Skip Maine state header navigation
A Publication Featuring The Information Services Technology of Maine State Government
|Volume V, Issue 10||October 2002|
By John T. Scott
As I was sipping my morning coffee and looking over my calendar for the day recently, it occurred to me that my one year anniversary as the States DNS/DHCP Administrator is fast approaching. Time flies. It seems only yesterday that we were beginning to plan and deploy Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol (DHCP) at the first few test sites around the state. Now almost 10,000 IP addresses are being managed by the NetID system. Is this a good thing? There have admittedly been some times lately when some might not have thought so.
Our journey has not been entirely a smooth one. There have been multiple problems with NetID, the system we use to administer both DHCP (Dynamic Host Configuration Protocol) and DNS (Domain Name System). As many state agencies are painfully aware, this has meant a process of working with the vendor (in this case Nortel) to determine the cause of our various issues, and then implementing the patches that Nortel has provided. In some cases we have learned new ways to do things to help eliminate some issues. This has been a long and sometimes frustrating process.
Make no mistake, DHCP itself can be a wonderfully stable and reliable mechanism in an enterprise environment. We have asked a lot of it over the past year however. As we transition our WAN (Wide Area Network) from the bridged 141.114 network to the new routed 10 network, our environment is in a constant state of flux. NetID is forced to
In addition, as we slowly migrated towards a unified, Active Directory architecture, the network must still accommodate the widespread use of Novell, and a few users of Unix and Linux as well. All of this combined with the autonomous nature of each agencys own Information Technology environment comes together to form well, put simply, lots of challenges!
The good news is that I truly believe we are turning the corner. A lot has been learned during this process about how DHCP actually behaves in our environment. We have grown accustomed to discovering that it often doesnt do exactly what the text books say it should. We have used this new knowledge to full advantage. The agencies that were willing to be among the first to convert allowed us to learn by doing, and thus truly understand the ramifications of each, and every architectural decision made on the network.
We have caught up on the backlog of conversion requests, and closed 53 tickets in one week! The moratorium on conversions is lifted, and both DHCP and routing conversions are taking place regularly. The process of accomplishing the actual conversions themselves has quite frankly become (more often than not) a non-event from a support perspective. We are continuing to work with Nortel on the remaining issues affecting the performance of NetID, and I have every confidence that all of the outstanding issues will be resolved to our satisfaction.
So, what then? What am I going to do with my time once all of the issues with NetID are worked out? Well, we are only about 30% converted to routing statewide, and NetID is managing DHCP for roughly half of the users on the WAN. This means there is still a lot of work left to do.
I will be spending my time continuing to work with those state agencies that still need to convert to DHCP and then later to routing. All of us here at BIS look forward to the day when the network is completely routed, everyone is using DHCP, and all the dust has settled. Then it will be on to the next challenge!
Questions? Contact the author by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org.