Their motto: If it ain't broke, fix it

This manufacturing company is acquired by a much bigger corporation -- which, as usual, means it's time for somebody to fiddle with IT, reports a pilot fish on the scene.

"I was responsible for several server closets just for the design department, completely separate from IT for the manufacturing and business side of things," says fish. "Those groups dealt with real money, so we weren't allowed to even see it.

"But after the acquisition, the bigger company's IT guys came over and ranted about my closets, and spent six months figuring out how to consolidate them into one with the proper electrical, UPSes and cooling -- but it was going to cost a lot of moola."

So instead, the bosses decide to move fish's four racks to the back of the big manufacturing/business server room.

And don't bring over your dinky little UPSes, fish is told -- now you're going to have our giant data-center UPS to keep you going.

But fish is a little concerned. The big UPS will supply power for hours, but there's nothing to power the room's cooling system in case of a power outage. He calculates the heat will trip the thermal shutdown after 30 minutes -- and not gracefully, either.

"Fine, we needed a generator," fish says. "That's what big companies use. But no, that was somehow politically incorrect. OK, thunderstorm season was coming in four months, so I decided to just be a pain about this until it happened.

"But one week before our first thunderboomer, I was told it was addressed, and to shut up."

That solution? Some $28,000 has been spent to beef up capacity on the big data-center UPS. But how is this going to fix the heat problem? fish wonders.

It doesn't. A week later, power goes down. And 45 minutes after that, thermal shutdown kicks in for the room. Over the next few months it happens again -- and again and again, each time knocking down the server room in the same ugly way.

Finally, several months after the end of thunderstorm season, a very large diesel generator is delivered, wired up and tested. It works fine.

"Six months later, when power got dropped, darned if didn't work," sighs fish. "No monthly checks or tests.

"Fast-forward 12 years: The big site is closed, all manufacturing people gone and only about 300 design-related employees work at a much smaller facility with a real server room, backed up with a big data-center UPS -- and a generator that gets checked routinely."

Sharky's always checking his email for true tales of IT life. How about sending me yours right now at sharky@computerworld.com? You'll score a sharp Shark shirt every time I use one. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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