I don’t post much about work on my blog, unless you count the act of getting to and from work on my bike. This past weekend, UMBC lost power for around 72 hours, and the IT support/admin guys in our area were scrambling around madly the entire weekend, almost 24/7, trying to keep key systems and infrastructure functioning so the University could continue to do business. Having been a systems administrator for a good spell in the ’90s, I know firsthand what a thankless job it is. Everyone takes computers and network infrastructure for granted, until it goes down. When a systems admin does a good job, and everything is working normally, no one notices. Admins rarely hear from anyone unless something is down or broken. Systems admins are kind of like the white-collar equivalent to the BGE guys who go around restoring power after an outage. IT infrastructure has become as important as electricity: when it works, it’s taken for granted; when it doesn’t, the world grinds to a halt.
Back in my day, when we didn’t have things like whole-building generators, everything would have just gone down and stayed down during an extended power outage. This past weekend, save for a few minor glitches, UMBC’s IT infrastructure stayed largely intact and functional. That’s a testament both to the increased importance of our infrastructure vs. 20 years ago, and the herculean efforts of the support staff to keep everything running.
My role during all of this mess, was just to be available in case one of the services for which I serve as designated babysitter needed attention, as the admins shuffled around the physical hardware to deal with the power issues. Again thanks to these guys, none of my stuff broke down, and everything pretty much worked as it always had. If it weren’t for having an unexpected day off on Friday, and the text messages from our emergency alert system, I might not even have known that the power was out. Remarkable. If you see one of these guys, make sure to thank them and buy them a beverage of their choosing.