Sloppiness in the server room brings down the network

An IT contractor walks into a right mess when responding to a service call

I've worked in IT for more than 10 years and have seen numerous examples of basic sloppiness. It's amazing how many places overlook cable management, wire management, and labeling -- at least in key areas such as servers and network racks.

One day when I was working as an IT contractor, I received a work order from a networking group that was located out of state; I was to go to a customer site and deal with an emergency situation. Some switches needed to be fixed and remote access to the switches set up. The estimated time on-site was two hours, and the last line in the work order read, "Network is down at location, so time is critical."

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I arrived and was greeted by a manager who was relatively clueless about the IT infrastructure. Moreover, there weren't any on-site techs because the company's help desk was also located out of state. She took me to "the room with all the wires," a multipurpose area open to anyone that hosted a few servers, two shared workspaces for employees, and a radio charging area.

There were two rail racks. The one on the left had patch panels, switches, some shelves, and enough patch cables for a family of raccoons to make an apartment complex. The 15-, 20-, and 25-foot patch cables connected the patch panels to the switches, which were only 3 or 4 feet apart, and the slack in the cables hung to the floor. The rack on the right had a few servers on it. Surprisingly, the covers for the wire management were there -- but weren't being used.

I found the area I needed and called the designated contact to set up the remote management. The call went straight to voicemail, so I left a message and reached out to my original contact, letting them know I was unable to reach the support person.

While I was waiting for a return call from either contact, I made small talk with the manager to find out what the business did. She informed me it was a customer service firm and a 24/7 operation, and downtime really hurt the bottom line. I was surprised by this because the company had already been out of commission for well over 24 hours.

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