netcurmudgeon (netcurmudgeon) wrote,

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Filling the dustbin of (technological) history

In a 'I have a headache and I can't bear staring at a screen any longer' exercise I went through the contents of our stock room this afternoon. We have a problem in the stock room that's the good kind of problem to have -- due to old gear being replaced through school construction/renovation projects and aggressive warrantying of bad gear, our shelves are packed with used or refurbed switches. As a result, the ever advancing technological bottom line moved up a couple notches in Hartford today. Two types of gear have joined the ranks of discarded hardware waiting for the recycling man; piled on pallets in a back hallway BayStack 303s and ANHs now sit next to old PCs and dead UPS batteries.

An ANH is an "Access Node Hub" -- a little branch-office router that Nortel (nee Bay Networks, nee Wellfleet) used to make. It has two high-speed serial ports (v.35) for connecting up to leased-line modems and a built-in hub with a dozen 10Base-T ports. (You could get them in Token-Ring too!) The City had them out at a trio of remote sites. Ugh. Even when they were a 'young' technology in 1994 they were the slowest things on Earth. They pushed packets just fine, but they took (take!) a year-and-a-day to boot. And, they have so little memory that you can't run modern code on them. Good riddance! I was a pleasure to X them from the asset roll.

The 303's on the other hand, were a good deal in their day. It's a 25-port (well, technically 26-port with that expansion slot) Ethernet switch -- 24 ports of switched 10Base-T and one 100Base-TX port for use as an uplink to a core concentrator switch. We had 400+ of these plastic wonders in the elementary schools in 1998-99. During the summer of 2000 we replaced the lot of them with BayStack 350s -- a more expandable 24-port 10/100 Ethernet switch. We traded them in to Ameritech for money off the 350s ... and then bought fifty of them back in early 2001 for eighty bucks a piece to use in City Hall (this is what I mean when I tell you that the City network has been running on hand-me-downs from the Board for the past seven years).

Well, we're finally retiring the 303s out of City Hall. Ten megs to the desktop still isn't bad, but if we tried to run multicast video through one of these switches, we'd suck the sides of the box in. So, with a nod to their service, economy, and utility, the plastic 303s got the big green X through their asset tags too and went onto the pile.

Yes, yearling, I have forgotten how to configure more types of equipment than you yet know exists.

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