Top 10 Things You Don't Want to Hear the Support Engineer Say When He

Comes Onsite to Service Your $300,000 Sun Enterprise Server

These are actual comments from an actual engineer who was sent onsite to service a Sun Enterprise 4500 server which was experiencing intermittent SCSI transport errors on its Fibre Channel disk array.

10. There's disks in there??

The engineer had evidently never seen an internal disk board on an Enterprise 4x00/5x00/6x00 server before. Granted, a disk board is a fairly unusual option on one of these boxes because its a waste of space, but still...

9. I've never seen disks like that before!

Well, the engineer had also never seen an SCA SCSI style disk, even though Sun has been using these things on just about every box from their lowest end workstation to their highest end server for years...

8. Isn't that the differential SCSI symbol?

We had a little argument over which SCSI card was the differential SCSI card. Needless to say, he was wrong...

7. We'll need to order those parts...

Great, a major database server is down for a big client and the support provider who promises 4 hour support doesn't even have a parts depot. I guess this is what the client gets for not going with Sun for support and choosing their own support provider.

6. Is that box PCI or SCSI?

I'm not sure where this one came from, perhaps he meant PCI vs SBUS or IDE vs SCSI. Anyhow, you can mix and match PCI and SBUS I/O boards in an Enterprise server, making that argument moot, and who ever heard of using IDE disks on a high-end datacenter-class server?

5. GBIC? Whats that?

Sun boxes (and perhaps other high-end servers) use GBICs (Gigabit Interface Converters), hot-pluggable devices which convert between various Fibre Channel connectors and signaling technologies. These small pieces of hardware tend to breakdown quickly and easily, making them a frequent culprit in any kind of Fibre Channel disk problem. Although not the kind of knowledge you would expect the average person to know, one would hope that the engineer working on boxes of this nature would know.

4. Those come out?

See above. The GBICs are hot-pluggable because they tend to break down easily and need to be frequently replaced.

3. Can you take this board out for me?

The engineer did not feel comfortable removing the above-mentioned disk board (see item 1). There are two captive screws which unlock the board from the chassis, and two plastic tabs which evenly pull the board off of the backplane. Not exactly rocket science, and pulling a disk board is no different from pulling any other kind of board from these boxes...

2. Can you put this board back in for me?

Even after seeing that the disk board was no different than a standard board on an Enterprise server, the engineer still did not feel comfortable putting the board back in (slide the board in, use the plastic tabs to evenly push the board into the backplane, turn the two captive screws to lock it in place).

1. Ohmigod! Holy Smokes!

Well, this isn't exactly as bad as it sounds. This was part of a long string of comments made by the engineer while examining the above-mentioned disk board that we pulled out of the box for him. Think of someone with a look of wide-eyed wonder on their face, turning a large computer board over in their hands, exclaiming "Wow! Holy Smokes, ohmigod, neato, wow, I have never seen one of these before!!" That about sums it all up.