Early one Friday morning, as I made my way into the NOC for my usual shift, I was greeted by my fellow workers for what would seem a normal workday. Immediately upon my arrival, I was given my first task of the day by David, the overnight datacenter manager – get some coffee ready for the tour we have going this morning. I will submit to you, the reader, that making coffee should be no daunting task, but even the best of are tricked sometimes by simple machinery. With that in mind, I went ahead and made the coffee as I had done many times in the past with similar coffee makers. At that point I figured I was good to go, and went about my business. When I went to double check the coffee, I was treated to a nice little puddle of steaming coffee in the break room. While mopping up my little creation, a few things came to mind:
While I had done this many times in the past with similar coffee pots, this one has some bells and whistles that the old school ones didn’t have. New buttons and some water piped in directly.
I was going to have to attack this problem head on, because there was no way I was going to deprive our customers of their caffeine!
As I thought about it more while bringing the sopping wet trash downstairs, I realized this little debacle wasn’t too far distanced from what I do here at SoftLayer.
Imagine this: You have a piece of hardware you use all the time. It’s a great piece of hardware, it rarely fails, and its principles have remained steadfast over the years. Suddenly, though, a new firmware version is released, and your “tried and true” methods are no longer working! Working in a dynamic business like the web hosting industry, things change at the blink of an eye. Its quite the detriment to get stuck in the rut of “that’s how I’ve done it for years!”. Flexibility and the ability to adapt are crucial. Otherwise you find yourself with a server that doesn’t work, or a pot of coffee overflowing in the break room.
Second, every day offers new challenges from the last. Much like the dreaded coffee maker, there are many a problem that can be solved with a little perseverance (or a user’s manual – something the coffee machine didn’t feel the need to grace me with, unlike the Manual pages, or the trusty F1). Every day, it seems a new hardware problem presents itself. It’s up to the Server Build Engineers here at SoftLayer to ensure that those problems don’t keep the customer from getting their server in the window in which it was promised. Whether it’s incompatible hardware, or just a piece of gear that doesn’t want to play nice, you can rest assured that the SBE’s here will be on their toes solving problems rather consistently.
And to answer David’s question about how can he trust someone to answer tickets when they can’t brew coffee? Actually, easy – I figured it out. Not to mention, I’m sure I saw the lucky people leave the tour today with a little extra pep in their step. I can only hope it was only *partially* because of the coffee.