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True IT blooper #25: Terrible tot

Todd Hochman knows from personal experience that managing a data center is not child's play. In this "true IT blooper," he runs into trouble in Data City, trouble with a capital T, and that stands for toddler.

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series. For obvious reasons, some contributors choose to remain anonymous. Todd Hochman tells his story on the record, but he keeps his location and company name under wraps.

Hochman's story began with the visit of a colleague's one-year-old son to his workplace, a corporate data center. It wasn't a special occasion, like "Bring a Child to Work Day." It was just a day when his co-worker's childcare options had crumbled.

Being a sympathetic and friendly guy, Hochman didn't grouse about his short visitor. "I generally like kids," he said.

Being a conscientious IT manager, Hochman checked to make sure that "there was a cover on the server and all other dangerous items were well above table height." It looked like everything was secured, "so I figured it'd be OK for her to have her kid in the server room while we were working," he said.

Unfortunately, Hochman had overlooked one small item: the American Power Conversion Uninterruptible Power Supply unit (UPS). "The APC 1400 was sitting on the floor," he said. Naturally, the off button for the UPS "is almost exactly the diameter of a 1-year old inquisitive boy's finger," Hochman said. It was also at toddler-eye level.

"You see where this is going, don't you?" Hochman asked, rhetorically.

Of course, the toddler pushed the button. Then, there was a lot of screaming, "mine, not the one-year-old's," said Hochman.

It didn't take Hochman long to get the main file server back up. Rather than banishing the child immediately, he took greater precautions. "I promptly covered the UPS off button with strapping tape," he said.

From that point forward, however, Hochman has made sure that the data center doesn't double as a child care center. The moral, he said, is that "kids don't belong in a server room. Period."

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This was first published in April 2002

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