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Baking Pans and Wiring Closets

August 7, 2014


A young couple had recently married. The young wife decided to cook a roast. She prepared the seasonings, and her roasting pan. Just before placing the roast in the pan she sliced a section off of the front and the back and prepared to put it in the oven.

Why do you do that?

Do what?

Why do you cut the ends off the roast?

I don’t really know. It’s the way my mom always prepared a roast.

So they called the young bride’s mother.

Mom, why did you always cut the ends off the roast before baking it?

I don’t know. It’s how grandma always cooked it.

It so happened that the woman’s grandmother was still alive. She called Grammy.

Grammy, why did you always cut the ends off the roast before you put it in the pan?

I’m in the middle of a months long project at work. We are converting an entire building to be used exclusively by agents for my account. There will be over 800 agents when we are fully staffed. We have to remodel the existing space to prepare for my client. We did the first floor several months ago. We completed the second floor a couple months ago. The third floor is scheduled to “go live” on Monday.

This is the stage of the project I have to watch very carefully, a single delay can have a cascade effect that would cause me to miss my delivery date next week.

I got a call from the network manager.

Rodney, we don’t have enough network switches for the third floor.

I’ll meet you at the IDF closet on 3.


I was literally in the parking lot headed for my car when he called. As I climbed the stairs (The Stairway Crew) I tried to think how we could have missed ordering the right amount of network equipment. Ordering new equipment takes days if not weeks. If we couldn’t solve this with our existing hardware, I was going to miss my date.

Okay, Jerry, what did we miss?

The number of ports.

There aren’t enough ports?

No, there are too many. Like double what there should be.

We have 360 stations. We need one port for each one. How many ports are there?

Six hundred and forty eight.

Why would we wire 648 ports for a floor with less than 400 seats?

I don’t know. They said this closet was supposed to match the first and second floor closets.

You mean those closets also have double?

I don’t know. All I know is that I don’t have enough switches for 648 ports. Even with my buffer, I can’t handle more than about 400.

Can you just wire the ports that connect to a cubicle?

Sure, but it’s not going to look pretty like the other closets.

I’m not worried about pretty at this point. I’ll settle for functional.

And just like that, we are back on schedule. But, it got me thinking. I found the building manager and had him let me into the 1st floor IDF, or wiring closet.

Sure enough, as I looked at the rack of switches I could see that about half the ports were inactive. The active ports had reassuring blinking green lights. The inactive ports were totally dark.

And then I realized why we had twice as many ports as we needed. Jerry got his number of ports from David, the VP of infrastructure. David looked at the existing architecture and replicated it to make our new plan.

Our call floor uses VOIP phones like this one I have in my home office.


VOIP, or Voice Over IP, phones hook up to a network port. In turn, the computer plugs into the phone. We do this so that the computer and the phone extension are tied together. However, it also means we only need one port per cubicle that will handle both phone and network connections for the PCs.

However, before we got the VOIP phones, we had phones that needed their own connection to the network. So, in the old configuration we needed two ports per cubicle. We were absolutely replicating the previous configurations, but we didn’t really need to. We were wiring the closet as if every cubicle still needed a separate voice port.

This is same reason the young bride cut the ends off her roast. It’s how her mother and her grandmother did it. Grammy, however was the original “roast cutter.”

So, Grammy, why did you cut the ends off the roast before putting it into the pan?

Well honey, my roasting pan was always too small. It was the only way I could make it fit.

Rodney M Bliss is an author, columnist and IT Consultant. He lives in Pleasant Grove, UT with his lovely wife and thirteen children and one grandchild.

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