A Website Dedicated to
Computer Professional...and some not so
trust those Techies, Part 1
by Graham Parks
the Network Administrator, I have noticed a couple of recent articles having a
bash at phone companies. Never one to let a bandwagon pass by, I am jumping on.
As well as having a good laugh at the expense of phone companies I also hope to
show you that, as a network administrator, you need to keep a close eye on all
things and do not assume that other technical “professionals” working on
your network work to your standards.
I once had a network problem
between two sites. There was a link, but it regularly failed. The root cause of
the problem was the company beancounter who had wrecked the original plans for
the link by going behind everyone’s back and selecting a cheaper option. For
“cheaper” read “crap”.
Because of the frequent
failures it was decided (not be me) to connect the routers at each site to an
ISDN line. These could be used if the link failed and also provide some extra
bandwidth if the link was very busy. The failover from the fixed line to ISDN
was completely automatic and transparent to the user. The guy from the phone
company who came to discuss this was very knowledgeable, friendly and helpful. I
was very impressed and had high hopes for a successful outcome. Alas, this was
to be the last intelligent person I was to meet from the phone company.
work involved the installation of an ISDN line at both sites and new routers
that would support the failover/top-up options.
ISDN lines were installed without any problems and then an engineer arrived at
each of the two sites simultaneously to install the routers. Looking good!
engineers had instructions to install the routers. That is it. No information
about what equipment they were to link to or anything else. Not so good!
I showed the engineer on the site I was at what it was all about and left him to
get on with the job and communicate with his partner at the remote site. After
an hour or so I had heard nothing so went to see what they were up to. They had
got nowhere. They were completely at a loss as to what to do. So I explained
what to do and with some scepticism they went ahead. Ten minutes later we could
ping anything in the chain successfully.
engineers left and said that other engineers would do the final configuration
and tuning remotely.
link was up and working so a week later in a quiet period I set a large file
copying across the link and went and pulled the plug on the link to check if the
failover worked. It didn’t.
turned out that the final configuration had not been done because the engineers
had password protected the routers and not told anyone what the passwords were.
got solved and I then repeated the test and it worked.
then did another test to check the bandwidth top-up was working. It
now I’m getting more than a little pissed! So I rant at the phone company
again and the problem gets fixed and finally, everything works. End of problems,
bills arrive, one each for the work at the two sites. Remember, exactly the same
work has been done at each site. So why are the bills different???? I managed to
dump this problem onto accounts.
lesson I learned here is do not assume that anything added to your network by an
outside company actually works unless they can provide you with evidence or you
test it yourself. Since this incident I have found non-working solutions more
than once and in my next article I’ll tell you all about what I consider
almost criminal negligence/stupidity on a database system that came with a six
figure price tag.
may send your comments to GrahamParks@TheNetworkAdministrator.com