Interesting article in Information Week (March 12, 2007) -- "Cisco Gear, Rerouted" by Sharon Gaudin.
The article mentions two instances in which people were arrested for using their position to defraud Cisco Systems of more than $10 million.
Basically, what they were doing was abusing the RMA system. When a part "goes south" and you need to replace it, Cisco will send you a part and you're supposed to return the bad part to them. I've been through this process many times with many companies. You're -supposed to- send the defective part back rather quickly. If you don't do it immediately, you can easily lose track of it in a large company.
I've heard of smaller levels of such abuse, but these guys had it down to a science. "In one case, the complaint says, Cisco sent Kyereme a one-port optical card worth $260,000, and Kyereme sent back an eight-port adapter worth about $2,000."
I've heard a few people claim that they built labs off of the system. They RMA good parts and use the replacement in production and the removed part in the lab. It lasts for a while and then Cisco screams for the part back and they finally send it in and then request another. I guess if you're desperate for lab equipment, it might be worth the hassle...? But that just hurts all of us.
I'd hate to end up at a company where such abuse has been going on for a while. Perhaps Cisco might not send a needed part right away due to prior abuse. That would make a Network Engineer's job sooooooo much harder. And if you're doing that to provide a lab for yourself, you'll NEVER convince anyone in the company to ever put ANY money towards lab equipment, no matter how necessary it is (even if they REQUIRE it). Once you set the precedent at that company, any time you ask for money for lab equipment, they will always point towards the precedent and state that the previous occupant of that job didn't need any, so why should they spend -unneccessary- money? Can't you just do whatever magical-geeky thing that your predecessor did? And you sound pretty snippy when you explain that unlike your predecessor, you are not open to defrauding Cisco into providing a lab for you to test your configurations prior to deployment in a production environment. You never know how well-liked your predecessor was - and it would not bode well to speak ill of someone who 'made things happen' without asking for more money.
Not to mention the PERSONAL RISK that you are taking by performing such miracles of geeky magic. What judge is going to listen to you when you explain that you -had to- have this equipment for testing prior to deployment? It's going to be your own hide that hangs out to dry when they catch up to you. And management is going to quickly and easily deny any knowledge of the double-bind they put you in. It is all so very not worth it.
One thing that I've heard about (but not personally used) is that Cisco has a program for lab equipment. You can purchase equipment specifically for a lab at a greatly reduced price. The stipulation is that the equipment must not be used in a production environment - ever. [Yeah, like that's going to work well.] The first time something goes down and you need a part -immediately- the lab equipment is going to be eyeballed and you'll be on the hot seat for not using it. After all, it's there, it works, and we need to get back up and running NOW. Is the convenience and confidence that you can get from testing in a lab worth the pressure later?
A better option may be to convince them to rent rack space slots. You can get just about any configuration you need and buy slots of time. You can do this on a project-by-project basis and don't have to worry about pressure to use the equipment in an emergency. It may require a lot of research to find the right vendor and configurre the equipment to simulate your environment, but it would be well worth the time and effort. It would reduce YOUR risk.
Posted by BlueWolf on March 24, 2007 12:34 PM