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BlueWolf's Howl

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May 17, 2005

Too Easy

Okay...so I have an easy job to start with... But, my job is getting way too easy. This is when I know I've finally settled in.

From the outside my job looks easy too. I make myself 'available' for calls that might come in (or might not). That's really all that people see. They don't see me standing in front of a rack of equipment that they don't know anything about. They didn't see me leave this morning at 6:15am to get to the site before 7. They won't see me at 6pm this evening when I supervise and trouble-shoot a rollout. So...although I do enjoy a lot of down time, when it's time to roll up my sleeves and make something magically work, I'm on it.

To be honest, when I first started this job, it was difficult. I was sent on jobs for all different kinds of network equipment. Sure, I knew routers and switches. I even knew some basic things about a PIX (and other firewalls). And I had lots of network experience. But, the equipment I found at the sites was different from the devices I knew.

I was sent on a number of Adtran calls. An Adtran is a CSU/DSU device. It's that little (or sometimes 3U big) device that most network admins never touch. Just leave it alone. It's working, so don't touch it. If it doesn't work, you'll have to call someone. They used to scare me. I knew what they did, but didn't know how to check it, configure it, or take a peek inside it. Now I know. Now they're a piece of cake. I know that they only have a very finite configuration. I know how to use the front panel to see the configuration and write it down. I know how to reset one to 'factory default' and reset the channels. (Which is the most usual method of troubleshooting.) Too easy. No fear here.

I was also sent on some calls to fix Nortel/Bay Stack routers and switches. Once again, it was a challenge. The connectors are not the same as the ones on a Cisco router/switch. The configuration interface is not the same. But, I've done it before (now). It is also a piece of cake.

So this morning I was sent to replace a network module on a BayStack switch at a certain retail store. I arrived at the site early. I already knew (from other stores) to go in the back door. I found the 'office' people. I described the equipment using the most non-technical terms. They found the part. I found the computer room. I looked at the part, found the SN on the job ticket, looked at the switch and knew what to do. I called their network guy to insure that any necessary configuration was already copied. I powered down the switch, swapped the module and powered back up. The woman who let me into the computer room sat in awe and wonder. When the part arrived, she was afraid they were going to ask her to put it in. They had her move 'some stupid plug' yesterday. Ah yes. "Will the network be down?" Uh...yeah...I'm sure it will when I power down the device. "For how long?" For as long as it takes me to replace the part - which is why they sent me here at 7 - so you can be assured that you'll be up and running by the time you're supposed to open. That was exactly what she wanted to know. Everything will be alright. What I'm doing won't interfere for long with what you're doing. No one is going to ask you to do something that you don't understand anything about. It's all going to be okay.

I powered up the device and told their network guy to give it a few minutes to boot up. I watched the user (at her terminal) click on one of the intranet pages. It timed out. She had no idea that she was actually checking the switch for me. She clicked again. I saw the page pop up. Ah ha! Yeah...it looks like the network is up. The guy on the phone probably pinged the device or telnetted to it. Yup. Looks like it's fine now. Okay. Have a nice day!

On my way home, I called my Network Operations Center. They were getting ready to conference me in with the network guy. Oh...wait a minute...you don't need to. I'm done. "You're done?" Yup, I'm done. What I just did was cut out about an hour of red tape. Wait on hold for the conference call. Wait to get into the building. Wait to find the part. Wait to be instructed on what to do next. Screw that. I already knew what to find, how to find it, and who to call that really counted. The entire thing only took 30 min. "Well...hold fast on site while we confirm it with the network guy." Sorry, Charlie. I'm already on my way home. But, I'll stay on the line with you while you confirm it, so it looks good. Three calls later and all was confirmed. Every 'i' was dotted and every 't' was crossed. I was getting off the exit to return home.

Posted by BlueWolf on May 17, 2005 08:01 AM