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By Deborah Rothberg  |  Posted 2006-10-27 Print this article Print

Exchangergeist Mike Murphy, an IT administrator at the Deerfield, Ill., construction firm Meridian Design Build, met his most cursed job at the hands of a new Exchange Server.
When his company was bought out by two of its vice presidents who were starting a new company, Murphy received orders to convert and transfer anything and everything in the IT department that would be needed for the changeover… in less than two weeks.
Things were going swimmingly as he began to get all of the workstations up and transfer all of the data over to the new server theyd purchased, but when he set up the new Exchange Server, everything went amok. "I knew it was going to be a huge problem because of a variety of factors. For one thing, the database had never been defragmented offline before, so it was massive and slow (about 17GB in size). Another factor was the fact that certain mailboxes were over 2 to 3GB and would take a while to transfer over," said Murphy. After getting everything set up and all the software installed, the exchange server wouldnt start. Three hours and 10 cups of coffee later, Murphy realized that during the installation, hed typed the distinguished name incorrectly. "Now the program was looking for a different name than I had given it. … It was a single space between two letters which caused it. I think at that point I banged my head against the wall a few times." At 1 a.m., after uninstalling and reinstalling Exchange, everything finally booted as it should, so Murphy gave himself a much-needed nights rest. But, sure enough, when he returned the next day, he had a whole host of new problems: duplicate copies of every single piece of mail in every single mailbox and servers crashing because the database was too large. "I was in a Catch 22, so to speak, because I couldnt boot up the server to delete the e-mails, but I needed to boot up the server to get access to the e-mails to delete them. So I had to completely remove the database and restore it from my backup (probably the only thing I did right up to this point), and then start over from scratch," said Murphy. After restoring the database, and then the current weeks e-mails, everyones inboxes finally had the correct new company name… a full week after hed started the job. "After the experience, I thought briefly about actually quitting the IT industry altogether, but later I found out what a learning experience it really was. It was most definitely the most difficult situation I had ever experienced," said Murphy. The Nightmare on Vendor Street Patty Laushman, president of the Lakewood, Colo., IT and VOIP consulting company Uptime Group, found her network demon in probably one of the funniest sagas—that is, as long as youre not the couple involved. When her company was asked to bid on a network augmentation project, it ended up competing against two other companies. When the existing "one-man-show" vendor caught wind he was about to be fired a few weeks before the proposal submittals, he did the unthinkable. "He installed scripts on the customers e-mail server to e-mail him a copy of every e-mail in or out of the president, CFO, IT manager and senior scientists e-mail boxes. In the process, he discovered an affair going on between the senior scientist and his wifes brothers wife," said Laushman. The day the proposals were submitted to the company, the vendor zipped nearly 500 e-mails and attached them to an e-mail he sent to the wife of the senior scientist, making it look like the e-mail came from the IT manager who was about to fire him with a "just thought you would like to know" e-mail. "The fallout was pretty predictable, except that I do not know the scientists wife exact reaction when she opened the e-mail… The day after the proposal submittal, the customers IT manager drove to our office and asked my business partner to do the necessary forensics work to prove the vendor had done what they suspected, which we were able to do successfully," said Laushman. One would think this is as low as a embittered vendor could sink, but Laushman offers one last startling bit. "He was even running an online gambling site off their servers, which we found when we were sleuthing around with the companys permission." From haunted servers to vamipiric vendors and unearthly end-users, nothing beats a workplace IT nightmare to send chills down any techies spine. If you have a story youd like to add, e-mail it to Deb Rothberg, and well publish the most harrowing. Additional reporting by Allan Alter, Debra DAgostino, Debra Gage and John McCormick


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