11 February 2008

Buck 'em, ****y Backup!

Our campus backup service, based on IBM's Tivoli, is called Bucky Backup. I needed it today and was left hanging.

See, our departmental database server decided to finally blow a gasket sometime this weekend. Friday's backup was accomplished, but nothing after that. In keeping with the whole penury-is-good-for-science theme, the server was eight years old -- hey, it was the best machine I could come up with.

I had a plan: I grabbed an underutilized machine, told it that it was now the database server (took over an hour just to get the networking stuff going -- that made me feel competent) and installed MySQL (another hour of glitches and doofusosity -- they're making that Community Edition harder to find all the time).

Whip off to our campus IT service to get the Tivoli client, install, run it, and -- hey.

Whaddya mean the config file is wrong? It's right out of their example. See? SEE!

(There is a course which is utterly dependent on our server, since some of the critical assignments use a Rails app I wrote. There are, at last count, 226 students registered. Outside, they are just about done with the gentle chanting now. They are beginning to morph into full Outraged Villager Mode. Starring me as Frankenstein.)

Call the Help Desk. Huh. Let's bump to the Bucky people. Half an hour goes by. (Torches now visible outside the --- thankfully barred -- basement windows. Chanting now sounds suspiciously like "BURN THE GEEK! BURN THE GEEK!") Call from the Bucky people: Send us your config files. OK, they're off.

FOUR AND A HALF HOURS go by, with nothing from them. We're piling desks against the doors, which are getting suspiciously hot. I call the Help Desk -- cleverly, the Bucky folks left no contact info, and naive idiot that I am, I trusted them to actually do something -- anyway the Help Desk says they can't put me in contact with the Bucky people. I'm thinking of putting the by-now screaming mob in contact with them. "YOUR HOMEWORK IS BEING HELD HOSTAGE DOWN ON DAYTON STREET! GO THERE!"

I have a brainstorm. I delete all the option files, which the docs -- our IT org's, as well as IBM's -- say are absolutely crucial (and they MUST be named JUST SO). I run Tivoli. It prompts me for the info. And restores my data.

"HERE!", I scream, brandishing the LCD monitor in front of me like a shield, as the demented students finally burst into the room. "IT'S UP!"

They glare, sullenly, and smash a few monitors, bust a few keyboards over the Finn's head, but the righteous fire is out of them now. They go away, muttering.

It is now, as I write this, ten hours since I sent the config files. Twelve since I called the help desk and told them our entire department was dead in the water unless they solved this problem. I have heard...nothing.

But they will hear plenty. Believe me.