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End Of An Era

Last night, with the mere flip of a power toggle, IAI’s IT systems ceased operations.

[Who's IAI, you might ask? More info on the history of IAI and my history with them below the fold]

Fifth Third had been slow to replace the IT operations of Paladin/IAI after the acquisition - the staff had continued to use many of the same systems they had beforehand. As systems were replaced, things were turned down, but the “core” of the Novell, Microsoft NT and Lotus Notes networks continued to operate. Last night, after one final replication off the Notes server to a spare workstation, all three networks ceased operations. Servers were turned down, UPS power turned off, cables unpatched and cleaned up.

Together we pulled out all the KVM units, at least 100 network cables, 8 phone lines, and 8 or 9 leftover server chassis. We had a chance to tell stories, stack up all the leftover equipment, even took a moment to admire the hack job we performed on move weekend years ago to finish the wiring job the electrician didn’t do in order to get the UPS up by SOB Monday morning. Mike Anderson had the honor of turning off THOR and ZEUS, the main Novell and Microsoft NT servers, respectively, and I turned off the UPS power. Thus was the end of the IAI IT Infrastructure.

It is fitting, tho, that there is going to be an IAI reunion party next month. Perfect timing? I certainly think so! In the lead up to the party I’ll be writing a bunch of nostalgic pieces about IAI…there are so many stories I was reminded of last night that I’ve never put down into words.

For those of you unfamiliar with IAI, otherwise known as Investment Advisers Incorporated, a quick history lesson. IAI was founded in 1947 here in Minneapolis, MN. Their two primary businesses were always fund management for big pension funds and retail mutual funds, although for a time they also dabbled in venture capital and trust work. (The retail funds went by the name of North Star Funds until the 1970s) In the 1980’s, IAI’s Regional Fund, managed by Bing Carlin, was a hot commodity, being consistently ranked above average by almost every trade rag and rating service. In the early-to-mid 90’s, Suzanne Zak managed the IAI Midcap Fund to impressive heights and many accolades as well.

Through some fairly complicated purchases and other financial maneuvers, IAI ended up being part of the London-based Lloyds Bank TSB by 1997. Much of the old guard retired or moved on around this time - within a few years things started going downhill. By 2001, Lloyds Bank TSB had decided to spin off what was left of IAI to the management group; they renamed the company Paladin Investments. Performance continued to falter, and Keith Wertz soon was picked up by Fifth Third bank…followed quickly by Fifth Third’s acquisition of Paladin Investments and its staff.

I worked at IAI from August of 1992 until November of 1999. I started off doing data entry for Tom Kemp, got the job through the father of one of my friends. It worked well…I could work whatever hours I wanted, earn a great wage, and considering I was also going to school down at the U of M it was conveniently located downtown. Great play money for when I was in high school, going out every weekend with GameDay, etc. In addition, I got to work with two of my best friends in middle school and high school, Jamie Groat and Adam Coyne.

The winter after we all got out of high school, the decision was made to hire one of us on full-time. I don’t remember all the specifics, but I was chosen out of the candidates and took the programmer’s position. My job hadn’t really changed…the data entry had stopped the summer between my junior and senior years in high school and all three of us had taken on various programming tasks for the firm.

As time went by, Jamie and Adam moved out to California together, we hired other programmers and I moved into a role that involved much more systems management work. Before too long, I was responsible for anything non-telecom and non-Novell related on our network, which included the firewalls, TCP/IP and WAN networking, Windows NT servers, Citrix servers, etc. When the Novell network managers moved on (all within 3 months of each other) I was promoted to Network Systems Manager and took our two senior help desk techs, Mike Anderson and Rich Teegarden, and helped them become Network Systems people in their own right. This was in the midst of major systems upgrades, Y2K preparations, disaster recovery planning and the normal day-to-day operations of a financial firm that had more third-party systems in house than people.

I decided to move on in November 1999. Not because I was afraid of Y2K (I was still on the hook for support that weekend on a contractual basis), but because I knew IAI was completely prepared. Mike Anderson stayed behind, took over my position and performed wonderfully. I continued to offer “friendly” help in exchange for IAI continuing to allow me to host my servers off their T1 line.

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This page contains a single entry from the blog posted on June 14, 2005 3:32 PM in Daily and Friends and Hosting and Me and OfficeCam and Reflections and Work.

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