SCRUMS the word

Network Redesign Weeknotes Week ending 06/03

The Six Nations is arguably one of the most important sporting events in the world of rugby to get your SCRUM right. What makes a good SCRUM? To be honest, there is no one way of making a good SCRUM. Some nations put their biggest players on the frontline to block the relentless drive from the opposition. Others like to have their strongest players at the back to push forward and leverage that momentum. All this effort and strategy just to get a ball over the line. One thing that’s for sure, in rugby a ball never gets over the line without an extra push. 

SCRUMS the word

A lot of the Hackney ICT world is constantly hearing how the teams are becoming more Agile, but what does that mean for a network engineer? And how can that translate into something tangible. One way or another the daily standup or SCRUM as its called in the world of Agile has now become a recognised calendar feature in every engineer’s day and its one-way teams can understand the realtime progress of a project while it is in mid SPRINT. 

The daily SCRUM has become one Agile working practice which has helped our ‘Network redesign‘ team identify and quickly adapt to resolve issues. As I mentioned every SCRUM stand up has its own flavour and there is no right or wrong approach, but just like any of the rugby teams of the Six Nations the key is to remain Agile, adapt and you will get your goal over the line!

What we Delivered


Core switches purchasing for our new database center

We have finally reached the stage in our understanding of the requirements and detailed analysis, that we have now proceeded to order a number of switches for the new database design. Although the network redesign and the database relocation are two different projects, they are both dependent on each other; as the research and analysis conducted by our engineers regarding which of the best performing switches would be best suited for our new requirements and architecture, has been the basis for the final decision towards the purchasing of the core switches for the data center. This being the Aruba Wireless Network – Aruba 6300M.

Site cable upgrade installation 

This is still in flight – out of the 9 sites which were targeted to complete the cable upgrade, we have managed to successfully complete over half of the sites with just under a quarter still outstanding. We are aiming to have these completed before the end of April and we seem on course to achieve this.

Procurement of new networking equipment Business Case 

We have been working tirelessly in the background to pull together a comprehensive study of what we feel is the best recommendation from our understanding of the current network capability and future aspirations. This fully comprehensive report will provide a detailed analysis of the financial forecast, taking on board the cost implications of purchasing our recommended solution, implementation compatibility, and maintenance and training. It will also provide further analysis on the other vendor solutions which were considered and a justification as to why these were concluded to not be the right fit for our overall requirements.

Challenges

Firewall

We are currently experiencing some issues with the setting up of the firewall testing staging environment. We were unable to set up an environment that will enable us to test the vendor solutions against our requirements. This is something we are currently trying to resolve

Resource

Around this time as we approach the close of the financial year, we have team members who have taken leave so this has impacted our productivity. The aim is to pick this up on the return of some of the team’s key members. 

Next Steps

  • Present the business case to our senior team stakeholders
  • Continue the works on the site cable installations to meet our end of April deadline
  • Resolve the Firewall issues regarding the staging environment

What’s in the Pipeline?

Week notes week ending  25/02/2020

Being a new father comes with its fair share of challenges. My son is always providing me with a new way of looking at things, as I am sure I am doing for him. One of the challenges I am facing is teaching him the importance of sharing. He almost innately likes to keep all the good stuff to himself, and why not!

I guess my challenge here is teaching him about some of the immediate benefits sharing can provide, such as making new friends which will build valuable relationships, playing or working in collaboration. All of the values Pipeline is built on. Afterall sharing is caring, isn’t it?

Background & Recap

‘Pipeline’ is a government platform, which can be used by anyone working in ICT or digital from central to local government. It has been created to encourage the sharing of ideas and recommendations for the best ways of working for all things digital from a public servant perspective. This project’s main goal is to evolve Pipeline into a valuable portfolio-reporting tool, which will serve these dual aims. The main focus of this Sprint is to complete the re-skimming of the front-end interface with a goal which is to make it more user-friendly through the re-design of if the interface and also some of the features.

Objective

Since the start of the year, we have been silently picking away at the remaining backlog requirements for the closing sprint of this project. In particular, we have taken stock of some of the more recent feedback team members have given on some of the less friendly features. From a UX perspective pipeline is falling short currently in ease of use and needs some urgent TLC. The general feedback is that it is clunky with really slow load time and in some pages, a complete lack of functionality.  

During the period from the start of the year, we have really taken a moment to listen to the feedback our delivery team here at Hackney has provided.  The new proposed backlog changes start from a user-centric perspective. The goal is to address as much as possible our user needs and requirements.

Challenges 

We have quite a limited budget and a small window of time to roll these closing changes out. We understand that we may not be able to commit to all of the desired changes with these constraints underpinning our progress, but we have really tried to work smarter and filtered our backlog to the features which we feel will provide the best UX MVP.

Next Steps

  • Kick off the closing Sprint
  • Successfully deploy changes into a go-live environment


Security by design

Weeknotes Week ending 25/02/2020

Background

The journey for a developer on the road to excellent data security begins with an excellent approach. DXW Cyber now ‘Tradecraft’, is the security specialist helping our developer team tease out a bespoke approach for ensuring just that. Our long-term vision is to eventually roll out an approach so unique to our teams it will be easily adopted throughout our departments.

Security by design

Objectives

Following on from our workshop sessions in which our colleagues from ‘Universal Housing’ and the ‘Developer team’ have volunteered candidates to pick up and lead on specific ‘Security by Design’ project tasks in order to action their first Sprint.

Our Sprint objectives are to have all the tasks allocated, (which for the most part lend themselves to leads having to research the current ways of working so as to define opportunities for improvement) by so doing also seeing some recommendations where we might introduce tooling as a solution.

These findings and recommendations have now been presented to a team of security experts in Tradecraft. We have broken out the time by having one to one sessions with each task owner to consult and further steer the direction research and findings could potentially progress in.

Challenges

I believe this has very much been a discovery piece for the teams involved. To date, as we grow in our understanding, all parties involved are agreed that the window of time to complete this project (end of March) may indeed be quite ambitious. We envision a more realistic deadline would be the middle of the second quarter. 

I was quite encouraged to see that the Tradecraft team agree with this outcome. For Tradecraft, it appears to be more important to ensure we are producing quality work which indeed makes a positive change and is of true value. Therefore they agree an extension may be necessary.

Next Steps

–   Present the research finding and recommendations from the Tradecraft sessions to the rest of the relevant teams

–   Run tests on the recommended tools

–   Based on the test results begin thinking about a potential roadmap for             implementation

Networks Matter

Network redesign Week notes week ending 31/01

Background

The bad thing about Networking, its become such a common throwaway term for human interaction that we often take it for granted. We actually have reached a point in the handling of our networks that we now freely allow people to access our networks on social media platforms without truly appreciating the power that is held in human connections.

There is a great value that is built through simply connecting with people. Whether, it’s going to a show that your friend recommended, a restaurant or purchasing that much-needed item, usually we look for validation from some source, 9/10 times that source comes from our network. I really didn’t want to come across too deep but what I’m trying to say is that Networks in any shape or form mean something.

“Network Redesign” is one project which I am slowly starting to appreciate for all its intricacies and all the different dependencies, which when you peel away every layer you can only show a resounding appreciation for the underpinning value that brings all these different services to our colleagues and public service, this being the network holding all these things together.

If you are unclear as to the purpose of the ‘Network Redesign’ project and the end destination of our ‘Roadmap’, hopefully, this will help jog your memory.

The ‘Network Redesign’ project’s end goal is to enhance the Council network infrastructure through the architectural redesign of the current council infrastructure network and the upgrading of associated hardware. The new infrastructure design will have a ‘Web First’ strategy at its core and enable users (Council employees and members of the public), to access council services from any of our offices without being bound to a local server.

Objectives for the current Sprint

  • Begin workshop testing for potential Firewall solutions at the datacentre and access layer
  • Confirm the scheduled rollout of the Wi-Fi upgraded installations at the recommended council sites
  • Complete the business case for the purchasing of switches for the user network (Both the access layer and the distribution layer) To find more about the three-tier architectural model you find further details here
  • Agree on the next steps for any of the UPS solution

Begin workshop testing for potential Firewall solutions for the data center and access layer

The team has begun to explore the remote firewall solution for both the access layer and datacenter level. This has actually come about quite organically in the natural progression from the Firewall architectural designs, which we had finished in previous Sprints.

We are now at a point where the team has begun approaching recommended vendors to see what is on the market to meet our requirements. These solutions are currently being tested for suitability within the context of a user workshop environment and scored against a user requirements criteria (Weighting Sheet) based on our end requirements, which the team will intend to use for the final roundtable assessment which we will base our final decision on.

Confirm the scheduled rollout of the Wi-Fi upgraded installations at the recommended council sites.

We are now in communications with all the relevant vendors as well as having agreed on all the specific site locations. The next steps will be to start road mapping the roll-out of these installations so we can project the completion of all scheduled works.

Complete the business case for the purchasing of data center user network switch

A key dependency on the completion of the data center migration is the purchasing of the user network switch. For this to happen the business case must be completed and supplied in time for the scheduled work to begin. This work is now underway

Agree on the next steps for the UPS solution

A UPS (uninterruptible power supply) solution has yet to be included in our current thinking for Network planning. The team has used this sprint to kick start that process with the aim to agree on the way forward as a team by the end of the upcoming Sprint.

What we have found challenging

The resource has proved challenging once again. We are a small team, however, the knowledge the members have on the current network and the infrastructure is quite specialist and often called on in emergency call outs. As these occasions do tend to be quite unpredictable the need for team members to provide guidance and hands-on solutions can be quite necessary. As a result, this has had a natural impact on our productivity.

Next steps

–       To complete a business case for the network switchs

–       Further the discovery phase for the Firewall solution

–       Collect all the missing components required in order to confirm the roadmap completion date for the installation of the Wi-Fi upgrades for our targeted locations

Getting Back In The Groove

Week notes Network Redesign 10/01/2020

Background & Recap

Let me start by welcoming everyone back after the Christmas break. I hope you were all able to get some rest and quality family time. It’s always a bit challenging getting back into the groove of things after some time off. However, there’s no time like the present so let’s get things underway.

For my new readers, the aim of the ‘Network Redesign’ is to enhance and future proof of the council network infrastructure. This will happen through the architectural redesign of the current council network and upgrading of associated hardware, (network switches & cables).

The new infrastructure design will have a ‘Web First’ strategy at its core and enable users (Council employees and members of the public to access council online services, from any of our offices without being bound to a local server but connecting directly to the cloud.

Last Sprint Goal

  • Complete cost estimates for potential firewall solution for the first quarter of 2020 (This has partially been achieved however due to sick leave elements of this task have rolled over into the upcoming Sprint)

Objectives for 2020 first quarter

Since the beginning of this project, I have had to up-skill my understanding of the different components which go into Wi-Fi installation and infrastructure redesign. From broadband cable installation, ‘Wayleave’ licensing to hardware purchasing of switches, to understanding the difference between these types of switches and their functions between a distribution and core levels. (See more on Core & Access Layer switches with this useful one-pager here)

The objective of our first quarter in 2020 will be to get the team and stakeholders for our project in a world where their understanding of our teams recommended solutions provide enough insight that they feel comfortable enough in their understanding to be able to order the relevant hardware solution fit for purpose and to meet a majority of our briefed requirements.

Sprint Goals

  • This current Sprint will see the team take a deeper dive into the requirements for purchasing a firewall for the data center and the distribution level.
  • Set up a Firewall test lab and review the results before submitting recommendations
  • Now that we have the ‘Wayleaves’ license approvals we are now doing the actual installation of the fiber optic cables for our identified sites.

Pipeline Project Week Notes

Background & Recap

‘Pipeline’ is a government platform, which can be used by anyone working in digital from central or local government. Created to encourage sharing of ideas and best ways to do all things digital from a public servant perspective.

This project main goal is to make Pipeline into a valuable portfolio-reporting tool, which will serve these dual aims. The main focus of this Sprint is to complete the re-skimming of the front-end interface with a goal to make it more users friendly.

Sprint Goal

Last year we had reached a stage in development where we now wanted to deploy the work carried out into a live environment following on from the testing and some bug fixes.

Challenges

Since the completion of the work, we have been experiencing some issues with deployment due to some internal bugs within Pipeline.

Next steps

  • Bug fixes to remedy the issues with deployment into a live environment
  • Further talks with the ‘L.D.C. Unit’ (Local Digital Collaboration Unit) to sync up and unpack future developments for the Pipeline platform

DXW Cyber Security By Design Week notes

The DXW Cybersecurity specialist team is currently working with the ICT team to help to tease out a bespoke approach for ensuring we have put security in the workflow of our DevOps team.

Last Sprint Goal

  • Facilitate and successfully complete the DXW workshop session with the Universal housing team

Sprint Goals

  • Capture the outcomes from the workshop and circulate the tasks amongst the Universal Housing team