Question : “Greg, do you trust anything at all ?”
Answer : “Yes, I trust the lessons that I learned last time I got it wrong”
Your Personality is part of the design
Many engineers are not really in touch with their feelings, probably most people are not but engineers work on facts, knowns, proof and tangible elements. But your personality has a significant part to play in the choices that you make when designing.
Choices ? Yeah, choices. Hundreds of little choices that add up to big impacts. Like these ones:
- Should I get the Blue Coat SG810-10 or increase the capacity for the SG810-25. Could I trade off the extra cost to get larger ProxyAV to improve the anti-virus scanning performance instead ?
- A couple of stackable switches or should I choose a C4500 chassis with a low end supervisor ? What about a second hand piece of kit ? Would that work here ?
- Should I get that IOS IPBase image, or Advanced IP Services image just in case ?
- That Cisco ASA5510 firewall, should I get the redundant pair or would one do ? It’s not a really important function here so we could cut corners there. They are pretty reliable aren’t they ?
- Single mode fibre or multimode ? Is it ninety metres from rack to rack, can I just guess ?
In these cases, it’s your outlook that decides whether you are positive or negative. If you are feeling good, you might go for the more aggressive choice and fight for the extra money. But after a long week, you might have had enough and decide togo for the easy life and just go cheap.
It’s fair enough.It’s the choices that you make that all come together into the final solution.
In these moments I draw upon the dark well of regret in my soul. Because I have made these choices in the past, and then regretted them later. I look back and wish I had done it differently, or pushed the point a bit harder to get the right equipment.
Regret reminds me that there is right way, and you need to strive for that. For those of us who are in the same job for many years, think of all the problems that are in your network and wish you had of done differently. Like not buying that Checkpoint firewall, or replacing it when you had the chance two years ago. Or getting the larger load balancer only to find it wasn’t needed after all.
Regret is a powerful tool to remind you to make the right choice.
We all joke about Account Managers and Sales People. Those people who are accountable to their company, not yours, and have about as much management skill as a football team (most probably because that is their only qualification, sport).And yet, something happens to those sales people, who are otherwise honest but their income depends on selling you something, anything. When they promise that their product / company / service is:
- market leading, if only you consider a small enough part of the market.
- Oh yes, my firewall will protect from all known strains for H1N1
- We expect the performance to be much greater than that listed on the brochure, we took the worst case for those tests
- We expect to have that product shipping next month.
- No, our software process ensures that we don’t have many significant bugs.
So now it’s CYNICISM that stops me from accepting that anything as truth. It’s cynicism that
- gets the vendor to put all their claims in writing
- to measure the telco delivery time to install a circuit, and then raise the issue to senior management the day the deadline passes
- that I deliberately over specify the product because I have to assume that performance is MUCH less than the promised
Trust no one
In short, a good designer trusts no-one, believes nothing, and assumes the worst case. Why ? Because then you will never be let down.
This may not be the most joyous way to live your life but the alternative is muh worse. If you have spent time surrounded by failed technology projects such as Storage Upgrades that blew up or Server Migrations that corrupted the data, or the Network expansion to shutdown the entire data centre, then you might want to start thinking about Cynicisim and Regret.