Solarwinds Geek Speak


I wrote a few articles for the Solarwinds Geek Speak blog that I’d like to share. They are short articles, but I think you’ll find some value in each. Start with the 80/20 rule below post below and read the rest if you have the time.

The 80-20 Rule of Analysis and Optimisation

Start with Continuous Improvement, then do DevOps

The pain of network variation – part 1

The pain of network variation – part 2

A disclaimer: Solarwinds didn’t ask me to promote these posts –  I’m sharing them because they’re posts I would have otherwise published on this blog.

Add a comment below if anything strikes a chord, or if you want to disagree, correct me, etc.


Strain relief

I’ve got a problem with sagging cables, and I’ve got a simple solution. Examine the side-by-side images below which show the same fiber connection between a switch and a firewall. The image on the left shows a sagging cable which crosses in front of the switch in the rack unit just below it.

As you may know, this cabling install is a violation of the 167th rule of networking:

Thou shalt contain your cables to your own rack unit and shalt not, under any circumstances, impede access to other rack units or blades.

Continue reading

Effectiveness – Network Truths, Principles and Fallacies

I gave a 13-minute talk to the Irish Network Operators Group (INOG) recently. In this 13-minute video I argue that you can become more effective, and happier, by standing back and reflecting on how you work, leveraging existing truths, fallacies and principles.

I introduce The twelve networking truths and the 8 Fallacies of Distributed Computing. I then describe a handful of my own learnings and fancy terms like Chestertons Fence and the Gordian Knot.

Check out the video folks, I’d love your feedback.

Continue reading

Clear Pricing for Network Services

I had to buy some switches recently and needed to gather a second quote from another vendor. I went to the Dell website and was pleasantly surprised to quickly find a clear price and a buy-now button for each device on their website.

Normally you’d need an account of the vendors portal to get this information, so it is refreshing to have straightforward access to clear hardware pricing. However it was the list of professional services options shown in the attached image that caught my eye. Continue reading

Include the why

whyI recently stumbled upon an interesting speech from 1984 by Charlie Munger of Bershire Hathaway fame. Charlie is Warren Buffet’s right-hand-man, and a straight talking genius in his own right. It’s a fairly long speech and Charlie has a few very interesting things to say, but one particular section on ‘explaining the why’ really struck home.

Here’s a brief quote:

….if you always tell people why, they’ll understand it better, they’ll consider it more important, and they’ll be more likely to comply. Even if they don’t understand your reason, they’ll be more likely to comply.

So there’s an iron rule that just as you want to start getting worldly wisdom by asking why, why, why, in communicating with other people about everything, you want to include why, why, why. Even if it’s obvious, it’s wise to stick in the why.

The ‘why’ is notably absent from most conversations in our high-tech sphere. I’ve wasted countless hours interpreting solutions to ill-defined or undefined problems. I’m guilty of writing many ‘why-less’ documents and emails also. Upon reflection, I can recognise the folly of not explaining the problem at hand before launching into the solution.

When I drop the reasoning and background and go straight for the solution, I find that I trigger much frustrating communication, organisational friction and ultimately lost time.

Perhaps I feel I’m being efficient by banging out a quick email which omits the ‘why’, but it’s certainly not effective. Perhaps I fall into the trap of assuming everyone is on the same page and the ‘why’ should be self-evident.

I’m with Charlie on this one, I think we could all provide more ‘whys’ in our email, network designs, change control documents, etc. I’m going to try and add more ‘why’ to my communications over the coming weeks with the goal of reducing friction and improving the effectiveness of my communication.

What do you think?