Texas network services provider Michael Pulk has made tech behemoths SAP and Oracle bend to his will with nothing more than a phone, paper and a lot of persistence.
For months, loud alarms on a numbers of servers used by former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow had been driving Pulk bananas as he worked on his own machines, which are located at the same data center in Bryan, Texas.
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TomorrowNow provided lower-cost support to Oracle customers. Oracle sued SAP in 2007, alleging that TomorrowNow workers had illegally downloaded materials from its support systems. Discovery in the case is still ongoing, making the servers and their contents especially crucial and sensitive.
Pulk initially made the most instinctive move, getting in touch with an emergency contact listed for TomorrowNow. Then he talked to a number of attorneys for the vendors.
One lawyer even talked condescendingly to him, implying Pulk didn't "understand the intricacies" of document discovery, he claimed.
Pulk finally appealed to a higher power. In late December, he sent an angry letter on Dec. 29 to a judge overseeing the SAP-Oracle case, expressing dismay at how long it was taking to silence the piercing alarms and noting an inherent hypocrisy in the delay.
"That alarm is meant to signify that the fault tolerant portion of the data storage has failed ... and that another failure would mean irreparable data loss," he wrote.
Pulk's letter got the attention of the judge, who told SAP and Oracle to issue a status report "advising the court as to how they have resolved this problem" within a month.
Last week, attorneys for the companies filed a report saying the server alarms had been turned off.
In an interview, Pulk confirmed this was the case and expressed happiness at the outcome.
He had a suspicion in recent weeks that a fix was afoot. At one point, materials were "sprawled all over the floor" of a cage containing a TomorrowNow server, including what appeared to be a stack of disk drive boxes, he said.
Pulk usually manages his servers remotely, only going to the data center in person when there's a problem that needs fixing -- a fact that made the "very annoying" alarms even less welcome.
"If I'm there, then I'm already stressed," he said.