An excellent post on the science (and definitely not art) of network troubleshooting on the PacketLife blog last week, resulted in a mini-debate on whether network change andconfiguration management is a lifesaver or a time-sucking burden for network admins. The answer, it appears, is probably somewhere in the middle.
PacketLife blogger Jeremy Stretch runs through his network troubleshooting method, which includes NOT starting the process at Layer One as many do, but also involves detailed recording of problems and their solutions as well as redoing tests numerous times to confirm functionality after the fix is implemented.
The idea of redoing tests for one reader was laughable considering he has to wade through a river of paper work in order to do even one test.
“The increasing need to adhere to strict change control procedures kills the science of troubleshooting. In my world one test would require mounds of paperwork and numerous sign offs. To do my job I’m forced to do things under the table and hope I don’t break anything and call attention to my activities,” wrote the reader, who calls himself/herself PompeyChimes.
Those complaints brought on an outraged response from a reader known as HH.
“For the love of god, use proper change management procedures… Too often are problems caused by hotshot admins who think they know everything,” HH wrote.
Stretch tempers the argument with the following middle road response:
“HH makes a valid point. Change controls are great – IF they’re implemented practically. So long as they leave an engineer enough room to maneuver, they can be an excellent tool to help generate documentation during the troubleshooting process.”
We’ve written a number of pieces on the virtues of change management in virtualization and change management in storage, but much more often than not we hear of the nightmares involved in dealing with change management. The answer probably doesn’t lie in doing away with change control, but instead in implementing procedures that are realistic for the admins carrying them out daily.