There are plenty of exciting things happening in HUMlab this semester, but rarely do we highlight the day-to-day activities in the lab here on the blog. So to rectify some of that, I joined up with Toby and Johan – two of our brilliant technicians working hard to ensure the lab is running smoothly each and every day (well, we do give them the weekends off). Today the task was a challenging one: we were going into the construction site of what will soon become HUMlab 3 and move the servers from their old place (soon to be demolished) into a new room better suited for the additional floorspace.
Below you can see a picture from the construction site of HUMlab 3, an additional digital space that will host a room for audio recording and editing, as well as a videogame corner, among other things (for local readers, HUMlab 3 will be located directly across the hall from HUMlab 1 and 2).
Now moving servers mounted on wheels alone isn’t much of a challenge; you merely pull the plug and push hard. However, the problem for the technicians was the fact that the lab was already filled with people using the equipment, who surely would become upset if the servers suddenly died on them, forcing them to lose hours of unsaved work. To prevent that from happening if ever the servers went down unexpectedly, UPS had been installed and would serve as a backup power source. However, the UPS would only last for a couple of minutes, so moving the servers had to be done quickly.
As you can see from the two images above the old server room is looking dark and gloomy, surely in dire need of an upgrade, while the new server space is bright and inviting. In order for the servers to reach their new location, Johan and Toby had to wiggle the entire setup through several doorways, push it through a closet space filled with equipment and finally reach the promised land, all within a timeframe of about 3 minutes before the UPS went down. If they were to fail, the users would have to be immediately alerted, all unsaved data would have been lost and the world as we know it may never have been the same.
Ready? Go! And off they went. Within moments, they had pushed and pulled the entire setup all the way to the new server space (apologies for the poor flash quality on the last pictures, these guys went fast!). The plug went in and shortly after the network was back up and running, while the UPS seemed to have done its job. But had they been on time?
We went back out to check. No cries of outrage came from the lab. Everything was working as it should, the task was completed and no one had even noticed what we were doing. Such is the exciting life of a HUMlab technician – always living on the edge.