Bad habits of a network admin/tech

Recently there was a thread on the Facebook group WISP talk.  The author outlined the following bad habits of network folks.  Below is the original list. I just copied it and it’s not mine.

  1. Install and forget;
  2. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it;
  3. Make every switch port a layer 3 port;
  4. Go to the races as a cli jockey;
  5. Solve any wireless issue by adding more power;
  6. It is not my problem until you prove to me its my problem (arrogance in general)
  7. Who needs to RTFM?

So let’s expand on each of these and make it my own.

  1. Install it and forget it.
    This is what happens when folks get in a rush and don’t do much prep time. I often hear the excuse “I will document it later.”  If this is a new build 95%+ of the documentation should be done ahead of time.  When you go to actually install it you will have a blueprint to go on instead of making it up on the fly. This makes for a much smoother install.  As a bonus, you don’t have to do as much documentation at the end.  This goes a long way to ensuring it gets done.
  2.  If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it
    A network is as close to a living organism as you can get into the computer world.  Much like your body, issues can creep into the works and cause problems.  Bugs and vulnerabilities in software can be a huge Achilles heal if they are not dealt with. Equipment is replaced with newer models, which have their own unique personalities so to speak. Plus, in ISP networks customers are demanding faster and less latency.  This means you have to be able to upgrade your networks to meet consumer demand.
  3. Make every switch port a layer3 port.
    An ISP network has two major components. These are the transport network and the access network. The transport network gets bits between POPS, tower sites, cities, whatever.  This is the backbone of your network. The access point is what the customers attach to.  This is where customer authentication and provisioning is done. You access network needs to be as low latency as possible.  Layer3 routing adds latency. When you are talking about the customer access network, layer2 ports are handy for wiretap warrants and CALEA requests to name just a few advantages. I have a future blog post in the works on this topic
  4. Go to the races as a cli jockey
    I call these folks CLI snobs. They refuse to touch a GUI. Modern carrier and enterprise devices are very powerful and scriptable.  This is where the CLI can be automated and be very powerful.  However, a web-based GUI can be helpful for lower-level technicians.  This can alleviate some of the load off the higher up admins.  A web-interface can also be a quicker way of doing one-off tasks.  It’s helpful to know both, especially in an environment where you may have to walk an intern over the phone how to set an IP address on a device when they don’t have a serial console.
  5. Solve issues by adding more power
    In the wireless world adding more power can be a bad idea for your company. this can put your company in legal trouble if you are exceeding your governing body’s regulations. Fines and other things can happen.  More power can hurt your network as well as surrounding networks.  Self-interference is a very real thing.
    In the enterprise world you can buy too much of a router that, by the time you grow into it, something better and faster is already out.
  6. & 7Arrogance
    I am combining numbers 6 and 7 above into an overall Arrogance category. In fact, many of the items on this list are a result of arrogance. Over the years many of you have heard me talk about “The typical I.T. person” and folks like Saturday Night Live have done skits on such things. There are many reasons for an arrogant I.T. person (guy or gal).
    Sometimes this person has had to deal with arrogant bosses who do not understand I.T. and that has affected their mood.  Some have issues inside their heads which causes them to think others are inferior to them. There are tons of reasons and whole Psychology books are written on. Whatever the reason arrogance causes these folks to be the way they are.
  7. Believing there is just one right answer
    There are network Architects for a reason in large companies.  These folks set the tone for how the network is laid out.  This is so things do not get bogged down in endless discussions about this vendor and this technology. There are many ways to solve the problem.  You just have to make the best-informed decision and go with it.  Otherwise, you will be caught in an endless amount of what-ifs.
  8. Believing technology is more important than the business
    Technology is what allows a business to make money.  In an ISP the technology is part of what sets you apart.  Without paying customers all the tech in the world would do no good. Smart business decisions have to be made about the tech, but the business leaders also need to understand the tech is responsible for keeping customers happy.
  9. Making it overly complex
    Whether it be arrogance creeping in, wanting to use 100 percent of the features, or just wanting to get the most bang for the buck is where networks can come into play.  Usually, this happens at 2am and you are trying to diagnose the multiple services and layers involved. There is a fine line between providing cutting edge services and the KISS (Keep It Simple Stupid) principle.

These are just a few of the things.  Leave your comments on what you think network and I.T. folks do as bad habits.

Geospatial Utility Infrastructure Data Exchange Procedural Guide

This guide is put out by the Michigan Department of Transportation.  Some good useful stuff in here that applies to all fiber contractors.  It’s a good quick read for those of you getting into fiber. You can skip over large sections and still get some information out of it.

Geospatial Utility Infrastructure Data Exchange (GUIDE) creates an organized and sustainable approach to data collection, management, and dissemination of 3D geospatial data on underground utility infrastructure by capturing accurate XYZ information at the time of installation and organizes it in a spatial database format for secure, highly accessible use by downstream stakeholders.

Udemy course of the week: Cyber Security

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10 Gig SpeedTest server Intel Nuc

Recently a client testing their 5G solution came to me asking for a solution to testing speed from their CBRS/5G/802.11ax clients.  One of the requirements was it had to support greater than 1 gig speedtests as close to the devices as possible. This particular client has a small cell device which has room for a small form factor PC. The challenge was finding a small PC that could handle a 10 gig port.

In steps my buddy John from Columbus.  John is up on hardware more than I am.  After some talks, we settled on the following two pieces of hardware.

Intel Nuc, Sonnet 10 Gig adaptor, Mikrotik HexS

Once we assembled this we need a router for the Internet and DHCP. We chose a RouterBoard hexS

As a not both of these will run off DC power.  The Nuc comes with a 19Volt power supply so if you are running Pure DC you may want to drop from, say a 24volt battery bank to 19 volt with a Meanwell converter.

The Software
Proxmox was installed on the Nuc.  Nothing crazy about this. Just make sure the thunderbolt adaptor is plugged in during install.  For our purposes, we are just using the 10 gig adaptor.  Proxmox recognizes the adaptor without a hiccup.

In some earlier blog posts I wrote about the self-hosted speedtests. (Patreon Subscription Required)

I installed the self-hosted speedtest under a Centos Minimal Install. Everything was put on a 172.16.x.x network.  This was done in order to prevent any conflicts with various types of Internet the Mikrotik may be plugged into.  By default, port 1 is set up to be a DHCP client.  In our setup, the Internet is the bottleneck, but we are not testing the Internet.  We are testing clients on the 5g/CBRS/802.11ax network. Our 10 gig port on the nuc will be plugged into a 10 gig switch at the small cell, and not into our routerboard.  The routerboard is just there to hand out DHCP and allow Internet access, if available.