Author: ccie14023

Moving carpets for $2000

I worked for two years at a Cisco Gold Partner.  The first year was great.  We were trying to start up a Cisco practice in San Francisco (they were primarily a Citrix partner before), so my buddy and I wined and dined Cisco channel account managers trying to impress them with our CCIE’s and get them to steer business our way.  Eventually, the 2009 financial crisis hit and business started to dry up.  The jobs became fewer and less interesting.  I had two CCIE’s and at one point, I drove out to Mare Island near San Francisco to install a single switch for a customer whose entire network consisted of–a single switch.  I always recommend people not to stay in jobs like this too long, as it hurts your prospects for future employment. Potential Employer:  “So what kind of jobs have you done lately?” You:  “Uh, I installed one switch at a customer.” Anyhow, we had one other customer that managed to keep me surprisingly busy, considering their network was quite small as well.  They were a local builder, and with three small offices connected together with ASAs and VPN tunnels.  The owner was filthy rich and also paranoid about security, which meant I was out there a lot changing passwords, tightening up ACLs, and cleaning up the mess the last network engineer had left. The owner had a...

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I am not a coder!

I recently replied to a comment that I think warrants a full blog post. I’ve been here at Cisco working on programmability for a few years.  Brian Turner wrote in to say, essentially:  Hang on!  I became a network engineer precisely because I don’t want to be a coder!  I tried programming and hated it!  Now you’re telling me to become a programmer! As I said in my reply, I have a lot of sympathy for him.  It reminds me of a story. Back when I was at Juniper, I met with the IT department’s head of automation to discuss using some of his tools for network automation.  Jeremy was an expert in all things Puppet and Ansible, and a rather enthusiastic promoter of these tools on the server/app side of the house.  He had also managed to get Puppet running on a Junos device.  I was meeting with him because, frankly, the wind seemed to be blowing in his direction.  That said, I did not share his enthusiasm.  He told me about a server guy he had worked with, Stephane.  When Jeremy proposed to Stephane that he should use automation tools to make his life easier, Stephane vehemently rejected the idea, and the meeting ended with Stephane banging his fists on the table and shouting “I am not a coder!” Flash forward a couple years and Stephane ended...

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TAC Tales #16: To microburst or not to microburst

I’ve mentioned before that EIGRP SIA was my nightmare case at TAC, but there was one other type of case that I hated–QoS problems.  Routing protocol problems tend to be binary.  Either the route is there or it isn’t;  either the pings go through or they don’t.  Even when a route is flapping, that’s just an extreme version of the binary problem.  QoS is different.  QoS cases often involved traffic that was passing sometimes or in certain amounts, but would start having problems when different sizes of traffic went through, or possibly traffic was dropping at a certain rate.  Thus, the routes could be perfectly fine, pings could pass, and yet QoS was behaving incorrectly. In TAC, we would regularly get cases where the customer claimed traffic was dropping on a QoS policy below the configured rate.  For example, if they configured a policing profile of 1000 Mbps, sometimes the customer would claim the policer was dropping traffic at, say, 800 Mbps.  The standard response for a TAC agent struggling to figure out a QoS policy issue like this was to say that the link was experiencing “microbursting.”  If a link is showing a 800 Mbps traffic rate, this is actually an average rate, meaning the link could be experiencing short bursts above this rate that exceed the policing rate, but are averaged out in the interface counters.  “Microbursting” was...

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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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