Junior techie had leverage, but didn’t appreciate the gravity of the situation

Disrespect for physics saw the datacenter, and a career, come tumbling down

On Call Welcome once again to On Call, The Register’s weekly column that tries to balance your diet of industry news with your peers’ experiences of the messes they confront at the coalface of IT.

This week, meet a reader we’ll call “Robert” who told of his time working for a local government organization in the UK.

Robert gave one of his junior minions the job of installing a 6kVA uninterruptible power supply (UPS) in one of the server racks he serviced.

On Call just searched for UPSes of that capacity. We found 4U machines that weigh in at 65kg – 7.47 adult badgers according to The Register’s famous standards converter.

“The minion duly wandered off along the service corridor, and vanished into the depths of the server room,” Robert told On Call. And a couple of hours later the minion returned with news he’d done the job, other than hooking it up.

Robert decided he and a colleague who served as senior networks engineer should check the work had been done correctly.

It had not – the 65kg UPS had been installed in the topmost space in the middle rack, definitely not a good spot to put something that heavy.

“Said minion was called back, grilled over the choice of installation space, and told to put the UPS in the lowest free space in rack number one of seven,” Robert wrote.

The appropriate hoist was duly retrieved so the minion could do the job again and Robert again retired to await its completion.

That reverie was rudely interrupted after around 20 minutes by a thundering crash.

The next sound Robert heard was shouts of complaint about the network being down.

"The minion had decided to pull the UPS out on rails at the top of the cabinet before getting the server crane into position, resulting in a huge imbalance," Robert revealed.

As the giant battery reached tipping point, it pulled seven server racks to an angle that meant many of the fibres and cables connected to kit they carried snapped.

“Suffice to say, a bollocking of biblical proportions was levelled at the minion, and his server room access was removed,” Robert wrote. Security was summoned and the minion made a walk of shame out of the office, as he’d been suspended from work pending an enquiry.

The fix took three weeks, and the minion was reduced in rank until such time he could be trusted again.

And Robert? He knows it was a mistake to let the minion do the job unattended.

Has trusting a job to a junior turned to disaster? If so, click here to send On Call and email and we may feature your story on a future Friday.

Keep the yarns coming, folks. On Call always needs more candidates – especially as we close in on our 500th edition! ®

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