Working for a technology company is funny when you aren't the techiest. As marketing director for Pine Cove Consulting, I dive into the latest and greatest technology and seek to understand the bells, whistles, and the ins and outs. However, I came across many terms I wasn't familiar with, so I started using Pine Cove's Technical Terms for the Not So Techy Ebook. Please read on if you're already familiar with terms like APs and severs. But if you would like a little background on techy words, download the free ebook here.
Once I understood the terminology, like firewall, I realized it's much different from knowing how to install one... correctly. So that's just what I did.
Chad Herman runs Dillon Elementary and Middle School's technology department and has worked with Pine Cove for ten years. Pine Cove manages the schools' IT services to aid Chad since he is a team of one.
Recently, Chad needed to update his Firewall and UPS hardware, so I installed such hardware along with Jordan Crippen, a systems engineer at Pine Cove. My first question was, if the hardware is still running correctly, why does it need to be replaced? IT hardware, like Firewalls, will work until they don't. Replacing your IT hardware before the warranty expires ensures your technology will stay up and running. Because after the warranty... when your product is getting old, performance will decrease dramatically, and you face having the hardware quit entirely on you, causing many problems like data loss.
When I arrived at the school, I was ready to replace an almost expired Firewall and UPS. I realized I had no idea how big a firewall is. I always associated a firewall with an application on my computer that tells me if I downloaded a phishy document. However, firewalls for organizations are far more complex. Firewall hardware has many advantages over software firewalls. Jordan Crippen, who has many technical certificates in cybersecurity, told me that hardware firewalls offer better security since they are less vulnerable to attacks on your device. They prevent threats from reaching internal drives on your devices and offer contact protection. The hardware is always running even if your device is turned off, but what if the power goes out?
That's where the installation of the UPS came into play. When I first heard the term "UPS," I wondered, what does a shipping provider have to do with technology? Now, laughing at myself, I realize UPSs are integral to IT infrastructure in any organization. A UPS is a backup power source that keeps your IT hardware, like firewalls, running in case of a power outage.
When a power outage happens, and components, like servers, turn off without going through a proper shutdown, the instantaneous power decrease could ruin them. Why? Like computers, servers, and other hardware, constantly write data - activity logs, communications, checks, and balances. When power instantly shuts off, all the data getting written is corrupted since the device is halted mid-execution. Then, boom, the power comes back on; the power is like a pinched hose suddenly set loose, and your devices are hit with a massive surge of voltage. If you've ever been hit with water from an unpinched hose, you know it's not good. In this case, the entire system can get fried when the hardware gets shot with a considerable power surge. So what I learned is that a UPS keeps the power running, and there is no lag time if your primary power source goes out, and that is a very, very good thing that could save you thousands of dollars on equipment replacement and repair.
While I just helped Jordan with a UPS and Firewall, and by help, I mean used the label maker to mark all the equipment and screw in brackets. IT installation is very complex; if you unplug a device at the wrong time, you could fry a $10,000 piece of hardware just like that. Even just taking a firewall out of a box is daunting. So, I think I'll stick with marketing for now and give all tech staff I know a pat on the back.
If any of the terms in this blog were unfamiliar, check out Pine Cove's free ebook, Technical Terms for the Not So Techy. It helped me learn about the IT industry, so I'm sure it will work for you as well, whether you're a superintendent, business manager, or want to freshen up for trivia night.