Oddest and Worst Places You Have Installed a Server

  • Story time.... share some of the craziest, weirdest, oddest, most dangerous places that you've been asked or forced to put a server. Pictures welcome, of course! Working in IT is always an adventure and I bet we have some great examples of the craziness out there.

  • When working for a K12 private school circa 2005 we got a huge "tower" Compaq Proliant donated to the school. Thus was one of those monsters that was like an 8U server, but not with the rack mount gear, on casters. Nearly impossible to lift and was loaded with dual Pentium II 500 processors and like 128MB of RAM. I have no memory of the disks in the thing but the whole system was ridiculously old even for the time. The P2 500 was ancient in 2005 and slower than most of our ancient desktops. The P2 500 had the 100MHz FSB, too, not the nice 133MHz FSB of the later P2 533. Loaded up with Suse Linux, this was the only server for the school.

    Due to cabling limitations, noise of the server and the layout of the school we did not have very many options. The decision was made that it had to be mounted up in the ceiling above a janitorial closet! There wasn't a good space up there for it, but the schools principal just grabbed an old rickety ladder, picked up the server and ran up there like he was on a mission. He got it balanced on the wall and it was left there. I assume that it is still there today, more than a decade later. Who would take it down?

    We wired it up through the ceiling, but it was very hot up there and if it fell it would crash down into the janitor's closet and into the water of the drain area. It was all a terrible setup. But it worked, mostly.

    The biggest actual issue that we had, other than the embarrassment of the setup, was that it would routinely crash and be unable to reboot (hardware issues, not software) and someone would need to go into the closet, climb the ladder, reach around the far side of this enormous server and hold the power button until it fired up again. This became a nearly weekly activity.

  • I worked at a crappy call center in Tampa, FL (ca. 1998-99).... that alone should make you shudder. There were stacks of machines, both servers and desktops running server OSes, all stacked on top of each other (many turned sideways), much higher than my head. In fact, 2 stacks were higher than I can reach on my toes. these ran the whole infrastructure, all the PBX stuff as well as an expansive voice recording system (we were in the verification biz, so all call got recorded every day). The physical danger of these stacks was apparent, but they remained in that configuration until long after I left. How we made all that work was a mystery to me at the time (I was strictly break-fix and in house audio guru). Looking back, I'm not sure I would have wasted a match to burn that place to the ground.

    (Side note on the miserliness of the owner - our data disposal routine was to microwave a stack of DVD-Rs every day. In the break room microwave that everyone used. Not sure how the EPA never got called... oh, wait... it was in Florida.)

  • Not servers, but backbone switches for my last employer, who owns and operates a sheet metal facility.

    Well the technical closet as it were was on the shop floor. Because of the size of the building all of the wiring had to come to this location (and re-wiring was not in the budget).

    So this closet (open ceiling to the shop floor) has about 1/4 metal dust, oil, welder slag etc on top of everything. As hard as I pushed to get it moved into the actual 4 walled room below it... it has not been moved to this day....

    Yeah the wiring was awful to deal with....

  • @DustinB3403 Oh, we had fun with a 2400ton press and a max length network cable. The computer they used to track, update, and pull new jobs from would loose it's network connection while the press was running. Someone had to pull a new network cable and repeater (4 port switch) through the dirt crawlspace beneath the press... someone happened to be a co-op at the time.

  • Under the water heater. Not even joking..... Wish I was.....

  • @aaronstuder said in Oddest and Worst Places You Have Installed a Server:

    Under the water heater. Not even joking..... Wish I was.....


  • @travisdh1 Yeah....

    When a bucket truck had it's arm extended and took out 8 telephone poles and the fiber underground we had a redundant radio ISP service our building.

    And the only location from which we could get service was above the 400 ton press we had. Which meant back of the building and with a few feet of the Ethernet limitations..

    Wasn't fun telling the company from where the cable had to run from and too... lol (they were kinda pissed) but business is business.

  • Wow my story isn't anywhere near as bad as those..

    I saw two tower servers sitting on a table in the middle of an office space. I didn't support this environment. As I walked by it I saw they had a failed drive - they had no idea. Sadly when I offered to support them they weren't interested.

  • @Dashrender said in Oddest and Worst Places You Have Installed a Server:

    Sadly when I offered to support them they weren't interested.

    Chances are if they wanted support they would have gotten it long before then.

  • Just a switch, not a server, but it was 12-15 meters above the ground on a steel construction for a 50t indoor crane. Lots of oil and dust, no railing and a dozen pigeons right above me.

    Freaking experience. Did I mention that I'm a bit acrophobic? At least at 10 meters and above 😉

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