The 7 dirtiest jobs in IT

Somebody's got to do them -- and hopefully that somebody isn't you

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Dirty IT job No. 2: Datacenter migration specialist
Position involves relocating and reconfiguring datacenter over impossible distances within a ridiculously short time frame. Prior experience as cable jockey, rack-n-stack grunt, console monkey, and/or log zombie a plus.

Moving a datacenter is a dirty job. Moving one halfway across the country in 48 hours -- that's a really dirty job. But that was the task facing Scott Wilson and his firm, Marathon Consulting, when one of its clients needed to close down its Chicago datacenter the day before Thanksgiving 2003 and open for business in New York the following Monday.

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Wilson tried to persuade his financial services client to set up a duplicate center in New York; they could power down the Windy City operation, light up the Big Apple, then gradually move equipment as it was needed. No good, said the client -- too expensive. So at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, his people loaded roughly 80 machines into trucks and drove nonstop to New York.

"We tracked the trucks using GPS, so when they reached the Holland Tunnel, we went to the datacenter," says Wilson, managing director of the Brooklyn-based Marathon. "We spent the next 48 hours setting it up and getting operational. But we got it up."

Unplugging everything and cleaning out the muck that's collected over the years is bad, Wilson says. "Cables sit for years in half-baked air-conditioned rooms that are dusty and nasty."

But the worst part is putting Humpty Datacenter back together again. "Most datacenters aren't labeled correctly and have been put together by 10 different consultants and in-house employees who each have their own ways of doing things," Wilson says. "And recabling someone else's work is always fun."

Fortunately, migrating datacenters isn't something firms do very often. But when they do, it's an ordeal. IT pros resent having to do grunt work, but they also understand it's part of the job.

"On the other hand, moving 10 racks of servers from Chicago to New York in 48 hours at the end of the day feels amazing," says Wilson. "The gratification is definitely there."

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