An Assembly or Confederacy of Dunces.
A Thursday Prompt for 4/05/2018
Gather round and you shall hear, the story of how an assembly of business dunces make collective poo out of gold.
The time was 1999, the long forgotten turn of the century. Unlike the future as imagined by journalists assembling a vision replete with ray guns, flying cars and moon bases; that future had none. We did have automobiles crawling through smog choked highways. Cars that were cookie cutter SUV's that could thought of as climate controlled space craft. Plus the future as it turned out actually did nicely in assembling computers into smaller packages. But I digress.
The setting, a staid company I used to work for. The company, who-shall-not-be-named, call it the H corporation. H Corp. was a giant in the market for product data records, catalogs and trends analysis for a wide variety of industries. All created from data bases that really were data bases and needed software that had the chops to do it.
Many of it's top execs were sociopaths who would make Lord Voldemort, of Harry Potter fame, wet his pants and scare the crap out of even Dementors.
My role was that akin to the Potter House-elves, a data Dobby of sorts, in assembling industry knowledge of a particular field into practical use for databases. Laboring away in hopes that someday, I'd receive a little sock of bonus payout.
H Corp relied upon a twin pair of late generation Amdahl mainframes for the heavy duty database lifting and shunting. Though the central CPU's were becoming long in the tooth, as is the design of mainframes, everything can be modified down to a fine grain level. And those were modded to the hilt; I/O backbone mods, the latest fiberoptic busses to real hard drives, high speed removable HD/tape backups and oodles of memory.
Truly a marvel for not only it's ability to handle database jobs, but mutlitasking half the company's users and workstations feeding in data wrangling and entry tasks.
Around the late 1990's, a new Generation of MBA's slinked in from the Slytherin houses of Stanford and Ivy League. Full of new ideas in bleeding stones dry and cost cutting. Heads filled with business predictions and tea leaf readings by Gartner Inc. A company who's grandmother once worked in a Gypsy tent with a crystal ball.
The newly minted MBA's took one look at the mainframes with reliable software and pronounced that according to the Gospel of Gartner, The Mainframe was Dead! Long live it's replacement! Servers running what ever.
With the help of Dell, they contracted an army of mercenaries assembling the latest server Farm with racks of commodity Intel machines, bulked up with commodity scsi hard drives. All running Windows of course. This was placed in the newly constructed Headquarters Annex Bldg. A showcase of modern 21st century tech. Where a bank of plate glass windows of stunning clarity opened forth onto a futuristic vista of racks filled with LED blinking panels. Dominating the foreground were several wall mounted (new at the time) Plasma Flat screen TV's, the largest that could be bought in that Era. 60 inches in diagonal. Each costing 25 kilo dollars each. All to display exciting graphics of computers doing...something.
If one had permission, you were allowed entry into a brick and smoked glass clad cathedral where splendidly dressed beautiful people from another planet worked and plotted. Those on pilgrimage would reach the alter of observation windows that overlooked the Server farm and gaze upon plasma displays acting as 25 kilo dollar screensavers showing the rotating Windows logo: all run by a solitary windows desktop. The servers had better things to do.
Meanwhile, in the land of the Shire, er, Harry Potter land, the Amdahl folk worked their data wizard magic. They gazed thoughtfully upon the Dell Servers and it's MBA champions. Instead of expressing concern at a meeting of top level execs of having their jobs taken away; the Amdahl folk welcomed the Server farm do this one public, but vital task. A massive run through of Databases. A monumental undertaking, done three times a week, by the Mainframes that took 5 hours in the wee hours of the night.
The mighty Dark Lords labored in assembling an army of software guys from Microsoft and Dell. One of the Dell folks told me their true role was to correct the fuck ups from the Microsoft people.
At last they were ready.
The mighty server farm with it's laughable excuse of relational 'database' software sped forth and accomplished that database operation in a record beating 27 hours.
Impressive were it not for the life having just 24 hours in a day.
And so the Amdahl's stayed. The job of email handling was given over to the server farm from a couple of retiring VAX VMS machines.
A year later, I was given my piddly, dirty sock of severance. Before being set free, on my last week at H Corp, I entered the Annex. As I turned the corner, my eyes were stabbed by an Azure flash, like a neon light, that split the fluorescent lit dimness overlooking the server farm. To the sounds of non-Silence from cooling fans, I observed all of the Plasma screens were showing the windows Blue Screen of Death.
That warmed the cockles of my heart.
A late Thursday Prompt for April 5, 2018
A writing prompt hosted by Vixyyfox on Furaffinity
This week's Prompt word: assembly
A war story from the trenches, a tale from an Information Age doughboy