Labels Should Not Be Affixed To Removable Parts

by Bob Plankers on March 31, 2011 · 6 comments

in Best Practices,System Administration

Once upon a time, in a data center not far away, a lone system administrator took the front bezels off several identical machines. Upon completing the work, this individual discovered that the labels for those machines were on the bezels themselves, making it difficult to tell which machines the bezels belonged to.

Shortly thereafter, this lone system administrator configured the front display of those particular Dell servers to display the machine name, thereby solving this problem for himself and retaining the use of the bezels, because they’re pretty.

Once upon a longer time ago, in a data center slightly farther away, a lone system administrator added a network interface card to one of his hosts. In doing this he removed the last remaining card slot blank, which happened to have had a label placed on it. Thinking that it would be nice to retain the label, he attempted to peel it off to place on the rear of the chassis. It ripped into several pieces and was henceforth unusable.

To this day the rear of that host is unlabeled due to initial thoughtlessness followed by continued apathy, which might actually indicate the label was unnecessary to start with.

Moral: If it is your intention to label an object, think twice before affixing the label to parts that are meant to be detached from that object.

{ 6 comments }

Zack Williams March 31, 2011 at 8:23 AM

One place I worked had a “must be inventory tagged by receiving/accounting before you can use it” policy. Thus we had tags on removable doors, front panels, etc…

As this became a problem, I did three things:

1. Took pictures of correct label placement on standard equipment we got a lot of and made an internal web page for them to reference
2. For things that were unusual, I had them call me in and I put post-its where the labels should go.
3. I did a massive relabeling the next time internal inventory was taken which relocated the labels to better position. Incidentally, this also included barcoding the inventory labels and interfacing it with the database. Inventory time went from a 5 person 3 day job to a 3 person half-day job, with 40% greater accuracy.

Howard Marks March 31, 2011 at 8:42 AM

My favorite was the receiving department that put the barcode labels on the TOP of a shipment of 40 1u servers. Auditors didn’t understand why we refused to pull 40 servers out so they could scan labels.

Bob Plankers March 31, 2011 at 3:04 PM

Yeah… that’s ridiculous. Do people not think about what they’re doing? Rhetorical question, I know…

Brian Mathis March 31, 2011 at 1:58 PM

Many servers today don’t really have any place to affix a label. All “dead” space is perforated for cooling. Dell has small pull-out plastic tabs to help with this problem. The front of the DVD drive (if you have one) tends to be the only place you can put a label.

Bob Plankers March 31, 2011 at 3:07 PM

You can stick things to the perforated parts. Air will just get sucked around it. Just have to be mindful that you aren’t blocking significant portions of it, but a small label or barcode shouldn’t be a big deal on a big front or rear vent.

Ken June 23, 2011 at 11:32 AM

Once when I was an on-call engineer, I was called late at night because of a server problem. I asked the onsite operator to to to a certain rack (let’s say X-2) and reboot the server. 10 minutes later, he called me an told me he couldn’t find the server in that rack, and I had to drive in.

Upon getting to the data center 45 minutes later, I went to the 3rd rack in row X (0,1,2), found the server and rebooted it. The onsite person asked how I found the server, I showed him Row X in the DC and said the racks were numbered 0,1,2,…etc. Then I pointed to the sticker on top of the door that should have said X2, but instead it said X1.

Apparently, someone had removed the doors from the racks at some point and put them back on incorrectly.

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