Scott MacKenzie, a lead technical support engineer for AT&T,
uses NetPro for early visibility into problems his customers might
Q. How long have you been in the networking industry,
and why did you get involved in it?
A. I began my career in networking in 1983,
working at a business-oriented ComputerLand store in Illinois. When
networking emerged as a business solution, my job was to set up
LANs for our business customers. My networking skills developed as
network technology evolved. In 1993, I joined Anixter, a wire and
cable company, to be the "Ethernet help desk." After a series of
acquisitions, I found myself working for Ameritech, SBC, and now
Q. Tell me about your current job.
A. I provide tier-3 support for the AT&T
PremierServ Customer Care program, which serves thousands of
customers. Most of my job involves providing support for customer
premises equipment such as Cisco (R) switches, routers, and
firewalls. I also assist in maintaining our lab and virtual lab
access system for our engineers.
Q. What were the specific business challenges you faced
that influenced you to use NetPro?
A. I heard about NetPro from coworkers and used
it the most while I was a technical instructor at SBC. I started
with the career certification topics and later spent a lot of time
in the wireless forums. Today, I like to use NetPro to get an early
glimpse into problems affecting new products or software releases.
Reading the discussions gives me a hint as to what kind of customer
calls I might be receiving later. When I read about a new problem
and, frequently, how to fix it, I consider how the problem might
affect our customers.
Q. What is the most useful conversation you have found
on NetPro to date?
A. The Layer 3 design for Cisco lightweight
access points with centralized management can be somewhat tricky.
Although I do not do hands-on work in the field, I do help to
maintain our lab, and I use the information on NetPro to help
ensure that we have a valid setup. In general, NetPro discussions
help me understand potential problem areas that customers might
Q. What is your greatest accomplishment to date in your
A. I was in charge of the technical design and
configuration for the Anixter trade show booth for several years
and a member of the SBC Datacomm backbone integration team for the
Networld+Interop trade show. In the Anixter booth, we presented a
multiprotocol, multimedia network, and I am proud of the variety of
technologies we got to interoperate. Our 1997-98 booth network
included Token Ring, Ethernet, ATM, Fiber Distributed Data
Interface (FDDI), and Copper Distributed Data Interface (CDDI)
technologies connected with copper, single-mode, and multimode
fiber, most of it carrying voice, video, and data. We also
integrated clients running Microsoft Windows, IBM OS2, Mac OS, and
UNIX. We ran fiber to the demo pods, then fiber and copper to
interconnect the devices within the pod, simulating typical
"vertical" and "horizontal" structured cabling. As a member of the
SBC backbone integration team, I worked some N+I shows to install
and test the Gigabit-Ethernet backbone that exhibitors used to
connect to each other and the Internet from the show floor. I
consider it an accomplishment to build a secure, interoperable
network from almost nothing to thousands of nodes in a week. The
entire N+I crew does an amazing job every show.
Q. How often do you come to NetPro?
A. I usually visit at least once a day. NetPro
is a useful tool for my job.
Q. Which features do you find the most
A. The search tool is excellent. I use it when
a customer calls about an unfamiliar issue that I think might have
Q. Do you have any suggestions for possible changes or
modifications to the site?
A. A possible improvement might be a FAQ
section or topic maintained by the moderator or volunteer
Q. Do you have a message for your fellow NetPro
A. First, try the search! If the search does
not answer the question, then new users can help out by providing
detailed information when they open a topic. It can take days to
extract enough information to provide a helpful solution if someone
opens a topic with "My router is not working. What should I do?" Be
sure to include the hardware, software, versions, and circumstances
of the problem. For example, rather than saying, "My router will
not talk to my switch," it is more helpful to say, "I am using this
kind of router with this kind of switch, with this version of the
Cisco IOS (R) Software, over fiber, and I am getting intermittent
connectivity." I would also encourage members to use the rating
system and add the red checkmark to a solution that fixes the
problem. Then other members who experience the same problem will
know that the thread contains a possible solution or good