Wednesday, January 2, 2013

The right tool for the job - netflow

It's been a few weeks since I last posted. With the holidays, moving our corporate headquarters (and 500 people) it's been busy. Plus I didn't have anything insightful to add and I don't want to be one of those folks that feels the need to blog just to blog.

Then as Ray Barone, on "Everybody Loves Raymond" said, "sometimes material presents itself" This past week material presented itself...

In Maine having a "plow truck" is pretty much a requirement. For those not from the area a plow truck is usually an old truck, mostly rusted out that isn't safe to drive on the road with a plow on the front, brakes are optional My plow truck's power steering stopped working along with the heater so I spent a few days working on it.

I hate working on vehicles because, well, I have no idea what I'm doing.... But with the help of the internet I searched around and found out my power steering was leaking at a fitting going to the power steering gear box. It looked like an easy fix to change it so I disconnected the hose and broke the fitting in the process.

Unfortunately I couldn;t get the now broken fitting out. It was too rusted and the wrenches and sockets I had just kept trying to strip the head off and ruin the fitting. I spent all of day 1 trying to heat the fitting, and spraying it with "Liquid Wrench" to try and get it out. Finally when it got too dark and cold to work I went back online and searched for "rusted fitting removal"

Sure enough there were a lot of people with the same problem and it turns out something called an impact wrench seems to be the tool of choice. It turns out I have an impact wrench and after 30 minutes of dragging out the hoses, compressors and fittings I used that to remove the fitting in about 45 seconds. It took about 2 more minutes to put the new fitting in, connect the hose and that problem was fixed.

Having the right tool, and knowing it is the right tool is key. Clearly I had the right tool but didn't know it because I had never used it. I could tell because it was still in the plastic.

Many IT administrators have plenty of tools that they have forgotten about. One of the most powerful ones is netflow. Netflow lets you see every conversation on the network, but is very rarely used. It takes a high end switch to be able to do "full netflow" without impacting performance. I think Enterasys switches are one of the few, if not the only ones, that can do this.If you have it though it becomes one of the tools you use very frequently.

If you aren't familiar with it, check out some of the posts and uses for it here.

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