Power of thought

Sometimes we are presented with situations that take some real lateral thinking.

Many moons ago, one of our clients was moving premises. At the time, they had a very old server which was already a hand-me-down from another one of their business units. I was concerned that if it was powered down for any significant period of time, it might not start up again. Hard drives were also quite a bit more delicate back then than they are now, so physically transferring it in the back of a van was another concern.

Fortunately its hard drives were held in two external enclosures and the whole unit was connected to an APC Schneider Smart-UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply).

The crazy solution...

Transport the server in the car and keep it running via the Smart-UPS. It was a bit of a gamble whether having the drives running or idle was better. If running, the heads could potentially crash if we hit a bump, if idle, they might seize. So one was powered down and the other left running (they were a mirrored pair), the whole thing was disconnected from the mains and wheeled to the car with the Smart-UPS beeping away due to the power outage. It wasn't dissimilar to a patient on a trolley with a heart monitor alarm ringing!

How did it all end? Fortunately the patient survived. In fact, we were so confident in the Smart-UPS and how well things were going (and given it was a glorious summer's day), we even managed to stop for a quick fast-food lunch in a car park on the way (drive thru' hadn't quite hit the UK back then). The server managed to run for many years after that, including another move.

So it's not always a high tech solution that's best. With a bit of extra thought and a good UPS, we had a satisfied client, an undamaged server and a mightily relieved IT support engineer!


Posted by Gordon Coulter on Monday, May 23, 2016



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