Common operational misconceptions

Mario Eirea meirea at
Fri Feb 17 14:57:37 UTC 2012


Mario Eirea
From: Leo Bicknell [bicknell at]
Sent: Friday, February 17, 2012 9:29 AM
To: nanog at
Subject: Re: Common operational misconceptions

In a message written on Thu, Feb 16, 2012 at 08:50:11PM -1000, Paul Graydon wrote:
> At the same time, it's shocking how many network people I come across
> with no real grasp of even what OSI means by each layer, even if it's
> only in theory.  Just having a grasp of that makes all the world of
> difference when it comes to troubleshooting.  Start at layer 1 and work
> upwards (unless you're able to make appropriate intuitive leaps.) Is it
> physically connected? Are the link lights flashing? Can traffic route to
> it, etc. etc.

I wouldn't call it a "misconception", but I want to echo Paul's
comment.  I would venture over 90% of the engineers I work with
have no idea how to troubleshoot properly.  Thinking back to my own
education, I don't recall anyone in highschool or college attempting
to teach troubleshooting skills.  Most classes teach you how to
build things, not deal with them when they are broken.

The basic skills are probably obvious to someone who might design
course material if they sat down and thought about how to teach
troubleshooting.  However, there is one area that may not be obvious.
There's also a group management problem.  Many times troubleshooting
is done with multiple folks on the phone (say, customer, ISP and
vendor).  Not only do you have to know how to troubleshoot, but how
to get everyone on the same page so every possible cause isn't
tested 3 times.

I think all college level courses should include a "break/fix"
exercise/module after learning how to build something, and much of that
should be done in a group enviornment.

       Leo Bicknell - bicknell at - CCIE 3440
        PGP keys at

More information about the NANOG mailing list