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BOFH: Server room secret panels

This beancounter's asking too many questions...

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Episode 26

“It's a little... uh... large, isn't it?” one of our beancounters says as he scans the computer room in the new building during a site visit.

“Optical illusion,” the PFY counters. “Machine rooms always look oversized when there's no kit in them. Take my word for it, once we install the racks and the cable trays the place will look half the size.”

“I... still think it's rather large.”

“No, no, it's fine,” I say. “Like my assistant says, wait until you see it with the racks and stuff in place – honestly, it'll look tiny.”

“Are you sure this is the same size as your existing room?”

“It's a little larger, I admit,” I say. “But who's going to quibble about a foot or two in the scheme of things – and like we've said, it only LOOKS large. When the machines are in place you really will believe it's halved in size.”

Which it will have. In a rare moment of self-sacrifice the PFY and I have actually dipped into our own pockets to pay the builders for several nights of private work of installing four mammoth but silent electrical motors and building a remote control movable steel wall through the middle of the computer room - creating two suites, the work one and the private enterprise version.

It was the beancounters' idea really – they'd been reading so much about SAAS recently that they were convinced that we were over-investing in our infrastructure and should instead utilise the resources of an external vendor.

Which is where the PFY and I came in. By halving the size of the computer room and installing the best of our existing servers in a virtual cluster in the ghost facility, we'll 'migrate' our desktop functionality to the most competitive 'external provider' who responds to the RFP. And who's going to be more competitive than a provider that doesn't have to pay for kit, power, plant or real estate?

It just makes financial sense – at least that's the way the beancounters saw it when they pored over the RFP responses. In an effort to be scrupulously fair the PFY and I did try and nudge them toward the other more costly respondents so as not to unfairly bias the decision in our favour, but even after our best endeavours they still decided to go with the cheapest model.

Ah well.

So the only problem we have is that we overlooked the segment of the RFP which stated that the company wanted a seamless transition...

The computer room meanwhile progresses nicely. Within hours of the beancounter's visit the racks are in standing in what will be their final locations and the wall is now the only structure I know of with the ability to alter its location to GPS coordinates which have been texted to it. A work of bloody genius!

“I... It really does look smaller!” the beancounter gasps as he returns to the room. “But surely that's never 40 metres?”

“Forty metres?” I say grabbing the plans from his hands. “No, I see the mistake – this measurement is in chains - point four chains.”

“Chains?”

“Yeah, it's an old building, it'll be from the original surveyors notes.”

“But then four chains would make that about... uh... about five metres.”

“That’s about right isn’t it?”

“No, you see, the room is the correct width – in metres – but the length of the room is ridiculously small – about two-thirds of what it should be.”

“It’s probably a typographical error.”

“No it’s not - the picture shows it as being as long as the corridor over here plus the length of your office.”

“No, there must be a room missing somewhere. How far is it from the security doors to the end of the room?” the PFY asks as we step out through the doors concerned.

“I’ll check >stomp< >stomp< …. >stomp< 12. So that’s probably just over nine metres.”

“What about from the end of the room to the doors?” the PFY asks.

“The same as the other way.”

“You’re not taking into account Earth’s rotation and doppler effect,” the PFY says, TXTing furiously behind his back.

“Eh?”

“The wall, it won’t be in the same place because of the earth’s rotation,” the PFY says. “Just put your back heel on the wall and count the steps this way.”

...20 seconds later...

“It’s strange,” he says. “It’s just over 10.5 metres now.”

“Check it again,” the PFY suggests. >tappity<

“12 metres, it just doesn’t make sense!” he says. “It’s like this is moving >clonk< >clonk< Hey, that wall's made of steel! You know I think the wall really is...“

>SLAM< >CLANG< >CLANG<

>tappity<

No one believes the beancounter’s tale the next day when he turns up to work reeking heavily of bodily outputs after being crammed between some crushed racks overnight thanks to the PFY’s coordinates being about six inches into the back wall... His fanciful tales of rooms closing in on him are put down to his abuse of the many empty boxes of cold medication that the PFY planted in his rubbish bin…

The subsequent site visit shows the server room is exactly as specified in the plans.

“Though it looks half the size when the racks are in there,” the PFY adds, as our visitors depart.

>tappity<

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