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Our company CIO should have seen it coming – but he didn’t.

Our company of 280 employees was in the process of expansion, and as part of that effort, we were building a 50,000 square foot facility to meet our growing demand.

Surprisingly, it all went well in the beginning. The company leadership settled on a general contractor that had a long-standing reputation in the community, and he didn’t disappoint.

What did disappoint, however, was the sub-contractor that was hired to do the rough-in cabling and networking for the new facility’s computer systems.

In the end, the networking sub-contractor wasn’t a bad guy; he was just terrible at his job.

Here are a few of the problems that we ran into:

  1. He had no plan. – As the facility was being built and the time came for the rough-in cabling to be run, the general contractor called him in, gave him the typical walk through, and then asked if he had any questions about the blueprints that had been sent With a shrug and a laugh, the enterprise networking “specialist” said, “Nope, no questions, just show me where the workstations are going to be, and I’ll run the cables to where you need them to go.”

That should have been our first cue to drop the networking “specialist” like a hot potato. It was obvious to us later that he likely never looked at the plans but was trying the “fake it ‘till you make it” method of networking.

  1. He had no staff. – Although there was a company name on his truck and his website talked a lot about their “outstanding staff of IT support and management professionals,” we never saw a single member of his team. When the post-mortem was done on this disastrous relationship, we realized that some team members who specialized in areas that the sub-contractor was weak in would have helped him immensely – but he was flying solo.
  2. He had no calendar. – Well, the only thing we could surmise is that he had no calendar, because he ran three weeks late and pushed all the other trades backward in the schedule. We couldn’t bring in the drywallers, the painters, and the finish carpenters because we were waiting – and waiting – for him to finish running the cables. Deadlines didn’t matter to this guy.
  3. He had no clue. – This is the nicest way to say it. He didn’t know his job. When questioned about network architecture best practices and network security his answers were flimsy and amateurish. – “Fake it ‘till you make it” seemed to be this guy’s company motto.

So, running three weeks late and full of excuses we had to let this enterprise networking “specialist” go. (Well, that’s the nice way of saying we fired him and chewed out the general contractor for bringing that “networking specialist” onsite, to begin with.)

It was a difficult experience all around.

But one ray of light did appear from the frustration of that situation.

We began to search for a genuine team of enterprise network administration professionals in Los Angeles, and we discovered the LA Networks team.

The difference in the new relationship was night and day from our seriously negative relationship experience with our former hire.

The LA Networks staff checked all the boxes that we should have made sure we checked off with the last guy.

  • They had professionals that understood how to follow blueprints.
  • They had an entire enterprise networking team with a variety of skillsets.
  • They advised us as to network architecture best practices and how to get the most out of our network security
  • They were certified by CiscoCisco Certified Network Associate.
  • They had a gold-standard reputation within the community.

Sure, we approached the new relationship with LA Networks with more than a fair share of caution. We asked lots of questions and got lots of informed, helpful answers. Here are a few:

Question: What is network security?

Answer: Network security is a term used to describe a holistic strategy leveraging hardware, software, training, monitoring, and protocols to keep your data safe and to protect the integrity of your network. Solid network security strategies identify and stop threats from coming into the system, and if they do make entrance, they are kept from spreading throughout the network.

Question: Is there a difference between enterprise networking and a corporate network?

Answer: Not really, an enterprise network and a corporate network are two terms that mean basically the same thing. It just depends if you view the company in question as a corporation or an enterprise. They are often interchangeable.

Question: What are enterprise network applications?

Answer: Enterprise network applications are software solutions based in your company’s server (whether on-site or in a data center in the cloud) that can be utilized by computers, laptops, tablets, and smartphones linked to the network.

Question: Why is Cisco certification important?

Answer: By far, Cisco is the leader in enterprise networking solutions. Cisco certifications show that the individual technician knows how to do the job, and a company that prides itself on having Cisco certified network techs proves that they are concerned with hiring people who know what they are doing. More than 60% of the time, an enterprise network specialist will be working on a Cisco product within your network, so a thorough knowledge of Cisco is vital.

In the end, the LA Networks team came into a mess, straightened it out, and got us back on track for our facility’s grand opening.

Despite the three-week setback, the grand opening only had to be pushed back by one week at the end of the project — thanks to the intervention by LA Networks.

To save you some grief in your next search for an enterprise networking professional, here are a few essential questions to ask.

  1. Can you provide some references for recent networking projects you have undertaken and ongoing networking management clients?
  2. Can you provide proof that you and your staff are fully insured?
  3. What certifications do you and your staff carry?
  4. Who are your strategic partners?
  5. What is your approach to network security?
  6. What varied skillsets do your team members have that set your proposal above other competing offers?

By asking some questions ahead of time, you can save your Los Angeles company some of the grief that our company went through in our quest to get our enterprise networking set up and running for the new facility.

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