DCAP plan

CP&L – DCAP

Project recap

Client

Carolina Power & Light (CP&L)

Date

1996

Summary

Data Communications Architecture Project (DCAP) provided a vision and plan to overhaul Carolina Power & Light’s data network. A high speed, switched Ethernet, TCP/IP over SONET fiber network replaced the slow & unreliable Token Ring/Banyan Vines network.

Skills

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Project details

Background

Carolina Power & Light (CP&L) was a power utility based in Raleigh, NC. CP&L was bought by Progress Energy, which was eventually bought by Duke Energy which it is known by today.

Problem

CP&L's Telecommunications group was responsible for all communications within the power utility, including local area and wide area data networks. The Data Networking group concentrated mostly on supporting the company's IBM mainframe environment, and was heavily biased towards IBM SNA and Token Ring Local Area Networks (LANs).

Unfortunately, most of the utility's departments - and plants - assumed responsibility for designing and building their own local servers and data networks. There was no company-wide architectural guidance, so as a result peer-to-peer connectivity across the enterprise was poor.

Solution

I was hired to rebuild the Data Networking group with a different set of skills, fix the major connectivity problems, and migrate the company to a network architecture that would allow us to meet the needs of the company for years into the future.

Tools & resources

n/a

Discussion

Probably the best professional compliment I've ever had was from the Telecomm director who I reported to while I was at CP&L. Bob Metz was one of the best people I've ever worked for, but he & I butted heads quite a bit in the beginning. He was ultra conservative, I was pretty rambunctious. I think we both learned quite a bit from each other during the two and a half years we worked together.

After I left CP&L and had been at Cisco for a couple of years, I ran into Bob in a local coffee shop. We chatted,  caught up, then I asked him "So Bob, is the network still working?" He looked at me with the biggest grin, shook his head & said "Yes, hardly anyone notices it's there these days. It just does what it's supposed to do." Considering the firestorms I lived through in the first weeks on the job - where literally every thing seemed to be breaking every day - hearing those words from Bob made me feel really proud of what our team had accomplished in a short period of time.

I was fortunate to have some really talented people on staff - and some excellent contract help I brought in to help us wrestle things under control. There were lots of late nights, stressful meetings with the IT groups at the nuclear power plants, and even some sticky personnel issues. But we got the job done - we put together a network architecture that was amazing & blindingly fast, we set standards, turned outr critics into advocates, and literally ripped out the old network while still keeping day-to-day services operational.

One of the key pieces of the success was the DCAP document posted below. It was detailed and visionary. We used it to get out-of-budget funding from executive management as well as buy-in from all the departmental IT staffs. Thanks to lots of hard work by lots of people, the DCAP project was a huge success.