Introducing Alan Cooper, Managed Services supervisor @ Lumison
The Loop: Hi Alan, great to get the chance to introduce you to our readers!
AC: Thanks for having me!
We thought it might be worth asking a little about what you and your team do for your customers with the range of managed routers you look after?
AC: Well, it’s interesting as quite a few people wonder what the big deal is – get a router from Cisco or Juniper out of the box, tap away at a keyboard a few lines of config, plug into customer network and we’re done!
So not quite…?
AC: Firstly, customers are not buying a router – they’re buying a routing service. So, we help work through what they want the router to do, and configure it to suit. Then, of course, we make sure the rules for the firewall features are set up to protect them and their users, whilst still allowing traffic through that they need to run their business.
You mention the firewall, so is security just a case of “protect and serve”? AC: If the firewall is configured correctly, that’s part of the battle. We all know that over time bugs are found in software and systems that need to be patched – for a router or firewall, things are no different. We keep an eye out for security advisories and firmware bug reports to make sure our customers are running the right software on the routers we manage for them.
Does this happen often? AC: Well, we feed in daily reports to our work, but also if we see operational issues from our colleagues in support or NOC, we then liaise with the supplier to see if they are known bugs and roll out firmware to suit. For example, we knew recently of one issue for some older routers and in the last week have rolled out firmware updates to over 100 routers to protect all our customers in one go!
That sounds like a lot of work? AC: Of course, most of the work is in preparation. We test the router software in a lab environment, making sure we are confident it’s safe to rollout – so we use management systems like CiscoWorks to deploy across all our customers automatically. And we can do this in the early hours of the morning when it least affects our customers. If any have failed and auto-rollback hasn’t happened then our 24×7 support colleagues are on the case, ensuring we can get it sorted before the customer is back at his/her desk the next morning.
Thanks for spending a little time with us and our readers! AC: No probs, and thanks customers for choosing me and the rest of the team at Lumison!