According to a Washington Post article, more than 1 in 6 Americans will be 65 and older in 2020 and continues to grow older. Why am I writing about this on my blog about network documentation? Many of the long-serving employees are or will be retired soon and this has been really impacting Data Center and Network Operations hard! All the hands-on knowledge acquired over many years and the knowledge these network engineers have about the network infrastructure, well quite frankly, are being lost.
How can you, as an employer, retain all their valuable knowledge before your soon-to-be-retired workforce complain about the cake at the going-away party and walk out the door for good? Looking for good network planners and technicians can be a very time-consuming task, and some organizations are outsourcing because of this (which comes with a whole other slew of problems). It is hard to find good techs in the marketplace today and the time and costs it takes to train new staff… well, you know how long that takes. We are all too familiar with this issue: what is the best way to help retain their knowledge and to help reduce the impact of not knowing where things are, how are they connected, and help reduce employee attrition and loss of knowledge?
By having a good network documentation system like netTerrain!
What’s netTerrain? netTerrain, our flagship software suite, encompasses network documentation, from managing your network equipment and how they are all connected, managing data center space from equipment inside racks, the racks, power, and cabling from inside and outside the buildings. Many customers that buy netTerrain are facing this issue: let’s say their main network guy, “Bob”, who knows everything about their fiber plant and network layout, is getting ready to retire. You already hear the stories when Bob goes on vacation – they can’t get anything done until he comes back, or they try and do an ad-hoc job to change the network.
I know of several organizations that are in the process of interviewing and hiring new network operators/data center capacity planners/engineers. They purchased netTerrain at least one or two years before Bob retires, to give them a very good chance that all his knowledge will be written down in netTerrain. If this seems a daunting challenge, well, it can be. That being said: importing existing spreadsheets and KML diagrams will help speed up the process of imputing data, and if your organization has a CMDB like SNOW or Remedy, netTerrain has a connector to these apps as well as other apps that you can import data into netTerrain.
With all of the data and knowledge not in one person’s head and all of the data and know-how well documented in a centralized repository, now any team member can view what and how network devices are connected, will reduce the impact of loss of your key network person, remove your single source of knowledge about the network and will speed up your onboarding process when your new network planner, network operator, starts working, so they can quickly review, understand, and learn how your network and data center is set up.