The Worried Executive's Guide: Preventing the Telephone Company's Disasters from Becoming Yours (Part 2 of 3)
’Technician’ Doesn’t Necessarily Equal ’Data Center Manager’
Here’s one more example, just to show that it’s not always hardware that causes problems. Telephone equipment today is nothing more than big computers, and as such it demands the same protocols and procedures (such as change control) that have been in place in data centers for years. Sometimes, however, the telco forgets this rule:
"A group of technologists attempted to install a set of software operating system patches on an operational server in Sacramento. The trouble is that these individuals attempted to do so without first doing any regression testing. In the process, they corrupted the primary applications on the server, which resulted in a weeklong event to rebuild them. Other change-management procedures were also [ignored]. This led to many related difficulties, including network routing issues that left whole segments of the country unable to access these applications, even when they were resurrected later.
It’s amazing how much telephone equipment today is dependent on servers. Just as servers lagged behind mainframes in operating and security standards in our data centers, telcos may lag behind other businesses in providing and following such standards. Servers don’t require a specialized environment to operate, like most mainframes do. The server can sit right out on the floor, or in a closet, or in some other area that causes physical risk. Very often, issues related to change control also arise, as in this example. Because telephone technicians usually aren’t data center managers, there’s a learning curve. Consider what a technician with a laptop can do to a DSLAM, for example. The digital subscriber line access multiplexer (DSLAM) is the equipment that the telco uses to provide your DSL lines. One wrong move could affect the voice and Internet services of hundreds of users; yet, in many cases, the same people responsible for providing dial tone are those primarily responsible for the DSLAM. Have these people had the proper training? It probably pays to check.