A campus data center move meets tech incompetence

A mix of expertise levels in a campus tech department leads to chaotic situations -- and a horrific final exam week

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It took a while for the complete story to emerge, but what had happened was that someone had decided to move the UPS (uninterruptible power supply) to the new data center ahead of time to get things set for the next week's move. I guess it never crossed their mind that we could have a power outage that week. Either that or they were too cheap to buy or rent a backup UPS.

When the power went out, the course management server crashed -- and crashed hard. Final exams were almost over by the time it was running again, and some of the data never came back. Several faculty had no offline backup of their final exams or gradebooks and canceled their exams. Many grades were turned in late. As you can imagine, there were a lot of angry teachers, students, and parents.

In my corporate days, heads would have rolled over something like this, but no one was reprimanded. No one even offered a formal apology. The attitude from the IT team's senior managers was "stuff like this happens, deal with it."

Given that attitude, it shouldn't have been a surprise the next year when our primary network drive crashed and was restored. None of the faculty or staff were notified that there had been a crash, but we logged in one day and all our Date Modified fields were at least nine months old and a lot of our files were missing. It came out that the automatic backup hadn't actually backed anything up for the last nine months. No knew because no one from the IT team ever checked to see if the backups were working.

Eventually, the school's administrators recognized the need to make a change to the campus' IT management.

The moral of the story: If you're going to be incompetent, make sure your boss knows less than you do and you won't get into trouble. If your organization has incompetent people? Well, I have my own 500GB external drive in my office, I run my own backup software, and I check to make sure it works. 

This story "A campus data center move meets tech incompetence," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. Read more crazy-but-true stories in the anonymous Off the Record blog at InfoWorld.com.

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