Now THAT'S a generator test!

This rural county government doesn't have a lot of money for spare equipment -- which means an emergency generator for the data center isn't high on the county board's list of priorities, according to a pilot fish on the scene.

"The IT department finally convinced the board to approve a backup generator for the computer room," says fish.

"But it came with conditions. Since power emergencies are rare, they only approved a portable generator that will be shared with the road crews for their emergencies also. And while the IT director wants the generator stored in the IT parking lot, instead the road crew stores the generator at the Public Works yard, about 10 minutes away from the IT office."

The IT director keeps pushing for the generator to be right next to the computer room -- but after nearly two years, it's still sitting across town.

In time, it's clear to the IT director that he has lost the board's support and is on the way out. But he decides to go out proving a point.

Early one morning, before anyone has had so much as a first cup of coffee, the IT director calls the Public Works director and says the lights just went dark and the power company doesn't know why. It may take hours to troubleshoot the problem, IT boss tells the Public Works boss, and we need the generator now.

"Public Works employees scramble to find a truck with the right hitch to tow the generator, and discover it has a flat tire that needs changing," fish says. "After 45 minutes, the generator still hasn't shown up."

That's when the IT director pulls the plug on the fiber, to simulate the data center going down.

None of the servers actually crash, of course. But all the government workers spread across a dozen remote offices lose access to everything but their own PCs.

No email. No server applications. No shared drives or print services. No Facebook or Amazon, either. And there's pretty much no one on the county payroll who doesn't feel the pain.

Deciding he has made his point, the IT director finally orders the fiber plugged back in, and everything goes back to normal.

"The IT director? His forced retirement was moved up by two weeks, but he otherwise escaped with his skin intact," says fish.

"And the generator? It still sits across town at the Public Works yard -- but now they check the tires every Friday afternoon before they call it a day."

Sharky is still low on true tales of IT life, and I'm pretty sure you've got one. Don't wait till you're getting out of Dodge -- send it to me right now 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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