Page 1 of 1

The Guinness story

Posted: Fri Aug 07, 2020 11:06 am
by chb
Many years ago, when I was working with the OpenVMS Group in Nashua, New Hampshire I came across a gentleman from Ireland named Marty Brennan. Marty was an OpenVMS Ambassador, his main role being a member of the Irish DEC Services team. We met at least once a year when Marty came over to Nashua for the annual OpenVMS Ambassador’s meeting, and whenever I visited Ireland (which was quite often) I made sure to meet up with Marty (and usually Mick Keyes as well). Marty was a wonderful person to have as company: quiet, thoughtful, but with a wicked sense of humour, and some of the stories he came up with bordered on fairy tales (very fitting in Ireland).
Outside of work our meetings tended to be in pubs, and as Marty wasn’t that impressed with places like Temple Bar in Dublin they were usually pubs that oozed culture and history. “Oscar Wilde used to sit in that seat”, he’d say, or “Brendan Behan got into a fight in that snug”, and he always complained about the Guinness, which leads me nicely into the point of this story (apart from recalling Marty).
One of the stories Marty used to tell me was the one about the VAX server in the Guinness brewery. Marty was sitting at his desk one day when a rather flustered young support agent called on the phone. “Marty”, he said, “I have got the Guinness brewery on the phone. They have got a problem with their DEC machine, but I cannot find a support contract”. Anybody who knows anything about Ireland will have heard of Guinness. It was a stable of Irish life, the greatest beer in the world, drunk worldwide but only brewed correctly in Dublin. Now Marty was very aware of the reverence the name Guinness held in Ireland, so he told the panicking agent “leave it to me son, I will sort it out”.
Being the man of action, he was (and because it was late in the day) Marty caught a cab and shot off to the brewery. Once there he asked for the IT department. Blank stares. “We don’t have anything like that here”. “Okay, is there anywhere here that you’ll have a computer” Marty asked. “Ah right, yes, you need to see Declan (name redacted) in the production office”. Off went Marty to find Declan which he did relatively easily because it is an Irish brewery and everyone knows everyone else. “Declan, I hear you have a problem with your computer” inquires Marty. “Yes”, says Declan, “it’s that box in the corner and it’s making a funny noise and I don’t want it to go wrong because it controls the production line. Funny thing is I have been here for 15 years and it’s never made a noise like that and the manager before me never had a problem in 5 years”.
“Hang on”, says Marty, “are you telling me that computer has been running for 20 years and its never stopped and you have never had a problem with it?” “Yup”, says Declan, “but it sounds funny now”. So an impressed Marty goes over and has a listen. “It sounds like a fan to me; I’ll get an engineer over and see if he has spares for a MicroVAX I; it’s going to cost you though”. “Fair enough” says Declan, “its cost us nothing for the past few years”.
“What does it do?” says Marty. “Oh, it runs our production line”. “Let me get this straight” says Marty, “this system has been running round the clock for 20 years running your production line and hasn’t stopped once?!” “That’s right” says Declan. “We’ve stopped the production line on a couple of occasions but that box keeps on going. In fact we wouldn’t know how to stop it.”
It’s been a number of years since I’ve talked with Marty so my story might be a bit embellished, but you get the gist. I heard from Mick that Marty was seriously ill a while ago and we’ve tried to locate him but with no success. The ironic point to this story was that Marty was a Murphy’s man and rarely drank Guinness, but he understood tradition and of course he was a great VMS Ambassador.
Finally, it got me thinking, how many other great stories are out there about these old systems (PDP and VAX) that have sat in the corner or bricked up in a wall (yes really) and have never missed a beat for years? If any of you have stories you’d like to share then please send them in, I’m sure the VMS Nation will be interested to hear them.

Re: The Guinness story

Posted: Tue Aug 25, 2020 4:13 pm
by dsjopenvms
I worked at AT&T from 2013 and 2018, we have a server in our cluster that worked from 1998 to 2016 without maintenance or any kind of problem. We have to turn it off because we need of a part to other computer of cluster.

One of my coworkers worked at Caterpillar, they had a vax that running by 13 years without any kind of maintenance, running as a application server for one very old version of oracle.