When I joined one company, the network and systems were in
total disarray, and the company was having significant amounts of downtime. It
was also outsourcing all of its desktop and network
support services. Bottom line: It was a very bad situation with lots of
I used Information
Engineering, Inc., a Dynetics network security and network
management services company in
to help me address several things very quickly. At the same time, I brought in
an existing employee who had the right skills and experience but was being
underutilized in one of the company’s small divisions. I set him up to
ultimately take responsibility for our infrastructure. The combination allowed
us to clean up our technology act fast, while giving my employee the exposure
and additional training to provide internal continuity in managing our
infrastructure. The plan was to clean up the obvious issues quickly, build an
infrastructure strategy that my infrastructure manager could then use to lead
our efforts, and provide him with support and assistance as needed through the
contracting company, Information Engineering (IE).
Here are the highlights and the approach we used and how IE
fit into the scheme of things.
Going into the situation, we faced a number of problems.
center problems—server downtime, an unsecured computer center with too
much traffic, junk piled everywhere with lots of dust created by two large
printers, and data backup concerns
- No e-mail
service in most of the company (and this was 1999)
firewall protecting the servers and no policy on Internet usage; use of
third-party e-mail services, etc.
area network service problems—too expensive, unreliable, and poor service
(i.e., lots of connectivity problems and remote office downtime with long
timeframes to fix the problem)
main server connectivity redundancy in the network; loss of all 60 remote
offices if the main connection was last
support—one to two days in getting response from the outside service
30 percent more for PCs that were inferior products with short mean time
internal network management skill or experience tied to the corporate
network, although there was one person with solid skills supporting a
small division of the company
The plan we developed outlined four areas of concentration.
1. Bring in an
outside group to help assess our situation and help develop and implement a
plan to do the following:
up the computer center, secure it from unauthorized traffic, and formalize
a backup process that included verifying that the backups were working
our WAN service to a less expensive and stronger telecom company and,
while doing so, standardize our remote office connectivity equipment and
configurations to improve remote office supportability.
a network monitoring program to help us improve remote connectivity uptime
e-mail services company-wide as quickly as possible.
our infrastructure from the outside (i.e., firewalls, processes, policies,
a network architecture that provides stability and scalability and is cost
effective for us.
redundancy to our corporate center connectivity to the main servers.
replace the outside desktop support group that also was selling us homemade PCs
at a premium cost.
3. Put my
employee in charge of the corporate network and give him the training and IE
support necessary to manage the responsibility. Initially we looked to IE for
most of our infrastructure analysis and direction, with a clear strategy of
getting our IT employee to the point of managing it. He had excellent
credentials and capability that had low risk in moving him into this role.
4. Set up a Help
Desk to capture IT issues, to ensure response, and to track issues trends so we
find out where to emphasize preventive action.
IE was instrumental in this turnaround and helped my IT team
become heroes in a company where there was very little IT credibility before.
The significant uptime improvement and the quick implementation of e-mail
services were real winners, as I knew they would be, for the primary body of
users. The fact that the cost savings in the WAN telecom migration initiative more
than paid for both IE’s involvement and its ongoing network monitoring services
was a hit for the CFO and CEO (my boss). This positive beginning made it very
easy for me to get funding for projects that needed to be done later and to add
necessary IT staff to do a better job for the company.
At the end of the project, we were able to realize the
stronger systems stability
- Much more
stable remote office connectivity
service throughout the company
systems and network environment
defined network architecture and change management process that helped us
grow incrementally, which is more cost effective and stable
network monitoring service (IE’s service) that prevented downtime and
responded to any downtime faster
PC footprint with Dell that allowed us to drop ship PCs to the needed
location at 30 percent less cost, with no setup requirement or shipping
cost—plus the Dell PCs were much more reliable (a winner in every way you
can think of)
response to user problems and a tracking system that gave us trends of
occurrence so we were more proactive in addressing the cause of issues,
rather simply responding to them (preventing fires versus fighting them)