Spring Break Infrastructure Projects and a Pleasant Surprise

Last week, like many of you, I took the week off.  It was great to spend some time away from the office and recharge.  However, Chris, Collin, and Sam were here over break.  We had discussed some possible projects for them to do while most of us were away.  Break is a great time to do infrastructure work since most of the time this type of job involves service outages.  One of the projects we talked about was the team reclaiming some switches that were not being used at Prairie Point.  Back in 2009 when Point opened, we built the network so that over 90% of the network drops would be live.  Point is a big building, and in addition to having a lot of lab spaces (over 10), there were multiple data ports in each classroom that were lit, too.  With our total commitment to wireless networking, a lot of these ports are now unnecessary.  So, I thought we might be able to consolidate and bring back five to seven switches we could use elsewhere in the district.

One of the other projects we looked at was testing and studying how to redeploy our previous core switch to Prairie Creek to give a 10 fold increase in capacity in the connection to that building.  I thought that both of these projects would keep these three guys pretty busy all week.  The team started on the core switch and Creek project.  But, they ran into a problem right out of the gate that they could not solve without assistance from me.  So, they moved on to the Point project on Tuesday.  By the end of the day, they had consolidated and reclaimed 19 switches from Point!  Chris texted me the picture above at the end of the day Tuesday to let me know how it went.  We were all really surprised that they were able to get that many devices back.

When I returned on Monday, they let me know that on their own initiative the group had taken several of these surplus switches (about 10) and used them to replace/update all the really old switches we had at Prairie Heights, Prairie View, Prairie Crest, and at the Operations building.  This was a big project — usually something we would not tackle until summer.  For the buildings in question, these updates will give a 10x increase in capacity for many of our wireless devices.  So, this should mean better performance.

The really good news is that this is one less summer project that we don’t need to fit into our very tight summer schedule.  This will give us more time to get even further during the busiest time of the year: summer.  I’m very thankful to have such a hard-working, bright, and creative team.  This was a great surprise on the Monday after break.

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