So who do we crucify?

Server admin pilot fish at a very big company gets an evening message from a PC services manager: What's going on with the Windows licensing server?

"He wanted to know what changed, who did it, was change management followed, upper management wants answers immediately, and so on," says fish. "It was essentially a 'who do we crucify?' request.

"Since I was unaware of any issue with the licensing server and it was after hours, I decided to check into it first thing in the morning."

Next morning fish gets on the licensing server and confirms that everything is running fine -- clients are getting activated successfully. He's just started a a reply to the PC services manager ("What issue are you experiencing? What's the ticket number? How can I help?") when he gets a text from a PC tech: What's wrong with the licensing server?

Fish texts back: There are no issues with the licensing server. What problems are you having?

Tech: Well, duh, the thousands of PCs that are failing to activate.

Just then the phone rings: It's the PC services manager with his litany of urgent questions. Fish says he just learned of the problem, but he's confirmed that the licensing server is functioning normally and he'll work with the PC tech to see what's happening.

"He reiterated how urgent it was to get answers to upper management," fish says.

"I went to the PC tech's cubicle and had him run diagnostics and manual activation commands on a PC that failed to activate. In the registry, I found the problem: The PC had been hard-coded to point to an obsolete licensing server that was retired six months earlier."

How did it get configured this way? fish asks tech. There shouldn't be any hard coding -- the PC should query Active Directory for the volume licensing service record, and that will automatically activate against the real licensing server.

Tech: "Oh, this was coded into the script we use for imaging PCs."

Tech fixes the imaging script. Fish gives him a batch file to fix the hard-coded PCs and activate them.

Then fish writes up the situation in detail, including how the issue occurred and who was responsible, and sends it to the PC services manager.

"Late in the day, since I hadn't heard anything from the manager, I pinged him to ask if he'd received my email and if he had any questions," says fish. "He responded that he hadn't looked at it closely, but he'd been briefed by the PC tech and everything was settled.

"So this mission to find someone to crucify suddenly lost its urgency when it turned out to be his team in the crosshairs."

Sharky has his sights set on your true tale of IT life. 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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