​​PROACTIVE
  • Foreseeing and intervening in anticipation of future needs or changes
  • Initiating and preparing beforehand rather than reacting afterwards
  • Taking steps ahead of time based on training, knowledge and experience
COMMENTARY:
My home network is unusually complicated. When technology is a hobby, one tends to accumulate network-connected devices at a surprising rate. To wit: right now, there are 63 devices authorized to connect to my network, which (even for a nerd) seems a little excessive for a household of two.
 
Still, I take pride in my work, and have taken reasonable precautions to prevent service interruptions. While I can’t justify the expense of a failover Internet connection, I ensure that all core equipment is up to date, configurations are backed up, and everything is connected to UPS battery backups.  Proactive!  Over the years I’ve had a few hardware failures, and for the most part I was able to restore connectivity relatively quickly.
 
So that’s why I was obviously a bit perturbed to receive this message the other day:
I started going over my mental checklist of things it could be. My firewall config is fairly complex, but it also hasn’t changed significantly in the last month - seems unlikely. There are some tree branches pretty close to the fiber run from the pole to the house, and it’s been windy… hope that isn’t it, because I don’t know how to splice fiber. Hardware failure? Could be, but I’ve tried to add redundancy wherever possible.
As I rounded the corner at the last major intersection before my neighborhood, I spotted some utility workers near a business that has been under construction for the past few months. Bucket trucks and conduit nearby. “Fiber cut,” I thought. Sweet! The outage wasn’t my fault!  (I started researching my gloat speech straightaway.)
 
“Those morons at [our intersection] cut the fiber,” I say confidently. No fiber status lights on the ONT - yep, that’s got to be it. Frustrating, sure, but if it’s a major cut there’s nothing I can do but sit and gloat wait.
 
Or so I thought. Part of my proactive network strategy is ensuring that our internal network still runs reliably even if our connection to the outside world is severed. Home automation, locally stored media/entertainment, security – all kinds of stuff is set up to keep on keepin’ on should some doofus with a backhoe temporarily sever our relationship with Hulu. But I quickly realize that stuff isn’t working either. Huh?  
 
Nothing’s getting an IP address. That’s weird – is the core switch down? No, or at least I don’t think so… link statuses are up, and a few random devices seem to be doing okay. Now I’m starting to think that maybe [my preferred device manufacturer] has rolled out some sort of update that won’t allow a device to hold on to a local IP unless it can access the WAN (that sounds like something they’d do, honestly.)  
 
Argh, fine. Let’s start rebooting stuff. Switches – no luck. Servers – no luck. Okay, fine, on to the firewall. Hang on… is the firewall off?
 
Yup. There it was, a server in the rack with no power light lit. But it’s connected to a UPS, and said UPS is monitored… I didn’t receive any notification that the battery went flat.  Well, okay, let’s see if it will start up.
 
Boots fine!  “Well, that was odd.”  It reaches operational status, then immediately starts running its shutdown routine. What gives?
 
Ultimately, I figured it out – the firewall server communicates with another server which monitors the UPS. The idea is that when the battery is low, the server sends out a message to all the other servers connected to that UPS that says “hey ya’ll, the battery’s about to die, please be a lamb and go ahead and shut down cleanly.” Proactive!  
 
Except not (or at least not exactly.)  In this case, for whatever reason, my firewall was getting a false shutdown signal from the monitoring server. So it’s doing exactly what it was supposed to for proactive purposes, just not at the correct time. Restarting down the monitoring daemon on both servers fixed the problem. My confidence as an ace sysadmin, however, needed a little TLC.
 
Weird hiccups aside, I’m ultimately glad I had configured proactive steps to mitigate potential issues. Without the UPS monitor safeguard, several devices in the network could have had an unexpected power interruption, which could lead to data loss or even hardware failure (the latter probably causing extended delays and frustration.)  
 
Planning for the unexpected is always good practice. You just have to remember that the unexpected is exactly that!  

Key words and phrases
Acting in anticipation; Causing something to happen; Taking steps based on experience; Foreseeing; Preparing beforehand; Intervening ahead of time; Initiating instead of reacting; Farsighted planning and action

Opposite terms
Shortsighted; Reactionary; Improvident; Myopic

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