common time-management mistake: rack & stack

Owen DeLong owen at
Fri Feb 17 17:55:04 UTC 2012

On Feb 16, 2012, at 11:29 PM, Jeff Wheeler wrote:

> Randy's P-Touch thread brings up an issue I think is worth some
> discussion.  I have noticed that a lot of very well-paid, sometimes
> well-qualified, networking folks spend some of their time on "rack &
> stack" tasks, which I feel is a very unwise use of time and talent.
> Imagine if the CFO of a bank spent a big chunk of his time filling up ATMs.
> Flying a sharp router jockey around to far-flung POPs to install gear
> is just as foolish.
> Not only does the router jockey cost a lot more to employ than a CCNA,
> but if your senior-level talent is wasting time in airports and IBXes,
> that is time they can't be doing things CCNAs can't.
> I was once advising a client on a transit purchasing decision, and a
> fairly-large, now-defunct tier-2 ISP was being considered.  We needed
> a few questions about their IPv6 plans answered before we were
> comfortable.  The CTO of that org was the only guy who was able to
> answer these questions.  After waiting four days for him to return our
> message, he reached out to us from an airplane phone, telling us that
> he had been busy racking new routers in several east-coast cities (his
> office was not east-coast) and that's why he hadn't got back to us
> yet.
> As you might imagine, the client quickly realized that they didn't
> want to deal with a vendor whose CTO spent his time doing rack & stack
> instead of engineering his network or engaging with customers.  If he
> had simply said he was on vacation, we would never have known how
> poorly the senior people at that ISP managed their time.
> With apologies to Randy, let the CCNAs fight with label makers.
> -- 
> Jeff S Wheeler <jsw at>
> Sr Network Operator  /  Innovative Network Concepts

With all due respect, Jeff, I think you are missing several factors that come into the human equation beyond merely the most efficient use of a particular person's time.

I would go stark-raving bonkers trapped in a cubicle doing only things that CCNAs can't if I didn't get the occasional break to go out and play with real hardware in the field. Most of the well-paid well-qualified networking folks I know are the same way. 

I also think that when we spend too many consecutive weeks/months/years behind a desk without going out in the real world, we become progressively more detached from the operational reality where our designs have to operate.

On the surface, it might seem an inefficient use of financial/human resources, but, I think that there is value to time in the field that doesn't necessarily show up directly on the balance sheet.

Admittedly, in my current position, I'm no longer in an operational role for the most part, but, I'm even more out in the field and spending more time in airports.


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