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The Network Cleanup

I tend to get a lot of 'Network Cleanup' projects. I think it goes back to the satisfaction I get when things are all neat and tidy - thanks mom. Tim O'Neill even referred to me as the 'Network Janitor' in some of his articles.

Oddly enough, I enjoy figuring out what customers have, how to make it work better, what to replace, what to rip out and delivering the final product; a clean, well documented network. Then again, how many people can identify a Memotec x.25 Pad, 3174 IBM Controller or an IBM 8228 MAU? Yes, I still run into that stuff. Then there's the whole CSI-type angle where you need to figure out how things ended up in the current state. If I'm lucky I can help consolidate some equipment, or eliminate excessive equipment or cabling. I can't tell you how many times I am referred to as the 'site specialist' with only 2 or 3 weeks at a customer site.

I can really empathize with the network analyst who inherits 20 years of network evolution. But when I ask "Whats this for?", I cringe when the response is "I don't know, but don't touch it".

Once I showed a customer that the 25 pair cable that ran to the terminal server was severed and the Ethernet connection was not connected in an effort to allow me to decommission it. I was floored when they said, "I understand Tony, but leave it alone, someone may need it one day."

I always get asked, "How do you start your cleanups, Tony?". The response is always simple and consistent, "Go for a walk." This is literally where I start. I want to see what can be removed. If I can easily remove obvious equipment and cabling, the remaining equipment seems less daunting. Believe it or not, this is the same methodology I use when troubleshooting

Last week I walked through this site and saw the most simplest things to remove; CAT5 cables with only one end patched, an old modem tie-wrapped to a cabling tray with no serial connection, a CAT5 Cable coiled around a battery backup, a Fibre Optic transceiver with 1 fibre connection hanging,. And lets not forget the CAT5 server cable crimped in the computer room door.

I spent the better part of this week, removing equipment and cabling. I have included some photos for illustrative purposes.

Next week I go back for the next step; documentation and rationalization.

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