HP to supply our organisation with new servers, server cabinets and workstations. He was involved in the makeup of the orders. While he was on the HP site he happened to see their top of range super workstation called the HP Z800. As he was struggling with his old computer, he asked our boss if he could include this in the HP order. Within three days, there it was, waiting for him by his desk. I wanted to explode! However my colleague said that it wouldn’t hurt if I simply popped into the boss’s office and asked him to order me another workstation, just like he had. So I got up and went to the boss’s office.


“Order me a computer just like Shimon has!” I told him. He briefly looked up at me and mumbled that he’d have to check. Then he went back to what he was doing, leaving me standing there. Oh well I thought, that was that! I tried hard to convince myself that it was nothing personal and simply a consequence of working for the government.


The next morning I got in to work around 7:20am but left after an hour as I had an appointment to see my dietitian. I got back to the office at about 9:30am to find a massive box waiting for me by my desk. The letters HP emblazoned on the side.





The HP Z800 workstation basic specs are:


Cost: Around NIS 16,000






2 X physical Intel Xeon X5620 2.40 Ghz 128MB cache, 6 Core processors.
(Equivalent to 8 virtual CPUs)


1,110W HP Power supply



12 GB DDR3 1333MHz Ram standard (upgradable to 192GB)



PCI Express PCIe x16 Gen2 Graphics card with 1 GB DDR5 dedicated memory
Capable of running three screens at once.



2 X 500GB RAID mirror system hard disk drives.
1 X 1.5 TB hard drive



Windows 7 Professional 64 bit


I had not had to fill out any forms. I had not had to give any reasons justifying the purchase. It had taken less than 24 hours to arrive and it is by far the best workstation I have ever used. Go figure! That's how it works around here.






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