Good thing we snuck that in last night, huh?

IT pilot fish gets one of his first assignments as a consultant: Do an after-hours installation of a new firewall for an important client.

"I showed up with the firewall in hand and met the owner," says fish. "He took me to their server closet and said I should install it in there. No problem.

"Then I started asking him about what he wanted the firewall to do, so I could plan the configuration. After a few minutes, I had my answer: He no longer trusted his in-house IT person and wanted me to install the firewall so he could track his Internet activity."

Fish points out that installing a new firewall with a different configuration might be noticed by the in-house IT guy when he returns. Client asks, "Can't you hide it in the ceiling?" That wouldn't really be a good way to hide it, fish says. Client suggests placing it at the bottom of the server rack because "there are lots of wires and it will get lost in the mess".

Fish explains that this isn't likely to work either, and suggests that maybe it's worth rethinking the problem of having an employee the client doesn't trust managing all the client's data.

But it quickly becomes clear that the client isn't going to take no for an answer. Fish calls his boss, who confirms that this whatever this important client wants, he should get.

So fish returns to asking his configuration questions: How do employees access the Internet? Does anybody work remotely? Does the company have connections to branch offices? Does the client have the login information for the current firewall?

"Each time I was told, 'In-house IT takes care of that. I have no idea,'" sighs fish. "I hid the firewall at the bottom of the server rack and configured it for basic Internet access. The client made sure he could surf the web. Once he was happy, I left with the feeling I would be called back.

"First thing the next morning, I got a call from the client: Branch office couldn't do any work. They needed me to run out and fix it right away. Why me and not in-house IT? He called in sick that day."

Sharky will cover your tracks, or at least file off the identifying marks, when you send me your true tale of IT life at sharky@computerworld.com. You'll snag a snazzy Shark shirt if I use it. Add your comments below, and read some great old tales in the Sharkives.

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