NOC. NOC. Who's there?

The network operations center for this big data center has just been put behind a glass wall to keep out -- well, not just the non-IT types, says a pilot fish who works there.

"Among other things, the NOC had access to a satellite feed from several dishes on the roof," fish says. "Some of the mainframe operators had been going into the NOC and switching screens to the satellite feed to watch sports events. But on occasion they would press a wrong button and leave a network alarm blaring.

"So management put in a fancy glass wall complete with a door on a magnetic lock, secured by a proximity card reader on the outside. On the inside, a motion detector allowed the gods of the network to exit."

But strangely, the screens keep right on changing to sports after the glass wall goes up. And every now and then there's still an incident in which someone has clearly hit a wrong button inside the NOC when there's not supposed to be anyone there.

It's clear that somehow the mainframe operators are still getting into the NOC -- but no one knows how.

Then one night the network team lead happens to be in the NOC just after shift change for the mainframe operators. Because he's working between two rows of racks, he's not visible from outside the magnetically locked door, though he can see the door well.

A movement catches the network lead's eye, and he turns to see a big piece of cardboard that has been kicked under the door from the mainframe operations area.

He hears the click that means the motion detector has unlocked the door, and watches as the mainframe night crew strolls into the NOC with a bucket of popcorn, ready to watch the game on the satellite feed.

"That is, until they saw the network team lead, who mildly pointed out that the mainframe ops weren't supposed to be there," says fish.

"The next week the motion detector was replaced by a touch bar on the inside of the door, ruining the nocturnal TV viewing of the mainframe team but making sure that no mainframe operators accidentally hit any buttons in the NOC."

Feed the Shark! No, not popcorn -- I want true tales of IT life. Send yours to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll score a sharp Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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