See, he was right!

Flashback to the mid-1990s, when this big company has just moved into its shiny new downtown headquarters, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"The thinnet, Lantastic and token ring networks that were scattered around the old headquarters building had been replaced with a shiny new multi-segment Ethernet network," fish says. "It had a main distribution frame in the basement data center and two intermediate distribution frames on each of the eight floors of the new HQ building, and the servers were all on an ultra-fast FDDI ring."

And not long after the move, fish gets a page on a Saturday evening. It's a VP, and he's frantic. "I've been working all day to have several thousand pages printed out in time for a board meeting on Monday morning," he tells fish. "But now the entire network has gone down. You've got to get in to fix it right now!"

Fish heads downtown at once. Unfortunately, it's the night of the city's annual music festival, and concert-goers are clogging every downtown street. It's an hour and a half after answering the page that fish finally walks through the data center doors and sees what the VP has done.

There stand a PC and four laser printers that the VP has set up. The printers are plugged into daisy-chained power strips, which the VP has plugged into the power distribution unit that basically powers the entire network.

"I don't know how something like this could happen on the very weekend I had so much work to do!" moans the VP. "I only got about 2,000 pages printed out of the 6,000 I need to get done! My PC and printers went down, so I moved them to another plug, but they just went down again. The same thing happened every time!"

Turns out the VP systematically went down the row of data racks, overloading the breaker in each rack in turn with his heavy-duty laser printers. He even managed to hit both of the redundant power supplies for each rack.

"He had taken down several dozen servers, every network segment and finally the FDDI ring for the servers," sighs fish.

"Even after I got everything back up and running, including the PC and printers for his precious reports, he still continued to insist the data center was poorly designed if things could be taken down so easily.

"Two weeks later, a large glass wall went up in front of the racks with a secured door that would only open for the networking group and server team."

Keep Sharky up and running. Send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll get a stylish Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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