I was a 1099 employee for a local Consulting “broker.” Basically, we could use the company name and pick your own gigs. I had a few lined up helping another consultant with managing School systems. I’ll get back to the schools. I thought it was interesting to see the types of small businesses I got involved with. Dentists! They usually don’t know or care about IT, but they can make a lot of money by installing Practice Management Software and things like inter-oral cameras. It’s helps them “sell” the dental work that needs done. A few GP Doctors and Realtors were usual customers. I ended up creating a “bundle” where I sourced External Hard Drives and Backup Software. I got to setup off-site backup rotations just like Enterprise class systems.
The schools were interesting because they needed a quick way to wipe and re-install all of the computers in the district over the summer. The first time we did it it took a few weeks to complete the 10 buildings. The second year we worked with IT students and managed to get each building down to a day. It’s multiple laps around the building while systems are plugged in, turned on, wiped, loaded and tested. We only had 1 fire.
The 3rd year was a blast. One other consultant and I were able to do 1 building per day in less than 8 hours. That included installing new managed switches in each building. We configured the switches before taking them out so they were just a matter of swapping hardware and testing. We did have to replace a few cables, but things went pretty smoothly. The real fun was the PXE boot.
PXE1 is super handy if you understand how to setup your environment. We had all of the computers set to attempt a PXE Boot before attempting to boot from the Hard Drive. That allows us to run some, in this case, Bash scripts. We had a floppy based minimal Linux that could work with all of the NIC’s in the district. Since each building was assigned a unique subnet, we were able to determine where we were (to identify the local server for the building) and using DMIDecode we were able to determine what type of system we were running on. Using that, we were able to determine which gold image broadcast we would need to attach to. We had 1 system broadcasting UDP streams of the images and once all of the clients were setup and waiting, we hit the button and went to lunch. 45 minutes later we came back and did a quick test and shut them down. If any failed or had errors, we documented them for a clean up crew.
I really didn’t enjoy “selling” my own work, so I headed back to the corp. world.