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The Case of the Phantom IT Budget

It was humid. It was dark. It was July. Just another evening in Boston’s exploding technology district.

But this night marked a big change. I was taking the big jump to the big leagues. It was my first assignment with my new company: find out where all the money in our IT budget was going.

My chat with our CFO earlier in the evening had been eye-opening.

It was obvious she didn’t give a damn who I was. She just wanted to get to the bottom of a black hole IT budget that had been out of control for years. She had a reputation as the best CFO in Boston, but she’d bent a lot of rules to get there, and she didn’t care if I did either.

Her voice was monotone, but not threatening. She sounded dulled and uninterested. Yet the case in front of our eyes was anything but that. The light from the street streamed in through her half-open blinds and glistened on the smoke from her vape pen.

“Why are we paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to store our data? I mean, how is this possible? I need you on this case like yesterday and I need results that your predecessor just couldn’t seem to produce. That’s why he’s no longer with the company. And you won’t be with us long either if you can’t solve this case. Got it? Now scram.”

Message received, boss.

I was on my second cup of cold brew early the next morning at a local diner when it hit me. I told the waitress I took it black, but she gave me two sugars by accident. I don’t do sweets and I don’t vape either. I mean, I must have been the only IT guy in Boston who wasn’t intermittent fasting. I also didn’t gamble, didn’t drink, and didn’t go out late looking for trouble. All I really wanted to do with my life was to be an IT guy. Pretty boring, huh?

Anyways, as I looked up at the constantly “breaking news” on the small HD TV over the bar, I saw that Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, was getting ready to take a trip to space. You know you’re rich when you have to go to space to feel adventurous. Am I right?

That’s when it hit me. How did this guy get so rich, anyway? Hmmmm. Could it be from data storage and AWS? It made sense, but how did it all fit together? And how could I prove it? If I was going to do this for real, I knew I’d have to go to bat against the biggest company in the world. Was I ready to get in so deep that I might not be able to get out?

I took a long slug of my coffee and mulled over how I could get to the bottom of it all and come out the other side with my job, my pride, and my life intact.

I did my digging every night, staying in the office after everyone else had gone home. I pulled all the paperwork from our IT budget for the previous five years. I put the usual suspects up on my rapidly growing evidence wall. There they were: Google Cloud, Microsoft Azure, Oracle, IBM, and last but certainly not least, AWS.

I was feeling sick to my stomach so I took put two Alka-seltzers in a glass of water and lapped greedily at the glass. Then I heard a door shut downstairs and my heart stopped beating. I gathered all the files and threw them back in the cabinet. Who could possibly be here this late?

That, as they say, is when everything started to go south… and it was just the beginning.

After all, it was humid. It was dark. It was July. Just another evening in Boston’s technology district.

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