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IT Operations

Brace yourselves: changing the clock can be your IT nightmare

Changing the clock is an IT nightmare


When Benjamin Franklin came up with the idea to change the clocks back in 1784, suggesting that waking up earlier would save on candles, he never imagined the repercussions of his idea.


On November 4th, we are all going to brace ourselves and change the clock, getting one extra sleeping hour, translated into dark early evenings. Oh yes, winter IS coming. A task that seems to be a simple switch, either by setting an automatic time zone on your cellphone, or crazy hackers (not really!) even setting it manually to make sure the change actually occurs.


As easy as that. Or is it?


IT chaging the time


Well, when it comes to IT infrastructures, things get a tad more complicated. And when you're in the IT department, the last thing you want to hear is "it's complicated".


In fact, IT people dread the time switch and the snowball effect which can easily occur as a consequence of what seems to be a minor glitch. This isn't another "oops, didn't set the right time" glitch. 

What might look like a minor glitch on the clock line can actually be harmful to the entire system. When it comes to owning many time-sensitive issues, a time change can easily become an IT nightmare.

A few common failures as a result of a faulted time switch can cause some serious issues. Here are a few examples:


  • Uncertainty: you are never sure if the clock in the server will change to the right time zone, how much time it will take, and how systems will react when they receive data in the past or the future. This can cause synchronization issues between various components of the system, such as the IDM (identity manager) and the application delivery platform, resulting in business loss.


  • Timing: the clock change may happen in the middle of a long transaction prompting it to fail due to mismatching times, and causing anything from a 404-error to a potential loss of data.


  • Duplication: logs make this issue a whole lot more complicated. Logs are even more sensitive to time change, as a minor glitch might cause a 1-hour gap within the logs, or a duplication of the events for that hour. This makes it much more difficult to troubleshoot, since there might be a duplication of logs or a gap between the effective time of change. 


This is the reason why in the past, organizations required manual changes to avoid such glitches. Especially in sensitive systems where automatic time change was disabled, organizations would keep the old time until a maintenance window to make the shift opened.


IT maintenenace


One suggested solution to all of these issues is to run the entire system in UTC, which doesn’t change. This ensures stability using the UTC bypass as the timezone and applications should be able to adjust. It requires changing the server time to UTC and making sure there are no dependencies in applications running on local servers time.


When it comes to cloud computing, things get slightly easier, as things are stored in UTC by default. This eliminates the need to configure the time change, the server is scheduled according to UTC and displays the local time and data accordingly. With so many organizations undergoing cloud migration, this might be a solution to many of the issues traditional IT systems face.


As cloud computing plays a bigger role in digital transformation, ancient IT issues in legacy solutions such as clock change, will become obsolete.  However, while the digitization of many tools and components in the IT stack offer an array of possibilities, it also adds a new level of complexity, easily solved with automation solutions so the IT staff can handle other challenges and forget about manual tasks such as time change.


So don't forget to set your clock, and by all means- move to the cloud!




Loom Systems delivers an AIOps-powered log analytics solution, Sophie, to predict and prevent problems in the digital business. Loom collects logs and metrics from the entire IT stack, continually monitors them, and gives a heads-up when something is likely to deviate from the norm. When it does, Loom sends out an alert and recommended resolution so DevOps and IT managers can proactively attend to the issue before anything goes down.
Get Started with AIOps Today!


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