2 weeks in the life of a Professional Services Consultant – A step back in time to 2003

A colleague just forwarded this back to me, it’s a “Weekly Feed Back” I wrote in 2003 when I was a jobbing Professional Services Consultant in the best team of people I’ve ever worked with.  A kind of precursor to blogging, it was just a mail describing the week we’d had with any gotchas or anything useful we could share. Interesting to see what vendors I still work with and  which have fallen by the wayside. Have changed the customer names as some are still around, but it’s largely unedited.

Just to provide a little background “SB” was my team leader at the time, and I’m surprised how much ISDN cropped up!

From: Glen Kemp

Sent: 27 September 2003 16:04

To: Professional Services;

Subject: Missing WFBs (again)

Sorry, behind on these again, but not been in the office much..

W/E 19/9


Spent most of day setting up a Citrix host, working on proof of concept making sure that I can actually remember what I did last week.  CustomerA panicking about a poxy ISDN router that doesn’t want to Dial, catching up with last week as well.


More Citrix Proof of concept, Office install script for more obscure components (i.e. Project and Visio) proving relatively flaky.


All day with Citrix and Neoteris with Neal, manage to get the first proof working (i.e. Neoteris serving up a NFuse Front end) Works with MS ActiveX client and Even the native Linux client, but not the Java, which is kinda of important.  Not sure if it’s me or the Neoteris.


Yet more breaking/fixing Citrix over Java, long red herring as Neal’s Machine doesn’t want to play with any Java flavour.  Writing a “Why XP is good, 1.8 is bad” doc for SB and CustomerC, it may well be easier for them to upgrade them for us to try and run UDP over SSL.  During testing of Neoteris SAM gubbins my IP stack combusts; it’s been on the cards for a while but it finally happened.  Spend a couple of hours uninstalling & reinstalling windows bits and saying “Neal, could you do me a favour and type this error message into TechNet?” Thnx Neal, btw…  Laptop finally recognises the rest of the network and start work on expanding Scott proposal for sponge.  Three hours in & 7:30 at a night get a phone call from SB “Which version did sponge send you, the original or the one that Vic spend several hours correcting & expanding?”.  Take a wild stab in the dark.  One carelessly forwarded e-mail, three hours wasted. Go home.  Kick the cat.


Several choice words for Sponge.  Some of them end in “t” or have a suffix of “off”.  “It wasn’t me, It wasn’t me, oh, it was me…”  Finish the proposal anyway.  Doing some quick R&D for Bearman for a conference call that never happened on ISDN dial-backup VPNs, more research for a conference call that did happen.  Neal gets hold of someone sensible at Neoteris and suggests we roll back to a previous release, destroys the config but low and behold Citrix over Java over Neoteris works, hurrah!!!


Something I’d been sort of dreading, weeks of project planning of meetings for the CustomerA Move.  All servers and back-office comms equipment is moving to one of two racks in Telehouse London.  Many of you will be now familiar with the much grinding of teeth caused by project.  CustomerA are a phone card company; they have several ISDN30’s, a Frame relay connection to the credit card networks, a point to point leased line, ISDN2 for support and Internet Connection for their web-based front-end.  The whole move (and business) depends on these five lines successfully moving to the new site.  Meet the contact first thing Saturday to be greeted with the news that the point to point leased line between the new offices and telehouse hasn’t come up nor has the internet connection.  Reconfigure the routers the best I can but can’t test didly squat as no lines.  They now have a serious problem Monday morning as their staff in Tonbridge can’t access the any of the servers in London.  Never fear, we have an emergency plan for that; remember those ISDN routers?.  Sometime on Friday at the last minute the contact changed his mind and decides to leave the PDC/DHCP/blah server in docklands and put a shiny new 2000 server in Tonbridge.  I point out that 2000 cannot be a NT BDC, it can only be AD server.  Either migrate DC’s to AD now, or build an NT 4.0 BDC from scratch so that his users can logon on Monday and at least get to their word documents.  Web server useless without ISP, so it is sacrificed; in vain as it turns out as after we’ve deleted the partition, we discover that the Motherboard is incompatible with NT 4.0.  One burnt server for no reason.  We remove the DC from the rack and setup a BDC in Tonbridge tomorrow with whatever equipment we can find, to be returned on Sunday once we are done.  Go home, ring SB and try not to cry.


Get to Tonbridge new offices foolishly early to start building a space shuttle out of sticks and stones.  Start configuring the ISDN, feed in the details and immediately lose contact with the poxy thing.  Hardware reset, try again.  Disappears again.  Eventually twig that it is only disappearing when I actually connect to the internal network, crossover works fine.  It is here that I discover that the Switch is 100mb only, the cheapo 3com ISDN LAN modem is 10mb only never the twain will meet.  Discover that we’ve moved all the auto sensing equipment to the rack space.  Bugger.  Customer has stolen daughters PC.  For some reason it has SCSI drives only but NT refuses to recognise Adaptec Card, no matter what drivers we use.  Customer drives to PC World in RTW to buy IDE hard drive and 10/100mb hub.  I carry on setting up the rest of the network & patching PCs, discovering half the network points are faulty, that sort of thing.  Customer returns, we start setting up the BDC, plug in the ISDN box, we can connect, hurrah! I notice the complete lack of green light on front of the ISDN NTU.  (just to re-cap, third set of lines not working).  Customers only access to their core systems is via a single analogue dial-up line to the PDC that is currently being used to try and breathe life into BDC.  Customer starts to ring up staff and tells not to bother coming in tomorrow.  Finish building the BDC & Test, configure printing etc.  Did what I could but you can’t make an omelette without eggs.  Five routers (inc firewall) configured, not a single ping test issued.  Contact takes the PDC back to London, I go and have a nice dinner in the most pretentious restaurant I can find in Tonbridge.


Late in because signing contract on new place, Bloke from Axial comes in just as I walk in.  Running through a 2day course on Packeteer with Neal and Vic at  100 miles an hour.  Good Stuff, last bits for R&D when I can for CustomerB and regretting wearing shorts in a monsoon.


Apparently CustomerA manages to get an ISDN line activated but quel-surprise, it’s not dialling properly (same ISDN LAN modem that was giving grief last week).  It has NO debugging facilities so rather waste any more time pilfer the “proper” Cisco router from Andy’s desk, put a gash config on it and try to test.  Discover that all our ISDN lines have all been cancelled.  Also discovered that customer interpreted “Give me an hour and I’ll let you know how I get on” has been interpreted as “Come and sit in our car-park until its ready”.  Having no method of testing I have nothing to lose so give him the poxy thing to test.  Manage to do a whole hours work done on CustomerB before it the inevitable “it doesn’t work” phone call.  Messed around but got nowhere fast, had to go to a meeting so stitched Neal up with it again.  (Sorry Neal).  Go to design meeting with S “Whispering” Birch at MBC, good meeting but not a good venue.. Get back to discover that Neal has only just been able to sort out CustomerA, probably would have taken me another week…


Up at sparrows fart to drive to Reading for Citrix NFuse training.  Bumped into a “Senior Consultant” from Ultima.  He knew Citrix but didn’t have a clue about security.  Doing all sorts of things you wouldn’t catch us doing in a month of Sundays.  I now know where Citrix leaves off and Neoteris takes over.  Drive into London.  Get to Victoria in an hour from Reading.  Spend 2 hours driving around and around and round the same square mile looking for the hotel.  Nearly delirious by 8pm, eventually find it by reversing up a one way street.  Then discover there isn’t a hotel car park, reception directs me to an NCP a mile away that I must of driven past 40 times.  Burst into tears.  Get into hotel restaurant. Order Mushroom risotto, am served an enormous Cumberland sausage and mash.  Try and explain to Indonesian waitress that I’m a vegetarian and sausage usually contains pork and not risotto.  Chef audibly disgusted at my rejection of his masterpiece.  Risotto eventually turns up.  Eat it, go to bed.  Alarm wakes me up at 12:30 am for CUSTOMERD change slot.  Risotto not gone down well.   Get in cab for CUSTOMERD, going over bumps on Chelsea bridge feels like I’m on the bouncy castle.  Doug casually mentions that RSA stuff that was previously in pilot has now gone live.  Problems with clustering & sdconf.rec pour into my mind.  Meanwhile risotto doing the tango around my stomach.  Have to call it off, no-way I’m gonna survive this.  Ring SB at 2:30pm and rant deliriously at her.  SB steadfast and calm and at no point used any choice words that end in “t”.  Explain to Doug.  He not happy but understanding.  Doug drives me back to hotel in nice Merc.  Ill.


Crawl out of bed and drive slowly out of London back to the office.  Print out some map directions, get home at 2 and sleep till 6am following morning


Feeling more human get up and drive to York for Meeting with CUSTOMERE.  One of CustomerAs lines up.  Spend half an hour on phone in car troubleshooting access to telehouse network via ODBC.  One poxy windows 98 client can’t connect and “the networks down”.  Try feeding in the right DG doofus.  Genuine problem with routing on the firewall though, eventually track down someone in PS (sorry Neal) to dial in and sort out.  Great meeting with CUSTOMERE, trying to surf the waves of internal politics, nice opportunity around Neoteris I think, but we need to do a pilot tho.  Long drive back, M25 completely buggererd.


Catching up on paperwork etc that had been missing the last couple of weeks.

In summary, a busy couple of weeks! From memory it’s rare that I’d try and pack so much in a short space of time. I guess it kinda shows that it can often be counterproductive. Also apparently life without a personal satnav was hell!


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