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It's working!

After four years of planning and waiting, it's actually working.

We started deploying equipment today in our $2.2M project to replace the eighty-odd ATM switches in the schools/libraries with new Gigabit switches. We installed new switches at Bulkeley High School, running in parallel with the ATM equipment, to provide an interface between the new and old networks and provide an 'anchor point' for other schools. We went on to Fox Elementary — which connects to the outside world via Bulkeley — and did our first ATM-to-Gigabit conversion.

We got there around 3:30 PM, with the cutover set to start at 4:00. My boss, the CIO, showed up just before four (my guys felt no pressure there!) and we were ready to pull the plug on the old gear right on time. From arrival to departure the changeover took just under two and a half hours. There were no real surprises. I don't want to jinx the next three months worth of work, so I'll borrow a little NASA-speak and say that "all systems are nominal".

I am utterly and completely geeked. This project really has been four years in the making (almost five). And now it's finally coming together.

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The new — a Nortel Passport 8603 (3-slot chassis) switch, sitting in the M. D. Fox library waiting to be installed.
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The old — a Nortel 5005BH ATM switch peeking out from behind masses of cables. M. D. Fox's network room (which is off of the library) is about the smallest, most densely packed, equipment room we have.
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The 5005BH out of the rack, sitting on the floor of the library. We pulled the two power supplies out to make the switch lighter and to give us something to hold on to. Access into the network room is so narrow that the switch had to come out sideways (it's wider than it is deep, by about four inches).
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The 8603 installed and running. It's about half the height of a 5005BH, but heavier (sixty odd pounds vs. forty)
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Thankfully there was a spare wire manager floating around and we were able to tidy up the cables. It would have seemed a shame to put $35,000 worth of new equipment into the school and leave it a rat's nest. Of course, there's still the rest of the room to contend with.

As we were moving into the wrap-up phase, my boss was on the phone to the office. Apparently when we pulled the plug at M. D. Fox, there was a momentary glitch that rippled across the core of the network. It's nothing that should have happened — we were working way out on one edge, and not doing anything with any of the core systems. All I can think of is that when Pat and I killed the power to Fox's 5005BH the other eighty-odd ATM switches gasped there has been a great disturbance in the force; it is as if one of our brothers has been slain; I fear something terrible has happened!

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