Do you remember sitting back in a high school class saying to yourself: “I am never going to use this in the real world once I grow up!” Well I often felt that, especially when I was in the Student Computing Services program at Henderson Bay High School in Gig Harbor. The year was 1998 and Henderson Bay had just landed a grant from the Intel Corp, which made us a certified Intel refurbishment program.
Intel and the computer teachers worked on a program, which they donated old hardware (Pentium 90’s when Pentiums 120’s where being released) to our school. We then had to develop a streamline operations program of building these computers, using an imaging system to install the OS and applications. Then we had to create an inventory tracking system to track them prior to giving them away to other schools in Washington State. Over the course of 3 years, I think we deployed a few thousand machines throughout the state, while Tigard High school in Oregon was doing the same thing.
I was working a long day at the beginning of this month for our beloved truck day here at SoftLayer, this is when we get all of the servers the SLales team will sell for the month. All local staff is required to be there and work long hours. We streamline the process so well that within hours we have unboxed, sorted all the parts, double checked the inventory, and deployed the 500 or so servers into the rack each month at each location.
The process reminds me of the truck days we used to have when the Intel truck would show up with cases, motherboards, processors, ram, and hard drives. All which had to be put together. We never had a problem building and deploying boxes for the schools ten years ago, and that is because the teachers ran it as a company. We had a staff of students that operated as inventory control managers, project managers, systems administrators, and front line technical support, and hardware technicians supporting each school district that we donated systems too. The process was overseen by two teachers, that ran the SCS program, and it was there fine detail that kept 50 students running this mock company.
It’s the same fine detail that the operations team at SoftLayer has taught us while doing truck days. I first dreaded my first or second truck day – something about working doubles didn’t appeal to me. After one or two of them, I started to like them. It’s a wonderful way to start off the month. Now if you would have asked me during a high school truck day, if I’d be looking forward to doing it again in ten years, I would have told you that you’re out of your mind. Ask me today and I will tell you it was one of the greatest processes that I learned during my high school years (Along with ditching English to hang out in the computer lab).