Simpler: not always better

This pilot fish works for a regional specialty retailer and has just taken over responsibility for a batch of servers.

"One night about 10 p.m., I got a call from the CEO telling me that he was not getting e-mail on his BlackBerry," says fish. "I tried accessing the server over the VPN, but I could not access it.

"I had to drive about 30 minutes to the site -- where I found that about half of our servers had lost power."

And that makes no sense at all. Fish knows that everything is set up with redundant power: Each server has dual power supplies, so if one goes out, the other should keep the machine running.

But a quick inspection shows that a little earlier in the power chain, the system isn't quite so robust.

Turns out the dual power supplies are plugged into a pair of power strips, which are plugged into two different electrical outlets.

And it seems the previous network admin didn't like the idea of having to make sure that one power supply from each server is plugged into each power strip.

Fish discovers her predecessor simplified the system: Half the servers are plugged into one strip, half into the other.

"When one power strip failed, about half of our servers crashed, including the e-mail server and the BlackBerry server," fish says.

"The servers had been down for around four hours, and it took several more hours after I brought them back up before the CEO finally got his e-mail.

"Needless to say, changing the power scheme in the server room is now a high-priority project."

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Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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