When a Router isn’t Really a Router
Back in the day, I was the big shot who owned and operated the network. Nobody else could do the things I could do, and every single one of them knew it. I couldn't close deals or manage accounts payable, and they didn't have a clue about VLAN configurations or managed switches. It was all understood and it was efficient. Everyone knew their roles and everything worked just fine. Until it didn't.
When Experience Becomes a Liability
Through the course of my career, I've spent an extraordinary amount of time troubleshooting other people’s networks. All the experience made me good at solving problems, but it also got me used to solving the same problems over and over. It sort of became a cycle of being really smart and feeling really good. You design something. Implement it. The thing works for the most part. There are problems. You identify them. The thing works better. You learn more about the thing. You have a Diet Coke. It's a decent little cycle, whether you're a network manager or product manager. Unfortunately, it tends to get you searching in the same places for problems. And that can eventually end up biting you in the rear end. At least it did for me.
Blaming the IT Guy: How CYA Becomes CYPA
Most people know the old "CYA" policy. It's about employees protecting themselves from criticism, administrative penalties or any other sort of punishment that comes after a major screw up. In the IT world, the buck usually stops with the ones who run the networks, so we have to do a little extra to cover our rear ends. We make runbooks, add alerts, monitoring, publish uptime statistics and whatever else to prove the network is running from end to end. All of this helps ensure that when fingers point our way, we can throw our shoulders back and know we covered all the bases.
How a Mop Led Me to the Cloud
I remember how things were before "the cloud." Not too bad, but not so great either. It was about ten years ago, and my IT team had a pretty OK setup. Our killer onsite data center gave quick, reliable data access to the locals, while our remote people worked in through VPN. We had concentrators on both sides of the country and a combination of MPLS and leased lines to tie all of our sites together, so they could get back to the data center at HQ. It wasn't ideal, but it worked. As long as we stayed on top of things at all times.
What matters more: Your IT budget or your time?
At my old IT gig, our major concern wasn't really money. I mean, don't get me wrong, I personally would have loved more of it, but as a group, our budget was very strong. On the other hand, none of us seemed to have enough hours in the day to do everything we wanted - or were expected - to do. In fact, at the end of many quarters, we hadn't even spent the lot of our budget, because we just ran out of time. My days were filled with interruption after interruption:…