The following piece originally appeared in Human Infrastructure Magazine, a twice-monthly Packet Pushers newsletter. Get a free subscription by becoming a Packet Pushers member.
This morning I hunkered down in the cockpit, woke up the screens, and surveyed the state of the network. Lots of green lights. Nothing big in the inbox. Slack channel quiet. Well, sort of. Someone had started a meme war in #random.
I browsed through it for a little bit. OK, 45 minutes. Man, there was a lot of stuff in there I hadn’t seen.
Anyway, time for coffee. In the break room, the pot was empty except for a a brown paste at the bottom. I scrubbed until the glass was more clear than brown, then started a pot. It would take awhile to brew, so I pulled out my phone.
Email. Ugh. Too many people wanting too many things. I turned some of the threads into task list items and assigned due dates, figuring that might bring a little more structure to my week.
Twitter. Hadn’t been in there since yesterday. Lots of chatter. Ooh! Someone linked to a blog about a DMVPN rollout. I clicked through and read it, and made a mental note to go back through Cisco’s latest DMVPN design spec to see if any of the major guidelines had changed.
The coffee was done. Long done. Wow. I’d fallen into a time chasm. Ah, well. I poured a cup and wandered back to my cubicle. A few messages had come in. The help desk could handle those without me. But…I couldn’t help myself.
I headed to the bullpen and asked Jonah whether the tickets had anything to do with last week’s firewall rulebase audit. I’d cleaned out a bunch of rules that had no hits for months, but still; some goober salesperson who hadn’t logged in since the holidays might fire up the VPN and run into access problems.
Jonah had nothing for me. After some trash talk about our Overwatch matches, I wandered back to the cockpit. Not for long though. The coffee had somehow gone right through me. What was I, a filter?
I took care of the necessary, then sat back down and glanced at my whiteboard–the single source of truth for my projects. My boss and I had agreed it was a decent way that she could step in, see what I was actively working on, and the current status.
I had not moved the needle on the core switch upgrade in a month, and that was bothering me. A lot.
Then the phone rang. My buddy asked if I wanted to drive to the buffet for lunch. Did I?!? Anything to get away from the upgrade. Lunch time was officially only an hour, but we stretched it. Why not? Both of us worked a lot of overtime, plus weekend shifts for system upgrades.
We cruised back into the office late. In my cubicle, the white board awaited. As did the core switch upgrade.
Ugh. I had to build the parts list and get it out to our VAR for a quote, but finding all the SKUs was painful. I pulled up the spreadsheet. Given the amount of time that had passed since I last reviewed it, it was like starting over.
I chipped away at it for a while. Then a desktop notification fired about a recurring project status meeting. According to the agenda, this one was highly optional. But…I looked at the parts list spreadsheet, shuddered, and went to the conference room.
The meeting killed about 90 minutes, during which I said nothing. Mostly I just swiped at my phone (held discreetly just below table level). Now and then I furrowed my brow and nodded.
After the meeting I stopped in for a coffee refill. Rebecca was in the break room, so we talked about making a plan to retire that closet switch on the third floor that’s still running but no one is using. Finally back at my desk, I checked my email. And Slack, And Twitter.
At last, unwillingly, I turned back to the spreadsheet. I pulled up the vendor’s data sheets for all the available optics. I already knew exactly which ones we were going to buy, but it felt like I should review the entire list. I didn’t want to miss out on anything new and exciting. You know…just in case.
After an hour of scanning data sheets, I went back to the tried and true optics we always bought. Really, we had to buy these optics, considering the new ToR switches and optics we’d already purchased, still sitting in boxes waiting for the new core to be deployed.
I counted up the optics we needed, padded for DOAs, and padded again for growth. Finally. An entry on the spreadsheet. I had moved the core switch project ahead a tiny bit.
Hey, look at that–time to go home. What had I been I doing all day? Man. The calendar seemed to move so fast. The drop dead date for the core switch project was coming soon. Somehow, I was going to have to get it together.