No matter how hard we pray, how many chickens we sacrifice, how often we chant naked by moonlight, every network is at one time or other exposed to the ultimate technology risk: users.
They’re short, tall, skinny, and fat. They’re smart or stupid, unique or cloned -- but no matter what, they’ll abuse technology.
In deference to my years of dealing with this most dangerous species of wildlife, the editors at InfoWorld asked me to record some of my most memorable experiences along with tips on how to avoid similar incidents. Being both thorough and lazy, I decided to open the floor to our adventurous readers as well, who have been kind enough to relate their tales of sorrow and solution.
The result is a list of problem categories each with a specific situation and solution. Broad advice applicable to all IT adventurers can be found in the moral bringing up the rear. With luck, this salutary information will help keep your rear covered.
BrilliantCompany.com was growing at dot-com bubble rates. With departments popping up like daisies in spring, the IT staff was ceding desktop control to department heads because most everyone was technical anyway.
Shortly after a batch of 75 new Dell desktops arrived to populate a new product division, the network suddenly died in the middle of the day. All lights were green in infrastructure land, but performance had slowed to such a crawl that the LAN was effectively paralyzed. Some diligent sniffing and log file snooping revealed the culprit.
Turns out Windows XP’s Automatic Update had defaulted to high noon on a weekday, and all 75 machines attempted to download several hundred megs of Service Pack 2 simultaneously and individually. Instant network clog.
Solution: Centralize IT control so one somebody can be responsible for all the details. This was done in short order after I released a sprightly memo to the appropriate folks. Then, I did what I should have done earlier and set up SUS (Software Update Services), now WSUS (Windows Server Update Services), to download updates and distribute at an appropriate time and after appropriate testing against departmental OS images.
Moral: Just because your users are technical doesn’t mean they’ll behave with any more attention to detail than the average Joe. If network uptime is your responsibility, then take responsibility and manage what needs managing.