One Ridiculous Switch Installation I’ll Never Forget

As deep as a blade server and with a couple power supplies hanging out of the back, some of those one rack unit switches are pretty heavy in spite of their pizza-box form factor. I remember years ago I installed a pair of Nexus 5k switches in a building MDF, but since they were both heavy and used rails instead of rack screws, I just couldn’t rackmount them by myself.

That was an interesting day. Easy project, and really no issues getting them installed and configured. But I just couldn’t get that first switch in the rack by myself.

I must have been sweating, because the switch seemed to get more slippery the more I tried to hoist it into the rack like some olympian launching kettlebells over a competition-height bar. I’ve used some tricks to precariously balance a switch on a couple rack screws, but these switches used rails and I just couldn’t get the first one seated properly.

I was with a VAR at that time and reluctant to ask my customer for help. A cabling contractor was in and out of the room installing patch panels, but he and his toolbag had been gone for a while. I rested the two 5548s on the UPS at the bottom of the rack, swallowed my pride, and left the network closet in search of some help.

My customer’s main network person was nearby and happy to lend a hand. With a skip in my step we walked back into the network closet to find the cabling contractor pulling a bundle from the ceiling with one foot on a ladder and the other foot swinging in the air.

One word immediately came to mind: OSHA. My customer and I offered to help, but the cabling guy was perfectly content to continue his trapeze act. We sort of stood around expecting him to fall, but he seemed to know what he was doing. Hanging right over the top of the rack he pulled a coil of cable from the ceiling and looped it onto the ladder rack.

We were impressed.

Anyway, these server switches weren’t going to rack themselves, so it was time for us to get to it. We pulled the rails out as far as they could go, and then, looking down at the first switch, I noticed several large, dusty bootprints all over the case.

These were some serious bootprints, too. Serious as-in three or four overlapping each other. It must have been a size 12 or 13 boot because just two overlapping bootprints stretched from one side of the case to the other.

I didn’t see any apparent dents, but holy cow was I confused. Sure, I immediately knew that this cabling guy almost certainly stepped on these loose, unmounted switches that cost my customer tens of thousands of dollars. But that would have been such a stupid thing to do that I couldn’t believe it though the evidence was right in front of my eyes.

Crouching right next to me, my customer stood up, turned to the cabling contractor, and in a loud voice asked what in the %$*& these bootprints were doing on this switch.

The cabling contractor stepped down from the ladder, and with so much nonchalance that I was actually impressed, immediately responded with “sorry I don’t know anything about that.”

Strange response. He wasn’t even curious.

I tend to read too much into things, but I don’t think I was reading too much into his complete indifference to the situation. Anyone would have at least been a little curious to see what in the world we were talking about before framing such an expert defense as “I don’t know.”

Nevertheless, neither my customer nor I were prepared to wrestle this man to the ground to cross-reference his boots to the prints on the scuffed Cisco Nexus 5548UP managed data center switch.

We cleaned it up with some tissues from a nearby cubicle and got the first one mounted in the rails and slid into the rack. The second switch went in quickly right above the first, and I got to work configuring the VPC after the 25 minute turbine-engine bootup process.

I didn’t bring it up to my customer again. I didn’t say another word to the cabling contractor. But in my heart of hearts, I knew this mammalucco trampled all over my customer’s new server switches.

3 thoughts on “One Ridiculous Switch Installation I’ll Never Forget

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  1. I always hate having to have gear in a room that either isn’t done yet or is under some sort of remodeling. But more and more the network HAS to be up before construction is done for the building automation systems. Fun story.

    Liked by 1 person

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