My <3 Will Go On

Friday’s FAS server catastrophe pitted Man against Nature

When they built the FAS IT server, they said she was unsinkable. She was the fastest anyone had ever seen, the most powerful. Her reputation preceded her, and she attracted the attention of the rich and the powerful, all of whom were eager to send e-mails and attempt to unlock the mysteries of navigating her enigmatic interface. She was a true triumph—in fact, she seemed to almost symbolize man’s capabilities, and his capacity to break free of the puny constraints of nature.

She was conceived in an era of technological naiveté, in the can-do spirit of the new millennium—when we thought that man was the king of the natural world, and the elements were nothing to us.

But nature, it seems, had other plans.

Oh, that cursed day! Who could have known what sort of inauspiciousness Friday’s rain was heralding? Indeed, no one could have known—or did know, until afterwards. Because our very informant—the server itself—was fighting the battle of a lifetime: a battle against the elements. For at approximately 4:00 PM this past Friday, 1 February, one of the two UPS (Uninterruptible Power Supply) systems in the Science Center data center failed “catastrophically” as a result of a short circuit, which culminated in a fire.

Perhaps if the captain of the IT crew had been paying closer attention, or the server had not been going so fast in such dangerous conditions, this catastrophe would have been averted. But all of these speculations cannot unmake the facts of the wreck. FAS server users were to experience the devastation of e-mail shortages and an inability to access my.harvard for—in some cases—upwards of three hours.

But providence was to shine upon us, for by the selfless work of the brave IT souls, the server did not sink—although the postal code may dictate service during rain and snow, these mailmen were able to deliver in the face of a fire. They came to the rescue, responding immediately to the thin wail of S.O.S that was only barely audible over the crackling flames.

In the wake of our victory, the détente between Man and Nature has been resumed once again, but perhaps the war is not over. Now is the time to reflect upon the lessons we can learn from trying to achieve titanic goals when we are but flesh and bone. But until the next fight, FAS server is here, there’s nothing to fear—you are safe in FAS server, and FAS server will go on and on.