Shark Tank: Missing Connections

New-to-the-job network administrator pilot fish walks into the computer room after a power outage during his first week on the job and finds all the servers rebooting. Wait, hold on - don't we have an uninterruptable power supply (UPS)? he asks another staffer, who points under a table to the UPS lit up and humming along. The fish climbs under the table to check the back of the UPS - and discovers that none of the servers are plugged into it.

Application support manager sticks her head into the IT operations manager's office and asks if he can provide a "complete list of all the unplanned outages for the next six months," reports a pilot fish who was there. The ops manager patiently asks the support manager to consider what she's just requested. She does - then replies that she sees "nothing wrong with asking when we were expecting the next unexpected outage."

New money-saving manager decides to use an in-house support technician to replace the consultant who has supported a remote facility for years. She's the logical choice - "the only computer-literate person there," says a co-worker pilot fish. Trouble is, she's a PC support tech, and the application is on a mainframe. "She doesn't know the operating system, the database, the language or how it works," groans the fish. No problem, says the boss - we'll send her to training. "She should be able to take over by January, right?"

Programmer pilot fish who also helps out with system administration suddenly can't access one network drive. He pings the server; no response. Suspecting the server has blue-screened, he heads for the computer room, opens the door and finds the head sys admin sitting on the floor, a fistful of wires in his hand - and swearing he "had nothing to do with knocking loose the network connection to the NT cluster."

Electrician shows up one morning to deal with a potentially serious problem: the big red emergency button that shuts down all computer-room power appears to have gone dead. After a little careful testing, he determined that it's nothing major, just a burned-out lightbulb behind the button. But to be really careful, the electrician tests all the button's other connections and accidentally completes the button's circuit. And brings down all the servers. "Hard, really hard," says a pilot fish. "The rest of the company can't figure out why their applications quit responding."

Connect with Sharky: sharky@computerworld.com. You get a sharp Shark shirt if it sees print - or shows up online at computerworld.com/sharky.

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