At work, every quarter or so, we schedule a massive outage to update a boatload of servers. This requires a lot of coordination with a lot of computer folks.

The usual drill is to update the server, update the database, and start the application server.

I’m one of the guys who fires up the application servers.

We do all this at our desks and communicate thru a group IM chat window.

A wrinkle in all of this is that one of the databases has about a dozen different application servers that use it. Even worse is the fact that these application servers are managed by me and my teammate, let’s call him Ulysses. Every quarter, they need to work on the database. Every quarter, we explain that it will affect a dozen application servers. And every quarter, everyone else is surprised.

This time, the database is updated and I try to fire up the 12 application servers. After a few minutes, the project manager asked me if it was done. I replied that I was still working on it. After 30 or 40 minutes, I find that 2 of the 12 application servers aren’t cooperating. When the project manager asked me, yet again, how it’s going, I reply that 2 of the 12 application servers won’t start and that I’m working on fixing them.

The project manager started telling me that there was only one database so there shouldn’t be 12 application servers to be started. I explained again how the 12 application servers used the one database.

Every time I tried to get back to fixing the 2 remaining application servers, the project manager asked me another question about how the database related to the application servers.

I got a bit testy after a while and asked “Shall I keep explaining this or should I fix these servers?”

Ulysses was in the desk next to me and I heard him chuckle as soon as I clicked “send”. Then I heard a bunch of other people laughing. I hadn’t realized that most folks around were also part of the same group chat.

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