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Data center house of horrors: Don't push the red button

In this third slide of the data center house of horrors slideshow, power issues plague a data center.


Don't push the red button

It was a dark and stormy night. Well, no, actually. It was a fall afternoon, partly cloudy, but you couldn't tell from inside. Our admin team was snug in its offices in Building B, while the data center was in Building A.

Everyone was happily data processing, when suddenly all communication with Building A ceased.

A couple of phone calls later, word got out: The entire data center was down. We started the death walk over to Building A to see what had happened.

A department head and a new contractor had brought a new server on a pushcart over to the machine room to be installed the next day. After dropping off the system, the department head pushed the cart and the contractor opened the door. But instead of pushing the big black button to open the door, the contractor pushed the big red button on the opposite wall, which was clearly marked “EMERGENCY POWER-OFF.”

It was one of the most “efficient” entire-room shutdowns the data center had ever experienced, even compared with a planned shutdown before Hurricane Ike.

The next day, the Big Red Switch was covered in temporary plastic packing tape. The next week, a hinged cover that takes several steps to open and an even larger sign appeared to make absolutely certain that no one pressed the button while trying to open the door.

I don't think the contractor responsible stayed more than 30 days.

--Bill Bradford


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This was last published in October 2010
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