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IT Pro File: Jack-of-all-trades

Matt A. Debellis, News Writer


IT Pro
Robert Shahon
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When you know there are some hardware issues with your main server, don't wait to order new hardware. Start working on a parallel installation.
Do your homework on Windows 2000 Migration issues and understand the concepts of the new software, such as Active Directory.

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adding and removing optional features of Windows XP.

Read the full list of Robert Shahon's dos and don'ts

Meet IT pro Robert Shahon, a former aircraft mechanic, who shares an Windows migration story and his Windows migration dos and don'ts.

The other day, a colleague told Robert Shahon he was impressed by Shahon's passing of the Windows 2000 Upgrade test. The test is a bear, the colleague said, and only 12% pass.

"We got on the subject of Microsoft certifications and, more specifically, the Windows 2000 upgrade test," Shahon said. "He said I was the first person he had ever met that passed the test."

Though Shahon, 39, has been a network engineer for only three years, he sports a bevy of computer certifications: He's a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer and Microsoft Certified Professional in Windows NT 4.0 and Windows 2000, and he's a Microsoft Certified Systems Administrator.

Shahon is a senior network engineer at Marshall and Associates, Inc., in Olympia, Washington. Marshall is a Geographic Information Systems consulting firm that specializes in planning, designing and implementing spatially-enabled information systems. Marshall provides ESRI Arc Internet Map Server application development and deployment, ArcInfo application development and data conversion and Spatial Database Engine (SDE) installation and data migration.

In addition to his Marshall position, Shahon is a consultant looking to take on more side projects. One day he'd like to "remotely manage many networks from my beach front home in the Bahamas." Who wouldn't?

At Marshall, Shahon supports all aspects of the company's IT infrastructure, from licensing to network management and "everything in between."

"I'm a jack-of-all-trades, so to speak," Shahon said.

Indeed, Shahon has worked in various industries during the past 20 years: the restaurant, automotive and aerospace industries, the Army, and finally, the IT industry.

While working for Boeing as an aircraft assembly mechanic on commercial aircraft, he enrolled in computer classes. "Boeing paid for all my formal training," he said. "When they laid me off, I was ready for the change."

Perhaps working at Boeing prepared Shahon for doing tough tasks on the fly. He counts his biggest feat as the time he migrated Marshall's network from Windows NT 4.0 to a full-blown Windows 2000 network – while the office was being relocated.

"I was forced to migrate before everything was thoroughly tested because our Main Domain Server crashed due to hardware problems," he said. "Unfortunately, it had gone through only a one-week test phase rather than the month I planned."

When he realized that he would have little time to prepare for the migration, Shahon set up a new, redundant server to act as a "failsafe" if systems crashed during the migration. Thanks to that plan, he accomplished the migration with little downtime.

"The network was only down only one full day," Shahon said. "On day two, people were able to get on with their work!"


This was first published in August 2002

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