Author: ccie14023

Do we hate network engineers?

I was doing well on the blog for a few months but lately fell behind.  With (now) 12 people reporting to me, and three major areas of responsibility (SD-Access, Assurance, and Programmability), it’s not easy to find time to write up a blog post.   I have about five drafts needing work but I cannot seem to find the will to finish them.  Sometimes, however, it just takes a spark to get me going. That spark came in my inbox from Ivan Peplnjak.  I like Ivan’s blog posts, which, while often not favorable to Cisco, are nonetheless fair and balanced and raise some very important points. “Why Is Every SDN Vendor Bashing Networking Engineers?” asks Ivan in the form email I received.  “[T]he vendors know they wouldn’t be able to sell their latest concoctions to people who actually understand how networking works and why some architectures have no chance of ever working in real life,” answers Ivan.  “The only way to sell the warez is to try to convince everyone else how to get rid of the pesky ossified CLI jockeys.” Now I work for a vendor, and since I deal with the aforementioned products, I guess I am an SDN vendor.  That would seem to qualify me to speak on this subject.  (With, of course, the usual disclaimer that the opinions here are my own and do not represent...

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Moscone Microwave

My first full-time networking job was at the San Francisco Chronicle.  Now there isn’t much to the Chronicle anymore, but in the early 2000’s the newspaper was still going strong.  It was the beginning of the decline, but most people still took their local newspaper as their primary source of news.  Being a network engineer at a major metropolitan newspaper was fascinating.  It is a massive operation to print and distribute a newspaper every single day, and you can never, ever, miss.  There is no slippage of production deadlines.  It has to be out every day, and every day you start all over, with a blank page. As the lead network engineer, I touched everything from editorial (the news and photography content of the paper) to advertising, pre-press, production systems, and circulation.  Every one of these was critical.  If editorial content didn’t make it through, there was nothing to go into the paper.  If advertising didn’t make it in, we didn’t earn revenue.  If pre-press or production had problems, the paper wasn’t printed.  If circulation wasn’t working, nobody could get their paper. The Chronicle owned and operated three printing plants in the Bay Area.  One was on Army Street in San Francisco, while the other two were in Union City and Richmond in the East Bay.  The main office was on Fifth and Mission in downtown SF, so the...

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Network Engineering Jobs

I’ve been in this industry a while now, and I’ve done a lot of jobs.  Certainly not every job, but a lot.  My first full time network engineering job came in 2000, but I was doing some networking for a few years before that. I often see younger network engineers posting in public forums asking about the pros and cons of different job roles.  I’ve learned over the years that you have to take people’s advice with a grain of salt.  Jobs in one category may have some common characteristics, but a huge amount is dependent on the company, your manager, and the people you work with.  However, we all have a natural tendency to try to figure out the situation at a potential job in advance, and the experience of others can be quite helpful in sizing up a role.  Therefore, I’ve decided to post a summary of the jobs I’ve done, and the advantages/disadvantages of each. IT Network Engineer Summary: This is an in-house engineer at a corporation, government agency, educational institution, or really any entity that runs a network.  The typical job tasks vary depending on level, but they usually involve a large amount of day-to-day network management.  This can be responding to complaints about network performance, patching in network connectivity (less so these days because of wireless), upgrading and maintaining devices, working with carriers, etc. ...

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A Passive Star

I was hoping to do a few technical posts but my lab is currently being moved, so I decided to kick off another series of posts I call “NetStalgia”.  The TAC tales continue to be popular, but I only spent two years in TAC and most cases are pretty mundane and not worthy of a blog post.  What about all those other stories I have from various times and places working on networks?  I think there is some value in those stories, not the least because they show where we’ve come from, but also I think there are some universal themes.  So, allow me to take you back to 1995, to a now-defunct company where I first ventured to work on a computer network. I graduated college with a liberal arts degree, and like most liberal arts majors, I ended up working as an administrative assistant.  I was hired on at company that both designed and built museum exhibits.  It was a small company, with around 60 people, half of whom worked as fabricators, building the exhibits, while the other half worked as designers and office personnel.  The fabricators consisted of carpenters, muralists, large and small model builders, and a number of support staff.  The designers were architects, graphic designers, and museum design specialists.  Only the office workers/designers had their own computers, so it was a quite small network...

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Cisco IOS XE Programmability Book

In a previous post I had mentioned I co-authored a book on IOS XE Programmability with some colleagues of mine.  For those who are interested, the book is available here. The book is not a comprehensive how-to, but a summary of the IOS XE features along with a few samples.  It should provide a good overview of the capabilities of IOS XE.  For those who were on my CCIE webinar, it should be more than adequate to get you up to speed on CCIE written programmability topics. As with any technical book, there could be some errata, so please...

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