Network and Communications Projects

Company Phone System Upgrade

In February 2010, I delivered on time the upgrade to our PABX system.  We implemented a new pair of NEC SV8500 units – a pure VOIP solution.  We had a fast deadline in order to move offices before the start of March, and our previous TDM system would have been very difficult to transition across and could not be staged.  Our telephony is important particularly for the client service centres that we operate internally.  Total project time was approximately four months, and valued at $200,000.

We implemented a dual unit system, with the second unit in our disaster recovery facility.  We also converged four site offices on three disparate systems back into our primary unit, within two weeks of our main office migration.

I was responsible for:

  • Delivery schedule
  • Procurement of the PABX, physical  handsets  and softphones
  • Communications to staff and vendors
  • Technical staff management for migration
  • Consolidation of office data
  • Migration of call centre systems

In addition to the praise received from my managers, our vendor claimed it to be “…the smoothest migration we have ever been involved in.”  NEC have also expressed interest in conducting a whitepaper on our implementation.

Enterprise Monitoring Project

The company I work for is a large non-bank lender, and managing our systems is paramount to providing high service levels to customers and staff.  It is also important for maintaining servicer ratings for our securitisation strategies.  Unfortunately our Systems team was running in reactive mode, and often alerted to problems by the Helpdesk team before we noticed.

Shortly after I started with the Systems team, I was asked to implement Nagios – an open source enterprise monitoring solution.  I achieved quick wins with a base implementation within a few weeks, and I slowly expanded our capabilities over time.  A secondary unit was deployed to our disaster recovery centre for dual monitoring, with configuration synched with our primary unit.  We now monitor 200 hosts and 900 services.

To complement our internal monitoring, I established an external Nagios system to check public facing services.  We monitor websites, mail services and internet link diversity.  This ensures services such as our internet banking application is operation and responding as expected.  On a number of occasions, this system has alerted the Systems team to problems before they were noticed by staff or clients.

Nagios dashboard

Nagios dashboards, like the one shown above, are wall mounted within the operational IT teams for instant visibility of issues.

Coal Terminal Network Review

The engineering company I worked for had a number of contracts for expansion of one of the most prominent coal shipping terminals in Australia.  One aspect of that project was the review of the terminal’s fibre optic network, and I was brought on to carry out that work and create a preliminary design.

I extensively surveyed the site for every piece of technology infrastructure and recommended the following:

  • Installation of a minimum of additional fibre required for redundant paths, and implementation of RSTP (rapid spanning tree protocol).
  • Use of industrial wireless equipment where redundant fibre was not practical (ie stacker/reclaimer machines).
  • Replacement of office grade switches with industrial ethernet equipment, particularly due to problems with coal dust and vibrations.
  • Combine two networks into one with appropriate VLANs and QOS (control network and business network).
  • Separation of ‘disaster recovery’ equipment from the primary data centre.

Four months later after submitting my review, I had been advised that my recommendations and design would be implemented, with only a few minor adjustments.