This happened at a company I once heard of, to another fellow, whom I'll call bert.
(Bless me! I set off the bleep-o-matic. The offending word is a domestic animal with four legs, long floppy ears, and a tail, often used for draft or riding, with a distinctive bray.)
There were 50 or so servers in a data center. bert worked in a different city, so he couldn't visit the data center himself, but he had the job of scheduling down time for servers in that data center with the business units that used them.
bert often got emails from system engineers in far off cities and lands, asking him to schedule down time for a server he'd never heard of. Then bert would make inquiries and find out what new server had been installed in the data center, what purpose it served, who in IT was responsible to support the server and its software, and who in the company was depending on it to do business.
There were two servers in the data center that listed no other IT 'owner' than bert himself. Over three years, bert repeatedly questioned hapless data center staff as to which business units used those servers, and what was their purpose. He was told, "They're not in use." Every month or two the Elbonian consultants would patch these two servers and charge bert's company a fee for the pleasure.
One day, bert learned the truth from a grey bearded old SE, the truth that the data center staff themselves did not know: the two servers had been purchased and installed for a project that never went live. The two servers had been abandoned in the data center. For three years no IT staffer or consultant would take 'ownership' of the jinxed servers; they sat in the data center, occupying switch ports, sucking electic current, being serviced by Elbonians. There was no software installed on the servers but anti-virus and backup. Backup of nothing.
bert's ears stood up when he heard this. bert's work team needed more test servers to handle their excessive workload, but all attempts to get more had failed. The two abandoned servers exactly met the specification that bert's work team needed for test servers. If only a kindly Engineer could install one piece of licensed software, then bert could configure the two abandoned servers into another test environment for his harried work team.
bert ran to tell his manager of the opportunity, and she seemed as excited as he was. Together they spoke with the remote and powerful Ozbert, Chief of the Engineers, and he agreed to have one of his minions install the key piece of software for a trifling fee.
But for another year, no one paid the fee. The two abandoned servers sat in the data center, sucking current, being patched. Four years now. Tick-tick-tick-tick.
Then, suddenly and without previous warning (yeah, you bet), danger loomed for bert's work team. Their very success turned in their hands and became disaster, for a computer program they had developed proved so popular that the business users loved it to death. So many of them used this program for their work that their demands for memory overwhelmed the server the program ran on, and the program crashed.
There was no way to limit use of the program, the business needed it too much. For months and months the program crashed over and over again, and the rage of the business users increased with their frustration, until their sore lamentations reached the ears of an IT Vice-President in a distant city. Then there were meetings and inquests and special teams were created, and there was woe and sorrow in all the land.
"Oh!", wailed bert's manager, "If only we had a couple more servers, we could put copies of this popular program on those servers too, and then there would be enough memory on all three servers to satisfy the business users. But there is no budget! There is no plan! No one will authorize us to buy additional servers! Oh, woe! Woe!"
"Wait." said bert quietly to his manager, "I think I know where I can find two servers."
"La-la-lalala," sang bert's manager, with her fingers in her ears, "I can't hear you. I hope you're not saying anything bad. La-lala-la!"
This install did not require any licensed software, so bert installed the popular program on the two servers all by himself in the middle of the night. Taking no chances, in a flagrant violation of SOX policies, bert didn't file change control for the install.
On bert's work team, in order for anything to get done, everyone had to say yes, anyone could say no. And someone always said no.
bert knew that if he popped up on anyone's radar, he'd be shot down. Someone would say, "Those aren't *your* servers, *you* didn't pay for them, you can't just *appropriate* them.", and would take bert's servers for her own purposes.
In the morning bert's manager introduced the business users to the two new servers. With its workload divided in three, the popular progam flew like lightening and never crashed again, and the business users danced with joy, and heaped praise on bert's manager.
It was the most fun bert had at work in five years. bert is long past the point of caring whether they fire him. He just doesn't want to go to prison.