I work in IT, and not to sound vain, but I think I’m pretty damn good at it. I’ve worked on environments that I’ve built myself, inherited from others, or that I’ve been tossed into and expected to support. One thing I’ve never been is a consultant. At least not professionally.

Im working with a project right now that has me dealing with a number of consultants. Another group in our organization is implementing a new product, and they’ve hired a team of consultants to handle it. I am one of the organizations primary sysadmins, so I get to provide the project with servers and support for those servers. This means that I’m working with these consultants pretty closely, getting them access to the systems they need and whatnot.

Let me just say this.. I’m in the wrong line of work.  It’s generally known that Consultants get paid quite a bit more than a salary employee does.  I get that this is because consultants are temporary workers, and need to make enough to keep them fed between jobs… but… For what they’re (probably) being paid, I’d expect some damn bright people.  These guys… Are not.  They may be experts at the product they’re installing, but they’re far from experts in ANY OTHER TOPIC. 

This particular consulting firm, for some reason, rotates consultants in on a weekly or bi-weekly basis. So every so often, we get a new consultant  assigned to the project, and the old one is no more.  The old one may come back later, he may not.  Each of them comes in with a certain set of requirements.  What they need access to, what they need in order to access our systems, things like that.  The problem is, they don’t tell us what these demands are until the day they start.  Then we have to work with them to get them access to what they need.  Usually this consists of setting up an SSH key pair. and granting them sudo access to items that the product they’re installing depends on.  I’ve got this down to a science.  I just get their public key, throw them into the right group, and the RHEL server knows what to do from there.

The problem is, these guys don’t know what an SSH key is, they don’t know much about networking, or firewalls, or security for that matter.  They complain that our network is unnecessarily secure, and that we’re making their jobs difficult.  Which gets back to their boss, which then gets back to the boss in charge of the group who’s project this is, which then comes down on us.  In reality we’re doing everything we can to get them what they need, within reason. 

Today, I spent the better part of the day, off and on, working with one of them attempting to get a tool that they’re using to perform an upgrade working.  The thing wouldn’t connect, so he was blaming our firewalls, then my proxy server, finally, I had him setup an ssh tunnel directly to the box that he needed access to for this utility, and even though he was now effectively locally connected to the system, he STILL blamed our network!  All of this turned out to be a mis-configuration in the application.  Something that one of his colleagues setup, and I had to find in the config and point out to him. 

If you’re a consultant.. learn your shit.  Organizations like mine pay you a ton of money to do stuff, do it right, and learn the related systems.  I’m getting tired of showing you the ropes!