VOIP Upgrading…Doesn’t suck as I bad as I thought…
I used to not like the TV show; The Office. I could appear more cultured and say something like, “Oh the US version was not as good as the British version…” but who I’m I kidding! I grow up in a trailer park in the beautiful hills of Tennessee. So truthfully, I thought they both blew. That is…until I started working for a Micheal Scott-like manager…then I got it big time! I ordered the blue ray boxed set to serve as an in-service training video. (I don’t work for that goober anymore…maybe the Futhark rune I purchased online actually worked! Plus it wasn’t at Cisco…every Manager here is super mega awesome and works for; “The Greater Good…The Greater Good”…”
Major upgrades of anything just flat out friggen major league suck. I’m not talking patches or minor mod maintenance updates…while those can be a pain, they are critical to keeping our network stable and secure. No I’m talking about those UPGRADES that add more features and change functionality. Those suck and will always suck. We are adding a larger more complex code base on older hardware. There’s gonna be problems, end of story.
I learned this in my dumb years (insert your joke here) by putting a 427 Chevy motor in a Camaro built for a 350 was not a good idea. While it, “worked” it put too much stress on the supporting parts and stuff like shocks, coil spring, tie rods, drive shift, cooling system…etc. Then one day driving home late at night the tie rods said; “Dude…I just can’t take any more…” I would have heard that but with .38 Special jamming thru my Craig 8-track with Audiovox Tri-axial speakers then filtering thru plush and lush mullet of glory, I just felt the car spin out of control when a mail box, parked F150 with no tail gate, a gun rack and hood antlers then finally a fence introduced themselves to my insurance agent, that looked nothing like Flo.
In the end, an upgrade is really only as good as the support for behind it. I’m not gonna say; “Wow! I agree! Cisco Voice Team, you convinced me! Everyone upgrade to 9.1!!” That would be a fake and phony as an infomercial for spray on hair for baldness. Here’s the thing, the fact that the Cisco Voice folks went back and took a serious look at their internal processes then owned up to the fact that they were cumbersome, complex and just flat out prohibitive on customers takes a lot of moxie in my opinion.
For example, actually funding Level III engineers to be on standby and bypassing normal TAC processes exclusively for 9.1 upgrades: Awesome! On the licensing team they switched from an automated process to a manual process. Now that sounds backwards right? Here’s the thing though, licensing is so important and can be a real pain in the butt, they want to ensure folks get the right license and don’t over buy or under buy, heck we all got kids in college. Very cool!!! The Voice team really planned for this so much, that other than going on site and doing the upgrade for you physically, I honestly do not know what more they could do to help make this as seamless as possible. This is like Cray Research level support on a XC30. White glove daddy-o!
Now to be honest I was not too pleased with the video story. Adding more hardware is not a good thing to solve a problem to me, so I’m gonna dig my heels in a little bit. Mo’ hardware…Mo’ problems… After thinking about it, I like it and here’s why. It plays into my design philosophy of NOT being tied to a vendor. I know I work for Cisco and honestly we make some good stuff for “The Greater Good” (anyone else pumped to see Pegg-Frost team up again for World’s End?). I’m an Engineer first and foremost. I recommend the best solutions per customer need. If we added some “video tunneling” feature thingy to an ASA then we would lock customers into a firewall position (or having to upgrade a firewall ALSO to take advantage of the 9.1 upgrade…) AND add more workload on an already busy bottleneck in the network. Having two Expressway products gives the Network Engineer more design options, the customer more flexibility and balances the load out to be more localized to specialized hardware. It also avoids involving the security team to manage video sessions, stats and troubleshooting. Hey security teams are great but speaking as a Sec-Team member, we can be like dealing with a group of Lawyers over a bill. Avoid if possible.
My hat’s off to the Voice folks. They really should be proud of their planning and processes they have accomplished. They really did a fantastic job getting ready to get the world to upgrade their CUCM’s to 9.1. Trust me; I do not endorse products lightly. I know that one day; I could be the engineer out supporting that product. Based on everything I tested, witnessed and the commitments from this team, I would absolutely recommend that CUCM folks take advantage of these resources and strongly consider an upgrade if it fits in your planning and budget.
Although, Laura’s goal about making me a “Voice Dude”…yeah that didn’t happen. One thing that did happen was I really developed a huge amount of respect for this team. Check out the TechWiseTV episode 132; “Unified Communications; I’m I Missing Something?” To see some good stuff on CUCM 9.1. Gotta run folks, Robb is calling my event in Flonggerton….
Jimmy Ray Purser
Trivia File Transfer Protocol
Jen Taylor, who has voiced Princess Peach and Toad in several Mario games is also Halo’s female lead, Cortana.