This is just the best story. I just have to share it.

A colleague has just come back from doing some network testing with a potential customer down in Cisco’s offices by Heathrow. Cisco has a set of Customer Proof-of-Concept labs which, if you have a big or complicated design you want to try out, you may be able to borrow.

They’re packed with loads of fabulous kit, and you can basically build any scenario you can think of and test it out. You do need to have proper test plans, so you can’t really go and just play—but you can try all sort of things you could never contemplate in a real network.

So my colleague was down there for a few days with the customer’s engineers and a couple of Cisco’s SEs, and it sounds like they all had a fabulous (if very busy and pretty tiring) time. He was happy as he got to play with one of the big CRS service provider routers, and test out all sort of weird and wonderful QoS configurations.

Like most companies, a test lab—even one as well organised and controlled as the Cisco one—is often regarded as fair game when it comes to “borrowing” bits for a live environment.

If you’re lucky enough to have a test network of your own, you’re probably familiar with having to barricade the doors to stop project engineers pinching bits of it to use when kit doesn’t arrive on time, or to stop the support guys treating it as a hot spares repository if they have a failure.

Cisco manages the lab very well, so there’s not much chance of line cards or supervisors going astray, but they had been having problems with cables vanishing. Everyone passing, it seemed, pinched an RJ-45 cable to keep in their laptop bag—well, you can never have too many LAN cables!

So what high-tech solution did the clever folks at Cisco come up with to solve this annoying problem? They replaced all the patch cables—with pink ones!

After all, most of the network engineers around are male, and what man in his right mind is going to want to plug a pink cable into his laptop, router or switch? Hats off to the clever lady at Cisco who looks after the lab and came up with the obvious answer! Isn’t that just brilliant?