The world's most dangerous server rooms

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Letters Last week we asked if this is the world's most dangerous server room, and you've responded in fine style.

Now, take a good look at this.

How it should be

It represents order and logic: things that by the time you get to the ® at the end of this story, you may well have forgotten ever existed. Many of the contributors to our gallery must remain nameless.

So join us on a journey into Hell.

The beauty of last week's server room is - as many of you have pointed out - the backup tapes lie directly underneath the bucket. "Kill the server and the backups with one 'buffer overrun'" notes Jackie Meese. "Excellent disaster planning," adds Bob Currier. "I couldn't have planned a better disaster myself."

And Russell Bridges notes:

"The AC unit will heat up the room if it isn't vented to the outside. The principle behind all refrigeration is that it's impossible to generate Cold, but only to move heat away. Air conditioners are damned inefficient heat exchangers, so there is a substantial conversion of electricity to heat."

Doomed, they are. Doomed.

This is a genuine picture of part of the internal network of [...we must not say].


Reader Dave Gillet recalls how a lavatory outflow required a very thorough cleaning of a Honeywell mainframe he once worked with.

And sometimes the mainframes themselves leaked. Richard Black, of Microsoft Research, reminds us,

"The CAP computer (a experimental capability addresed computer built at Cambridge University in the 1970s) is famous amongst many generations of graduates not only for its revolutionary architecture, but also for the fact that its design included a pitched roof to protect it from the leaks of the IBM mainframe in the room above.

You can see a picture at here, though the roof isn't clearly visible.

"When I was at Level(3) they deployed Ascend TNT bulk dial-modem banks in large numbers," writes another scribe who must also remain nameless. "They were all commissioned on adjacent racks (not in cabinets) and had fans on the side that sucked in cold air on the left, and pushed out warmer air on the right. You can see where I am going with this, right?"

I fear so.

"In the main Denver colo building I noticed a contractor sat in front of the bays with a book and a fire extinguisher. It appears that when you had about 10 columns of these TNT's next to each other all blowing warmer air into the next columns, by about column 8 the things were so hot they would catch fire from time to time. Nice!"

"Finally they fitted perspex style dividers to abate the air convection, but I thought it was very funny."

Excellent memory required
"You will remember it all"

" I wish that my laughter regarding this article were because it is was staged," writes another correspondent. "Sadly, my laughter in this case is because I have been there. Twice. The server room was on the top floor, and was flooded twice during my time there. Three whole cm of water on the floor. And what is normally on the floor of a server room? All the power-strips and 230volt extensions."

"All the power in my current server room is now at least 5cm off the floor. I only wish they were plugged into something on the wall."

"The moral of this story is to use refrigerant-fed air-conditioning in a server room, and not to buy the stuff that air-con sales people recommend."

Deeper we go.

Excellent memory required
" This photo demonstrates that some of the net admins have a VERY GOOD memory... A LOT of time..."- anon.

"Less bonkers, but this is their main switch/hub cabinet. Considering one of their businesses is ISP, you'd have thought they could have kept their own network in order," writes an anonymous snapper.

Then there's the story one contractor tells us, after he was called out to repair the receptionists dead PC. The company had placed a flower pot directly on top of the monitor.

"On my recommendation, they switched to plastic flower." Not a server room horror, so that doesn't count.

Excellent memory required
T his must clearly be a fake. Must it not, er… "Cameron"?

So often, sysadmins need to be slop-admins.

"My company's "server" room was basically a 5' x 10' room with a dozen PCs on a metal bookshelf. The building had no air conditioning, and the room had no windows, so we placed a standalone AC unit in the room. The water emptied into a large Tupperware
container ('the slop bucket') that needed to be emptied every day when the weather was humid. On more than one occasion, water was splashed on the front of the bottom-shelf PCs during this operation."

"Inevitably, one weekend it was humid and no one came in to empty the slop bucket. It overflowed, and on Monday morning we found a small puddle on the server room floor. The water had pooled around the extension cord that powered several of the servers...right at
the point where the UPS plugged into it. Surprisingly, nothing had burst into flame, or even shorted out, and everything was working perfectly. We risked life and limb pulling the wire out of the water, dried it off, hung it on the wall, and emptied the bucket. Since
then, we've had central air conditioning installed."

We shall not name the world-renowned North American educational institution in which the server room itself is now out of bounds:-

Out of bounds

But the most dangerous room of all comes last, courtesy of Rudy de Haas. This is the most dangerous server room in the world, and the impending danger is so terrible, we can't even show you a thumbnail. It's entirely your responsibility to click, if you must .

Here it is. ®

[Update:] Even more here.

Related Story

The world's most dangerous server room?

Security for virtualized datacentres

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