Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Hide them?


There is one thing you can know for sure about software developers and that is that they are pretty much always looking for new hardware to run their code on. This is especially true of poorly-funded software developers.

At work we have been tasked with creating a new environment to use as a demo site for a potential customer. The initial instruction from management was that we were to plan the whole network out right, make sure it was fast and dependable, and ensure that at no point is the software to be limited by the hardware.

The initial plan to do just that was rejected and the budget halved, so I dropped out of the planning portion of the project to sit back and watch.

Anyway, in the end seventeen servers were ordered for the whole project, and over the past couple of days they have been arriving by the pallet, wheeled in the front door of the office and through the main area to the server room in the back.

I've spoken before about Dell server boxes and their general hugeness. These are no different, eighteen inches by twenty-four inches by four feet or so for the smaller ones and around 100 pounds a piece.

My friend who is in I.T. (while I, technically, at the moment am not) called in a status report on the progress to management in Connecticut. Then he got even more instruction about them.

"Don't let the developers see the servers showing up or they'll want to use them."

My friend explained that the servers have been coming in through the only door to the office and have been wheeled back through the work area to the server room.

"Why didn't you hide them?" was the ridiculous next question.

The only answer possible was given as,"Hide them with what? My d*#%?"

"No, not your d*#%. Throw a jacket over them or something!"

The mental image this provided made my laugh, but not in an amused way. It was more the bitter laugh of one who has grown to expect Management-types to make demands first and consider the blatant physical laws which govern our whole reality as an afterthought.

I recommended that we spread the rumor that each enormous box contained an 8gb Microsoft Zune media player and an abundance of bubble wrap before I remembered the other thing  you can know for sure about software developers . . . They are compelled to pop bubble wrap like few other "grown up" job-having people. They are drawn to it, to the very concept of the possibility of it, like moths to a flaming dual-core processor. Welcome to the social, indeed.

They will eventually find out about the new servers, so my friend is rushing to get them all built and patched and smuggled one by one to a secure yet undisclosed off-site location. Part of the initial plan included off-site hosting, as our in-office redundant power will run for about 30 seconds given the current power load and about 5 seconds with an additional 17 servers.

Of course, having spent the time to research and interview potential hosts, my friend told me last week that Management has decided that we are not to wait for the off-site location to be ready. The environment is to be completely built and configured here and then moved.

Again, my laughter was bitter and rueful. This post will put my verbal prediction in writing: Once built, these servers will never be moved. The developers sit too close to allow the downtime to drive the servers across town and Management has the incentive to not pay for the off-site hosting at all if, after all, "everything is running fine where it is, isn't it?"

There is a small comfort in knowing, beyond doubt, what to expect of the people I work with.

Someday I'd like to be somewhere where I can expect reasonable things from them. Or good things. Or sane, rational things.

I'm probably in the wrong line of work.

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