A clean miss

Flashback to 1991, when this consultant pilot fish is doing some work for an electronics manufacturer.

"The data center was across the hall from one of the 'clean room' manufacturing rooms," fish says. "One day the company's large AS/400 minicomputer lost power. It went down hard. So did all the other servers running Unix and Windows. In all, about 11 different systems all went down at the same time."

Fish knows that the UPS for the AS/400 is in the clean room, while the UPSes for the servers are in the data center -- but they're not beeping, so he decides to check across the hall first.

And the UPS there is beeping away.

One of the manufacturing managers asks fish, "What the heck is wrong with that thing? It started beeping about six months ago, but I could silence the alarm. This morning it started that beeping up again and wouldn't silence!"

What indeed? The UPS is showing that it failed due to overloading. And a quick examination shows why: It turns out that the Unix and Windows servers are plugged into the AS/400's UPS along with the AS/400.

"The other, smaller UPSes were just humming along with nothing plugged into them," grumbles fish. "And the overloaded UPS had been beeping alarms for quite a while, but since the UPS was located across the hall no one in the data center knew it was overloaded -- no one bothered to check it because it was in the clean room."

Sharky will clean any identifying marks off your true tale of IT life. So send it to me at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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