Ghost of a Machine
A friend of mine we'll call Peter - after Bill Murray's character in Ghostbusters - was working for a large Canadian financial institution in the early years of the new century. We'll call it BFD, for Big Financial Deal.
Peter was part of a project to renovate and restructure the backend of one department. To prep for an IT audit, and also to consolidate the scattered servers, he and his team documented and built a network map. There would, eventually, come a culling of the herd.
Strangely, they found one machine they couldn't locate. They knew it was there. They could ping it and log in, so it was active, but they didn't know where. Peter had hunted down all the servers except this one. It was like some weird network ghost, unseen but unquestionably existent.
Thus commenced a search high and low, here and there, and over hill and dale. They couldn't find this damn thing anywhere. They pulled in the Infrastructure Manager and his team. It was All Hands On Deck to find the Ghost Server. But it wasn't hiding under desks, in cubbyholes or closets. Not in the ceiling. But it was there, pingable and responding, probably with maniacal laughter.
The Ghost Hunters even looked outside. They had to find this damn machine because a) It could be flagged by an audit and what were they going to say? “What server? I don't see no server. Have you been drinking?” and b) Peter had slated it for termination as all it was doing was running an old website they needed to take down. Problem was, though, it was an old legacy system running a mySQL database and an ancient CGI script developed with PERL, a now largely-unfashionable code that's more convoluted than a right-wing conspiracy theory, and no one had wanted to deal with it. (If you're not familiar with IT-speak, 'legacy' means, 'antiquated system it will be a giant pain in the ass to shut down, pull offline or, God help us all, migrate to a platform that post-dates a time when cell phones were giant bricks of high-prestige shaggaliciousness.')