Tales from the Field: Real but Funny Stories from MSP Field Techs

Out of all of the different topics in tech that are misunderstood by the average user, nothing has come close to “the Cloud.” Often spoken of in hushed tones as if it were a legend that could save civilization, cloud computing is a topic which will almost always be met with dead-eyed stares when I suggest it as an option for a client. In conversations where the concept has appeared out of the blue, like a lightning bolt composed of the phrase “oh no”, it has been suggested more than once by a client that the data is actually being stored in the sky. Due to this, I’m often terrified when a client wants to stick around when I manage anything involving a cloud service.

In more recent years, however, the idea has become more understood by the average person. Now, instead of suggesting that God is holding their data, most people say that it is a wizard that is holding their data instead. Wizards in days of yore were meant to serve their communities, so the client isn’t entirely wrong here – a server is something that serves its community as well. This is, still, not the worst-case scenario of a client. Today, the worst type of client is someone who thinks that they know what the Cloud is, but in fact, knows nothing about it. They often will be asked about a DMZ and they will respond that “they loved his albums in the 80’s.”

I came upon one such person when I received a call that their cloud wasn’t working. I was aware that the company of this client in question was using Azure, so I did some light checking to see what the issue was with standard procedure.

“How long has it not been working?” “How many people has it not been working for?” “Are you sure you graduated high school?”

The usual questions. His responses made me immediately question the issue because he was the only one experiencing it, but he insisted that it was his SQL data that wasn’t coming through, and he needed it to work ASAP. He was extremely worried and worked nearby, so I popped over to his office. I immediately tried to launch his SQL manager, SMSS, but I found an issue: it wasn’t on his machine.

“It’s not on this machine, it’s on my phone,” he responded curtly. I immediately took his word seriously and realized that if he had set it up on an Android phone, he really knew what he was doing. Why would someone who can do that even need my help? I felt the need to press further and stepped up the level of language.

“Oh, so is it a problem with a specific table or an entire schema?” I questioned. “Table? No, the ones in this office are doing fine, other than the coffee stains,” he responded dryly.

A joke? It must be a joke. I laughed politely and was met with a confused look. I asked, “Ok, could you just show me what specifically happens?”

The client then pulled out an iPhone, which made me a little confused. Had he jailbroken his iPhone to work with Azure? Was he a genius? I made a mental note to ask this man to teach me some things in the future. He then pulled up the Photos application.

“Ah,” I thought, “he’s disguised the app. This man will run the world one day.”

He showed me an empty album of pictures. I waited for his next trick, and we stood in a stalemate, staring at each other for a full minute. He then said, “See? The data’s missing. I used to have all of my pictures here, and now they’re gone.”

With a sudden sickening realization, it hit me that this was no genius. He didn’t even know what SQL was. “Do you mean you’re storing your pictures on iCloud?” I prodded. He nodded slowly. I called Applecare, told a phone rep about the issue, then said “Good luck,” before handing over the phone to the client.