Things I learned working for a big energy company

This is an old blog post about the things I learned during the summer of 2006 while working for a big energy corporation. Some topics are outdated, but the kernels still hold true.

* Sometimes three hours of knowledge transfer is as good as three weeks — as long as you know the servers and the processes are well defined.

* Sometimes three weeks of knowledge transfer isn’t enough — especially if there are no procedures, no documentation, and lots of custom or unsupported software.

* When you work for a big energy company, they take FERC regulations very seriously. NEVER EVER fire off an e-mail saying that a file needed to meet FERC requirements is lost — unless you’re looking to participate in a con call with some VIP’s and lawyers… “I can’t seem to find it right now” might be a better response.

* CoreID can be used to configure PeopleSoft to bypass the signin screen. But there are other ways to do it if you don’t need the functionality of a big identity management system.

* If you’re implementing an identity management solution like CoreID, read the fine print about what web servers and versions it works with. Hint: It doesn’t work with WebLogic 8.1 unless you use an HTTP server like Apache or IIS. WebSphere/IHS might be a better solution.

* Lots of people are afraid of Portal Security Sync to the point where they’ll never run it in production.

* Never trust anybody’s Reverse Proxy Server configuration. They’re like child safety seats — everyone think they’re installed correctly but most aren’t.

* If you’re doing something for the first time, keep a diary of what you’re doing complete with screen shots. It’s nice to be able to backtrack to where you went wrong, and the stuff you get right can be copy/pasted into an installation guide for the next guy.

* It’s a good idea to review Kiosk configuration. Kiosks don’t really need to be part of the domain. They don’t need to automatically log on with a Domain account (a local account works fine). And the login account certainly doesn’t need admin rights. Kiosks can be used by anybody, so secure them appropriately!

* Along the same lines, review the system architecture when you take over for someone. Diagram it if possible. It’s interesting what oddities will show up that you might not find out during knowledge transfer.

* Change Assistant may be slow, but it generally eliminates human errors And it frees you to work on other things while it runs.

* A PeopleSoft Administrator’s job can be effectively done remotely. But everyone has to remember to communicate!

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