Whinings on BSD, virtualization, and other stuff.

Parting Words From Your Server Colocation Monkey

Sit down and shut up, I have something to say.

Today marks the end of an exciting chapter in my life; today is my last day being a colocation monkey for some of you. What's a colocation monkey you ask? It's a name for the the datacenter technician who puts their greasy hands all over your gear you put in our datacenter. For the past year and a half I've rebooted your servers, moved your KVM's, troubleshot your network issues, and swapped your precious hard drives. During this short amount of time, certain patterns tend to emerge: some of you are idiots and should be flogged with SATA cables. Yes, there are a few of you I really like, but you have been in the hosting hustle longer than I've known what a SATA cable is. I know you think you are a fucking wizard and you think you can make some extra pocket change hosting your wife's friend's husband's gun club website. THIS IS NOT THE CASE. Just because you have a FreeNAS server in the closet with all your pirated music, movies, and pornography doesn't mean you are experienced in the ways of hosting.

I'm taking the time today to go over a few things on how you can be less of an idiot and more of a pro in the hosting hustle. These ideas come from a perspective of someone who has only worked one datacenter, for a short amount of time, mind you. Full disclosure: I really have no clue how other datacenters operate. I'll go over what to do before sending us your junk, I mean hardware, and then I'll go over what to do once it's here.

Before sending us your junk:

  • KNOW WHAT YOU ARE SENDING US. Don't just order some bulk pallet full of hardware from some bargain basement datacenter buyout company on EBay and have it shipped here. Does that pallet of hardware have hard drives? Does it come with hard drive caddies? Does it come with power cables? FOR FUCK SAKE, DOES IT COME WITH A CPU AND SOME RAM?! We are not here to sort out your mess, and if it comes down to it, we will sort out your mess for a nice fat remote hands fee. Trust me, we will take our time.

  • HAVE A PLAN. So, you decided to start your very own Infrastructure as a Service business, and you want to squeeze out what little money is left in that bubble? Cool. Know your rack space, know your power consumption, know your bandwidth, know your weakness. There's nothing like getting a new rack set up only to power off half the servers because you didn't think those 10 year old Poweredge servers would draw so much power.

  • BRING YOUR OWN REMOTE MANAGEMENT. Yes, servers with IPMI chips and IP-KVM's are expensive, but so is remote hands time. If you have more than one server, just one IP-KVM will do just fine most of the time. Us Bastard Operators and Colo Monkeys would much rather just move your KVM free of charge then pause the movie and go fix your stupid /etc/network/interfaces file you fucked up because you copied and pasted something from the internet.

Once all your junk has arrived and is up and running:

  • TELL US IF YOU ARE GOING TO SHOW UP. Showing up at the front door with a box full of hard drives unannounced will get you turned around and sent home. Yes, things happen quickly, and you need to drive down and work on something before your boss fires your ass. CALL US BEFORE YOU LEAVE. Simple.

  • LET US KNOW IF THINGS ARE SUPPOSED TO SHOW UP. If you ordered a replacement hard drive or some more RAM, let us know when you order it, and pony up the tracking info. WE HAVE A BUSINESS TO RUN AND CAN'T DROP EVERYTHING JUST FOR YOU.

  • USE PROPER PACKAGING. If you are sending your equipment to us from your own house, learn to use proper packing techniques. DON'T SEND A CISCO SWITCH WRAPPED IN AN OLD PILLOW AND SOME PANTS. I wish I were making this up.

  • KNOW YOUR HARD DRIVE SERIAL NUMBERS. Hard drives die all the time. They die even more often if you get cheap ass hardware from Amazon. Different server manufactures label their drive bays differently. Knowing what your failed drive's serial number is will alleviate the problem of us replacing the wrong drive or hot swapping the wrong drive in your array. You can score even more points with PUTTING THE DAMN SERIAL NUMBER ON THE BAY ITSELF.

  • KEEP TRACK OF YOUR JUNK. We are not inventory specialists. We do not keep track of your stuff. If you have rack mounted storage drawers, know that over time, THESE THINGS BECOME QUITE FULL AND WON'T CLOSE. You get extra points for SENDING IN A CD CASE IF YOU STILL USE CD'S FOR WHATEVER ANCIENT REASON. (Learn to PXE)

  • BE FUCKING PATIENT. You are not our only client. Yes, downtime sucks, and downtime sucks even more when your client is yelling at you to fix it. Yelling at us will not fix it any faster. In fact, we will probably drag our feet and down right refuse to work with you if you are being abusive.

  • BE CONCISE AND MAKE TASK LISTS. Saying something like "Use the G diffuser to get through and then bounce the D plate" will get your ticket printed and placed on our wall of shame. We love it when we get a ticket that says something like "Step 1: Remove HDD SN: 283495723405 from and throw away. Step 2: Place HDD (Tracking 23458972340589234057823405) in Step 3: Attach KVM." IT'S NOT THAT HARD OKAY?

That's about it for now. I'm sure I can yell and scream about some other things, but the coffee is finally starting to kick in, so I'll leave it be. Really, I don't hate all of you, just most of you. Moral of the story: HAVE A PLAN, KNOW WHAT YOU ARE DOING, AND BE FUCKING PATIENT.

Thank you.

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