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RIM NTP & what wil I do here at work

By Cactus Pete ·
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RIM, NTP, and what to do here at work about it

by Cactus Pete In reply to RIM NTP & what wil I do h ...

So the big boss wants us to have a backup in case Blackberry services
are cut.  Well, that's great, but the only competitor I can see
these days is GoodLink.  I checked them out 2 years ago, and
though I liked what they were talking about, the product wasn't quite
there yet.<br />
<br />
I'm thinking of them now as something like a replacement for a striking
worker...  They just don't have the same functionality, the same
feel...  But I suppose we can work with it.  At least some
users who were still using OneBridge's XTND will be moved off of that
old technology...<br />
<br />
I still expect the USPTO to overturn all the NTP claims, which should make the whole thing moot...<br />

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Backups

by Cactus Pete In reply to RIM NTP & what wil I do h ...

I often see people concerned about backups.  So here's what we do:<br />
<br />
We threw away Veritas Backup Exec in favor of Evault.  They are a
remtoe site backup agent, but we don't use them for that.  Rather,
we use their software and our own SANs to do our own remote backing
up.  Data is immediately offsite (we leverage the second large
office's SAN - we backup locally and to each other's sites) and
immediately retrievable.<br />
<br />
No longer do we wait for tapes to come back from Iron Mountain, which
in an emergency can still take hours.  If our WAN goes down, we
can still move files over an internet connection.  There seems to
be no reason to have this outsourced in any way, and in any part of the
process.<br />
<br />
It's all disk to disk, so it's fast.  Evault only backs up changed
files (deltas) so backups are shorter.  They compress the data
with a <em>really</em> good algorithm.  I like everythign about it.<br />
<br />
There is a learning curve, but what technology doesn't have this? 
Once you've learned how to use it, and best practices, it's quite cool.<br />
<br />
If we ever leave Evault, we will probably require many of the same
benefits we have now - I just can't see going back to another method.<br />

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Stopping spam

by Cactus Pete In reply to RIM NTP & what wil I do h ...

I just posted about backups suggestions and recalled that many people ask about spam filters, too.  So, here's what we use:<br />
<br />
The email gateway does an sbl-xbl lookup of the IP address to spamhaus
and rejects about a million messages a month.  Any thing that gets
past that then gets scanned for viruses and rules violations at the
gateway itself.  Ours is EMF (email firewall) from Tumbleweed.<br />
<br />
The EMF server then sends the message to a content scanner, also from
Tumbleweed (they bought it from Corvigo) called MailGate.  This
appliance uses some intelligent filtering techniques and categorizes
the messages as JUNK, BULK, or Legit.  By default, we trap all the
JUNK messages and simply prepend the subject line of the BULK messages
(With the word BULK) and send everything else through.<br />
<br />
But, and this is what sold us on the product, each user can control
their own settings.  Each user can select a sender or an entire
domain and tell the system to allow or block or otherwise categorize
mail from there.  Though we can also do this at the site level,
one man's spam, etc...<br />
<br />
Many people use an external provider (Postini) to do the same
thing.  Personally, my choice is to have this in house. 
Since we have to main locations, we can act as each other's backup
site, so we don't loose messages if one connection goes down.<br />

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Keeping staff busy

by Cactus Pete In reply to RIM NTP & what wil I do h ...

It's a good question: How do I keep my staff busy during slow times? In a Help Desk environment, this is important. <br />
<br />
There have been many good ideas in the discussion found at
http://techrepublic.com.com/5208-11179-0.html?forumID=7&threadID=187615&start=0
and I wanted to make sure I recorded a few other thougths here.<br />
<br />
Why is downtime a problem? Well, if your boss sees your staff
doing nothing, you will look bad - they should be working or you're
wasting company resources (in the eyes of many a boss). Other
staff might be jealous, too.<br />
<br />
Why might it not be bad? Well, HD groups ride waves of stress -
sometimes the world is falling apart and they are the first
responders. Other times, the network guys have things running
pretty smoothly at the same time the applications support people are
all patched - perhaps the training staff just finished up a big push to
get the users more knowledgable, too. There will be a lull in HD
calls.<br />
<br />
So the question really comes down to: How do you reward the staff with
a much needed break from the **** of normal operations (which is
probbaly well earned) without wasting them as resources. It could
be a fine line.<br />
<br />
The obvious go-to answer is training. But this can't always be
practical. Training is done best when it is in a quiet, reserved
and uninterrupted situation. Getting 15 minutes into an AD manual
and being called about a user receiving a "you must change your
password" warning kinda kills your mental flow. So the 15 minutes
spent before is now more wasted than had it been solely meditation.<br />
<br />
The ironic answer, I think, is menial tasks. Things that don't
really matter if they are left in an unfinished state, or things that
are continuously being updated are perfect for down times. And
just because they are menial, doesn't mean they can't be fun or that
the professionals doing them can't respect the necessity. <br />
<br />
You, as the supervisor or manager, must simply find a way that is
meaningful to the employee to reward that work. It certainly
should be noted in reviews, and thank yous are nice along the
way. Recognition of work is always appreciated. Just try
not to sound hollow when acknowledging what the employee did.
Some employees resent thank yous for small tasks, others can't seem to
get enough. Some prefer $5 gift cards no and then for
contributing to the bottom line, and others think it's bribery. <br />
<br />
Know your employees. This will help you in more ways than with just downtime.<br />

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The meaning of TechPoints

by Cactus Pete In reply to RIM NTP & what wil I do h ...
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