Vexed tech wants SAP and Oracle to shut up shrieking servers

Alarms on servers tied to the TomorrowNow lawsuit are driving a Texas network services tech crazy

Michael Pulk just wants the screaming to stop.

Specifically, from the alarms on a pair of servers used by former SAP subsidiary TomorrowNow, which have been driving the network services provider crazy.

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Pulk's firm, Pulk & Co., has server space at a Tier 4 datacenter in Bryan, Texas. Machines tied to TomorrowNow, which provided lower-cost support to Oracle customers, are also located there.

Oracle sued SAP in 2007, alleging that TomorrowNow workers had illegally downloaded materials from its support systems. Lawyers for both sides have been engaging in voluminous amounts of document discovery in preparation for trial.

For weeks, alarms have been going off on a number of TomorrowNow servers, indicating problems with their hard disk arrays, and the racket has been an unbearable, risky distraction, according to Pulk.

Pulk generally manages his servers remotely, but was at the facility a great deal lately in order to perform some upgrades.

This work has been made much more difficult, he said, "by the incessant beeping 11 feet from my head."

Pulk initially reached out to the emergency contact listed on file for TomorrowNow, and later spoke with a number of attorneys for the vendors. But so far the problem hasn't been resolved because the vendors' legal teams are dragging their feet, according to Pulk.

"Neither side wants to go in there without the other seeing what they're doing," he said.

And some of the attorneys "talked down" to him in a manner suggesting he didn't "understand the intricacies" of document discovery.

As it happens, a number of Pulk's clients are law firms, he said.

Pulk got the sense that a number of the vendors' lawyers were on vacation for the holidays and didn't want the server issue to interfere with their plans, he said. But Pulk wasn't dissuaded. He sent a strongly worded letter on Dec. 29 to the judge in the case, expressing outrage at the delays in stopping the alarms. "Heaven forbid the thought that a mere vassal expect to be able to bring their problem to the attention of those up high," he wrote.

Pulk also wrote that he was awestruck by the attorneys' apparent hypocrisy. "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."

Beyond that, other alarms going off in the facility might get overlooked, if the ones on TomorrowNow's servers "become commonplace," he wrote.

Pulk's world could get a lot quieter fairly soon.

In response to his letter, U.S. District Court Judge Phyllis J. Hamilton has ordered both sides to issue a status report "advising the court as to how they have resolved this problem" within 30 days.

"We have talked with the gentleman and tried to assuage his angst about a beeping computer, but he went ahead and wrote the court," said SAP spokesman Andy Kendzie.

SAP is well aware of the judge's order, and "we will comply with it," Kendzie added.

Oracle spokeswoman Deborah Hellinger declined to comment Wednesday.

Pulk expressed bemused delight at Hamilton's decision.

"I didn't expect a peon like me would get some satisfaction," he said.

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