Generators drive computer fix
Generators and air conditioners sit outside the Grid Computing Center last week Tuesday and Wednesday to allow for preventive maintenance.
Last week, the Computing Division broke new ground.
But few people across the globe noticed.
And that's exactly what Fermilab wanted.
"From a computing standpoint, they did not see any interruptions at all and there were well over 3,000 computers involved," said Adam Walters, department head of facility operations.
To make it happen, the computing division and FESS brought in four semi-trailer sized generators and hooked them up to the two Grid Computing Center rooms.
"Essentially it looked like we were having a rock concert or something," Walters said.
What they were doing was even more edgy than earsplitting guitar anthems.
To allow for day-long transformer and electrical switch preventive maintenance, CD had to switch the grid computers to back-up generators. But that meant transferring the power to the Grid Computing Center that supports the laboratory's largest experiments, including CDF and DZero.
Data crunching by researchers from universities across the globe would have been forced to sit idle for hours or days.
The crew from FESS, CD and subcontracted electricians tensed when the breaker was switched. But they were confident in the three weeks of preparation and shutdown simulations they had done.
The generators whirred on and cold air pushed into the room. No data lost. Computers humming happily.
CD timed the electrical feeder maintenance to coordinate with the site-wide electrical outage last Wednesday to avoid additional work interruptions.
"We think we saved a lot of the user community's time," said Gerald Bellendir, head of facilities planning in the computing division. "It would have affected people all over the globe."
-- Tona Kunz