Featured

Planning and Maintaining Wireless Networks with NetAlly

For years now, the ability to be productive has been changing.  In many cases, you do not need to be tethered to a desk working off of a computer that is wired into the network to get things done.  We have evolved from that practice, to leveraging laptops, tablets, and even smaller mobile devices such as phones to get work done and stay connected, not to mention the growing plethora of Wi-Fi connected IoT devices.  Supporting a mobile workforce is key, and how do we do that?  This is accomplished by building, maintaining, and enhancing robust wireless networks. Wireless networks and RF environments can be more difficult to plan, maintain, and troubleshoot in respect to their wired counterparts.  As an engineer, you need to understand many factors such as:

  • What kinds of devices and applications will the wireless network support (ex: voice, video, location services)?
  • What is the layout of the space that needs to be supported with wireless coverage?
    • Are there walled offices with cubicles?
    • Is it a large open space with a high ceiling?
    • Are there long, narrow hallways?
  • Understanding the physical environment helps determine what AP and antenna type will make the most sense.
  • How many access points will be needed to provide both RF coverage and capacity support? With having to support the Internet of Things, having just enough access points to provide sufficient wireless coverage is not good enough anymore.  We also have to be able to support large amounts of clients simultaneously, and that can mean that we need more APs due to capacity rather than RF coverage.

So, how do we plan out our wireless design?  Then, once deployed, how do we validate the design to make sure it is functioning as expected?  These common scenarios are exactly where NetAlly can help.  For wireless network planning, the AirMagnet SurveyPRO is the application to use.  For post-validation and troubleshooting, the AirMapper™ Site Survey application runs on both the AirCheck™ G2 and EtherScope® nXG to collect performance metrics and upload them to the Link-Live Cloud Service. This cloud service is included with the purchase of a device in the network tester portfolio.  Within Link-Live you can create and view visual heat maps to see how the design measures up.  If it is determined that the design needs to be modified; once the changes are implemented, you can run through the Air Mapper process again to check the results of your modifications. The goal of AirMapper™ Site Survey is to take the stress out of wireless site surveys by allowing you to gain meaningful data quickly and easily.  The primary features of AirMapper™ Site Survey include:

  • The ability to view SNR, noise, and interference measurements directly on the AirCheck™ G2 or EtherScope® nXG devices.
  • Comfort of completing full enterprise site surveys without balancing (potentially clumsily) a laptop and multiple external antennas.
  • Find rogue devices with automatic triangulation of wireless access points on a floor plan with the use of the Link-Live Cloud Service.
  • Even complete Bluetooth/BLE surveys with the EtherScope® nXG to gauge Bluetooth coverage areas.
  • Automatically find typical Wi-Fi issues with the new InSites™ feature in the Link-Live Cloud Service.

A versatile feature of the AirMapper™ integration with Link-Live is the ability to view different types of heat maps. Typically, when I think of a wireless heat map, it is just strictly the AP coverage, or essentially a visual representation of each access point’s signal strength.  Well, that is just one of the many pre-configured heat map visualizations that exist within Link-Live.  The pre-configured heat maps that you can choose from include:

  • Signal (dBm)
  • Noise (dBm), SNR (dB)
  • Co-Channel Interference
  • Adjacent Channel Interference
  • AP Coverage
  • Min Basic Rate (Mbps)
  • Beacon Overhead
  • Max Tx, Max Rx Rates (Mbps)
  • Max, Min MCS

In addition to the existing features, NetAlly recently released the InSites™ Intelligence feature into the AirMapper™ platform by directly integrating it into the Link-Live Cloud Service.  The InSites™ Intelligence feature allows customers to create custom pass/fail thresholds so that when survey data gets imported into Link-Live, users can quickly and easily see where potential issues reside in the Wi-Fi environment.  In addition, InSites™ will also automatically filter and show the problem areas right there on the floor plan.  A major goal of this feature is to provide actionable data to IT generalist teams so they can make intelligent wireless decisions without needing to be Wi-Fi experts.  This can be a simple, yet powerful way to get through root cause analysis.

The different customizable threshold categories include:

  • First AP Coverage
  • Secondary AP Coverage
  • SNR (dB)
  • Co-Channel Interference
  • Adjacent Channel Interference
  • Beacon Overhead
  • Max TX Rates (Mbps)

InSites™ Intelligence takes the data supplied to the Link-Live Cloud Service from the AirCheck™ G2 and EtherScope® nXG analyzers and provides an easy to digest view into the ‘goods and bads’ of the wireless infrastructure.  For each metric category, you can simply see if the environment test is a pass or fail, what the threshold limit is set at to determine a failure, and the value of the worst reading in the environment.

Let’s face it, gaining actionable insights into RF environments can be difficult without the right tools and applications to help.  It can force you to spend time inefficiently guessing and checking to try to get to the root of the problem and implement proper resolution.  In some cases, you just need a visual representation of the physical RF environment with metrics that can allow you to see problems and data to help point you in the correct direction to resolve those issues.  The combination of the NetAlly network testers, AirMagnet SurveyPRO, AirMapper™ Site Survey software, and the Link-Live Cloud Service can help you do just that.  For more information, check out this introduction video to NetAlly and their products.

Featured

Gift Giving Guide for Network Engineers

There’s no denying that network engineers can be a tricky group to shop for, especially if you aren’t a network engineer yourself. This year-round guide can help you shop for the network engineer in your life, regardless of the occasion. Use this list for some inspiration to help make their work lives a little bit better. You may even find yourself on their gift-giving lists in return!

**This article contains affiliate links as part of the Amazon Associates Program which means if you click through and make a purchase we get a small commission. We only recommend products we love!**

10 Gifts for Network Engineers

Wireless Console Cable

Every engineer has been here. In a data center or a data closet or a wiring closet. Countless hours sitting on concrete floors gave them a sore back, sore legs, and sore everything else. Simply because they’re limited to the 6ft/2m length of a standard console cable. If only there was a way for an engineer to extend that so they could feel free to sit nearly wherever they want. That’s where the wireless console cable comes into place. Enabling the engineer on your list to sit more comfortably while they work will certainly go a long way for them.

Photo Credit: Cloudstore Limited

Air Console makes a series of products that will help your engineer out. Their entry product, the LE, works perfectly fine over Bluetooth for $59. However, if you step above the LE into either the Mini/Standard-Pro/XL, the addition of Wi-Fi and Ethernet-based IP connectivity is a terrific addition. Those step above models start at $85 and range up to $150.

Collapsible Chair

Speaking of those hard floors, engineers can’t always expect to have a comfortable place to sit at a job site. The job can take them from warehouses to factories to retail stores and it’s not realistic to assume there will always be a good chair available. This is where a good, portable, compact and easy to carry chair can be a back saver.

Photo Credit: Trekology

Something like this Yizi Go Portable ($40) chair would be an ideal addition to any engineer’s trunk. Unlike other compact chairs, it has a seat back to reduce strain while retaining its compact and easy-to-carry profile. This is guaranteed to make the work days a bit easier.

Sergeant Clips

Unfortunately not every task a network engineer has in front of them can be performed from a newly gifted chair. Many times they need to get hands on with a lot of little cables, and losing track of those cables can lead to longer and more stressful days. One way to get around this is to label every cable, which can be pretty tedious.

Photo Credit: SergeantClip

A nicer way to work is with a tool that clamps onto the cables in groups and keeps them in alignment. Over at SeargentClip.com (£12.50 – £37.00, ships from the UK) they make a handy little tool that clips onto cables, in groups of 6 or 12, and keeps all of those cables in alignment. If you aren’t certain how many to buy, I’d suggest starting with a 48 port bundle. The largest number of ports, and cables, you’ll see on a single switch is 48 ports. SeargeantClip is also available at Amazon.com.

Multi-use Headlamp

A common theme here, which was highlighted under with chairs as well, is the fact that every environment is different. It’s easy to take a chair for granted, good lighting falls into this category as well. Poorly lit environments can wreck what would otherwise be a productive day. It’s not uncommon for a new site to not be fully lit when a network is being installed. It’s not uncommon for an existing site to forget to change the lights in a network closet. Having a good headlamp ahead of time is a great way to avoid any of these scenarios up front.

Photo Credit: Victroper

There are a lot of headlamps you can choose from. I’ll recommend one type specifically, this lamp made by Victroper, for a very specific reason. It has multiple types of headlamps in one. If you need to flood an entire room with light, it can do that. If you need to spotlight something right in front of you, it can do that. There are some other nice features for outside of work, such as red LEDs and strobe, but the ability to recharge it can be very handy.

Cage Nut Tool

If you’ve ever seen a network engineer with band-aids on their fingers and knuckles odds are they were working on installing equipment within the past few days. It’s hard to fully describe the perils of this sort of work but messing with small thin bits of pressure-loaded metal, it’s not uncommon for accidents to occur. Some rack manufactures include a basic version of this tool, but it’s often discarded. Many engineers work for years without knowing a tool like this even exists. You can help in those situations, and more, by gifting an upgraded version.

Photo Credit: StarCase

This screwdriver-ish-looking tool made by STARcase is an upgraded version of what an engineer may find attached to a new rack. Those tools are usually a small piece of curved metal. This upgraded version provides a sturdier install with an easy-to-grip handle which will reduce on inadvertently cut-up knuckles.

Work Bench Safe Drinking Vessel

After all this work, any network engineer is going to require some work-appropriate hydration to stay healthy. One of the trickier things to do, depending on where they’re working, is to make sure their beverage of choice stays where it should be. A spill on a work bench could be devastating and lead to a RGE (Resume Generating Event).

Photo Credit: Coleman

I’m partial to this Coleman Autoseal bottle. Comes in 2 different sizes, 6 different colors, and the feature that keeps it safe is a push button valve to control when liquid flows or not. Knock it over or turn it upside down, the liquid stays inside. It’s also a stainless steel insulated bottle, so no worries about the bottle sweating either.

Loopback Keychain

When it comes to testing equipment an engineer can find themselves in a pinch without some really simple tools. These tools can go high tech or low tech. Each of their time and place. A nice, and affordable, low tech tool is a loopback tester. It’s the equivalent of calling a friend to see if your new headset sounds good, but for a network engineer.

Photo Credit: Networx

It’s hard to know exactly what sort of equipment any given engineer could be working on. I’d suggest at least these two:
Ethernet loopback ($9)
LC Multimode loopback ($15)

And if you’re really looking to stuff their stockings? The list goes on:
SC Multimode loopback ($8)
MPO Multimode loopback ($28)
LC Singlemode loopback ($8)
SC Singlemode loopback ($8)

Fiber Visual Fault Locator

One very common task a network engineer may have to perform is to check if there is “light” coming through a fiber-optic connection. It’s recommended that you do not look into the fiber optic cable directly as the laser light can damage your eyes, but some people do it anyway. A clever workaround is to use your phone camera, but this may not work for 10gig or single-mode fiber. A good way to make sure they can always safely see the light? With another somewhat low tech tool specifically for the task.

Photo Credit: GESD

This Visual Fault Finder ($30) is technically used to find breaks in fiber runs but can double as a handy locator for perfectly good fiber connections. This can save an engineer a good amount of troubleshooting on something you’re not technically supposed to look at.

NetAlly LinkSprinter

This is a big-ticket, high-tech item, but it can truly be a lifesaver for an engineer in the field. The NetAlly LinkSprinter is a pocket tool that packs a lot of information into a small, handheld, unit. When working at a job site it can be pretty unpredictable where cables connect behind the scenes. Even when it appears predictable, you never know when you’ll come across an oddball that connects somewhere totally unexpected!

Photo Credit: NetAlly

The LinkSprinter 300 ($400) helps answer a good number of questions. It can tell an engineer where they’re connecting, how their connection is configured, if the connection is good, and a slew of other good information in the palm of their hands. It can shave hours of troubleshooting time by eliminating a game of hide and seek around a facility.

Raspberry Pi Kit

This last item isn’t specifically for a network engineer, really any technology savvy person, but it’s hard to go wrong with a Raspberry Pi kit. It can help them set up a test bed for learning how to learn programming, which is becoming a common trend for network engineers. It can run dedicated applications aside from their regular computers. It can serve as a house wide ad blocker. A good digital sandbox like this can be truly invaluable.

Photo Credit: CanaKit

You’ve got two ways to go about this. You can buy the Raspberry Pi on it’s own but I prefer to gift someone an entire kit to save them having to pick up some odds and ends they’d need to really put it all together. A good starter kit ($130) will cost more but it will give them everything they need, and more, to start using it on day one.

Wrapping it all up – literally!

So there you have it! 10 items that can really help an engineer in their work day year-round. With a few items off this list you can help save them from body pain, or hours of wasted troubleshooting time, and maybe give them a nice learning tool in the process!

Prices are subject to change at any time. The prices displayed herein were the prices as of the publication of this article (December 2021)


Ep 79 – LabEveryDay

In this episode, we speak to Du’An Lightfoot! Du’An has recently moved into a new role as Sr. Developer Advocate for Amazon Web Services. Du’An talks about his time in the military and the experience he gained from it. He also shares with us how he started creating content and his brand – LabEveryDay!

Netmiko training – https://www.youtube.com/c/Grelleum

You can find more of Du’An:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/labeveryday
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/LabEveryday
Website: https://www.labeveryday.com/

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Sponsors
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How to do a Basic Linux Server Installation using Ubuntu

In this article, we will show you how to do a basic Linux Server OS install using Ubuntu Server. Linux is an extremely popular operating system in our field. Many system builders will build their platform on Linux. As a result, having the skills and experience with any version of Linux can help you navigate those platforms. Ubuntu Server is Open Source, and available for free, and can be installed on nearly any platform, physical or virtual. This makes it a platform for lab use, as well as production.

The Install Procress

Download the media

Go to https://ubuntu.com/download/server and click on Option 2 -Manual server installation

Prepare the media

Preparing the media will depend on what you’re installing on to. If it’s a physical machine you’ll likely be going to create a bootable USB drive or if you’re going to run a virtual machine you can just mount the ISO file directly. Rufus is a great tool for creating bootable USB drives for any bootable image.

Boot from the Install Media

The first thing you’ll do is select your language. Use the arrow keys to navigate the list and then press enter to select.

Next, select your keyboard layout.

Then, select a Network Interface. In our case we only have a single network interface, named ens33, and it is connected to the network and getting a DHCP address.

A Proxy is sometimes used to connect to the Internet. All traffic is sent to a proxy address so it can be scrubbed to ensure security. If this is a home or lab network you likely do not have a proxy. Leave the line blank and press enter.

Ubuntu Archive Mirror Address is the location on the internet where Ubuntu will download updates from. Leave the default here and press enter.

Next, configure your local storage. By default (recommended) you can just use the entire disk. However, in a production environment, you may want to be more specific about partitioning the storage.

Review the Storage Configuration Summary and then use the arrow keys to navigate to Done and then press enter.

You’ll be warned that the disk will be formated and all data will be lost. Use the arrow keys to highlight and select continue by pressing Enter.

Profile Setup – Here you enter in your name, the server’s hostname, your username, and then your password. This is the first user and will also be an administrative level user with Root privileges.

Press the Space Bar to select Open SSH Server and then use the arrow keys to navigate down to, and select, Done by pressing enter. Open SSH Server will allow you to remotely access the server via SSH.

Ubuntu is now being installed. Monitor the progress here. It will take several minutes to complete.

Once the installation is complete you’ll see the Reboot Now option at the bottom of the screen. Use the arrow keys to highlight it and then press Enter.

You will be prompted to remove the installation media so that upon reboot the installation process doesn’t start all over again.

Post Installations Tasks

After the installation completes there are a few things you may want to do, such as applying updates, setting a statically assigned IP address, or adding additional users.

After rebooting you’ll be at a login prompt. Enter in the username and password that you created earlier to get going.

Download and Apply Available Updates

First, let’s download and apply package updates that may have come out since the build was created. To do that we’ll use a couple of commands. First, is ‘sudo apt update’ for you first-time Linux users let’s break that down. Sudo is short for Super User Do – basically the “run as administrator” of the Linux world. Apt is short for Apt-get or Aptitude, and is a package handler for Debian flavors of Linux. On Red Hat flavors of Linux, such as REHL – Red Hat Enterprise Linux, CentOS, and Fedora, you would use Yum as the package Handler.

This refreshes the package database and can tell you how many packages that have updates available. In the above screenshot we see 87 packages can be upgraded. To get a detailed list of available updates we can run “apt list –upgradeable.”

Here we have a list of all of the packages, in green, listed with a / and then the latest version of that package, followed by a set of square brackets with the currently installed version within.

To execute the upgrade we can run sudo apt upgrade. This will list all of the packages that have updates available, and the size on disk these updates will take to install. In this example, we see the updates will take up 399 MB of disk space.

At the prompt press Y and then enter to continue.

The package manager will go through and apply all of the available updates.

Setting a Static IP

A statically assigned IP address makes management of a remote host a little bit easier in that you’ll always know what the IP address is for that host. First let’s view the IP Address information for our host. Use the command ‘ip address’

In this example we can see this device has two network interfaces, the Loopback which is lo here, and the Ethernet Adapter, ens33. To view the IP info for a specific adapter you can use the command IP address show dev [device name]:

Newer versions of Ubuntu use netplan to manage Network Adapters. There’s a folder under /etc/ called netplan that holds YAML configuration files for each network adapter. We can modify these files and set the desired configuration.

First let’s look at the files in the /etc/netplan folder. To do this, run the command ‘ls /etc/netplan’

On this host, we only have the one file 00-installer-config.yaml. Your system may show more files depending on how many adapters are installed. Let’s open that file and change the settings. Use the command sudo nano /etc/netplan/FILE-NAME.

First, let’s start by changing the dhcpv4 key value from true to false. Use your arrow keys to navigate to that line. Then we’ll add the following, addresses, gateway4, and nameservers. Pay particular attention to spacing. YAML files will not process correctly if the spacing and indentation is not correct. Your file should look something like this:

Press control X to exit, and then press Y and Enter to confirm and save the changes you’ve made. Now let’s go refresh Net Plan to pick up the changes. We do this by running the command ‘sudo netplan apply.’ You may be prompted to enter in your password again.

There isn’t much for feedback here so let’s go ensure the changes took affect with IP address show dev [DEVICE NAME]

And now, we can see that it is, in fact, using the IP we configured in the netplan YAML file. We can further verify things are working by using the PING command to ping our local gateway, a DNS server out on the public internet, and we can verify DNS is working using the nslookup command.

Add Users

Lastly, let’s add some users. Perhaps we want to add users to our lab machines so we have extra accounts we can do testing with. In an Enterprise environment it’s just a generally accepted best practice to give each user their own account. This is part of Authentication, Authorization, and Accounting. We need to know who the user is, give them the bare minimum privileges they need to do their work, and then log and verify their access to that system. If everyone shares the same user account we can’t tell the difference between when one person or another uses it.

To add a user account we’ll use the command adduser. Let’s add the rest of the AONE Co-Hosts to the server. The syntax is ‘sudo adduser username‘ Be prepared to enter in a password for the new user accounts.

The system also prompts you for some additional, but optional information. We can verify the user accounts have been added by listing all of the folders in the /home/directory, by typing ls /home/:

Here we can see I’ve created a new user account for each AONE Podcast Co-Host. Now, let’s add one of them to Super Users, or the sudo group, so they have administrator rights on the system. We do that using the usermod command with the -aG switch.

Summary

In this article we showed you how to:
1. Install Ubuntu Server
2. Complete common post-installation tasks: Applying Updates, set a Static IP, and add additional user accounts.

Ubuntu is an extremely popular platform as it is Open Source and easy to learn Linux on. There are many other flavors of Linux out there, so do some research and find one that fits you the most!

We hope you enjoyed this article. If you had any trouble or would like to add to it you can contact us, or connect with us on Twitter!

Ep 78 – Time to Move On

In this episode, we talk to Andy about his recent job change, from working as a Network Engineer in FinTech to a Product Manager at Juniper. Andy discusses imposter syndrome and how one interview changed his view on it, and possibly broke him of it, forever! We’ve also got some exciting news to share, but you have to listen to find out!

Andy’s Book Recommendation
Now, Discover Your Strengths – https://amzn.to/3FQ3OMn

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Top 10 Book Recommendations by Network Engineers, For Network Engineers

In our Discord Server – It’s All About the Journey – we’ve got a book club where all of our server members share books that have helped them throughout their journey. We’ve compiled a list of the Top 10 books recommended by Network Engineers, for Network Engineers. It’s composed of tech and non-tech books alike. As a bonus, we’ve had the pleasure of interviewing some of these authors on our podcast! Here’s the list:

Make it Stick: The Science of Succesful LearningBrown, Roediger, McDaniel
This book discusses the science of how we, humans, learn! It discusses several strategies and tools people of any age and profession can use. The book does not read as a scholastic paper, but a really good book. It starts each section by engaging the reader with a powerful story about learning and then highlights a particular strategy or tool learners can use.
Bonus – We interviewed one of the co-authors on Ep 32 of The Art of Network Engineering Podcast, you can check out the YouTube video of the interview here: https://youtu.be/yXk_3TEspfA

The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck – Mark Manson
There are so many things in life we can put effort into and so many more we are told we should put our energy and effort into (RIGHT NOW!). This book will help you decide which ones are actually worth putting your effort into and the rest you can just let go over.

Network Warrior – Gary A. Donahue
As the subtitle of the book suggests this book contains “Everything You Need to Know That Wasn’t on the CCNA Exam.” While some of the switches referenced in the book are End of Life the knowledge that this book provides is certainly not! Network Engineers from the most Jr. to the most Sr. will all get something from this fantastic book!

Succeed: How We Can Reach Our Goals
by Heidi Grant Halvorson
In this book author, Heidi Grant Halvorson offers some very insightful bits that will help you set goals, build willpower, and avoid failure. “Succeed unlocks the secrets of achievement, and shows you how to create new possibilities in every area of your life!”

A Mind for Numbers – by Barbara Oakley
Revealed that the way most of us are taught in school is not really a good way to learn, and then it reveals much better ways of learning based on science-based research. There is also a related course on Coursera.

The Practice of System and Network Administration – Limoncelli, Hogan, Chalup
The book was suggested because it is a non-technical book written specifically for network and Sys Admins to guide them on how to behave in different situations like how to hire and fire people and how to deal with misconducts by co-workers and managers.

Automate the Boring Stuff with Python – by Al Sweigart
This book is aimed at beginners trying to learn Python and apply it to everyday tasks. There’s also a completely free companion website https://automatetheboringstuff.com/

Mastering Python Networking – by Eric Chou
This book can take your Python and Network Automation Journey to the next level! We also had the opportunity to sit down and interview Eric in Episode 75 – The Automation Chou’sen One.

The War of Art – by Steven Pressfield
The War of Art emphasizes the resolve needed to recognize and overcome the obstacles of ambition and then effectively shows how to reach the highest level of creative discipline.” One Discord book club member said the book helped them to realize that failure is part of the process and that everyone faces resistance when trying to accomplish something hard.

Outliers – by Malcolm Gladwell
In this book, Malcolm Gladwell asks “What makes high achievers different?” His answer is that too much attention gets paid to what the people are like, and not enough attention to their background and upbringing. One Discord member said this book helped them to deal with imposter syndrome because it highlighted the fact that some people have access to resources that others of us may not, and that adds to their success.

Did we miss one? Make a suggestion in the comments below or let us know on Twitter, we are @artofneteng

Ep 77 – New Year, New Goals!

In this episode, A.J. and Tim are joined by Lexie (@TracketPacer) and they discuss their goals for the upcoming year! Hear how each of them goes about goal planning and the goals they’ve set for themselves for the coming year.

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Links:
Space Weather Prediction Center – https://www.swpc.noaa.gov/
Space Weather General – https://www.spaceweather.com/
Cisco Continuing Education Program – https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/training-events/training-certifications/training/continuing-education-program.html
Lexie on Twitch – https://www.twitch.tv/tracketpacer

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So, You Want To Start a Study Group!

Studying for certifications is hard, and a lot of people are studying for certifications. It would be great to be able to leverage the thinking of other people: their viewpoints, opinions, ways of solving problems you might not have thought about.

You’d like to join a study group for the cert you are working on, but everyone else is just looking for a group too, and there isn’t an active one to join. Lots of people express interest in joining a study group, but no one seems to know how to set one up. Never fear, we’ve put together some suggestions that will help you start a group and keep it working like a well-oiled machine, carrying the occupants to Certification Valhalla.

Getting Started

The first step in starting a study group is trying to find a group of people looking to join a study group. Thank God for the Internet. There’s Twitter, Facebook, Slack, Discord (shameless plug for IAATJ) and other social media platforms out there where people are studying and collaborating already. You pretty much can’t throw a rock without hitting people looking to study for certifications. Now stop throwing rocks at people, you monster.


Study Group Do’s and Don’ts

Starting and running a study group requires a very different set of skills than joining and participating in the same group. Just like Dungeons and Dragons, someone has to be the Dungeon Master so everyone can play. Here’s a list of suggestions on creating a running a successful study group:

DO:

  • Decide on a common platform for collaboration

Whether it be Discord, Slack, Google Hangouts, Facetime or Webex, the first step in forming a group is establishing what technology you use to meet/collaborate.

  • Decide on common training materials, or agree to focus on the exam blueprint agnostically

This is where a lot of study groups tend to stumble right out of the gate. Let’s be honest, all training materials are not created equal, and people may have acquired their study materials any number of ways. This could be a constraint on your group and the first hurdle to clear.

As a group, it’s better to decide if the group prefers to stick to one provider or approach the topics vendor-agnostically. There are pros and cons to each. One of the biggest pros is that it makes cadence easier and focuses the entire group on the exact same topics and labs. The biggest con of going with this approach is it could be exclusive to people who don’t have and can’t acquire the agreed-upon materials, and thus the group misses out on the added value that some might otherwise bring.

  • Develop ground rules early in the process

Here is another large stumbling block that most don’t even see. So much is assumed that often causes problems down the line, and when dealing with people of different cultures and expectations, it’s really imperative to declare the ground rules for the group and make it accessible to anyone who wants to join. This isn’t just administration for its own sake, it helps defuse arguments before they arise and streamlines the whole process.

Ground rules cover the basic expectations of the group and how it will interact. Cameras on or off? Mute when not talking? What common language will the group work in? Do we raise our hands (digitally or otherwise) and wait to be recognized or can we be more freeform? What is the expectation if late? Is there a consequence for habitual lateness?

  • Establish the frequency of meetings

This seems like a no-brainer, but it can get complex. How often will the group meet? Weekly? Twice a month? Monthly? The frequency influences a lot, including expectations of what can be accomplished outside the group meetings, and the the target dates for taking the exam.

  • Scheduling the meetings

What day of the week should the group aim to meet? What time? Which time zone will the group use as the reference? This could be very simple or extremely complicated depending on where study group members live. Some groups that want to be hyper-focused restrict membership to within 2-3 hours of the reference time zone. Some are more loose but place the burden of making it to meetings on time on the members who live far outside the reference time zone. There’s no right answer here, but in general, the closer the group is to the reference time zone, the easier scheduling the meetings (and making them) will be in the long run.

  • Agree upon the group’s topic format

It would be foolish to study only when the group meets. However, a pace must be set to keep the group somewhat synchronized. To ensure optimal study time when the group is together, it’s important to establish what should be covered in the group and what should be covered on your own between meetings.

For example, simply reading a chapter of a certification guide together in a meeting is a waste of time. It would be more efficient if everyone reads the chapter ahead of time and brings certain review items to the group. That could be questions on the text for review, it could be creating some sort of virtual lab based on the chapter(s) and reviewing that with the group. Generally, reading should be done outside the group and discussion should be the goal of the group meetings. The whole reason to join a study group is for accountability and exchange of ideas, after all.


Now, let’s look at a few things we should NOT do.

DON’T:

  • Establish everything prior to creating the study group and saying, “Take it or leave it”

Study groups aren’t dictatorships. The reward for starting and running a group is that you can drive these discussions, but not decide them alone. Start with finding interested study group members, then start discussing things like ground rules, materials, and let the above details come out of that discussion.

  • Leave the above unvisited for long

Study groups change over time. Someone may get the cert knocked out before others, others may get refocused to something else. Someone new may join, People change and so must things like scheduling, ground rules, etc. Every 3-4 meetings it’s worth revisiting and ensuring all the details are up to date.

  • Waste your own time and others’ by being habitually late and/or distracted and failing to do the work

Time is a precious resource for us all. Most of us are busy professionals juggling work, family and other obligations. A study group is an investment of time towards a goal and that investment is easier for some, harder for others. It’s important to be respectful of your time and the time others are investing by being focused when the group meets, on time, and most importantly, on schedule.

Things happen and you may not be able to do the pre-meeting work one week, but it can’t become a habit. If the group is meeting to trade/review OSPF labs, as an example, failing to create your own OSPF lab to share means you’ve failed to contribute to the group’s learning. Once or twice, life can get in the way, but if this happens habitually, you’re taking from the group without giving back. Just don’t.

  • Forget the point of a study group is to get different ideas and views

IT is full of introverts but there’s a few of us extroverts here too. We extroverts have to be very conscious of ourselves because often, people who are introverted are content to listen. For some, English is a second or third language and they are self -conscious about speaking. The point is, don’t dominate discussions. Make an effort to engage everyone.

  • Fail to participate in group discussions and activity

On the other side of that coin, failing to share your ideas, views and knowledge also makes for an ineffective group. Teaching others is a powerful way to cement knowledge you have and find your gaps. Don’t deprive yourself of that opportunity. Others also benefit from your questions and clarifications. A lot of times, people are wondering the same things but are not brave enough to speak up thinking they may be the only one who isn’t ‘getting it’. Speak up, the study group is a place to get information you can’t get from a book, video or blog post. It’s real human explanation addressed to your specific question.


I hope this has given a solid framework of things to pay attention to when starting and running a study group. It shouldn’t be a stressful endeavor, though at the outset it can feel like herding cats. Don’t be afraid to do what works for the group as a whole. Don’t be afraid to firmly refer to the ground rules when they are broken. The study group has an ultimate goal of ensuring those within the group get certified. That’s the mission statement and so focus on that.

Ep 76 – Deep Dive with Women in Networking

In this episode, women network engineers discuss the current realities for women in the network engineering space: the challenges, the support they’ve received, and how we can continue to make the industry a place that’s open to everyone. (Step one: ladies’ cut vendor t-shirts.)

More from our Guests:
Lexie
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TracketPacer
Twitch: https://www.twitch.tv/tracketpacer

Eyvonne
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharpNetwork
Blog: https://esharp.net

Micheline
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MichyfishMurphy

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CCNA Series – Automation and Programmability

In this article, we are going to discuss several parts of Section 6 – Automation and Programmability of Cisco CCNA Syllabus. Programmability and Automation are two huge and very hot topics in the world of Networking. Having Programmability and Automation skills is practically a requirement – so many organizations are adopting it. This article hopes to cover sub-sections 6.1, 6.2, and all of 6.3.

First, we should address the age-old question – Will Network Automation replace Network Engineers? No, this is a very common misconception. Automation is ultimately about consistency. Doing the same task over and over again manually can introduce human error. Sometimes these errors, while not catastrophic in nature, can be problematic and cause downtime.

An infamous example is adding a VLAN to switches throughout your network. In order for the VLAN to work properly, it needs to be created on each switch and then allowed on the trunk links that interconnect the switches. When adding the VLAN to the trunks a very common mistake is to forget the “add” keyword which will remove all VLANs that are tagged on the trunk and then allow the new vlan only. This simple fatal mistake has sent many a network engineers running with their laptop and console cable in hand.

A quick word about the above – This is a very common mistake. You will make this mistake in production and it will cause problems. But, find comfort in the fact knowing that many other network engineers that came before you have made that same mistake.

When using network automation you can get the syntax for the commands you need to send correct once, and then let automation do the rest for you. But, be aware. Automation is the tool that you use to deploy that thing over and over again. If you make a mistake it will do that mistake over and over again. So, always test your code before deploying it.

Automation and Network Management

Automation has changed the way we manage networks. In a traditional network, everything is done manually. From the deployment of new switches, updates to standard or baseline configurations, and deploying new network services are all done by the network operator.

In SDN (Software Defined Networking) Controller-based networks, a lot of the mundane repetitive tasks are handled by the controllers. Some examples of controllers in Cisco-based soltuions are: DNA Center in SD-Access, vManage in SD-WAN, and the APIC in ACI. The controllers handle all of the configuration deployment, as well as software upgrades, services deployment, applying security policy, and can even handle deploying new networking devices with Plug-and-Play or ZTP (Zero Touch Provisioning). This allows the network operator to focus on higher-level tasks like designing the network for scale and to best support the business, support operations, and more, like making progress on projects and other tasks.

The 3 Planes

In any networking device there are three planes of operation: The Management Plane, the Control Plane, and the Data Plane.

The Managment Plane is how the Network Operator accesses the devices and manages it. Whether it’s through SSH, HTTPS, or a Secure API and manually or via automation tools the Management Plane is where this takes places. This how the Operator tells the network device to function.

The Control Plane is where the device makes forwarding decisions. If we’re talking about a router then this is where Routing Protcols live, the routing table, and so forth.

The Data Plane is where traffic ingresses and egresses the device. This is literally the data being sent across the network, from an end user device out to a web server on the internet.

In a traditional network these three planes live on each and every device in the network. If you need to deploy a new security policy or update an existing one then you need to access the management plane on EVERY device in the network, or at least where the policy update is applicable, and update or apply the new rules. This is where Controller-Based networks make a huge impact.

In a Controller-based network the Management Plane is the Controller. This is where the Network Operator manages the network, regardless of how many network devices there on. The Control plane pushes the configuration, as described by the network operator, down to the devices. The networking devices themselves are the forwarding plane and just move traffic based on the instructions provided by the Controller. Let’s take a closer look at this in practice in Cisco’s SD-WAN.

In Cisco’s SD-WAN (Software Defined Wide Area Network) you have several pieces that fit within the 3 planes.

Within the Management Plane you have vManage, vBond, and vAnalytics. vManage is administrative interface for the rest of the network. vBond is the Orchestrator. When a device comes online either for the first time or after a reboot the device reports to vBond first and vBond will provide the device with the information on how to reach vManage and the rest. vAnalytics takes in all of the telemetry data and turns that data into useful information to be consumed by the network operator so they can make informed decisions about their network.

Within the Control Plane are vSmart Controllers. These controllers take the instructions from vManage and push the configuration down to the devices. They can also control the routing table for each device.

The Data Plane is composed of the routers themselves. In the above example it’s the vEdges, which is simply a Cisco SD-WAN capable router.

Overlay, Underlays, and Fabrics

Overlays, Underlays and Fabrics are very common terms that you’ll hear when discussing Controller Based networks. If you’ve ever looked at GRE or IPsec Tunnels across a network, like the Internet, then you already familiar with Overlays and Underlays.

VPNTunnel Anonymous Internet. Your private network security.

In the example of a GRE or IPsec tunnel operating over the Internet, the Internet is the Underlay network. It provides the networking connectivity from one endpoint to the other. The Overlay is the tunnel being formed over top of the internet. The underlay is just forward traffic, it really has no knowledge of the overlay.

In, for example, a Cisco Secure SD-Access network the underlay is composed of network devices that move traffic. They don’t really even need to be Cisco devices, or understand what SD-Access is. However, the edge devices need do, because they use the overlay protocols to initiate communications.

Going back to our previous example of IPsec tunnels across the internet – the internet routers are not speaking or using IPsec to form the tunnel, they are just routing packets using protocols like BGP. The end-point devices like laptop and firewall pictures above are using IPsec in the overlay. In an SD-Access network the underlay is using a routing protocol like OSPF, and the overlay uses protocols like VxLAN or LISP – more on those later. But, only edge switches and routers need to understand LISP and VXLAN in order for the Overlay to work.

Finally, the Fabric. This term is used often and simply refers to the network where the overlay and the underlay are operating. Once you exit that you have left the fabric and are back in a traditional network, or perhaps a different fabric. Again, back to the IPsec tunnel examples, once the packet has arrived to the destination firewall it is exiting the fabric and entering the Enterprise network. That network maybe a Cisco SD-Access Fabric, so it’s exiting one Fabric and entering another one. The Fabric is just a term for controller based networks, and not just a traditional network.

APIs

First off, what is an API – an API stands for Application Programming Interface. It’s a way for someone to interact with a piece of software and APIs can even be configured to interact with each other. The API enables automation and programmability, as well as Orchestration. API’s typically use standard HTTP calls, which are verbs like GET, POST, PUT, DELETE, and PATCH. This of the HTTP GET like the Cisco CLI version of show. The show command lets you view configuration. The HTTP GET will let you view information as well.

The network operator can use tools and the verbs to get information and then send configuration changes. Automation and scripting can be used to make these changes as well. Additionally, when one system sees certain changes or things happening in the network they can be configured to send API calls to other APIs on other controllers. This is very common in the Data Center. You’ll have an API on the ACI controller, called the APIC that interacts with the virtualization controller, in VMware known as vCenter.

These are two different interactions. When a Network Operator is interacting with an API, or two APIs are interacting with each other, this is a Northbound API interaction. When the API is interacting with network, or other, devices that it controls, this is the Southboud API interaction.

Summary

In this article we discussed sub-sections 6.1, 6.2, and 6.3 including 6.3a and b of the Cisco CCNA 200-301 Syllabus. This article should be considered a starting point for the topic and may not be comprehensive enough to fully prepare the learner for the Cisco 200-301 CCNA exam.

Ep 75 – The Automation Chou’sen one!

In this episode, we interview author Eric Chou. Eric has written one of the most important books in Network Automation – Master Python Networking. Eric shares his career journey which includes working for two of the largest cloud service providers! Eric also shares with us all of the other content he is working to create for the community.

More from Eric:
Blog: https://networkautomation.ninja/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ericchou
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/choueric/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/c/EricChouNetworkAutomationNerds
Books:
Mastering Python Networking https://amzn.to/3qzJpWh
Kafka Up and Running https://amzn.to/3mJk373
Podcast: Network Automation Nerds – get it in your favorite podcatcher

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Be the Ally, Not the Ego

Competition is everywhere. Sometimes it is unavoidable. For instance, when you are looking for a job. You want to focus on you, skill up, and set yourself apart from the rest that are competing for that same job. It is definitely stressful, but can also be necessary when it comes to career advancement. Not always, but sometimes. However, job hunting is not the scenario that I want to cover in this post. In this one, I want to go over the scenario in which you are already in the role that you want. You are not only bright, established, driven, and hard-working, but you are also a part of a team. Let’s say in that team, there are some new, up-and-coming, less experienced members. Or maybe, there is someone within another department in the company that is looking for a change, and wants to explore your specialty. How would you handle something like that?

The Reflex?
This obviously isn’t ‘one size fits all’, but I think a natural reaction could be to want to protect yourself. That first reflex might be to immediately enter the competition mode that was brought up earlier. Your mind could quickly take you to a far-end, worst case scenario spectrum quickly, if you let it. You could find your brain starting to race with questions such as:

  • Well, who is this new and ambitious person?
  • Why do they want to get into, and familiar with my responsibilities?
  • Do they think they are better than me?
  • Are they trying to take my job?
  • What if I train them and my boss likes them better than me?

Honestly, I think it’s fine if this is the first place your mind goes when this situation comes up. This competitive instinct pops up in me fairly often. I think it’s important however, to realize this happening, and shift the energy elsewhere.

Flip the Script
As stated earlier, the strong competitive spirit, and looking out mainly for yourself has its time and place (job searching for example), but successfully functioning in a team environment is definitely not it. Let’s turn the tables on the situation. If you were the one that was new and trying to better yourself, would you rather have a role model/mentor to look up to and get assistance from, or a standoffish, information hoarding co-worker who looks down on you and pays you minimal attention? I’m hoping we all agree that we would want the former, rather than the latter. The ol’ golden rule seems to fit nicely here. Treat others the way you want to be treated.

Be the Ally
Being an ally, a mentor, or even just someone who is helpful when needed can make a big impact on someone’s career and life in general. For me, the first step is to be observant. This could happen directly and obviously, with someone new joining the team. Or, you may just happen to see someone outside your direct team that is showing an interest in what you do and potentially wants to be a part of it some day. If you have the time and energy to spend, I encourage you to key in on that observation and reach out to that person. Some newcomers may reach out to you, but others might be a little more reserved. If you start the conversation, that can be the spark to making a real impact on someone’s career. Again, there is no ‘one size fits all’ here, your involvement can be varied based on your judgement. It can range from just making it known that you see that this person has an interest in career growth and you are willing to help out and answer questions; all the way to setting up recurring meetings with this person to provide assistance and advice. I assure you that any degree of assistance you give to someone in this scenario will be appreciated.

The Win-Win
Now, this could be seen as selfish on my part, but I see no shame in gaining a benefit from helping or mentoring someone else. Now, if you get into a trend of only providing assistance when you know it will benefit you is another story. No, the win-wins I am talking about here are the indirect benefits you can gain from being that helping hand, and mentoring someone:

  • Teaching something is a great way to help you solidify your knowledge in a concept, and practice gathering your thoughts to present them to someone else.
  • Taking time for others can build upon the image that people see of you. You will be seen as a kind, thoughtful, and helpful person. People will want to share ideas and work with you.
  • To add on to the previous point, your management will see what you are doing. You will be seen as a team player, and maybe even a leader.

Again, try not to get the goal skewed. The goal is to show that you care and are willing to give back, with time and effort to someone who needs it. That might be because someone else did the same for you, or because you wish you had someone like that when you were coming up and now you want to be the difference maker for someone else, that you never had. Either way, the end result is the same. Someone that wanted or needed some help to further their career got it. I just wanted to highlight some indirect benefits that you could see by helping others.

Bert’s Brief
I seem to often say this phrase on the podcast: “just be cool”. What I really mean by that is to be kind, considerate, and helpful. You never really know what someone else might be going through, and you can easily help be a reason that things get better, or at least pointed in the right direction. There are many different ways to help, but I think the most important thing to do is to just start. Don’t wait for someone to ask a question. Be proactive and start the conversation. Share that knowledge and experience, don’t hoard it. Be the ally, not the ego.

Ep 74 – Holiday Special

The best way to spread some cheer is by recording a podcast for all to hear! Please enjoy our holiday special episode.

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Toys For Tots

***This article was written by Patrick Kinane. We thank Patrick for this contribution!***

I recently used my Cisco Time2Give to help families in my local community via Toys For Tots. While I was there volunteering for 7 days, I was fortunate enough to do a little of everything from receiving toys at the warehouse to sorting the toys and filling orders, even delivering toys to a family. I will elaborate on my experience, but here is a short list of cool things that happened throughout my Time2Give.

  • Working with Toys For Tots, in general, was pretty cool (details and pictures later)
  • Seeing fellow Marines I’ve not seen since 2012
  • Working alongside my new team (which we are all remote) and working with Cisco Partners from ePlus
  • Getting to know people who were delivering toys (I always asked where the toys were coming from)
  • My Toys For Tots journey
  • Delivering toys to the house of a recipient family
  • Shout out to fellow Cisco employees

Let’s go on down to the unit and dive into things.
Note: I am a Marine; I like books/blogs/reading material that has plenty of pictures… That’s right, reading material = pictures.
Other note: I promise there will be a lesson here for people working in (or aspiring to work in) tech.

General Coolness
Working with Toys For Tots (T4T), in general, was pretty cool. Just seeing the piles of toys coming and going. Getting to be a part of it. I do not have the metrics from this year as the current T4T campaign is just now coming to an end. I was able to get the metrics from 2020 though, and I expect this year’s numbers would be comparable.

  • 27,000+ children received toys from the local T4T campaign (servicing North Carolina)
  • Roughly 80,000 toys distributed
  • $86,000 raised
The basketball courts and the warehouse. That’s where all the magic happens.

Among the highlights of the campaign, for me, was when a U-Haul van filled with $28,000 worth of toys arrived:

It took a very long time to offload that truck. You cannot see all the bicycles under that massive pile of toys, but there were so many really nice bikes. I asked the driver where the toys were from, he said a family donates each year, and last year they did $22,000 worth of toys (I will revisit this later).

One of the Cisco Volunteers (Michael Dayton) started a toy drive in their neighborhood. Michael was collecting toys at his house, and then in the morning, he would bring the toys to the warehouse. Then the toys would be offloaded and sorted accordingly. Afterward, Michael worked the day helping with whatever tasks were waiting. One more thing about Michael, he is a former Marine (SFMF). The next photo shows just one of the toy hauls Michael and his neighbors collected.

Reconnecting With People
Something to note about the unit where we did T4T is that I was once a Platoon Sergeant at the same unit; with two other Sergeants (Hudson and Presslein). The uniformed picture captured the last night we were together (back in 2012). That night Hudson and I got pulled over in a taxi by 9 sheriff deputies, but that’s a topic for another time (maybe something to cover in a podcast episode of The Art of Network Engineering). The following picture is Hudson and I at our old unit, assembling bicycles for T4T.

I was also able to work with two other Marines from the old unit. One of them is Lewis, who is the CEO of SPOTR. He does a ton of great work for the community (locally and nationally) and does work with USVCHernandez is the Marine I was referring to in this tweet. This is one of the important lessons for people looking for a job in tech. She is about to graduate with a degree in cyber security, and she met cybersecurity professionals. They discussed which certificates to go for and why; furthermore, she received some excellent guidance with career development and job market trends. People also started reaching out to their networks to ask about vacant cybersecurity positions.

Team Building and Partner Relationship Building
Several people from my new team were able to join us, and working with my new team, in-person and sitting down together for lunch was huge! I believe it was an intense way for us to finish out our first year working together. It was also great that new relationships between my current team and people from my previous team were able to take root. Even more beneficial is that we worked alongside Cisco Partners from ePlus, which facilitated some Cisco Pre-sales Eng interacting with Cisco Partner Pre-sales Engineers (Brian Meade specifically – those in collab may know his name).

What’s The Story Behind The Toys?
I would get to know people who were delivering toys, and while talking with them, I would always ask about the background of the toys. Some originated from office toy drives such as a dentist or doctor office, others neighborhood toy drives, often a fire station (bring a toy and get to ride the fire truck), some veteran groups, and boxes outside local stores (Walmart, Target, Starbucks, Grocery Store, etc.).

What about the family who donated $28,000 worth of toys? The gentleman driving the U-Haul of toys is a local firefighter. He let us know the family lost their son in a tragic car accident in 2003. The family donates all those toys in honor of their son, and it is incredible how something so sad has also become something so amazing.

My Toys For Tots Journey
I joined the Marine Corps out of high school. This took me from New York to some yellow footprints, and I eventually landed in Huntsville, Alabama (for a few months to learn a job). While I was there, it was the holiday season, so we Marines helped with T4T. The best part of that experience was interfacing directly with the families. While giving a bicycle to a family, it reminded me of when I was a kid, and someone delivered toys to our place (good ole 1994). I remember getting a bike from him and wondering why, but not thinking much of it because I was psyched about the new ride. At T4T in Huntsville, I realized the deal with the toys and bike from that day back in 1994.

While on Active Duty that was my last time working with Toys For Tots; however, I joined the Marine Corps Reserve after my time on Active. This is important because Toys For Tots is a Marine Reserve initiative. So I was back to interacting with T4T during the holiday season while I was a reservist; however, I left the unit in December 2012 because I began working at Cisco in January 2013 and I wanted to put all my focus into Cisco.

While working in Cisco TAC (pre-covid) I used to work with several other veterans to help facilitate the T4T drive throughout the Cisco RTP campus. I eventually stepped away from Toys For Tots (having more kids, studying for CCIE, etc.); however, this year was my first time back since pre-covid and it was awesome!

Something I want to reiterate is, my experience and the experience of my fellow Cisco employees was made easy by Cisco providing us with Time2Give.

The Best Part
There’s a family about 20 minutes away from where I live today. The children lost their dad earlier this year, and a wife lost her husband. A mom and dad lost their youngest son, and two brothers lost their younger sibling. Assisting families during trying times is one of the most rewarding things I’ve ever done. I wish everyone who donates their time, money, food, toys, etc., could see the impact of their efforts because it is beautiful.

Shout out to fellow Cisco employees

  • Michael Dayton
  • Kenneth Onyebinachi
  • Kyle Davenport
  • Taylor Noumi
  • Bill Davis (and wife)

Check out these other people from my team who are making an impact in their communities using Cisco Time2Give

Ep 73 – Zeros and Wons

In this week’s episode A.J. and Andy interview David Alicea! While David was exposed to the Cisco Networking Academy at a young age in High School he actually didn’t land in Networking until later on. Since then he has been a career Network Engineer and recently landed himself a position at the mothership, Cisco. Hear how did it all in the week’s episode!

You can find more of David:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Dayvee87
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/david-alicea-495b5733/
Blog: https://zerosandwon.blog/

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Transcript

A.J.: [00:00:00] This is the art of network engineering podcast

This podcast

and share the stories of fellow

David: network.

A.J.: Welcome to the art of network engineering. I am A.J. Murray at @NoBlinkyBlinky. How are we doing tonight? No, that’s Blinky Blinky, Blinky,

uh, Andy and Andy laptop. All things Andy can be found at permit IP. Andy, andy.com. Danny, how are ya, man?

Andy: Um, I’m better than I’ve been in a really long time. And, uh, I tell anybody why yet?[00:01:00]

A.J.: What does it say, Randy? You’re killing.

Andy: You’re killing.

A.J.: I know. Isn’t it. Time to let the cat out of the bag? I don’t

Andy: know. I feel like the whole team should be together. I feel like maybe it’s too early. There’s some timing stuff that, you know, it’s going to be great. And I’m really excited. Let’s build some suspense.

I have a cool announcement. Yeah. There’s, there’s a cool announcement coming. I think there’ll be a lot of happiness for me and, uh, just know that I’m making a big change and I’m very happy about it. So overdue, but it

A.J.: shows,

Andy: it shows. I’m sorry. You guys have had to put up with, uh, a whole Andy for two years, but you know, I, I, I apologize.

That’s what, you know, you’ll find out who your friends are, right. People that put up with. It’s your toughest times and coming out of some of that. And, uh, yeah, you guys are still here, so thank you friends. I’m good. Hey Jay, [00:02:00] tell me, are you doing,

A.J.: doing very well? I have completed week three of the new job.

I’m settled in pretty acclimated to have a bunch of projects assigned. So in fact, I’m taking my first work trip tomorrow. Get to go to Maine, work on site with a customer. So I hear Maine’s beautiful.

Andy: You got to like get the hang or you’re just in and out.

A.J.: Um, I’ll hang for like a night. Yeah. Yeah, just onsite for one day to do a quick switch install.

So sweet man.

Andy: That’s great. That’d be good to get your first one under your belt, the new place, right? Yep. Yep. That’s great.

A.J.: Maybe switch a little switch chassis, switch a little switch. Actually. It’s pretty funny. So this customer is somehow got their hands on. No shit. One of the last 5, 29, 60 Xs. That’s Cisco

and now they’re gone.

Andy: Wow. Are they like.

A.J.: But over there end of life. End of sale. No more. And you’re you, you want [00:03:00] to

do the install on this one,

Andy: so well, can you get support on end of life? I always there’s end of life. End of support. And like there’s a

A.J.: well, there’s, there’s end of sale, which means that’s the last time that you can sell it or buy one. Uh, and then there’ll be end of support, which means you won’t be able to renew your support on there.

And then there’ll be like absolute end of life. Like not going to touch it anymore.

Andy: So you’re going to install switches that Cisco no longer will support.

A.J.: I’m going to install switches at Cisco no longer will sell. Oh gotcha. They will continue to be supported for the next, I don’t know how many years I’d have to look up,

Andy: but awesome.

Yeah. I always get close. Get confused in the different end of. Terminologies. Good stuff, dude. Don’t break spanning tree, right?

A.J.: No, I won’t. I promise I’ve done it.

Andy: That’s all. I’m just saying don’t pick Spanish rates.

A.J.: I know I’ve done it too.[00:04:00]

And now it’s time for some wins. Winning in our discord channel this week is Dalton B. They moved into their first network position coming from the service desk in their organization. And they’re currently working on their CCA. N a congratulations, Dalton, U M U T C 24, late at an it support position.

Congratulations, Carlos RM passed the Jan CIA Juno’s ticker bit it’s past the J and CDA. Congratulations to grits. Number Mang past the dev net associate who was staying Pilgrim past two exams this week, the NRC and the CISP congratulations. RFG labs passed to CCNA and smiling. Chris, our very own smiling.

Chris was promoted to networking and InfoSec manager. Congratulations, Chris run and. Took on a new network engineer position and starts [00:05:00] Monday. Congratulations, run and myrrh pup 5 69 past the Encore. Big win there. Congratulations. MoPOP welcome. And thank you to new patrons, Ryan, Eddie, Canada, Adam Smith, a new identity, and yet sick.

Thank you so much for your support of what we do here are the art of network engineering podcast. And thank you to all of our fans for listening and downloading and liking our content. Following us on all of our social platforms, uh, that really helps an awful lot. Uh, if you’re interested in joining the Patrion program, you can go to patrion.com forward slash art of net enj.

And I want to personally wish all of our listeners, a very happy and safe holiday season. Thank you so much for listening to the art network engineering podcast. Now back to the show. I am very excited to introduce our guests tonight. If you have spent any time on Twitter or in our discord, [00:06:00] you are completely familiar and should know the name.

David Alicia, David, welcome to the show. I’m so excited to have it here.

David: Hello, everybody happy to be here?

A.J.: Oh yeah. So, uh, if, if you’re not following David, if you haven’t talked to him, uh, then you will be happy to know that, uh, David has recently changed jobs and, uh, and so David, where do you work these days?

I

David: am currently working at a small organization. I am currently at Cisco. Ah,

A.J.: that’s awesome. That’s awesome. So I’m sure like many, a network engineer in our field landing at a, at a large OEM, such as Cisco is. The dream, right?

David: It’s it’s been a journey I’ve been trying to get the Cisco for a while now. Yeah, door’s just never, uh, never opened in the past.

And then things worked out and [00:07:00] you know, it was the right time. That’s one thing. I believe that if something’s not working out, it’s just not the right time it’s going to happen. It’ll happen in the future.

A.J.: I think we were talking about this earlier. Somebody commented something in the failure plaques channel, right?

I think you would comment on, on there too, but like, uh, when you get to know that beans new opportunity. So sometimes it’s, it’s just about timing, right? Like if, if the world’s telling you now it’s not the right time, like the something better is coming your way, don’t get defeated. Uh, when you, when you get to know, and just like you said, you had gotten to know a few times from Cisco before, but this time they said, yes, and here

David: you are, that’s natural.

I mean, it’s natural to, you know, if you get rejected, it’s natural. Like, well, you know, what’s wrong with me, but it’s just not the right time. You go back, you get better, you continue improving. And then from there, doors continue

A.J.: to open. Awesome. And so what, what do you do for Cisco?

David: So I’m a systems architect in enterprise, uh, near Chicago.

[00:08:00] Um, I have three customers that I work with. I am three weeks since I am learning as much as I can about them. And as well as furiously bookmarking, all the links that people are sending, there is a lot to learn, uh, you know, coming from an organization where we had, you know, 3000, 3,500 employees to an organization like Cisco, it’s, it’s a different animal.

So it’s, there’s a lot to learn. There’s a lot of people to, to figure out who does what, uh, so I do appreciate the people that have reached out to me from Twitter though. There’s a, there’s people at Cisco that, that I follow them and they follow me and they’ve reached out on WebEx and like, Hey, it mean it.

So I, I appreciate that. It’s it’s, everybody’s been very cool.

A.J.: So

Andy: you said system architect, right? Sorry. Yep. So, so that’s like the essay role, right? You also hear it like se so. Okay. Can you explain to people because I I’ve recently learned about that role and I’m still not sure. I understand. What an [00:09:00] essay does.

David: So I am a partner to the customer, right? If the customer has any technical concerns, if the customer wants more information about different product lines, uh, if the, if the customer needs some advice, uh, if the customer needs some assistance, uh, assistance, roadmapping, anything that has to do with Cisco and technology, I’m there to assist them.

I’m there to be, uh, you know, the hands and feet is needed. Right. Um, of course there’s other partners that they work with, but from the Cisco side, uh, I am the one that’s given me advice along with the account manager now.

Andy: So it sounds a little bit like sales, but it’s not a sales rep.

David: It is still under the sales umbrella.

So that’s definitely coming from operations, going into sales. This is my first sales role. It’s a, it’s a different, uh, you know, it’s a different world, so there’s a lot to learn. Uh, and I’m, I’m diving head first into it. Pre-sales right.

Andy: I consider that pretty,

David: pretty much. I mean, even, [00:10:00] even after the fact, I still support the customer through the entire process.

Andy: Right. So I’m in an organization and you’re assigned to my account and I’m like, Hey, we got upgrade some switches and we’re not exactly sure what we want to do. Maybe we go to spine leaf. Now we’ve got to talk to David and you can direct us through, Hey, here’s, what’s going on? Let’s talk about your needs.

Right. Here’s our

David: product lines. Yeah. How does it fit into your ecosystem? Is there anything better that we can do? Uh, you know, the goal really is that everything’s working together, right? We don’t want something to be siloed, want everything to work together for your benefit. Awesome.

A.J.: So what I’ve been under the impression of in, based on being a customer myself and now working on the partner side is that, that kind of relationship between your, uh, your sales, uh, account manager and then the essay it’s kind of like, almost like CFO’s CIO kind of like advisory role to the business.

Is that kind [00:11:00] of, uh, an accurate ish?

David: Yeah. I mean, right now I’m, I’m trying to meet as many people as I can on the customer side. I mean, I’m sending notes and like, Hey, you know, I’m here. I want you to know, Hey, I exist. You know, I wasn’t here before reach out to me. I want to have a relationship with you. So I just want to be there for you.

That’s really what I’m working on now. But yeah, it’s, it’s really that

A.J.: very cool. Very cool. Well, you haven’t always been at Cisco and you haven’t always been into it or network engineering. So what, what kind of, you know, originally, oh, so long ago, or maybe not. So also long ago, uh, got your interest, got you into it.

David: So pretty much it was back at high school. Uh, you know, one of the, one of the classes that was offered back in high school and, you know, I’m, I’m, I’m 35 years old right now might not look at, but it’s cause I shaved my head, but yeah, back then in high school, uh, there was Cisco networking academy, [00:12:00] so that’s interesting.

And then

A.J.: your high school, you had it, you had a Cisco networking academy. I don’t think we’ve heard that too much. I think we’ve heard like network academies at like colleges and stuff, but I think we’ve heard it too much at high school, so that’s

David: really cool. So quickly we put it in high school.

Andy: Quick point when I was in high school, I don’t think we had internet at the high school.

David: Just a couple computers. We had

Andy: a computer lab, but I’m pretty sure there’s no internet. I’m just, I’m just level-setting as you know,

David: you’re not as you have a whiteboard, was

A.J.: it still

Andy: chalkboards? It was the stone tablets.

A.J.: The overhead projectors would like to really

Andy: I’m sorry. Ignore my dumb jokes, David.

So you’re in high school and you heard about Cisco networking academy. You’re like, huh, this is maybe a thing

David: that was one of the choices. And I believe it was tied to as well as getting college credit. [00:13:00] So from there on, on, I think every Tuesday and Thursday, I was able to go to university to take, uh, to take a class at the university and I would get college credit beforehand.

So, you know, my mom pushed me to those programs. It’s like, do as much as you can. Um, you know, my parents education was really, you know, almost non-existent. I mean, my, my mom for years worked in housekeeping and my dad, I remember when I was young going around, picking up scraps of metal and sell them at different places.

I mean, that was really the history. So they wanted me to do, uh, even better. Right. So any program that opened up, go do it, go do it. It’s going to be good. No, don’t do this. Don’t pick up scraps like me. That’s what my dad would say. You know, you can do so much more. So I was like, Hey, you know what? I’ll, I’ll take that advice.

I’m a big believer in education. So Cisco academy and in high school was really a door that opened up, uh, for technology, right. It wasn’t exactly, you know, networks [00:14:00] interested me at the time, but it wasn’t what I dived into when I actually went to college.

A.J.: Okay. So you didn’t leave high school with your CCNA?

David: Nah, no, no, no. I know there’s some people out there, there are, that’s great for them, but I did not. And my plan actually was to do programming. So when I went to college, I was looking at web design. I was looking at programming and that that’s really what my bachelor’s was. Computer information systems.

Was it database administration? Um, I, my goal was to do DBA as well as do some web design on the side, things like that. And it just never materialized.

Andy: You went through the Cisco network academy and you did not get your CCNA.

David: No, what they did in high school actually is instead of, instead of the CCNA, they had us take the A-plus, which was interesting.

So they, I remember that because I failed it. Didn’t pass. Plus

Andy: that’s the hardware. And [00:15:00] that would be a good place to start right in your journey. So

David: we would sit, we would sit in the classes and you know, our professor. I remember, I remember we would always call him coach, coach Colbertson somewhere on LinkedIn.

I’m sure I’m listening. Right. He’ll probably listen to this. I’m sure. But, uh, yeah, we always call him coach. He was a great teacher and that’s one of the things that really, uh, continue to spark that interest in a bunch of the students is because he had such a good personality that he could bring us into the lesson.

And it’s like, look, you know, look at, this is how the internet works. You know, this is, wow, this is great. This is how I can get the most.

Andy: Did that grab your attention at the time? Like, oh my God, this is magical. Like,

David: I mean, this is how communication works, you know? So that was interesting, but it wasn’t interesting enough that when I went to college, I was like, oh, I want to do this for the rest of my life. I still had that interest in design and creating websites and doing programming and learning that, that side of the house.

Andy: So quick, quick question. [00:16:00] Before we struck a chord, when, when you talked about your parents and how. You know, I don’t want to say they struggled. Right. But like you said, they didn’t have much of an education and they, they worked hard jobs that, that rings true, you know, for me to a certain extent. So do you feel, did that have any impact or did that mold kind of what you wanted for your life?

Like, you know, I have, so I have like memories, right. Of like certain portions of my life where like I wasn’t wearing the nice clothes. The other kids were like, you know, when you have these experiences, sometimes, you know, as a child that like stick with you and I, for me, I remember thinking, you know, like someday I want something different.

Right? Like I don’t want my kids to feel like I feel right now, you know, and I know that that’s kind of like heavy and crazy, but you just hit me. How was it growing up right. With like parents that weren’t educated and really had to work hard. Like, did that have an impact on you and what you wanted?

David: It did.

I mean, you hit the nail on the head. I [00:17:00] mean, really it was, I mean, to me it was, what’s going to be my legacy. Right. You know, my parents, you know, they dived and did everything that they needed to do. Uh, you know, they, they poured into me as much as they could. Right. So I want to do the same thing for my kids.

Right. So what’s going to put me in a place where I can pour as much into my kids as I can, you know, you have to get better. So that’s definitely something that I was looking for, even when I was young. I mean, even when I was young, I think I had, you know, the soul of an old man. I mean, that’s just how it works.

Um, I even, I even got married early, so my wife was 19 and you know, I was 22. The reason we got married early, we’re just all, you know, we, we look young, we’re old people mentally.

Andy: I love that, man. And how, how did you. Did you, so computer science, I’m jealous of people like you, right? Cause I failed at a computer side.

So did you always know that something you wanted it was that a natural progression for [00:18:00] you? Did somebody recommend it to you?

David: I think we went through, I remember sitting down and then looking at all the programs and that was the program that really spoke the most interest. It’s like, oh wow. I can learn programming, create something for myself at the time.

I remember, I think, I think X-Box had X and a, which was like the Microsoft developer for X-Box and stuff like that. So then that interested me a bit. So I was buying X and a books. I think I still have one or two behind me.

Andy: Um, that was interesting language under the

David: hood of, for X-Box for X-Box yet to create games.

It was X and a pretty much loud thing, but it used C-sharp. So that’s an, they utilized these sharp bikes and I guess was just the architecture of the program. But, um, Yeah, that was interesting to me, creating something from scratch, creating a game, creating a site, creating something that I could call my own that sparked the interest.

So I went in that direction and, uh, and somehow I ended up in database administration and I [00:19:00] in sequel and Oracle and all this, I don’t know how, but that’s the track that I went into. Uh, but it still involved me learning, C-sharp learning Java, uh, which I now have completely forgotten so long and I haven’t used it, you know, use it.

Uh, but, uh, at, at one point, uh, I was able to get a job one, the beginning, when I first started college, I got a job at the help desk, which was extremely beneficial. I mean, if you’re starting out and you’re starting for a place, you know, to look and learn a help desk, a service desk is definitely a place that

Andy: I’d recommend you get that in college to help us spot.

Now, was that an internship through the program

David: student worker? It was a student worker spot. So, uh, I worked for the help desk. I picked up the phone professors and students yelling at me, complaining tickets, all this stuff, I’d go around, running around imaging computers, you know, uh, formatting stuff. I mean, there was just a ton of stuff that we had to do.

Um, I [00:20:00] remember we had a DBA at the campus and for some reason, Uh, she had me running Oracle scripts, like to create student accounts or something. I remember that. So that was pretty cool. There was a bunch of stuff in the beginning, the campus wasn’t centralized to all the other universities. So we had their own exchange, throwing everything.

So I remember creating email accounts when I was a student worker. I mean, there was a ton of stuff I did. So, um, it was a little bit of everything and that kind of, that helped me piece together, you know, all these different areas and it, and how they work

A.J.: together. Hmm. Very cool.

Andy: Getting that experience, man.

It was huge. That’s amazing. My experience. I couldn’t get arrested when I graduated because I didn’t do any internships. And I was, I was working full time, you know, waiting tables, pay my rent and stuff. And my buddies who did internships, they all had, you know, multiple offers when they got out and you know, I’m in a row and they’re like, where have you worked?

What have you done? And so anytime I hear, you know, where somebody is in [00:21:00] college, right? Like, Hey, what should I do? Like get experienced if you can, like, you know, there’s, there’s internships, there’s student work. You’re getting hands on. You know, not that that turned into a job for you at graduation. Maybe it did.

You have experience, which is what everybody wants, right. When you get out, what do you know, what

David: have you done? And I think the biggest part is, you know, getting to know people, you know, cause in the university, I got to know the other teams to help us managers, you know, th th th there was a network team on site.

Uh, so I got to know them. Uh, I got to have a relationship with them, build that relationship up, uh, even as a student worker. So, I mean, one of the things that I always tell people is, you know, work hard, you get noticed, right? We were talking about that, you know, before the show is like, work hard, you get noticed, you know, 99% of the time, if you work hard, if you put in the work, somebody’s going to look at you and be like, wow, this person busts.

They, you know, they deserve to move up or they deserve something right. 99% of the time. There’s always that 1% that it doesn’t work out, but I didn’t have present of the time. [00:22:00] Somebody will notice you. So that’s really what happened. And, you know, there was a desktop, a full-time desktop support, uh, with the university that opened up, you know, to drive around between the satellite locations.

And they, they asked me if I was interested in it, you know, it wasn’t the greatest pay in the world, but it was like, you know what, I’ll take it. You know? Cause there was some benefits behind it, you know, they would help pay for, for some of the schooling as well. So it was like, yes, this is great. So there was some good benefits behind it was that.

That was full time and you are still in school. I was still in school, so I was still going for my bachelor’s. So did

Andy: you have to scale back on the amount of classes or did you do full-time school

David: by the, by the time I got the full-time desktop support, I was pretty much almost done. Okay. Um, so I did that for about a year.

By that time I had graduated, um, After desktop support with the university. Uh, another spot with the university opened up, which was a lab manager position, which was being a manager, a supervisor to the [00:23:00] student workers. So I started managing the student workers, you know, picking the schedules, helping them out with escalations, things like that.

Uh, and I was like, Hey, you know, we were working with this guy now he’s the boss. So it was pretty cool. I got along with everybody like everybody, you know? Um, so I think, I think it was, it was pretty good. And, and, and it helped me, it turned me into a little bit of a teacher because at that point, you know, I was showing the student workers, well, this is how you do things.

This is what’s the best way to, you know, image this procedure, you know, careful with that professor. You know, I think it helped out a lot. And doors continued to open after that, within the unit.

A.J.: Wow. Very cool. So as a student worker, was that like a paid position or was it just the work experience that you got?

David: There was a paycheck. Yeah, I wouldn’t say it was a lie. You know, the government was paying something. I know it through the school, but there was a paycheck and, you know, I was able to take my girlfriend at the time. I, you know, on a [00:24:00] date to cellies or something somewhere, you know, I’d worked out

A.J.: and

David: I got, I got the bills paid, but you know, my, my parents, I was still living with my parents and they were helping me out as much. They go, you know, that’s one thing that I’ll say that, you know, Throughout my time in high school and the university, you know, they, they did everything they could to make sure I was successful.

So that’s one thing that I, I do say, and I want to thank my parents for everything they did, because obviously, you know, if they hadn’t pushed me as much as they did, if they hadn’t helped me out, uh, you know, by talking to me and even monetarily, I wouldn’t be where I’m at today. Right,

A.J.: right. That’s awesome.

That is awesome. You’re you’re a supervisor at the university. How long did you work for the university?

David: Uh, I was honestly, I was there for I at the campus at the campus and it was the campus in Chicago. I was there. I mean from 2005, through [00:25:00] 2009 in various positions, eventually I was managing the help desk.

I was managing some of the other lab managers who managed the student workers. And these were full-time, you know, adults that I was managing at that point. Um, So, I mean, I continued to do my fan. I continued to work and learn and teach pretty much as much as I could. Um, and eventually, um, you know, I was in a, in a position where I was able to help at the campus.

I was able to help the, the network team. So there was a network team that took care of all of the campuses around the U S uh, they would, they would install the switches. They would do all the work, they would change the lands, they would do everything. So they placed a little bit of trust in me. And they said, Hey, you know, you’re at the campus and we know you, you go install this right.

You help us out. Uh, so that is really what opened the door. Into network engineering. Right? So that sparked the interest. I was like, this is pretty cool stuff, right? This is, you know, the roots of communication. This is where it’s at in the closet, so that, you know, they [00:26:00] continue to put some trust in me and to, to give me things to do upgrade this or help somebody out with, you know, taking, uh, taking a blade out of the 6,500 and swapping it out.

Uh, so those opportunities continue to pile on, uh, you know, they probably didn’t want to do the cable work. So I ended up doing all the cases. I’m sure there was a little bit of that, right. I enjoyed it. I mean, it was just like, this is great. Um, so there came a time where corporate needed somebody to help out with physical security.

They had a huge physical security project to switch everybody over to Honeywell, I believe. Um, so they, you know, I was voluntold. I was like, they’re like, Hey, you’re perfect for this. This is a great project that you can assist with. We’re going to take you out of your help desk manager role. And you’re going to come to corporate to help us out with this.

So I, I did that for six months and eventually it was like, um, you know, my, my, my boss at the time was like, well, you know, we’re filling up your position cause you’re probably going to stay at corporate. And I’m like, well, I don’t want to do [00:27:00] physical security, you know, for the rest of my life, I want to do something else.

So at that point I felt sort of homeless. Like where am I going to go? Right. So, uh, that’s when I started just looking outside for something else and the network team heard that I was looking in. Well, one of the engineers that I had a good relationship with, they’re like, Hey, we have a spot open. Are you interested?

I’m like, yeah, I’ll, I’ll go. You know, that’s definitely something I was interested with. And, and, you know, I knew them. And honestly, the interview was like, Hey, you know, do you want to be a network engineer? Yes, you’re hired. That’s really what it was because

they, they already, you know, the network engineer that, that, um, that was working with the campus that was helping me out. He was the one teaching me everything. So he knew technically, you know, where I was, he knew everything. He was the one that taught me everything. Yeah, this was at the university. Now it was [00:28:00] at the corporate side.

Andy: Yeah. They knew you, they knew your work. You had you’re like 17 managing people.

David: I was young. I was 1920 managing people. I mean, it was interesting, but at the same time, I was trying to soak up as much as I could and learn. I kind of resentment

Andy: that you didn’t have a technical interview for your network engineer only because the pain that I had to endure for mine, they mopped the floor with me and made me cry and then gave me a job.

You’re just like, yeah, my second interview,

David: my second interview with my, within the second place was definitely a little bit more technical, but yeah, it was like, Hey, do you want to be a network engineer? Yes. That’s what that, that’s all it was. Oh, university

Andy: is that? Yes. I’m sorry. You believe it was because.

David: Uh, cause I, I, you know, I spent that time building that relationship. Right. They knew me and they were the ones that taught me. So they knew who I was. They knew [00:29:00] I was responsible. I was a hard worker. That’s why I always say work hard, get noticed, right. Work hard. And you know, sooner or later it’s going to happen, have some patients.

Um, so I, I spent, uh, you know, as a network engineer there for corporate, I spent five years.

A.J.: Five years. Okay. So that, so I’m trying to keep track here. So this was like 20 13, 20 14.

David: I started as a network engineer in 2011. So 20 11, 20 16.

A.J.: I did a couple of years of the security thing. Maybe

David: I did. It was about six months or so beginning of 2011 when I did physical security project.

Uh, and then at the end of 2011 is when, when I was in a position opened up for network

A.J.: engineering. Okay. Got it. Got it. So you were doing the network engineer thing for corporate. Did you work primarily with Cisco? Did you [00:30:00] decide to go after your CCNA?

David: So it was, it was a mixed environment, was a mix of Cisco and Juniper and the data center.

So it’s a mix of both. So I had to learn both

it was definitely the

at the time I was used to Cisco already from the campus, you know, putting in V lands and different things on switches with Cisco. That was like, when I get to the data center and there’s Juniper, I’m like, what is this stuff? Right. But it was sort of familiar because Juniper had that programming feel to it.

So it was interesting, but I wasn’t, I wasn’t even thinking about certifications at that time that, that wasn’t something that anybody had taught me that wasn’t something that anybody had spoken to me about. There was a person in the team that was working on their CCIE and they were going through their second attempt.

And, uh, pretty much he spent some time talking to me and about the [00:31:00] importance of certifications and, and how you can learn a lot of from certifications. And that, that sparked the interest. And I was like, oh, maybe I should take a look at a certification that I can know. I can jump into her learn. Uh, so I that’s when I went for the CCNA.

Uh, but yeah, that was, it took somebody to, to sit down with me and explained to me like certifications can help you with certification, even though you might not use it for a particular job. You’ll learn a lot out of the process.

Andy: And it was this, the CCI you guy is that who you were talking to us as the

David: CC again,

Andy: it’s one of those things that you’re just sitting down and getting to know him.

What’s up, I’m studying for this thing. What is that? And then you kind of started to describe the value of certifications. Yeah. Yeah.

David: That was a breath of fresh air. Cause I mean, honestly, you know, a lot of, a lot of places that, you know, in the past that I’ve seen, you know, there’s people that are there, they’re working there, they bust their butt, but they’re comfortable.

Right. So they don’t want to get better. They’re they’re good at where they’re at. They want to stay there. They’re happy. [00:32:00] Right. And then there’s people that want to go that extra step up. Right. They want to do something harder. They want to learn something new. Right. So this person was really had that mentality and he kept pushing me and he sparked that interest.

So that really is why I started pursuing certifications and continue to dive deeper into that work engineering.

Andy: How did that see Sandy study and go, was it easy for you at this point? Because you had experience and you’re a bright guy in computer science or was struggling.

David: It helped. It helped. Uh, I think, you know, I still struggled through some of the topics I struggled through today.

Like spanning tree spanning tree. Sometimes it’s like, ah, this is terrible, but it’s something that I need to get better at. Uh, but it, it helped that, you know, I, I went straight to eBay. I started pursuing purchasing equipment in the beginning. Uh, in the beginning, I, you know, I bought, I bought, I think I bought an adolescent console.

I bought a bunch of stuff and I had a, you know, [00:33:00] it wasn’t a rack. It was just like a little table. And I just tossed the equipment on top. I was consoling into stuff. I mean, that’s how I learned. Uh, and this was like in the infancy of GNS three. So as soon as I discovered GNS three, though, that’s when I, the equipment started picking up a couple of spider webs.

So that’s when I started diving more into, you know, GNS three, but in the beginning it was all, especially for my CCNA studies, it was

Andy: all hardware let’s. Please pause for a moment. So you work on physical hardware, your lab, your studies, and then you pivoted to. Ambulation virtually virtualization and what the right term is, but do you feel, you know what I’m gonna ask AIJ cause I like, what was the value in your physical lab, as you know, did you learn things in your physical lab that you couldn’t have learned in GNS?

And so new person coming to you, I’m studying for my CCNA. Should I build a physical [00:34:00] lab or should I just go the virtual route? Because you have experience in both. What do you think

David: I’m a believer of doing both? I mean, I still have, you know, a lab here, physical gear, you know, you have to touch stuff, you know, that that helps, you know, plugging in a cable.

There’s a certain satisfaction. You get of plugging in a cable that you cannot get out of, you know, CNS three out of Eve on CML. There’s something different about it. You know, if I could buy a whole rack of equipment and a chassis and stuff like that and put it here and not have to pay for that electricity, that would be great.

But because I’m not going that route, you know, that’s when I have to rely on the virtual a bit more to do some of the bigger

Andy: stuff still true. But I remember in the CCNA and it’s definitely been true in my experience. And prod, I forget it’s like 65 or 70% of network issues are at the physical layer. So for me, all that stuff I learned with like bed ports, bed cables, bed, pin outs, bed cards, you know, you [00:35:00] name it.

It was supposed to be a roll over from the MSN. And it was a crossover. Like there’s so many physical problems that you run into. I had T1 DSU, CSU cards for additional ports, and they had a special pin out, like just so many things, you know, you drag a couple of pretend, routers up dragging a couple of 10 cables in GNS, or even you’re done if you’re brand new and you’ve never touched gear, you know, for me, if 75% of the, you know, 70% of the issues are physical, I think it’s valuable to get, you know, some, like you say, get some experience.

You know, the physical, if you’ve got a spanning tree loop up and everything’s down, it’s nice to see, oh, that’s what all the Amber lights mean. And my switches, you know what I mean? That’s true. GNS will teach you that. So anyway, I’m off my soap box, but you said physical.

David: Yeah. But it’s true. I mean, there’s stuff.

I mean, I remember a big portion of tickets I’ve ran into, especially in manufacturing. A lot of times those issues were resolved by just swapping out again. Right. I mean, the, you know, the we’ve always had to take it. It was like, well, this phone is showing some sort of [00:36:00] network error on the phone, this access point no longer connects.

And I was like, did you try swapping out the cable? No. As soon as the cable swapped out, it works like perfect that cable’s probably been sitting there for, you know, 10 years, you know, some rats are chewing on it or something, uh, you know, swap it out and it ends up fixing the problem. So a lot, a lot of what happens out there, you know, for somebody coming in fresh is physical, you know?

So that is important. That’s key learned the physical safety in your

Andy: labs.

A.J.: Yeah. I mean, I think if you’re just starting out, like in a physical lab, when you have like a certain foundation, you can get a virtual lab. Like, I, I don’t, I’m thinking a lot of people realize this, but you can actually make the two talk to each other, like that is possible.

Uh, and there are certain economies of scale that you can get out of a virtual lab that, you know, you just can’t really do affordably on a physical level, right? Like if you want to do larger typologies and really do some fun stuff, especially if you’re going for the [00:37:00] NP level, it’s a lot easier to do with a virtual environment than it is for the physical environment.

You know, like I’ve got four riders and four switches, but there’s only so much I can do with four routers and four switches, but there’s a lot I can do with 20 virtual routers that, you know, I definitely can’t do in a, in a physical, I

Andy: learned so much, you know, you’re building that virtual environment on a server usually.

So like for me, I had to learn this exci I had to learn VMware. I had to learn about virtualization and. You know, do I want to hyper threat or not? And how do you allocate the resources and power management and even just that building your emulated environment, you know, and yes, exci as an example, just so much to learn there.

I mean, you could spin it up in the cloud and be done with it and that school too, you know, but I learned a lot by having a physical server, even, even though the, the networking was emulated

David: and then the important part is, do, do something right. Grab some gear, do something virtual, but that’s a huge way to learn.

I mean, if you want to [00:38:00] get better, if you want to learn, you have to practice, right. I mean, if you didn’t jump on that bike, you, and you wouldn’t know how to ride that bike, right. You can’t just look at a bike and be like, I know how to ride that bike. And you’ve never been on a bike before. Like you have to, you have to hold things, you have to touch things yet.

And that’s the way you get back. Yeah,

A.J.: I liked that. Got to do something. Hey, Awan fans AIG here for an ally. You never heard of an ally. Sure. You have. They came from the same group of engineers that brought us network tools from flute networks NetScout and now they’re net ally. They know networking. I’m a network engineer for a partner.

And when I go to a customers and see, they use net net, ally, I know it’s going to be so much easier to troubleshoot issues. We might run into the name may have changed in an ally, but the way they build tools, hasn’t changed a bit. They ask what would a network engineer want to help make their job faster and easier.

And then they go build it just like this ether scope. NXG that ally is here to help that ally simplicity, visibility, collaboration, visit net ally.com today. Now back to [00:39:00] the show. All right. So I think you, you said manufacturing there. So at some point then you, you left the college, uh, the corporate side of the university and you landed in manufacturing.

It sounds like. Was that the next step?

David: Yep. Yep. So towards, towards the end of 2016, Yeah, I, I wanted a bit more, right. So, um, you know, the opportunities weren’t happening locally. So I decided to look out and, um, pretty much I found a place in manufacturing, um, that, you know, I was doing everything right. We, we had another engineer, um, myself and my manager and the three of us would handle the worldwide networks.

Uh, it was about 40 sites, uh, you know, between sales offices and full plants and warehouses. Uh, so that gave me a huge opportunity to learn even more. I learned a lot from the team and pretty much, you know, we did a little bit of everything back at the university. It was very siloed. All I would do is rout switch and a couple of [00:40:00] firewalls.

That was it. And, you know, they had, there was a voice to learn. There was a security team, there was a team for that, a team for this. So that’s all I did was route switch and a little bit of firewall. So that was my mentality. So when I got the manufacturing, it wasn’t just route switch, a little bit of firewalls, route switch, CoLab security, uh, everything.

Right. So we did everything and it was nice because that was, I mean, that was definitely drinking from the fire hose because. I had to learn all these things that I had no idea about. Right. I had to learn about ice. I had to learn about stuff. Watch, uh, you know, uh, I had to learn everything CoLab. I mean, at the campus, all I would do is, you know, deploy a phone and that’s all, that was my experience within call manager, but I had to learn and I was taught, you know, what a PRI is, you know, how does this connect to the router?

What does it do? How do you configure it? Call manager? So all of these different things I had to learn know because I had to support these sites. I had to troubleshoot these rights. Uh, you know, there wasn’t anybody else besides the three of us. So, uh, [00:41:00] that was, that was huge. And I learned a lot and I learned a lot because I saw from the ground up, especially when we have to open up a new site, how things come together right now, all these networks come together, building the phones and building the voice environment for a site, putting in the security route, switch a little bit of everything wireless.

So I, I learned a lot. It was a, you know, from 2016 and onward, it was just. The information and information and information. And during that time, you know, I pursued my, my CCNP CCNP as well, back then, route switching to shoot. Um, so, you know, th that was something that continued to push me forward. I, I, you know, when I look at a certification, you know, certifications are great, but that to me is a big vehicle and learning, right.

I have the book, I have all the material. This is knowledge that I’m gaining, you know, so it’s great that I pass their certification tests, but let’s say I don’t, I still learned a lot of information that I can use in my environment of the knowledge. Yep. [00:42:00]

A.J.: I think

Andy: it’s the best part of certification. It’s just a learning plan.

Oh yeah. Right. Here’s all the stuff that you need to learn for this thing I wanted to ask you. So where did you look for your job? Where do you look? I mean, are you a LinkedIn guy? Like you’re at the university is that you want to look around, you find the manufactured. W where does

one

David: look? I mean, so up to that point, I mean, once I went to college and I was a student worker, I mean, and doors continued to open from there.

I wasn’t actively looking. Right. Except when I was, you know, at that weird period where I needed a job when I was in physical security. Um, so I was just looking at, uh, you know, different opportunities online. And I think that opened up, but. It was still within the university. Right. Even the network engineering portion there, it was still within the university.

So going to manufacturing, that was really the second, I would say the S the second company that I’ve worked for at that time. So I, I went for, to a recruiter and I was like, Hey, help me out. You know, this is my [00:43:00] skillset. Uh, what can you do for me? You know, what, what can we, what can we do, right? Where can I go?

So the recruiter helped me out and that’s, uh, that’s when, you know, there was a couple of different places, you know, and I was like, well, I don’t want to go to downtown, you know, all the time. And it was, it was the middle of winter. And I’m like, ah, this is too cold. I’m not going out there right now. But so, you know, I interviewed in manufacturing and it was a good opportunity, you know?

So that, that opened up through a recruiter. Where

Andy: did you find.

David: Now I’m trying to think, but it was LinkedIn though. It started off in LinkedIn. So LinkedIn recruiter and then from there. Awesome.

A.J.: Very cool. Very cool. So if you could kind of like summarize the value of, you know, having a recruiter, right?

Like if you didn’t have the recruiter, you’d have to go try to find a job on your own. Uh, and, and the recruiter inherently has a number of job listings available to you that they can come through and kind of see if you match up so that they’re doing a lot of the [00:44:00] legwork on your behalf and helping you weed out like good opportunities versus maybe not so good or bad opportunities.

David: I say, you know, it’s an extra set of. Right. I mean, you’re looking, you’re doing your thing, but you have somebody who’s fighting for you. Right. Um, you know, somebody who who’s, you know, you can give a list of requirements, Hey, this is what I’m looking for. Uh, if you can find something like that, that’s my goal.

So, you know, you have somebody in your corner who’s fighting for you as well.

Andy: The brochure, the other nice thing too, in my experience was that the recruiter who placed me in FinTech, you know, he had a working relationship with the company already. They had placed a couple other people over the years. And so, you know, they don’t know me from anybody.

Right. But because the recruiter has a relationship with that company and they’ve placed them and they develop trust. Then when the recruiter brings me in, it went, you know, Hey, we talked to this guy, we pre-interviewed him. You know, we think he’s a good fit. So it’s, I don’t know that might be stating the obvious, but I feel like if I had just cold applied, [00:45:00] you know, to a company, as opposed to a recruiter, They trusted already.

Cause they found good talent for them and brings me in for an interview. I feel like you just put you on another plateau, you know?

David: Yeah. There could have been a history there, you know, and that helps you out, you know, and it can help you out in your pursuit, uh, that why not, you know?

A.J.: Yeah. We’ve put any of the reputation of the recruiter has with that company that they’re working with.

Right. Like if they’ve brought them talent before, like there’s no reason to not believe that they wouldn’t do it again. Yeah. I think

Andy: it really helped me, you know, and in my particular situation, because of the relationship they had probably not the same everywhere. Right. But I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. I mean, I’ve never worked in an industry.

Where I’m being reached out to on a constant basis. Uh, you know, both my phone, my email, LinkedIn, before I got into network engineering, I was always the one looking for a job. And now it’s just, it’s so weird to me still. It’s just inbound. You want to work over here and do this thing? Like, I feel like [00:46:00] the hot girl at the party, you know, it’s kinda nice.

It wasn’t like that before I T so it’s a good, he loves me.

A.J.: That’s great. That’s

Andy: great. So we’re in manufacturing

A.J.: ha. Yeah, we’re in manufacturing. You sounds like you got your CCMP route switch and I think last year, you, or maybe it was earlier this year, it all blends together now with this whole COVID thing, right? Yeah. I really do remember that you got your CCNP security, so your NP.

Let’s dive into that journey. How was the CCNP security? I’ve heard? The score is just a monster.

David: It is definitely a, you know, there’s, there’s some marketing behind it, you know, it’s all the Cisco products and the Cisco security portfolio. Well, there’s the technical below that as well. Right? So, uh, it, it reminded me a little bit of the Palo Alto with a PC and S.[00:47:00]

Um, but a lot bigger. It was way bigger. The Palo Alto server was definitely, you know, some marketing, a tiny bit of technical, and that was it. It’s a good cert, but the CCNP security, the score is definitely deep, goes over the portfolio. Uh, there’s a lot of technical behind it. You know, it goes, it doesn’t dive into everything fully either.

Right. So, uh, it leaves the door open. Like, you know, the, the score talks about email security. Uh, so I decided to go as, as my, uh, smaller exam as my concentration, I went to the email security side. Uh, it was something that I was doing at work as well. Right. We had, uh, ESA, we went to CES. I had some experience with that.

But there was stuff that I found on the exam for, for the SISA S E S S a, it was like, what are we talking about? What is this? I mean, it’s deeper. And I had some experience on the product and I’m like, [00:48:00] I don’t remember clicking on this or reading about this. So it keeps you on your toes. It was definitely a, an interesting exam was a good exam.

Um, I think I had an easier time with the score than the Seesaw. I, I fought. I would, I thought I’d have a harder time with the score exam. You know when, as I was taking it, I don’t know if maybe because it was, it wasn’t that deep into the portfolio. And technically, uh, I passed that one and it was a better score than I had at the CSO.

The CSO was like one more wrong answer. I would not have passed. And that was, that was it. I was on the edge. Uh, so there was a couple of questions. I’m like, man, I have no idea. And I’m working, I’m looking at this thing every other day, you know? Um, but I passed, you know, it was, it was good, it was a good exam.

Um, but that, you know, a lot of what I’ve been doing in manufacturing and a lot of what the whole team was doing in manufacturing that, you know, the last couple of years has been security [00:49:00] related. You know, we had a security team, they did a lot of policy and a lot of procedures. We were the hands and feet for the security team.

So we did everything. We did ice. We did StealthWatch flash. We did dual implementing and architecting and designing everything that was really us. So. That, you know, I I’ve been doing security forbid and that’s why I was interested in the score and then the CCNP security.

A.J.: Very cool. Very cool. So I think it’s important to kind of talk about that, that marketing thing, the marketing aspect of these exams, and it’s, it’s a hundred percent true.

It’s there on the Encore and you know, like you said, that Sarah and the score and I, I think it’s, it’s important to know that like, as, as if somebody that’s up and coming. When you, when you have to study all of these things, you’re getting more exposure to the Cisco portfolio and that’s that only benefits Cisco.

Right. But I think that there’s, there’s people that kind of take a couple of different approaches when they’re putting together their enterprise environment. Either they, they go all in on one vendor or they do best. Right. Like, I want the best firewall and I [00:50:00] don’t care if it’s Cisco or Palo Alto or whatever.

I just want the best firewall. And then I want the best switches and then I want the best routers and it doesn’t have to be all the same vendor. I just want the best of the best. And then there’s people that go all in on a single vendor story. And there’s, I think there’s benefits to doing both, right?

Like if you, if you go all in on Cisco, then you get the full Cisco story. Right. And, and that’s where you tend to get like, and, and, and not just Cisco, right? Like if you go all in on Juniper, all in on, whatever, if you go all in on a single vendor, you’re going to get the bigger picture. You’re more analytics typically, right?

Like that’s usually the benefit that you’re going to see because they all connect to each other. They all talk to each other. There’s probably some additional benefits of security when you do best of breed, like you got the best of the best, but they don’t all talk to each other in some form or fashion, unless you’re using like, you know, some agnostic form of, of automation or something like.

Like the rolling your own kind of solution that, that you would get from the vendor. So taking these exams [00:51:00] gets you that exposure, and then later on in your career, you’re like, well, I need some email security. I remember reading about the Cisco email security appliance. I had no idea Cisco had an email security appliance personally, but, but that’s, that’s, that’s where he like, well, I got to start somewhere.

I remember reading about this thing. So let me go check that out. So that’s, that’s why that’s there and it’s, it’s, it’s beneficial

David: in my opinion. Oh yeah. I think everybody does it. I mean, it’s just, it’s just part of the, part of.

A.J.: Right. Exactly.

Andy: Hey Jay, you just sparked something. So each ecosystem has their own, I guess, analytics engine or platform or whatever, and they don’t talk to each other.

Right. Cisco has there’s junior pros. There is a risk that has there’s there’s no, like you said, you have to either go with third party, you know, open source or like build your own. I mean, that’s, that’s not ideal, right? Like, is it just because they’re in competition with each other? Like, there can’t be an, I mean, this might sound silly, but there can’t be like this open standard platform that [00:52:00] pulls all the competing vendors because we don’t care like you and I sitting at the chair, you know, the company went with Cisco over some stuff, Juniper, some stuff for Risto for some stuff, but why do I have to suffer as the operator that I can’t have a, uh, you know, uh, analytics that pulls it all into one dashboard?

Like that seems like a, I dunno, it’s an inherent flaw to maybe the competitive model. Maybe that doesn’t make sense. You kind of sparked it as you were talking.

A.J.: Right. I think it’s just, you know, they, they want you to buy into it, right? Like if, if DNA center could control other vendors, devices, where would be the kind of drive to continue to just buy Cisco if they could, you know, cause there’s other switches might be a little bit cheaper than a K

David: I think companies are getting better at third party integrations,

A.J.: especially with a nice,

David: yeah, I think it helps, but they’re not going to be fully open.

Right. I mean, sure. There’s some compatibility and there’s some, you know, a couple of things they do, but for the [00:53:00] most part, there’s that competitive nature

Andy: behind it is. Yeah. And I mean, I get the competition, but I’m also like, I’m thinking like, wow, if one of these big name vendors came out with a solution that really did, uh, you know, vendor B says, you know what?

I know vendor raised the. But I’m going to build a platform and pull all their stuff into, and maybe that’ll push us over the top. You know, if you could go with vendor B and they’re happy to let you see all of your vendor, a appliances and analytics and data, I don’t know, from a high level, if I was sitting up on a throne somewhere, but you know what?

These, these guys are. You know, they’re there cause you’re not going to buy less of one V I don’t know. I don’t know how all that money stuff works, but it’s probably another topic for another show, but

David: I solution to rule them all,

A.J.: if a vendor, if somebody actually made a single pane of glass or something that actually talked to

Andy: everything, there’s an example, right?

Like [00:54:00] I’m thinking Cisco Juniper they’re number one, number two. Right? Like if Cisco came out and said, you know what, we’re going to pull all junipers into because for multi-vendor shops or vice versa, I’m surprised they haven’t because like, God, you know, automation, single pane of glass, like they could, I think, right?

Like it’s a lot more

A.J.: effort on the vendor’s part. Right? Like you have people at Cisco that know Cisco. Now they’re going to have to go and really learn Juniper, or they’re going to have to partner and work on it together.

Andy: Yeah, I just, I probably oversimplify, but like routers or routers a switch, a switch.

Yeah. The CLI is going to be a little different, but like SPF doesn’t change from, you know, vendor to vendor. Like there, there are, there are standard routing protocols that can talk to each other. I don’t know why something like you can’t have that for analytic. But maybe it’s pie in the sky stuff. I mean, we can’t just create a protocol that talks to everything and pull it in.

But I guess that screws up the competition so

David: we

A.J.: can do it.

Andy: I could barely [00:55:00] write Python, man. I’m not the guy. I got to find a guy I’ll, I’ll pull it up or something. He’ll do it for us.

A.J.: I got a guy online. Just grab Eric,

Andy: sorry for the tangent. And just, you got me thinking.

A.J.: No, it’s a good conversation. Good conversation.

So, um, how long were you in manufacturing before you decided to go to Cisco and what, what in the end cost you. You know, if she want to get into it. W w why did you decide to start looking around? Did the opportunity come knocking at your door? Did you go looking for opportunity?

David: I say a mix of both. Uh, you know, let’s say that, uh, during my time in manufacturing, an opportunity came knocking and it didn’t work out.

Right. Um, what’s this going to beginning? Um, and that’s one of the things that I’ve said on the discord, you know, when we’ve talked about, you know, the things happen at the right time, you know, it’s not meant to be right now. Um, [00:56:00] it’s going to, something will happen in the future. There there’ll be a better opportunity for you in the future.

You know, don’t let that completely, uh, get you down, right. Rejection sucks, but there’s always something better. There’s, there’s something coming down the road for you. So don’t squander that opportunity that you have now to learn and soak up as much as you can, where you are. Um, so, I mean, I learned a lot of manufacturing.

It was a great experience. But, you know, opportunity came knocking and it was, it was, uh, it was something I couldn’t say no to it finally happened and the doors open and I I’m appreciated out of everybody. You know, I appreciate everybody I’ve worked with. Um, I never have anything bad to say. That’s one thing I always tell people is, you know, Uh, don’t burn bridges either.

That’s more advice that I have. The tech world is small and you know, I’m talking to, I’m talking to people at Cisco now, and they know people that I’ve, you know, the, that I’ve worked with in the past or, you know, somebody actually, [00:57:00] somebody on my team now on my team now I worked with back at, at, at the.

They were in networking as well. Oh, wow. That’s crazy. You know, they paint me and they’re like, Hey, you’re joining my team. And I’m like, oh, wow. Okay. So never burn bridges. I mean, we’re going to run into each other at some point, treat everybody with respect, you know, help everybody out. You know, we’re all in this together.

A.J.: You know, that’s a great point. Like if, if, when you had left the university, if you had burned that bridge, and then you’re applying to this job at Cisco and that guy could have been like, oh man, don’t worry. When he left here, like 10 years ago, he really he’s screwed in summer. You just said like it was

David: flipping three months.

It was flipping people off.

A.J.: It’s very true. Like if you, if you had taken a different route out of there, uh, no pun intended, like it could have ended up differently for you trying to get into to Cisco this time around. So I agree with you a hundred percent, like, as, as big as the world is like, for some [00:58:00] reason it just feels that much smaller.

And that has nothing to do with a small town. Like you’re in Chicago. Like you could have left there and be like, I ain’t ever going to see him

David: here. You are like, exactly. So, I mean it’s, and that’s just the way I was raised too. It was like, you know, treat people with respect, you know, in the course of your career, you’re going to run into a bunch of different types of people, right?

I mean, you’re going to run into people that are very supportive. You know, for you, you know, they’re there, they’re there to help you. They’re there to push you along and help you out. But you know, you’re gonna run into other people that, that are just negative all the time. And that’s just the way the person is.

They might be negative with you. They might be negative across the board. Uh, you know, to me, you know, I’ve ran into both types of people throughout my career, and I don’t say anything bad about anybody. It’s like, Hey, you know, thank you for teaching me. Thank you for, you know, showing me what, what you could, uh, you know, I’m, I’m here in the end of the day, I’m here to learn.

I’m here to get better, right? Uh, I’m not here to spend my time and waste my brain cells on people who are negative or there’s better things that I [00:59:00] could be doing with my time. You know? Um, so things, you know, things that are negative people that are negative. I just ignore it. It’s like there, that’s always going to come towards you.

Ignore it. You know, stick to the people who are there that are supporting them. Haters

A.J.: gonna hate,

Andy: but there’s so much good secret sauce in here. You said so many things that I wrote down a couple, like work hard. You know, my, my wife has a great saying, like he can’t teach hustle. Right? It’s it’s intrinsic.

If you have a lazy player out on the court or in the field, you can’t coach it out of him, you can’t motivate them. Like, so, you know, it’s such a simple thing to me because I’ve always been a hard worker. My wife’s a hard worker. You’re, you know, you guys are like how just putting the effort, you know, wake up grind.

It’s easy. I would venture to say that, you know, I’m not the smartest guy in the room, but I try to make up. And blood, sweat, and tears, right? Like I’m going to get in there and work hard and I’ll work harder than the other guy. That’s smarter than me. If I have to, like, [01:00:00] you can control what you can write to be, to be successful.

And then you, and that will get you noticed, like you said, work hard, get noticed. Like, I love that. Like, cause you know, the, the guy that’s passionate or the girl that’s like working really hard, they do stand out because you have schlubs that just want to hide or not do anything or, you know, learn the new thing.

And then attitude too, like reputation, attitude. I mean you’re as work are, get noticed, develop a reputation, have a good attitude. Like these are, some of them are soft skills. Some of them are hard skills, but it’s, it’s kind of like the secret to success almost like, and they’re all, you don’t need a one 90 IQ, right?

You don’t need a triple CCIE. Like these are things I think anybody can do work hard, get noticed, develop a reputation, have a good attitude. Like wow. I dunno, you’re blowing

David: me away here. I mean, that’s, that’s the way, I mean, it brings me back all the way to, when I was managing student workers, I was a student worker and then I was managing the student workers and I would always tell them the same thing.

And, you know, student worker positions, you know, there’s some people that came in and was like, I’m just here for my seven bucks [01:01:00] an hour. And to get out of here right now, they don’t care about me on the help, fast. They don’t care about, they don’t even care about it. Right. They’re just there, you know, I’m done.

I gotta go to class. You know? So, I mean, I still took the opportunity and talk to people it’s like, do as much as you can learn, work hard. I mean, even if you don’t, even if this is not going to be your career, right, you’re not going to be at the help desk forever. You want to go do something else. You’re seeking a degree in accounting and this is all we have right now.

Uh, You know, just try to learn something, do your best, you know? Uh, that’s it, I mean, it really comes down to that. Um, and, and doors open up, right? I mean, just be patient, you know, cause some people, you know, oh man, I, I spent two hours working hard and nothing happened. Yeah. It’s not a two hour thing. It’s a whole journey.

Right. It’s days and weeks and years, um, be patient and things will have.

Andy: You’ve you’ve mentioned patients a couple of times, so, and I think that’s so key, you know, we, we won’t want, we want when we want it. And then, you know, [01:02:00] like this might not been the first time you interviewed at Cisco. I don’t know, but I know that when you get that opportunity, like, for me, when that happens for me, I’m like, oh my God, this is my one shot.

If I don’t get this, I’m going to blow it. And then it doesn’t work out for some reason. And then it’s like, wow, that was it. I’m just destined for mediocrity. Cause I couldn’t get that thing I wanted. But like you said, you just gotta be patient put in the work like anything. Right. Like we were shopping for our house years ago and like, we really wanted this one and it didn’t work out and we were so upset, but then the next one was twice as good as the last one.

And we’re like, oh, like you can’t see around that next corner. You know, you just gotta have faith and kind of be patient. And if you put in the work, it will work out right. Maybe not on, on, on our timeline and patients is hard. Right? Exactly. I think it takes discipline, like, okay. Like accepting a failure, accepting it didn’t work out.

Like that’s, that’s a mental game. Right? Some discipline it’s. Oh yeah.

A.J.: And it’s even harder. These days in the instant gratification world we live in, right? Like click a button, get an instant happiness. [01:03:00] Look, I got to wait a month for this next house to come on the market.

Andy: Yeah. I mean, I can go in a half a dozen different social media platforms and get a dopamine hit immediately.

And now I gotta wait, you know, six months. Cause this one interview didn’t work out. Like no way, dude. Like that’s forever, you know, but like perspective patients. I could put it in the workout perspective. There you. Got some good stuff here. We have so many people coming to us, I think, starting out, like what, what can I do?

What should I do? You know, it’s always like, well, CCNA is a good start, but a home lab, but these are just things that anybody can do. I think that’s what everybody’s looking for. Like, how do I do this? You know? Cause you don’t know where to start and how hard it’s going to be and it’s expensive, blah, blah, blah.

But there’s just certain traits. I think that are transferable in any industry. It’s not just networking or it, you know, everything you’re talking about. Yeah, a good person create value, have a good reputation. It’s simple, but I guess it’s not like common knowledge. Isn’t that common they say, right? Like [01:04:00]

David: it’s true.

I mean, a lot of times we concentrate on the technical ability. Right. You know, I’ve, I’ve ran into people in my past. It’s like, wow, this person knows everything. I mean, you can ask them any question, they know everything, but they have a terrible attitude. You know, they, they, they treat you like trash and it’s like, I don’t want to work with this person.

You know, it’s horrible. Right. You want to be somebody that can get along, can teach somebody, you know, people look up to and you have a personality, you know, that that’s the type of person you want to be. Um, so yeah, you can go around and pursue every cert that’s out there. Right. But if you’re still, you know, treat people like trash.

People are not going to like you, people are not going to want to work with you that doesn’t open up opportunities for you. You also, I mean, treat people well, it comes down to that. I mean, it’s just being human. That’s really, what we’re talking about today is, is do some of these basic things that, you know, basic human skills, you know, be human, treat [01:05:00] people, good.

Treat people with respect to work hard. I mean, things will happen, right.

A.J.: Be a good human

David: compassion have confession, you know, there’s people out there that are struggling. There’s people out there that are learning, uh, you know, they might not learn at the same pace you were learning. You don’t have some compassion and have some empathy.

You know, all these words that I’m just saying are just they’re they have nothing to do with Cisco. They have nothing to do with Juniper. What F five with forever. This is things that apply across the

Andy: board. Yep. Kind of soft skills. He right. Like exactly, but kind of, you know, and anybody could learn. You know, anybody can learn them like you can.

I think the episode is going to be David Elisia, a good human

David: He’s a good human, you know, it’s true. I mean, that’s really that’s if I can teach somebody, one thing is just, you know, work hard will [01:06:00] be essentially be a good human, you know, things will open up, you know, have patience, the inverse of being a good human words,

Andy: David Alisia don’t be an asshole.

we’ll

A.J.: go with that. Good human. I like that.

Andy: That’s much better.

A.J.: All right. Well, our guest today is David Alicia solutions architect with Cisco in the Chicago area. And David, where can people go to find more about.

David: Oh, wow. Uh, you know, I’m on the interwebs. Uh, I am on, I am on the Twitters, uh, Davie 87, B a Y V E 87 on Twitter.

I also have a blog, which I know I need to get back to. I need to start blogging again. I need to start writing, uh, it says zeros and one w O N so play on words, zeros and one.blog. I

A.J.: love it. It’s a [01:07:00] great title. I like that. Excellent. And we can also find you in our discord. It’s all about the journey.

That’s the same as your Twitter handle. I believe. Yeah. That is correct. So if you want to join our discord and chat with Davey, you can do so you can go to art of net end forwards or outer dynamics.com forward slash I a T J I got to think about that all the time. It’s for, it’s all about the journey, because it is all about the journey.

Join, learn with people, share your knowledge, uh, you know, and just a lot of that good human stuff David was talking about, right? Like if you find somebody that’s struggling with a topic that you have had success with, spend the time, teach them, share your knowledge. Don’t don’t look down on them. Like, oh, you, you don’t know every single OSP F timer.

How dare you be a engineer. Exactly. Exactly. Awesome. David, thank you so much for joining us tonight. This has been an absolute pleasure. Any, uh, any last words of wisdom before we close out? [01:08:00] Uh,

David: yeah, no, I think, I think we’ve said every single type of motivational way that we can

A.J.: all good stuff though. Good stuff. Excellent. All right. Well, thanks again for. Uh, thank you to all of our patrons. Once again, we appreciate all your support and we appreciate everybody’s support. If you want to join your breakthrough on program, you can do so@patrion.com forward slash art of net enj. Uh, and we appreciate the support from our patrons as well as everybody, you know, or the download, follow us on Twitter or whatever you do.

We love it. We thank you so much. All of that mojo really, really helps. We’ll see you next week. On another episode of the art of network engineering podcast. Hey everyone, this is a J. If you like what you heard today, then make sure you subscribe to our podcast and your favorite podcatcher smash that bell icon to get notified of all of our future episodes.

Also follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at art of net enj. That’s part of an

David: E T [01:09:00] E N G.

A.J.: You can also find us on the web. At art of network engineering.com, where we post all of our show notes, you can read blog articles from the Cocos and guests, and also a lot more news and info from the networking world.

Thanks for listening. .


Ep 72 – Cooking up a New Career

In this episode, we chat with Chris Randall. Chris was worked as a professional chef for over 13 years and has recently transitioned into a career as a Cloud Consultant. Chris’ work ethic, drive, and ability to communicate help him stand out and have gotten him noticed, on more than one occasion. We can all learn a lot from Chris’ recipe for success!

You can find more of Chris:
Blog: https://ipvpho.wixsite.com/frombitestobits
Twitter: https://twitter.com/IPvPho
GitHub: https://github.com/IPvPho
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/christopher-randall-%E2%98%81%EF%B8%8F-83a48572/

Check out our Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/artofneteng
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Join the Discord Study group – https://artofneteng.com/iaatj

Transcript

A.J. Murray: [00:00:00] This is the art of network engineering podcast

in this podcast

and share the stories of felon networks.

Tim Bertino: Good morning folks to Bertino with you here live and the AONE traffic chopper we’re hover and high above the 4 0 4, where the traffic police definitely have their work cut out for them today. We’re seeing an abundance of one way traffic on all northbound egress points and our southbound and grass points have been totally saturated.

This all seems to be linked to a local construction crew, accidentally severing a major traffic back. With a backhoe. Unfortunately, that’s leading to a massive degradation of services all day. Today. The only vehicles we are seeing get in or out safely are [00:01:00] ones that have been given an F priority by their local authorities.

We’ll check back in later today, as the situation continues to develop, this has been timber Tino coming to you live above the 4 0 4 back to UAJ

A.J. Murray: N a O N E studios. Very appropriate well-timed intro from Tim given the Comcast outage today. That was fantastic. I can’t wait until Dan edits that and posts.

Andy Lapteff: When we hear the chopper sound. I almost, I almost started to do like a, but I didn’t want to

mess with Dan’s and post side. I just left it alone.

A.J. Murray: Oh, that’s going to be good. Nice, nice work, Tim. Nice work, Tim. He is at Tim Bertino. I am a AIJ Murray at no Blinky Blinky. How are you doing, sir?

Tim Bertino: Hey, damn good. I got to give credit.

That was another, uh, Jordan masterpiece. Thank you, Jordan. Uh, I am a little bit down about 10 minutes ago or so my son ran in here wearing his, uh, sheriff Woody [00:02:00] pajamas and Dan wasn’t here to get my

will at the time. That again, next time.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. Yeah, that was cute. That was cute. Andy at Andy left, half permit IP, Andy, andy.com. How are you, sir? Man.

Andy Lapteff: I’m great.

A.J. Murray: I know. You’re great. And I can’t wait for you to share why you’re

Andy Lapteff: great. Great. And I can’t tell anybody why. Sure

A.J. Murray: you can. This one’s not going to drop for like a month and a half.

Andy Lapteff: Yeah,

A.J. Murray: I’m good. Yup. Yup. Where’d it come from, Andy? Is there anything you can talk about,

Andy Lapteff: uh, specifically, what have you got told me on the spot, bro, basketball court today, maybe you could talk about, okay. Yeah, we did. We got a, we got a basketball court in the driveway, so, so my, my wife got a full ride on a basketball scholarship in college. So [00:03:00] she’s no, she’s no joke. And the kids are four and seven.

So no time, like the present to start training for scholarships and. Daddy daddy

wants to retire before he’s pooping

his pants. So we gotta get these kids to move in here in the, in the right direction. So we cut that later, but yeah, no, everything’s good, man. That my son loved it. We were out there tonight under the

light of headlights.

I mean, it was dark out in the driveway. He just didn’t want to stop playing. So yeah,

well, it was nice. Nice, nice. Everything’s good. What are we getting together soon? I think based on your, your new news that you can’t talk about, but I’m having a baby now. That’s not it moving on. How you doing? Hey Jay, what’s going on?

A.J. Murray: No, I’m doing, I’m doing real well. Um, E whether appear, it’s starting to turn cold, so I’m going into hibernation mode. Um, but yeah, no, uh, [00:04:00] other than that, doing good. What do you do for your fire pit? Uh, I cut down trees on my property. Oh,

Andy Lapteff: seriously? Okay. Yeah.

A.J. Murray: I’m not that I have a ton of property, but I had to shut down a trays and I don’t have a shit ton of trees anymore.

I’m trying to figure out how to fit a half quarter wood at my house and for my fire pit and it’s become a whole thing. So I don’t have trees to cut down

Chris Randall: anyway.

A.J. Murray: Nope, no. And I just stack it nicely to back your property next to your shed or something. Yeah. Good idea. All right. Temps are falling like a homesick rock, a deal that they were up in the sixties.

They popped back up there today, but they’re, they’re heading down. There’s snow in the mountains in Vermont. And, uh, pretty soon there’ll be snow all around my house and I will be questioning why once again, I live in the Northeast. So, um, I’m a few hours south of you quite a few hours. And it’s been in the mid thirties each night in Fahrenheit.

Been. Yeah, it’s happening. Yep. I’ve had to turn my heater on. [00:05:00] I’m not, I’m not happy about that. So when can I hold out till, uh, didn’t, didn’t make it very long this year.

And that sound means it’s time for the wind’s winning in our discord channel this week is Tim Mixi. He passed his AWS certified cloud practitioner. Congratulations, Tim track it. Pacer recently accepted a position as an avionics integration engineer at blue origin. Congratulations, Lexi. IPV four past his comp Tia sec, plus exam.

Congratulations, David Missy has passed the AWS solutions architect, associate exam. Congratulations, David and Jay finished his bachelor’s degree in it. Networking. Congratulations, Jay. That’s awesome. Very proud of that. Welcome to new Patriots this week. Jason Belk and teeth in Sachar. I hope I pronounce that.

Right. Thank you so much for your support of what we do here on the podcast and being a member of our Patrion [00:06:00] program. And also thank you to all of our listeners for your support, for what we do. We really appreciate it and couldn’t do it without it. Thank you so much. Now, back to the show, I am very excited for our guests to see evening.

Um, if you live on Twitter, like I do, you’ve probably seen him pop up there before. Um, I am honored to be able to share his story and, uh, Chris, welcome to the show.

Chris Randall: Thanks. How’s everything going,

A.J. Murray: going well, um,

Chris Randall: let’s see here.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. Yeah, I know. We’ve, we’ve talked in the past about, uh, having you on here. So Chris, you’re excited

Chris Randall: to beyond.

A.J. Murray: I was going to say, tell your face,

Chris Randall: this camera so bad. I might as well. No, it’s fine. We just call that resting Chris’ face

[00:07:00] RFCs and RCS.

A.J. Murray: I don’t, I don’t even know where do we begin with Chris? I

Chris Randall: mean, how do we even start this?

A.J. Murray: What does Chris do now?

Chris Randall: So I just recently took on, um, a new opportunity at CDW in the ACE program. And so I’ll be focusing solely on Azure infrastructure for the next 12 months and then kind of grow from there in cloud.

So that’s my current,

A.J. Murray: what is ACE for people like me that

Chris Randall: don’t know what ACEs, so ACEs.

Um, ACEs like associate consulting engineer, and it is basically a fast track program where they build out, um, an itinerary education, different technical things that you have to do. So certain certifications based on your track. And then they have, um, the soft skills [00:08:00] side consulting, um, like shadowing and things that you do have traditionally consulting engineers over the course of time to get you prepared to be a full speed, like consulting engineer.

A.J. Murray: Very cool. So it’s a, a, a bootcamp of sorts.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Some say it’s like five to 10 years stuffed into. 12 to 18 months. Oh, that doesn’t sound stressful at all.

A.J. Murray: A bit intense.

Chris Randall: It’s a, it’ll be interesting. Um, they just changed the format too, so they knocked it down from 18 months to 12 months. So we’ll see. Wow.

I’m one of the first Guinea pigs for that socio fast.

A.J. Murray: Very cool. Very cool. Well, congratulations on that while you, you haven’t always worked in tech though.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Uh, definitely came from a different background. Um, started in food service for the last 13 years. Uh, wow. So, um, got started in high school. We had like, um, a [00:09:00] career center where you could go kind of pick, you know, I wanted to do welding.

I couldn’t get into the program cause they only took two kids. Culinary S uh, culinary class was open. So I took the opportunity. It was a free afternoon open, you know, we got to do three hours a day. They’re just cooking and playing with food. So I did that my junior and senior year of high school, and like really excelled at it.

Um, got some really good like stodgy opportunities, which in the culinary world is basically, uh, you work for free. And usually you’re doing kind of the grunt work, the hard work, just to prove that you deserve a position. Um, so an internship. Yeah. A highly unpaid work. Yeah. Um, so did that bounced around kind of my local area for a while ended up.

Where was that area, Chris? Where are you from? So I grew up in, uh, mid Michigan. So Midland or Mount pleasant, um, kind of small rural areas. We had, um, the one time we had a casino, it was like the biggest one in [00:10:00] the state. Um, so I ended up there for about two years, took over a steak house. Um, that was fun for a while.

And at the same time, I got the opportunity to go out to, um, Manhattan and work at what was then the number one restaurant in the world from the Michelin standard, um, 11 Madison Park. So let’s wait a minute, wait

A.J. Murray: a minute, wait a minute. How do you go from free, you know, free shit bird guy to like number one, Michelin new a LA.

Chris Randall: Uh, lots and lots of late nights and sharpening of knives. Um, you worked hard to being young and energetic and willing to put the time and energy into it gets you pretty far anywhere. Um, I sent an email. They was kind of, I wouldn’t say easy, but they’re always looking for people to come in and do free work and always try to keep a roster full of people.

So I had the chance to go for a week. [00:11:00] Um, chefs

A.J. Murray: work for free when they’re coming up. Like I worked in restaurants, so nobody worked

Chris Randall: for free well, and more legitimate restaurants, you know, like when you’re working higher end and you’re highly competitive to get in there. Um, some people go in for a day, some people spend a weekend.

Um, it’s not supposed to be that way, but it’s 10 tends to go that way. And you just

A.J. Murray: do that to get exposure, to get it on your resume. Like, Hey, I worked at such-and-such.

Chris Randall: Yeah. I mean, you want to see what’s going on in those environments. I mean, if anybody got the chance to go step into Google or Facebook or Microsoft for a week, you know, and there was really no, no hard ties there.

You could just kind of look around and absorb everything. Why not?

A.J. Murray: So how does one live in Manhattan without an income?

Chris Randall: So, luckily I was only there for a week, so it was just like a working vacation, if you will. Gotcha. It was actually quite the experience. We spent like eight hours touring, like all [00:12:00] the big spots before my first day.

And I had like, Broken open blisters on my feet before I went and worked 16 hours. So that was fun, man.

A.J. Murray: I said this school program or something like, how, how did you, how did you end up getting that, that

Chris Randall: opportunity? Um, so they kind of, like I said, they kind of keep postings open for positions. Um, they have massive staffs. Um, I think there was like 40 people in the back of the house. And I mean, Andy’s working kitchens.

You don’t usually have 40 cooks running around in the Babylon. That’s insane. Yeah. Well, when you’re doing like six figures for dinner sales to some notes, but like,

so for people who haven’t worked in restaurants,

A.J. Murray: you’re talking like a hundred thousand dollars, plus some meals serving in a night is that. Yeah, which is a lot of money

Chris Randall: for one dinner service. I think it was like $130,000 in like a five-hour span. So that’s what the restaurant

[00:13:00] sold

A.J. Murray: and meals five hours.

Chris Randall: Wow. $100 at the time, just to sit at the table for a person that didn’t do drinks or anything special.

A.J. Murray: And how so we’re probably going to talk about culture later in your current gig and what kind of people you’re working with right. In a place that was $300 to walk in the door, like are the staff is douchey as the clients coming in.

Chris Randall: So that place was really unique, right? Um, it’s highly competitive. There’s a bunch of kids my age and they’re not just like New York kids. They’re not just kids that graduate like culinary school. Like the chef at the time was from, I might butcher this. I want to say Denmark, but I think that’s wrong. But so he had a bunch of like, um, Northern European kids there and there’s probably 15 or 20 and they’re all fighting for their thesis.

Um, they’re all, they’re like, this is, this is their, their lives. Um, so they’re pretty heads down working hard. Um, they were pretty willing to help out. They had a good culture [00:14:00] there. Um, probably one of the better ones I’ve been involved in. Um, but very robotic at the same time. So

A.J. Murray: you’d her. Those, you, you, you got good at this really early.

Chris Randall: Did you develop a passion for it or were you, you were good at it? It just made sense. So you just kept going on down the road. So a little bit of bowls. Um, you know, I grew up helping on my uncle’s farm. Like when I was 12, I spend my summers doing that. Um, so we had a lot of, I work ethic, like, you know, kind of ingrained already, and then you get into kitchens and it’s a lot of like hard work and manual labor.

So I was used to that aspect of it. Um, you know, I got to put food on the table and help out. So I, you know, I had to do it to survive. And then at the same time I found like I was good at it and I enjoyed doing it. Um, and for a while I had a passion, um, a couple incidents kind of burn that out, unfortunately, but at the same time, You know, Sandy may where I am now.

So I can’t complain about [00:15:00] that. And,

A.J. Murray: and you know, you’re right. Like, yeah. So burnout, it is a thing, right? It’s, it’s a tough, stressful environment. And it just dawned on me as you’re talking, man kitchens are tough, stressful environments. You want to see the worst of people, try to feed them expensive food.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Well, and it’s, you know, it’s weird too. It’s like, it’s not the expensive restaurants and the country clubs. I mean, you get some, you get some tough people there. It’s your mom and pop, you know, something for under $10. People like the casino when people are getting stuff for free or using the rewards points, like it’s the cheap skates that are the worst than the cheap restaurants.

You know, somebody who’s spending $10 and $10 means a lot. So those are some of the rough ones.

A.J. Murray: So when did you get like the Ooh LA LA gig? You went from like the free Manhattan come up, you know, stuff to, when did you land and

Chris Randall: become a big, uh, so I was kind of doing it right at the casino. Um, they [00:16:00] let me go for the week to go out to Manhattan.

They were really like excited. Um, but at the same time, there was a bunch of stuff going on, be out like outside our, um, control there. So they lost a lot of like sales and revenue. So at the same time, I’m literally on my way back from New York and a guy who runs like the nicest restaurant in town gets me up and he’s like, Hey, I want you to come over to run the rest.

Do your thing, free reign. Um, so I went over there and I had a pretty good strike going, but I just didn’t get along there. Um, there were just some value, differences and things. So that was really my first like big, big shot on my own. Um, had good feedback. I just, I didn’t sit into the culture. No, no, no.

We’re talking like 21, 22 at this time. Okay, cool. I mean,

A.J. Murray: that’s, that’s how it could be owned in the kitchen. Go run my kitchen. That’s impressive. Like my God, man.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Um, it, it’s interesting, especially like, you know, so you’re typically up until the day that I left [00:17:00] to switch into like tech. Um, I was still the youngest one in the kitchen managing everybody.

So, um, it was definitely a big learning curve, um, to manage people who are two or three times your age and you hear like, oh, could be your mom. It could be your grandma.

Um, but it taught me a lot of really good lessons that I met a lot of really great people along the way. Um, we actually had like the biggest. Probably the biggest jump and chance have ever taken in my life, my girlfriend and I, like I said, the last restaurant that I spoke of, um, it wasn’t working out and, um, I was looking for something different.

Maybe take a break. I was burnt out, um, just bad situation after tough situation. Um, so I was going to school. I had the ability to take like three months off. Um, I wasn’t working and I had somebody hit me up down in Georgia. And they were like, Hey, we got this really high end. Like our [00:18:00] dining club wants you to come down.

See my right-hand man, you know, do that. Um, and so the wife and I came down here and she’s in food service since it’s signed suit at the time too. So like, um, it kind of worked out and, um, we took the jump down here. It’s going on four years now. Um, I ended up at a private dining club. It was extremely bougie.

Um, there was no golf course or nothing like that. Like you just came in and it was like $500 a member per month before you even ate. It’s crazy. So we got to do a bunch of fun stuff there, um, but it just. It wasn’t paying the bills. And so I was fortunate the last gig I had. Um, I ended up as a food service director for a fortune 500 company here in town.

Um, managing all their restaurants, um, through different properties that they have through town, um, doing other catering, some other big week dinners, things like that. So that was really what I kind of got my big [00:19:00] shop, um, doing the full manager of a multimillion dollar account for a fortune 500 client. Um, I think I was 25 at the time.

So

A.J. Murray: that’s incredible. So you’ve talked a few times about like, um, you know, somebody hits you up, like, Hey, like you, you obviously have a reputation. Like how did you, you socialize that reputation, right? Like, I’m, I’m curious, like how does somebody live in up in Michigan, get a phone call from someone down in Georgia and be like, Hey, I want you to come run this thing.

Like, how did that happen? Is there like a LinkedIn for chefs?

Chris Randall: Well, so thankfully, like who was down here was an old, personal contact. Um, that course that I went to in high school, like the after hours program, um, it was somebody that I met from another local high school. And so we kind of stayed in contact, um, throughout the years when he moved away.

And then [00:20:00] I came down here. Um, but otherwise, like all my other opportunities have come through kind of similar to what’s happened now. Um, Instagram was a big one for me. And Facebook, you know, for food because everybody’s looking on there, you know, that’s when the popularity, the rise in popularity of like, um, Facebook pages for restaurants and, um, Yelp and all those other things.

And so I kind of threw myself out there. I’d take pictures, you know, we’re posting stuff, we’re getting the restaurants to post stuff, doing videos, doing, um, dinners out in the garden, wine dinners, specialty stuff, just trying to catch everybody’s attention and kind of be enough hashtag or

A.J. Murray: so say you’re building these like beautiful plates of food and you’re snapping some photos.

I’m just throwing them out there for

Chris Randall: everybody to see. Yeah. And I’ll tell you, the photos don’t look as good on an iPhone six as they do. Yeah, 13. So I think I’ve still got some folk around back there, so we’ll blame it on the phone. Nice. [00:21:00]

A.J. Murray: That’s great. That’s great. What, what an incredible story. I mean, I, I, I didn’t know the depth of all of this.

Like I knew he came from the food service industry. I didn’t realize like at what level you were playing at. So what, what precipitated the move? Like, it seems like you’re, you’re kind of like at the top of your game, like, I can only imagine what it may have been, but I, I, you know, I want to know from you.

Chris Randall: Yeah. I mean, um, I have. Some really good opportunities. Some that I squandered that I wish I would’ve stayed at at least longer. Um, had some other opportunities. I wish I hadn’t taken, um, got a little overzealous and excited. Um, but I had really the opportunity. I mean, if we wanted to move, I could have went wherever and, you know, humbly probably fell in wherever I wanted to.

Um, but as you know, like restaurants are nights and weekends and holidays. And so, um, I miss like, Hey, Thanksgiving’s in a row, uh, [00:22:00] with. And so like, my birthday happens to fall on the 24th of November. So like, um, this year and Sunday before Thanksgiving, there’s been times where my birthday spent on Thanksgiving.

Um, and that’s one of the biggest days of the years. So as I started to settle down with my girlfriend, fiance now, wife, um, you know, priorities changed. And then, um, I was in a really good position where I was, um, as food service director, I could have stayed there for probably as long as I wanted to, but long-term, it wasn’t a 20, 30, 40 year option.

At some point I was probably going to have to go back to nights and weekends. And so I really didn’t want to give up the lifestyle, you know, the family time and all those things. So, um, fortunately. Um, you know, COVID hit and the opportunity kind of arose where I said, like, you know, I’m watching all my friends lose their jobs.

I’m watching restaurants close all these things. And for me, I was still stable in my [00:23:00] position. Um, we didn’t have a lot going on on campuses. So, um, at that point I had to take a step back and say like, I’ve got to figure out something more along. Um, I’ve got to figure out something that’s going to be equitable.

Um, and something that’ll keep me entertained because that’s one thing about food service. And especially being a chef is like, you’re constantly stimulated and going. And if you want to be good at it, you’re constantly learning and trying new things. And that’s something that I’ve always, I’ve always enjoyed about it.

And so, um, texts always have, I’ve always liked to play around with things. So, um, I had the time at work. I started dabbling around and looking around, um, and that’s kind when I made that decision, like, I need to jump into this whole time because if I don’t do it now, I’ll never do it.

A.J. Murray: So you said COVID was a pivot point, I guess, but it didn’t sound like you lost your job or lost any money.

So how did it play into you saying, eh, maybe if we’re not in restaurants.

Chris Randall: So my position was contracted, um, and actually in the midst of [00:24:00] COVID we resigned like a five-year deal. Um, but those aren’t like concrete and given nobody. Clue. I mean, we had like 4,000 people on property. Now you’re sitting at like 70 people on property with no intention to return.

So you see the writing on the

A.J. Murray: walls, I guess. How, like how long can I be in this

Chris Randall: environment? Maybe? Yeah. I mean, thankfully the, the company that I contracted for was an awesome company. Um, and it kinda had come full circle on me again. Um, I could tell that story off camera as much as I can name names of that company, but, um, yeah, it was just one of those things where I saw it.

Like, you know, before I lose my job, let me have something, you know, in backup. Cause obviously like we are solo down here in Georgia. We’re a thousand miles away from family. We don’t have. You know, safety net other than ourselves. So, you know, we had to, I had to make a move and it felt like the right one.

A.J. Murray: How does one start looking to figure out how to get a [00:25:00] job in tech? Right? Like what do you do there? I’m a chef. I want to work in tech. Like I was a cable guy, at least I was playing with things and like plugging things in and had a meter. I could read like signals. Like, how did you, how did you start?

Right? Where do you start?

Chris Randall: You’re starting points zero. Yeah. I mean, I had kind of dabbled in the idea before, so cooking was always a means to an end. And I had actually went to college to be an accountant. Like I want to be a CPA of all things. And so, um, I’m like six classes from getting my bachelor’s in accounting.

And I had a local contact who was ran his own accounting firm. And he was like, you know, come in, sit down and we’ll talk. Um, I sit there and he’s like, you’re a little too old. Coming to count was 23 at this time. So it was like, okay, I guess, I guess the specialist degree wasn’t worth it.

A.J. Murray: You’re too old to be an accountant at 23.

Is that what he said?

Chris Randall: Yeah. And he told me, by the time [00:26:00] I sat for my CPA and got everything, it’d be like 26 or 27 and I’d be too old entering the game too late. I was like, oh,

A.J. Murray: wow. So,

Chris Randall: um, I had taken a couple of computer classes and in college, so, and dabbled around with the idea. Um, I had been introduced to Python, a couple other things and.

Of all things. It’s probably about a year before this happened, I’d come across like network check videos. Um, this was like in its early days. And so I hadn’t remembered that when I came back around and I was like looking through my YouTube history and I know this guy is in here somewhere. Um, so I found it and I just started going through that and it was like, I need to know if I’m going to figure out where I go.

I need to figure out what I want my specialty or be. So I should’ve started playing around with different things and like being a CIS admin had like, didn’t sound fun at all. Um, Programming was not going to be my saying, well, kind of like programming. Um, and I like playing with that like dev ops [00:27:00] side. Um, but that seemed like a really steep curve.

Um, and one day I was sitting there and the internet went out and I was like, I need to figure this out. I have no idea how it works. And so it just kind of started to snowball on it. And that’s when I decided to like, look into networking. Did you really even have anybody to bounce ideas off of, or ask questions of, it sounds like you were doing a lot of this on your own for the most part.

I had a colleague who is pretty good with computers, he’s built, you know, a couple playgrounds, a bunch of stuff over the last 20 years. And so I could hang like basic questions off of him, um, which was really helpful to come and get the ball rolling. And then after that, it was just jumping in head first, spending hours upon hours with like a headache, trying to figure out what was going on and what was, what and how things were interconnecting.

And, um, so it was kind of a solo show.

A.J. Murray: You weren’t connected to any kind of community at right. You didn’t know that it was out there

Chris Randall: at that point. [00:28:00] No. And how far into the learning on your own, the, the dabbling, the trying different things. Did you decide that you were going to try to apply for something and, and how did that work?

I didn’t apply for anything. Um, just cause I knew that there was going to be like a massive pay cut going from, you know, being in a director position to jumping over. So it was like, I know that I, at least for now I have time to build up the skillset. So I think the first time I applied was actually.

It’s a job offer was made to me. It’s, you know, um, when Frank’s reached out. But other than that, like the first time I applied, I got the job, thankfully.

A.J. Murray: So was this a long game for you? Because anytime I hear somebody say I took a pay cut to pivot, it always gets my attention. Right? Like who’s looking to make less money.

You’re an established guy. You had a propensity to be a great chef. You’re running stuff. Like that’s a big risk [00:29:00] or a big move. I mean, I get the insight that you had with COVID-19 maybe, you know, I look into tech, which is this thing, but how do you, like, it’s just you and your wife, you’re on your own.

You’re a thousand miles away from family and you’re going to take a pay cut. That’s a, that’s a big brisk,

Chris Randall: right? Yeah. I mean, thankfully we were like in fortunate position where, you know, I was making enough money where. You know, a good buffer. Um, but it’s, I mean, it’s as tight as it can be kind of thing.

Um, you know, we had to do some things like get rid of some toys, sell it. Sure. Um, you know, cut back on all the fun activities, but I look at it, you know, 2, 3, 5 years down the road, if I can break even to where I was and, you know, essentially double what I was making then, um, in the long run it’ll be worth it, but

A.J. Murray: like had her support,

Chris Randall: right.

She was on board and that’s what I wanted to bring up. Were you dating engaged or married at this point? So the entire time we’ve been married [00:30:00] since I’ve started district, are those conversations like

A.J. Murray: when and my job and make less money. Isn’t this cool. Never checked out. We didn’t do.

Chris Randall: That’s kind of what I wanted to know. Did, could she see, could she kind of see the writing on the wall with you that, Hey, I, you were thinking you might want to pivot or, or did you kind of keep that to yourself? No. Yeah, we have, um, we have an extremely open relationship and communication. And so over the years she kind of knew, and I’ve been open about that.

Like, you know, long-term this, isn’t like, it’s fun now, but isn’t when I’m 40. Or if we have kids, there’s something that I want to be. Um, and so what I started to tell her about it, I mean, you know, all my other kooky crazy ideas, she was just like, okay. And what’s funny about that is like, I circled back with her after of course everything started happening.

[00:31:00] Um, I was full of my hair out, cause it was a whole bunch of stuff. I didn’t know when I took on the fridge like position doing contract work. And she’s like, I don’t know. And like the next thing, you know, like I got the network admin position and she’s like, no, I wasn’t, I wasn’t sold that. You were going to do this for the first couple of months.

And then when I started seeing you for six, eight hours a day, like after work in the office, like studying what I saw you like sitting on the couch with headphones and watching videos, like falling asleep, watching videos and doing stuff. She’s like, I knew you were committed. And I knew if you were going to do it, it was going to happen.

So,

A.J. Murray: wow. There’s a lesson in that, right? Like. You can make that decision and commit to something and just everybody in this industry, right? Like you just, you put your head down and you just grind away and you have to do it in your spare time and nights, weekends, like whatever, like just. Yeah. It’s a lot of work right.

To break

Chris Randall: in [00:32:00] sometimes. Yeah, no, I mean, that’s one thing, like, you know, posting on Twitter and discord and all that, like all the fun stuff and the winds and things like that. It’s always exciting. But like, I think one thing to be like proud of the chair is like, you know, the fails and the grind as well, because like I would sit at work and all my downtime and read and like go home and like give up, you know, family time or time with the dogs playing video games, like going on trips, you know, committing my time to that.

And so there was a sacrifice, I mean, fortunately things have fallen in my lap if you will. Um, you know, I’ve been very fortunate in that aspect, but you know, the hard work siren, if you’re willing to put it in, I think, you know, you’ll be repaid for it.

A.J. Murray: Choose passion, right? Like who the hell is going to do that?

So, if they’re not interested in into it, you know, like you just can’t, you can’t, long-term fake something like that now, subnetting, like just, you know, one thing after another, I mean, you really gotta be interested.

Chris Randall: Right. And even at that, I mean, like, [00:33:00] I’m like super excited about like Terraform and infrastructure’s code right now.

And like every day I’m pulling it up and doing that. I’m like, I got to step away from this today before I burnt myself out. Because like too much of a good thing, you know, Hey,

A.J. Murray: Awan fans AIG here for an ally, never heard of the ally. Sure. You have. They came from the same group of engineers that brought us network tools from flute networks NetScout and now their net ally.

They know networking. I’m a network engineer for a partner. And when I go to a customers and see, they use net net, ally, I know it’s going to be so much easier to troubleshoot issues. We might run into the name may have changed in an ally, but the way they build tools, hasn’t changed a bit. They ask what would a network engineer want to help make their job faster and easier.

And then they go build it just like this ether scope. NXG that ally is here to help that ally simplicity, visibility, collaboration, visit net ally.com today. Now back to the show. So I, I kind of want to take a step back, like, let’s talk about what it [00:34:00] was like to try to break into that first tech job. Like you you’d been studying for a while.

You’re building up the skills, you know? So, so let’s, let’s see, like what, what was the job? What was the process? What was that like? Like obviously somebody saw like, you know, that they had an opportunity to present to you and they took a chance on you.

Chris Randall: Um, It was interesting because I was sitting on Twitter, like at work, the one there, and all of a sudden they get like a, a DM from some random guy.

And he’s like, Hey, I think I have an opportunity for you. You know, here’s my WhatsApp number, get a hold of me. That’s like, okay. You know, this could be fake, but if it’s five or 10 minutes of my time, what’s five or 10 minutes. So I get a hold of this guy and like, um, as I’m on the phone with him, I’m looking him up and like, everything he’s saying is true.

He’s like a forward Cisco guy. He, you know, we’re kind of high up for like 18 years there moved back to Euro, started his own network automation company. They, you know, they’re kind of [00:35:00] been up and running for like four years now. They’re like, okay, this sounds legit. But everything he’s saying is like way over my head.

And he’s like, don’t worry. Like, you know, we just need some help and we’ll help you along the way. I just want to give you a shot because you looked like energetic. And, um, you know, I liked that you’re trying, and that you’re willing to put yourself out there, so, oh, wait a minute. Their secret

A.J. Murray: sauce here.

Yeah, you’re tired. You’re not qualified. You don’t have the skills, but he sees something in you. And he’s like, I’m going to teach you that this is, I hear this a lot. Right. People say, oh, I’m not, I’m not good enough. I’m I qualified. Like you, you reach. There there’s something to me. I mean, I look at my own story.

There’s something about reaching beyond your comfort level and saying yes to things. You’re not sure you can do, because on the other end of that conversation, that person sees something in, you believes in you, you know, like, I feel like an imposter a lot of times, and one time I had a director be like, oh yeah, sure.

Everybody has it wrong. And you’re so clever. You have everybody [00:36:00] fooled, right? Like this guy saw something in you and pulled you, pulled you into this. So what’s the secret sauce. What did he see? So your commitment, he saw your passion, he saw your working hard. Like how did you pull that off? Because

Chris Randall: that’s no joke, right?

Yeah. I mean, you know, you gotta be honest out there and tell people what you’re doing. I mean, even if it’s not big, exciting stuff, like, you know, I came from cooking. Practicing some diving here. I am like trying to throw a physical lab together, even though I have no idea, like what ramen is. And last guy doesn’t know what the password was like, you know, just, I think networking is one of the biggest things that people like undervalue.

And I don’t mean in the physical sense. I mean, like, you know how we we’ve all connected. Um, he found you on Twitter, ISA.

A.J. Murray: Yeah. And on Twitter you had been posting your study journey, your lab building, you’re sharing it right.

Chris Randall: Saying I’m doing okay. All my interactions. Um, I think I posted some videos, like wiring up my physical lab and trying to go through some things, ask some questions, [00:37:00] kind of posts or whatever chapter I was on, things like that.

Um, and he had followed me for like a month and I didn’t even realize that he was, you know, he’s like Abbot to watching your journey. I think it’s really cool. Um, I think, you know, I want to take a chance just because you look like somebody who will take, take advantage of it. Did you have any

A.J. Murray: certifications?

No. Okay. So everyone out listening, I’m just trying to figure out how to break into it or networking. No certifications, no computer science degree, no experience. But you started, you made the decision, you made a commitment, you started grinding away. You shared your journey with the community and somebody saw your passion and your drive and your interest and gave you a job, right?

Is that what you’re telling

Chris Randall: us? I mean, I was getting paid to do technical documentation for network automation tools. Company, halfway around the world, you know, and I had [00:38:00] never logged into an ID for more than 10 minutes and I had no idea what it was or how to pull down a repo. Um, I pretty much sat there for a week.

Couldn’t get on the VPN, um, all those instructions for real. So,

A.J. Murray: um, so if you weren’t connected to the tech community and you weren’t sharing and writing your story and making videos that job, it doesn’t sound like it would have happened. Right? You, you needed, you needed to tell the world what you were doing for the sky to be able to

Chris Randall: find you, right?

Yeah. I mean, without the network piece, without the community things, I mean, I wouldn’t be here. Um, it’s, you know, it helped with that because somebody was watching and it was at the right place at the right time. Um, especially the way Twitter algorithms work and things like that. I was fortunate in that aspect.

Um, you know, and then at the same time, I like to end up in this community as well was just through random, like Spotify searches, I’m looking for podcasts and things like that. [00:39:00] And it was, I think you guys are only a couple months into, so it was by happen chance or happenstance that I came across that, um, and like, if you’re out there and don’t be afraid to like throw whatever you’re working on out there half the time I was just throwing like, Hey, this is the chapter I’m working on.

Then somebody would pipe it in and like, Hey, if you need help or, Hey, this is a really good method or something like that. I mean, I got a lot of really valuable tidbits that way. Just like sharing what I was doing for the day.

A.J. Murray: Still trying to process everything here. This is such an incredible, incredible journey and incredibly short too. So like w when did you like. Door to door. When did you leave the cooking industry? And when did you start in the tech industry? Like how we talk in months, years, decades, not decades. I

Chris Randall: know. But are you talking like started like the study journey or just like,

A.J. Murray: well, I like [00:40:00] w from the time you left the, the, your position working in the cooking or food industry to, to landing your first tech job let’s can we start with a decision was made when you made a decision?

That you wanted to work in tech and you were going to start taking action from that decision until you landed that job. How long did that take?

Chris Randall: It was February of this year. Um, end of February that I landed at CCNA. It was on a Friday. Um, you did have your CCNA. I wanted to ask you about search. So I got the first contract before my CCNA and then about a month and I landed my CCNA.

Um, and then I took about, let’s see, I took about two months, um, kind. I was just like, I gotta do it. If, you know, I don’t want to start losing information. I want to make the jump financially. We were able to make some decisions that allowed it. And so by may, into [00:41:00] early June, I made the decision to start applying, um, locally or for remote positions.

So I think I applied to about a half dozen or so before I got a call back, it was less than a year. Yeah. So about three months I

A.J. Murray: felt, yeah. February to may. So you made a decision in February, you got a gig in may. It’s, you’re one of those guys. It’s hard to like Chris,

Chris Randall: I’ve been extremely blessed and fortunate for the opportunities that have followed my way.

A.J. Murray: So that first consulting company, is that something you’re still doing on the side? Are you still working with them? Um,

Chris Randall: so I was with them for about six months and as I transitioned over. Um, because I did transition over to the DOD and things like that.

Um, it was just best interest to not have ties to foreign companies. So that was

A.J. Murray: the [00:42:00] automation guy, right. From your book, you started with technical documentation. Is that what you said? So,

Chris Randall: yeah, so like all of their, um, on their website, all their documentation, all their white papers, everything like that.

I was tasked with restructuring rebuilding, um, and putting a less technical spin on it. And at the same time I was supposed to study it so that I could start helping with like troubleshooting projects. Gotcha.

A.J. Murray: Gotcha. So from there, where did you go next?

Chris Randall: So after that, I ended up, um, it was July of this year.

I ended up with the DOD, um, and a local, a local office here on base as a network admin. And so kind of. It was an interesting set up just the way everything’s going. But there was like three local networks, um, nothing too complicated. And, uh, it was very slow, very, very slow.

A.J. Murray: How do you get a job at the DOD?

Aren’t they like [00:43:00] military people are like, did you have to get clearances? How does that

Chris Randall: happen? Yeah. So, um, got a clearance, which ironically or coincidentally, uh, My clear, showed up on my last day with them. But, uh,

A.J. Murray: well you have to be sponsored to get a clearance to

Chris Randall: sponsor. Yeah. Yeah. So the contracting company, um, is that it’s a company that I contracted through sponsored.

And then, um, we worked with the DOD and then, um, to government, to the government in the military, um, on the project that they had going on. So it was kind of a cool little setup, got to see some different things. So I really slow walk into stuff. Um, but then again, there’s a lot of red tape there with DOD.

And like you said, having to get, um, clearance and things like that. So it took a while to get rolling. And then, um, I was only a couple of weeks and I was like two or three weeks in and the former network engineer who was. Like the CIS. So at the time was like talking to me, he’s like, how do you like [00:44:00] it?

And you know, it’s good. Um, it’s smaller than I expected that, you know, that’s fine. Um, you know, do everything that I can kind of goes, um, yeah, I know you’re going to outgrow it at some point. It’s kind of small, it’s kind of slow. I’m not a lot changes around here. So, um, all the big projects are kind of in place unless you have to like switch out, um, a switch or something like that.

Something dramatic happens. Um, but he goes, so I don’t foresee you being here more than like a year, a half or two years. Cause you probably outgrow it. And so that was kind of like a, I don’t want to say red flag, but it kind of. Um, light went off and I was like, well, if I’m going to put a year and a half or two years over here, you know, where do I want to be in a year and a half for two years?

Or where else could I be? Um, and so I just kind of had that thought. And then about a week later, um, I saw somebody posting about a associate consulting engineer position that kind of caught my attention, [00:45:00]

A.J. Murray: uh, a friend and a community that you,

Chris Randall: you even had that thought is kind of something not kind of, but it’s definitely something special about kind of your mentality and how you’ve gone through your

A.J. Murray: career is you got this job in, in, you’re already

Chris Randall: thinking about your next step and your long game and that kind of thing.

And that’s. That’s not something you see in everybody. So I think that, that says a lot about you and your character that you were already kind of seeing, Hey, this place is kind of slow moving. I’m trying to build a life out of being in the tech industry or doing tech related jobs. Maybe I need to already start looking at the next thing.

So that, that was really cool to hear you analyze that kind of right. Issue got into one door. Yeah. It was one of those like, um, you know, you did an opportunity and then the better opportunity always comes up right after. Um, and it was a hard decision. Um, I, you know, uh, you know, shout out to Weezy [00:46:00] net seq, wheezy for the opportunity I had kind of just inquired about what was going on, um, after he posted it and just what it was.

And so I had sat back for about two weeks and thought it over, talked to the wife and I was like, yeah, This would be a really fast move. I just got an opportunity. I mean, I’m locked in here. I can take it slow, take my time, you know, keep going, what I’m doing, and then try to jump up, you know, and run the rat race.

Or there’s this really like sounds too good to be true opportunity over here. Um, you know, should I go investigate that more? And you know, the wife is all important for it. So I started thinking wheezy a little bit more, a little bit more, and um, one thing led to another and it was just the right. It was the right path because other things were going on.

Um, you know, where I was already at that were just kind of like, yeah, this long-term, it’s not going to be the opportunity I want for myself.

A.J. Murray: Where did you see that post? Where do Weezy

Chris Randall: posts that [00:47:00] job? So, um, Weezie posted it up. I think it was in jobs. And I just so happened to come across it. Cause that’s one of those ones that I had needed at the time, the discord area yeah.

In the discord. And so, um,

A.J. Murray: so the community, another community platform. So I wanted to point at like Twitter got you that first gig and now, you know, different community platform. Plugged in, into the community seems to be paying

Chris Randall: off, right? Yeah. Um, networking and networking network, the network. Um, I had like only high conversations with Louisa you back and forth.

I mean, everybody knows he’s a huge cheerleader, um, super supportive guy. And so. Been back and forth with him on Twitter a little while, a little bit. Um, but never really chatted with them. And so I got to know him a little bit, going back and forth, um, in the discord in a one channel, just talking about like, Hey, what’s this opportunity?

What’s it look like? And that’s when, like he dropped it on me that he was [00:48:00] actually in the program. Um, and so he had like firsthand experience to tell me what was going on. And so that’s when, um, kind of started that process. So at that point twice out of the three opportunities I’d gotten, you know, networking and community.

Once again.

A.J. Murray: It’s nice to hear.

Chris Randall: Yeah, that’s incredible. So what do you have in front of you? You’ve got this,

A.J. Murray: uh, you said it was a 12 to 18 month ACE

Chris Randall: program that they’re trying to get you to get through it in 12. What does it look like after that? Are you working directly with customers or what are you going to be doing?

Yeah, so fall into a full-time consulting engineer position. Uh, post-sales doing deployments, um, things like that for, uh, customers, whether they’re returning things like that for Azure deployments, um, I’m on like the hybrid infrastructure side, so, uh, that’ll be exciting. And then [00:49:00] I’m hoping to develop more of like the infrastructure is code platform that they have.

Uh, hold on.

A.J. Murray: So it’ll be, you’ll be post-sales will you go install stuff, but you know, to cloud man, it’s just, it’s just, I mean, it’s right here to install. I mean, are you, I don’t know. Maybe I don’t understand, like, you know, it’s somebody else’s infrastructure, right? So what do you install posts if somebody’s going to want to connect to Azure and you’re going to help them connect to Azure?

Chris Randall: Yeah, it’s a lot of, um, Cut off hybrid blends of like taking their, you know, their Ady and moving up into the cloud. Um, maybe there’s some Greenfield deployments, things like that. My understanding is that there’s a lot of, uh, what you call it. They’re bringing over a lot of stuff into the cloud that they already had on prem.

Especially with everybody going to less of a physical [00:50:00] footprint these days with staff, you know, you don’t need the big buildings and things like that. So they’re just getting rid of physical infrastructure. Right. So

A.J. Murray: moving

Chris Randall: people up into the cloud. So yeah, I hear the cloud’s a big thing. It’s as big as you want it to be.

Yeah. Yeah. I mean,

A.J. Murray: that’s, that’s the place to be right

Chris Randall: now. Right? It’s it’s a very good direction. My opinion. Yeah. I think it’s, um, for me like the big, um, Attraction is that automation’s a big one for me. Um, that’s just how my brain works. I’m always like that concept. I do like some of the coding aspect and things.

So that’s where like infrastructure scout comes into play. Um, and just the mobility, I think, you know, going forward, you know, the work from home thing going on, things like that, the lack of physical hardware that people have access to think the cloud only gets stronger, um, over the next decade or two, which is really important for me.

So I wanted to be as ahead of the curve as I could be on [00:51:00] whatever I could do. So,

A.J. Murray: um, we’ve talked about it before, but I’m amazed at how quickly. The whole model has changed to like that just distributed, you know, instead of everything, you know, instead of going there, pinning through your hub for everything the way it was not that long ago now there’s just stuff everywhere.

It’s, it’s, it’s all distributed all over the place. It happened pretty quickly. I guess the COVID thing kind of accelerated it maybe right. With everybody at home. And, uh, I dunno, it’s, it’s been amazing to watch. Like when I started not too long ago, it was all on prem and I managed our data centers. And I blinked my eyes and multicloud and everything’s moving there and, you know, agile speed of deployment.

Go, go, go. Like it’s I, I see the benefits, right?

Chris Randall: It’s it’s real. Yeah. It’s a, COVID definitely had a massive impact on that. I mean, if you didn’t have everybody working from home and, um, needing the inter-operative operability of everything like that, I don’t think it [00:52:00] would’ve happened for. That’s five years or so you went up sold so many people and then, you know, with the supply chain things going on too, people can’t get physical hardware.

It’s like, well, why not go to the cloud? And at the same time, if you do it right, you know, you can be efficient in your cost. And, you know, maybe save a little bit of money. What’s

A.J. Murray: magical to me is the ability to spin up capacity instantly. Like as one example, when COVID hit, I work for a large company and just everybody went home and they did not have the capacity with our VPN infrastructure in our data centers to accommodate that.

So you were constantly getting kicked out. It would take an hour and a half to get logged in in the morning. And it all got spun up in a cloud provider. It was overnight. And we went from, nobody could connect for weeks to consistently to like, oh, there it is. You know? I mean, that’s, you know, how long from a guy who’s been building.

Infrastructure in on-prem data set. It [00:53:00] takes forever to get that crap rack stack, working circuits, like, you know, whatever you need to add capacity and to be able to do it instantly in the cloud. And that’s just the speed at which things are moving. This is just really insane. And the cloud enables that.

It’s

Chris Randall: really cool. Yeah. That’s crazy. You going from like, you know, building simple networks and doing all this stuff in the CC and I, and my like network admin stuff, and then turn around and like hop in Azure and even like through Terraform and things like that, just spin up. Here’s a, of the net. And within that, I can just drop some nets and it’s all in just a matter of like 30 seconds, it can be spun up.

I mean, all that works, but. In the background. So it’s crazy to see you kind of like, I don’t wanna say old school, but you know, it was a very traditional and, um, you know, physical way to do it and then go hop into the extremely virtualized side of it and see how quick it is. And so I don’t want you to give away company secrets or anything like that, but [00:54:00] can you, can you kind of

A.J. Murray: unpack this, uh, this ACE program

Chris Randall: it’s really intriguing to me that they, they bring people in that, in this case you didn’t have any cloud experience, but they’re willing to put you through this 12 to 18 month program, kind of at a high level.

What does that program look like? Do they got you going through Azure certification programs? Are you just shadowing other team members all day? What does it look. Yeah. So, um, I’ve only been there a couple of weeks too, so take everything with a grain of salt, but, um, um, and if anybody from CDW have only been there two weeks, so take it with a grain of salt.

But so yeah, I mean, it’s a pretty well kept secret. It’s one of those things where, I mean, CDW is massive. I think, you know, well over the 10,000 employee mark, and they’re constantly trying to, you know, keep the pipeline stacked with like talented [00:55:00] individuals and passionate individuals. And that was a big thing that was thrown at me.

I think I had five or six interviews during the process, um, with people from the program and above the program and, you know, it was all management and things like that. Some technical interviews, some consulting, interviews, things like that. And what they’re really looking for is somebody who’s passionate and driven.

Um, they said, you know, we can teach you the technology, but we need somebody who’s going to show up and want to do it. And also somebody who can speak to people, um, because you know, as Adrian with now being a consultant, things like that, you have to talk to a variety of people and, you know, be able to translate everything that’s going on.

Um, effectively of all sides of it. So secret

A.J. Murray: sauce, Chris, secret sauce, passion drive and communication. That’s I hear this a lot and I’ve experienced it myself. We can teach you the tech, what we see your passion. We can see that you’re [00:56:00] driven and you’re able to communicate, oh my God. There are the three

Chris Randall: things right there.

I’ve got the cheat code, right? Like I was a manager for the out of those 13 years in food service. So, you know, I know what to look for people that I know what I was looking for. So, um, if I’m going to do it, I’m going to do it right. And be that person that gets noticed because yeah, call it cheating or maybe even brown nose, but you know, kind of, you have to know how to play the game a little bit too as well.

So

A.J. Murray: we have to be good with people. And that’s what I was thinking. As you were telling your story earlier in the restaurant business, I mean, it’s a people business, right? Like. You’re working with people. You’re feeding people. It’s, you’re constantly interfacing with people and communication and nonverbal communication picking up on cues.

Like, yeah, you, you build all those skills, right. And, and that gig, and now it’s transferable, but I’ve been, I I’ve been given jobs by the way that I was underqualified for. And they told me the same exact thing. We can teach you the tech, we see you’re passionate, you know, home lab, community [00:57:00] engagement, whatever, you know, we can see that you’re driven.

You have certification, just study a lot, you know, when you can communicate. And that’s what we need. And I’ve heard that from a lot. I’ve been on a lot of interviews. Just, you just got me all excited. Those three things, I think have been my secret sauce so far. And it seems to be working for

Chris Randall: you too. Yeah.

I mean, people want to work with people who they like, you know, and they can get along with us and we’ve all worked with the wrong person. And so, you know, especially when you’re going to invest so much into somebody from a technical aspect like that, or be somebody who, you know, is going to show up, want to do it, you can turn your head and not have to worry about what they’re doing in the background.

And like in this program, I mean, I’m sitting at home, you know, and being, being that work from home makes it even more challenging because for me, I don’t have that face to face contact. Like you said, you know, where I can kind of start to network in person, which is a little bit easier. Um, now trying to do every single for meetings, virtual meetings and things like that.

So, um, a curve ball for me, but, [00:58:00] you know, having the accountability and things to do my studies, do my, you know, keep up on my tasks, things like that happen and network where I can and do what I have to do. Um, you know, that’s going to be, you know, where you start showing up. Showing that you’re really passionate about what you’re doing.

Cause you’re just keeping up on everything without anybody telling you to.

A.J. Murray: And I didn’t mean to Pivotus away from Tim’s question. Just a fantastic question. I just got excited. So you’re doing the certification stuff. You’re learning Azure, you’re shadowing people. That is, that, is that the

Chris Randall: crux of the program?

A.J. Murray: How are they getting skilled

Chris Randall: up specifically? Yeah, it’s um, I mean, imagine just like college courses or anything like that. They, you know, they build upon each other and there’s like a soft skill side to it as well as the technical side. And they blend in together. Um, There’s certain tracks that we have to go down that are predefined for us and being like a Microsoft partner.

Um, we have pretty good access to all those Azure stuff. We’ve got like O’Reilly learning and LinkedIn and CBT [00:59:00] and things like that. So, um, we kind of have keys to the kingdom when it comes to education and resources, which is really nice. Um, uh, thankful for that because every time I’ve needed something it’s been there

A.J. Murray: and you’re afforded the time during the day to learn stuff, right?

Like, is your job right now? Just to learn, to get certified.

Chris Randall: Yeah. So really for the next 12 months, my whole job is to be learned, to be the best Azure engineer that I can be. Um, we’ve got, uh, like I said, we blend in like those shadowing and consulting, so you get that side of it. Um, and that takes up part of your time, but as well, Right now 60, 70, 80% of my time is just burnt up with studying and I’m going through all the technical content trying to get through it.

That’s

A.J. Murray: fantastic. You’re going to be a beast at the end of a year. It’s

Chris Randall: just

gonna be,

A.J. Murray: you know, and that is your beast, right? Sorry.

Chris Randall: Yeah. Yeah. Yeah, it will be interesting. So I just have like my [01:00:00] first meeting and went over goals. I still have to get my security plus, which I’ve been studying for, for like four months. So, um, but I’ll have it done at the end of the month. I’ll have, I’m going to sit for my easy 1 0 4, which is like the intermediate, like admin exam.

Um, I’ll set it for that before the end of the year and hopefully pass that. And then by the end of February, I’ll probably have the Linux like certified administrator. And then by may I plan on having the Azure expert certs, so it’s going to be fast paced.

A.J. Murray: Wow. How does one lab for cloud studies? I kind of know the answer because I was on the AWS track for a minute, but just for people listening, you know, you build, you said earlier you built a physical lab.

So if you’re studying cloud, how do you lab cloud?

Chris Randall: Yes, it was a really cool thing about that is, uh, um, Azure, like Microsoft offers. Uh, 12 months, um, free trial with like $150, $200 credit for your first month. And then AWS has the same thing for [01:01:00] like 12 months. You can hop on, they have a free tier, so you can go play with things.

And so, um, if you go hop on, like Microsoft has a really good setup or on Microsoft learn, um, it takes you through all the topics that they built themselves that attached to the different certs. And then, you know, you can go take that because some of them have integrated labs to go hop on your free account and just start playing around with it.

And as long as you don’t mess anything up, which if you’re trying to learn, you can learn your billing instructions and things like that. Um, you don’t spend any of your personal money and you can have a, basically a virtual.

A.J. Murray: Set billing alerts, right? That’s

Chris Randall: the key there? Yeah. I got scared. I got one this morning from AWS and I haven’t played with that in like four months.

Um, it was only like $7. I’ve seen people with like five digit bills come through because it didn’t shut something off.

A.J. Murray: And I’ve heard that. Oops. I forgot to turn something off. All flips

Chris Randall: a $5 alert on that one. [01:02:00] We’ve got like a, an allowance at work, which is nice. Um, and then on top of that, it’s pretty restricted so that we don’t go spending too much company money.

A.J. Murray: Oh man. Uh, th this is just absolutely incredible. I, I hate to say it, but we’re coming to the end of our hour here, Chris. And yeah, I know. Right. Um, anything that you want to like cap this off with, you know, advice that you have for people, either looking to break in or, or jump from one career to another, such as you have done, what what’s, what’s the best words of wisdom that you wouldn’t want to give them?

Chris Randall: I think the one thing is that you’ve got to be able to try, um, and it’s worth it. If you put the effort into it, um, the opportunities are out there. Um, you’re going to have to go outside of your comfort zone to find them, but they’re there. If you’re willing to go and if you’re willing to go find them, they’re there for you.

And so it might not seem like it at first telling me that I went six, eight months and. [01:03:00] Didn’t seem, I didn’t know if it was going to happen. And then all of a sudden it just, it clicked and, you know, so, um, you know, be networking, always be laughing, all those fun things, but just put yourself out there.

A.J. Murray: I love it from, uh, from like culinary master chef to a.

Cloud network engineer, what an incredible journey. Uh, Chris, thank you so much for joining us this week. Uh, thank you so much to all of our Patriots. Uh, if you’re interested in joining the Patriot and hanging out with us every week here you can do so@patrion.com forward slash R of net enj. And, uh, Chris, if people want to follow you, learn more about you, where can they do that?

How can they do that?

Chris Randall: Um, so it’s IPV folk on all the handles, um, IPV, pho,

A.J. Murray: um, and so good by the way, I just want to give you props it’s it’s a great, awesome.

Chris Randall: I actually have people with. It’s actually, [01:04:00] it’s a Vietnamese soup, a noodle soup, and I got to give it to HIV botched at one day on the winds. And so that was enough for me to switch it from what used to be.

A.J. Murray: It was good as well. Was it

Chris Randall: before it was bites to bits. So, you know, but even I would forget it that’d be like as a BITSA bites or bites to bids and then everybody else watched it and I was like, okay, if nobody else can remember that.

A.J. Murray: So your blog is so bites to this. We got to work on some branding there, but I do want to just give your blog a shout out because I, sorry, I know we’re wrapping up, but I wanted to hit this, that I have been playing with GitHub off and on.

Right. Do it a little bit at work. And I, I get, I know how to do what I have to do, but I didn’t really understand what’s happening. But under the hood in certain things. And when I saw, I forget where I saw it, but I’m using GitHub to take notes, blog posts on bits to bites, [01:05:00] kind of put it all together for me.

And like, I mean, I didn’t even know you could do that. First of all, I didn’t know. You could take notes, you know, you know, in and get hubs. So it’s just a great, I really like your blog. I really liked the content you’ve been putting out the get hub for me, for a guy who struggles with coding and concepts, like get hub and CSED blah, blah, blah.

Like, I really like how you distill this stuff down and you have a good way of describing it. And you helped me with get hub. And I’m a guy who has been using GitHub for a year at work. So, um, you know, good blog. I liked your content.

Chris Randall: Um,

A.J. Murray: Sorry, JJ. So where, where, where can we find you? It’s going to stay BITSA bites, bites to bits

Chris Randall: for the blog I’m working on.

There’s some more in the hopper for the, for all of that. That’s not like it probably won’t happen this year, but yeah, for now it’s there. I think it’s linked on my Twitter and on my LinkedIn. Um, yeah, but there’s more to come with that for sure.

A.J. Murray: All right. And we will drop all of those links and the show notes, [01:06:00] the Twitter, the blog, and the Lincoln.

And, uh, you can make sure you connect and follow Chris wherever he’s at. Chris. Thank you so much for joining us this week, man. Thank you, gentlemen, graduations. Uh, congratulations to you. You’ve definitely earned it. Uh, and we’re, we’re going to keep watching you. Can’t wait to see what you do.

Chris Randall: Thanks.

A.J. Murray: Awesome. Well, thank you so much. And, uh, that’s a wrap. Thank you. And, uh, we’ll see you next week. On another episode of the art of network engineering.

Hey everyone. This is AIJ. If you like what you heard today, then make sure you subscribe to our podcast and your favorite podcatcher smash that bell icon to get notified of all of our future episodes.

Also follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at art net enj that’s art of N

E T E N G. You can also find us on the web. At art of network engineering.com, where we post all of our show notes, you can read blog articles from the Cohosts and guests, and also a lot more news and info from [01:07:00] the networking world.

Thanks for listening. .

Climbing the ENCOR Mountain

This is not meant to be a “hooray for me” success story. The purpose of this post is to be a message of hope. I’m not someone who goes out and gets 10+ certifications a year. There is absolutely nothing wrong with that, I respect and admire the determination and focus of people that are able to accomplish that, but that is not me. I move slow. Perhaps too slow, but that is the pace I typically adopt when preparing for a certification exam. Recently, I passed the Cisco 350-401 ENCOR exam. Yes, it was on the first attempt, but there is much more to the story. Remember the slow pace I mentioned? I began studying for the ENCOR exam in January of 2020. It took me until November of 2021 to feel ready enough to take the test. It really wasn’t too much of an on again/off again thing either. Other than a few breaks here and there, I studied a fair amount of those almost two years. Now, if you are thinking about or already working toward this certification, this isn’t meant to scare you. There are people out there that have accomplished this in much less time. There is a critical mistake that I feel like I made in that first year that caused me to practically reset my study progress at the beginning of 2021. I’ll get into that in the next section to try to prevent others from falling into the same trap. Back to the message of hope. I don’t consider myself someone who can just jump into anything and absorb/retain concepts right away. What I do have is passion, drive, and determination. I feel like those three things, along with discipline (CC: @TeneyiaW) will get you there when it comes to this certification. The exam blueprint is definitely wide, but I believe in you. I mean this in the most sincere way possible, if I can do this, you can do this.

Alright, now let’s get into the study plan that helped me reach this goal. Therein lies the first step, in my opinion. Make a plan and stick to it. That does not mean that you cannot modify it, but making a plan gives you a guide. I used five main resources to prepare for the ENCOR exam:

  • CCNP and CCIE Enterprise Core ENCOR 350-401 Official Cert Guide (OCG)
  • CBT Nuggets ENCOR playlist
  • Cisco On Demand Learning for ENCOR
  • Anki flashcards
  • Community, Community, Community

What I have above is not meant to be “one size fits all”, it is just what worked for me, and I should caveat that my employer got me access to CBT Nuggets and the Cisco On Demand learning and I am incredibly grateful. Now that we have the resources squared away, what’s the plan? I started with the the OCG. I would cover a chapter (or grouping of chapters if it made sense), then cover the same topics with the relevant CBT Nuggets and Cisco On Demand learning content. With all three resources I would create Anki flashcards along the way and set time aside to try to review cards as close to every day as possible. Finally, I would leverage CML and EVE-NG to lab up any concepts that made sense to do so. I do feel that getting experience either through on-the-job or labs is very important to really tie concepts together so that they actually make sense in practice. You are probably beginning to see what took me so long to reach my goal. Again, I want to highlight that this is not the only, or even the best way. This was the plan/strategy that I chose, and it eventually got me there. Now, what was that critical mistake that followed me throughout 2020? It was the lack of flashcards and review. Basically, all through 2020 I was just going to content in the three platforms I have mentioned and doing some labs. I was not taking notes/flashcards or reviewing anything. Looking back, what I was doing made zero sense. Because I wasn’t reviewing anything, I was essentially losing things that I learned shortly after going through the content. Thanks to the advice from the AONE podcast, I adopted the Anki application both on a computer and my phone and I absolutely love it. Typically, I would create cards on the PC app while going through content, sync the cards, then review on my phone so I could also walk on the treadmill. The flashcards were really a critical piece of reaching this goal for me. Finally, being tapped into the community as a resource was very helpful as well. There are many bright and encouraging people there that are willing to help. Whether it is providing advice, teaching a concept, or giving encouragement, they are there and they are inspiring.

I’ll admit, this whole process was tough for me, but it was an excellent learning experience. Not just because of what I learned through the content, but I also essentially learned how to learn (and retain). Preparing for the ENCOR exam provided me the repeatable modular plan to prepare for the next challenge. For me, that next challenge will be the 300-420 Designing Cisco Enterprise Networks (ENSLD) exam. My advice to you is that if you are invested in studying for ENCOR, don’t quit, don’t give up. There were multiple times that I felt overwhelmed and just wanted to stop. Seeing that notification that I passed the exam made it all worth it. Reach out for help if and when you need, and try not to neglect your support system. I will definitely be taking some time off to rest and give time back to the ones I love.

Ep 71 – Merlin the Auto-Magician

Please note that we had some latency challenges while recording so please excuse us talking over John at times, as well as John’s delayed responses.

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In this episode, we talk to John Capobianco! John recently won the DevNet Creator Award for all of his work in the community! John works as a Network Engineer for the Canadian House of Commons. John started working in a factory but went to school to study software development. From there John got into infrastructure through a co-op with the school. Shortly after that, he was assigned to work in the networking field! Enjoy hearing more about John’s career and how he got into automation.

During the episode, John recommended Cisco DevNet’s Start Now page: https://developer.cisco.com/startnow/

You can find more of John:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/John_Capobianco
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/john-capobianco-644a1515/
Blog: https://www.automateyournetwork.ca/
John’s Book: https://amzn.to/3xGuUmk

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Hacking Passwords, a GIAC Network Forensics Exam and an Interview

“Good Morning”

It’s been a few months since I last checked in blog wise. It’s been a long stretch for me personally, maybe it’s been the first time I’ve been feeling Covid fatigue, work burnout or maybe interviewing for a job just introduces a lot of anxiety into my bloodstream. In any case, blogging here was the first to go as far as where I’ve spent my time. That doesn’t mean I haven’t been doing anything and I’m writing today to catch up a bit!

Hacking Passwords

One of my work projects recently had me figuring out how to use hashcat with a list in an attempt to crack Linux hashes of our users. The best little cheat sheet that has helped me along the way came courtesy of Black Hills. Embarrassingly, it took me a week and a half to get a command together that would actually start cracking hashes. The worst of it was simply figuring out that I needed the hashes by themselves for processing to begin. I was initially trying to process usernames:hash thinking hashcat would simply find the hashes in my document but instead just threw an error. There are a lot of tutorials out there on using hashcat for the first time, so I won’t do that here. Instead, I’ll highlight a little ‘automation’ I did once I had my hashcat output file. Here is a representation of what my original file looked like when I pulled down every users hash:

$ cat hashes.txt 
birda:$6$aaaabbbbcccc
poopd:$6$aaabbbbccccd
poodf:$6$aabbbbccccdd
alexm:$6$abbbccccdddd
alit:$6$bbbcccddddee

My list was a lot longer, and had actual hashes but for demonstration purposes this should suffice. I simply need to use the cut command from here to get the hashes by themselves and then run that file through hashcat…

$ cat hashes.txt | cut -d : -f 2
$6$aaaabbbbcccc
$6$aaabbbbccccd
$6$aabbbbccccdd
$6$abbbccccdddd
$6$bbbcccddddee

If you redirect that to a file, call it hashcat.txt, you’d be ready to run hashcat. And using Black Hills cheatsheet, you can specify with the -m what hashes you are running, which in my case I was doing SHA512 unix hashes. By the time I got this going, it was exciting to check my output file and see it filling up. We were really cracking some hashes. This was exciting. The next part of the journey was marrying up the password of the cracked hash with the user name. This is because the output of the cracked.txt (output file from hashcat) is hash:password like so:

$ cat cracked.txt 
$6$aaabbbbccccd:1qaz2wsx!QAZ@WSX
$6$aabbbbccccdd:1q2w3e4r!Q@W#E$R

# this is a cool file and all, but what username does this 
# belong to???

To begin, I was manually using grep and going back to my original file that had the usernames:hash, but who wants to do everything manual forever? Also, my list was pretty long so figuring out how to do this more efficiently was worth the investment. So I came up with a quick little bash script that allowed me to grep each hash from my cracked.txt from my original list (hashes.txt):

$ cat script
cat cracked.txt | cut -d : -f 1 | while read -r line; do
    grep $line hashes.txt >> grep.txt
done

# running the script
$ bash script 

# checking out the file created from script
$ cat grep.txt 
poopd:$6$aaabbbbccccd
poodf:$6$aabbbbccccdd

At this point I was half way there. I had each username that I cracked a password of, now I just needed to get the password. To finish the job, I used the cut command one more time to isolate just the passwords and then used the paste command to put everything together:

$ cat cracked.txt | cut -d : -f 2 > passwords.txt

$ cat passwords.txt 
1qaz2wsx!QAZ@WSX
1q2w3e4r!Q@W#E$R


$ paste grep.txt passwords.txt > CRACKED.txt

$ cat CRACKED.txt 
poopd:$6$aaabbbbccccd	1qaz2wsx!QAZ@WSX
poodf:$6$aabbbbccccdd	1q2w3e4r!Q@W#E$R

I eventually added this all up in one bash script and I was set to get a file with usernames and passwords. There are probably 18 more ways to do this and I may have done the least effective way of them all but I just wanted to share the little journey I went on cracking my first hashes. Most exciting of all I got to play with a new command, I’d never used the paste command and it works perfectly here.

GIAC Network Forensic Analyst

I was lucky enough to take SANS FOR572, advanced network forensics course which maps to the GNFA exam. This was my second SANS course and GIAC exam. The first being SEC503 and the GCIA. I’ve got to say, the order in which I took these courses was great for me. SEC503 and FOR572 use a lot of the same tools: Zeek, nfdump, tcpdump, tshark. Both courses even go over some of the same protocols, like DNS and HTTP(S). But, in my opinion SEC503 stands to be a great intro to these topics if you are not fully immersed already, and FOR572 takes these topics and applies them to ‘real world’ type data and scenarios over and over again. I’d recommend taking a course from Phil Hagen, the gentlemen behind my instruction, any day of the week.

Exam wise, I found the GNFA to be a solid 5x to 10x harder than the GCIA although the GCIA was pretty cool in that you had to interact with data on a VM for a few questions and the GNFA, at least today, is all multiple choice. But the questions for the GNFA were very applied compared to the GCIA. Instead of just knowing the proper switch for a command, you were looking at some output and had to interpret something 2-3 levels deeper than what’s simply displayed. This was very challenging and rewarding. The closest to ‘real world experience’ I’ve ever felt while prepping for an exam.

As I look at SANS catalogue and contemplate what comes next, it’s hard to choose. Thinking of shooting for FOR508, and even if there is overlap with courses I’ve already taken I think getting insight and another instructors perspective is always useful.

Interview

Now it’s time to delve into somethings that didn’t come out as an immediate success. I got to interview, 4 in total, for a position in which I was really excited about. A possibly life changing opportunity. The job was remote, working on SIEM of sorts for a networking vendor as a technical writer.

I hadn’t interviewed for positions since the 2016-18 time frame. But I enjoyed these interviews and come to find out I really like doing interviews in a video chat over in person. Felt way more comfortable. Looking back, I was always a way more nervous wreck checking in with the receptionist and being in the fancy corporate building than I was during this iteration of interviews. In the comfort of my own home, wearing more comfortable clothes and sipping a coffee from my home espresso set up was something I’d sign up to do again if I have the choice.

After interviews I waited about 3 weeks before I heard that I wasn’t going to be extended an offer. Which hurt, as my mind couldn’t help but daydream about possibilities during the wait. In truth, the interview process and having a shot for something like this consumed me, I was useless as far as studying for the exam above, another exam, the Cisco SCOR exam, I failed during this time. Trying to do any sort of studying or focus on anything was very difficult for me. I ended up pushing my GNFA exam out as far as possible, and got closure that I wasn’t selected before I sat for that exam, which I think helped. It was exciting to go through the process and be considered but the process of waiting to see if I was going to be selected was excruciating for me.

I didn’t get picked up for the position but I did get practice telling my story and I think I made a good pitch for myself irregardless of the outcome, in any case, I’m improving in that area. I’ve never been that great at pumping my own tires but I’m getting more and more confident as my cyber belonging goes. As long as I keep my head to the ground I’m confident an opportunity I’m excited about will present itself when the time is right.

Ep 70 – It’s never too late!

In this, our 70th episode, we interview Chris Denney – a very prominent member of our Discord community! Chris has built an amazing career, and the foundation is his willingness to take on anything! Chris is also a huge team player – both on and off the field. He is huge into soccer but when he isn’t on the field he is committed to working on whatever he can while doing a site visit. Printers might not be part of his job anymore as a network engineer but if he’s onsite and someone needs help with one, he’s all over it! There are many more sweet bits of experience that Chris shares that every listener should take with them throughout their own journeys!

You can find Chris:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Cdenney04
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/chris-denney-04/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smilin_chris/

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Ep 69 – Girard Kavelines

In this episode, we interview Girard! Girard was inspired at a young age to fix some broken computers in his basement. His first tech job was in Geek Squad. There he got some essential skills troubleshooting tech and working with customers. Girard’s journey from there is really quite amazing, and he has the energy to match!

This episode was recorded just before Halloween and we had a lot of fun with it. Make sure you check out the video version on our YouTube channel!

Girard’s Faces of the Journey Article: Faces of the Journey – Girard Kavelines

You can find Girard:
Blog: https://techhouse570.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/GKavelines
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/girard-kavelines-b022a5100/
TH570 Merch Store: https://techhouse570.creator-spring.com/
Schedule Career Counseling w/Girard: https://calendly.com/techhouse570

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Ep 68 – Cloudy with a Chance of Networking

This week we chat with Eyvonne Sharp! Eyvonne shares how she got her start working at a small ISP in her hometown and how she has progressed throughout her career to land as an Architect working for a large Cloud provider.

More from Eyvonne:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/SharpNetwork
Blog: http://www.esharp.net/
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/eyvonne-sharp/

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Ep 67 – The Buzz about NetBeez

This week we are joined by NetBeez CEO Stefano Gridelli! Stefano takes us through his career as a Network Engineer and explains how he identified the need for NetBeez and started creating it. He then goes on to discuss how he made the leap from working on NetBeez part-time to making it a full-time job. We then discuss with him the features of NetBeez, how it works, and a whole lot more!

Follow Stefano on Twitter: https://twitter.com/stefanogridelli
Follow NetBeez on Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetBeez

Make sure you also check out the NetBeez website and blog as it’s packed with great information on NetEng, Linux, Wi-Fi, and NetBeez.
https://netbeez.net/

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Ep 66 – Cisco Live!!

In this episode, we talk about Cisco Live – aka Nerd Summer Camp! Tim and A.J. share their experiences attending our industry’s largest conference. We highlight reasons to attend, and even how to pitch the idea to your manager. It’s never to early to start that process. Cisco has recently announced its intent to hold Cisco Live 2022 in person in Las Vegas! So, let’s get excited and talk about all things Cisco Live.

Cisco Live US – June 12-16 2022 – Las Vegas, NV. – https://www.ciscolive.com/us.html?zid=cl-global

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Ep 65 – Enterprise Network Design

In this episode the team talks about Enterprise Network Design. We cover a lot – everything from the 3 tiered design, routed vs switch access layer, and they even dip into a little bit of wireless!

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Ep 64 – Non-Networking Skillz

In this episode, we’re talking about the technical, non-networking, skills you need to be successful in your career these days! We’re not talking about soft skills this time either. There’s so much we touch as Network Engineers. We talk about the skills you should have and the technologies you should understand as a Network Engineer. It’s not always about the certifications too, there’s plenty of knowledge you can gain without chasing paper.

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CCNP Security – A Review

In my quest to pursue my next certification I sat down and thought about what cert I should dedicate time studying for. There were many things I was interested in which is my first reason to pursue a cert. I was knee deep in Security products at work and even now that doesn’t seem to be going away anytime soon. Most of the products were Cisco, so it made sense to give the CCNP Security a shot. I looked online at Cisco’s site as a start and dived in. Months later, I passed the SCOR exam! I then chose to give the SESA exam a shot and passed (barely)! The CCNP Security however has been completed so I want to take some time to write about my experience related to exam material, relevancy, and difficulty.

Before diving into the exam material, I believe it is important to mention what it takes to earn the CCNP Security certification. To earn the CCNP Security, you will pass two exams. A core exam must be passed as well as one concentration exam. You can find the list of exams at Cisco’s site. There are several concentration exams. Passing a concentration exam also nets you an individual Specialist cert. As an example, if you are interested in learning more about Cisco’s Identity Services Engine, the 300-715 SISE might be the concentration exam for you. Passing that exam also grants you a Specialist cert. However, to obtain the full CCNP Security, you would need to pursue the core exam.

Material

When I study for a certification exam I like to rely on multiple resources. I want to read something. I want to watch something. I want to lab something. I believe doing each of those things can lead to success. Gain knowledge from multiple sources. I attacked the Core exam first (350-701 SCOR).

  1. The first thing I looked at was the Exam objectives and the outline. This is exactly what Cisco is expecting you to know for the exam. Copying this over to Microsoft’s OneNote, I could make individual notes under each of the topics in the outline as I study them.
  2. I ordered the CCNP and CCIE Security Core Official Cert Guide. The book was my main study source. I wouldn’t call the book an easy read at first. The first chapter is a journey, but it covers important fundamentals and dives into various attacks. My weaknesses are Cryptography and VPNs, which each have their own chapters. I found those chapters to be an uphill climb, but that might possibly be because I am weaker in those areas.
  3. I spoke to my manager about training. This led to be able to take the online, self-paced SCOR course on Cisco Digital Learning. This probably made the biggest impact since it included a few labs to follow through online.
  4. Finally, I was able to go through Pluralsight’s Cisco Core Security (by Craig Stansbury). I would usually watch this on my phone whenever I was out of the house or while laying in bed right before sleep.

As you can see, I had a plethora of material for the SCOR exam. However, it was the opposite for the concentration exam Securing Email with Cisco Email Security Appliance (300-720 SESA). The SCOR material covered Email Security, but it was not a deep dive. The SCOR exam glances over the importance of Email Security, how it works, and some of the components, but not everything. Studying for the SESA involved me recycling the above resources I had access to specifically only for Email Security information. Thankfully, my experience at work with Cisco’s ESA and CES made up for the lack of material.

Difficulty

For the SCOR exam, I did use the Official Cert Guide’s Pearson Test Prep engine that comes with the book. I also used Boson’s test engine for the SCOR practice tests. Between those two, I preferred the Boson test engine. The Pearson Test prep questions inserted a ton of fill in the blank questions. Those usually throw me for a loop. That probably led me to fail most of my practice test attempts. With that in mind, I went into the SCOR exam thinking it would be a very difficult exam. I believe reviewing all the topics the day before was a big help in passing the exam. I found the practice exams a bit more difficult than the actual test. However, I cannot say the same for the SESA Concentration exam. I’d like to say I spend a decent amount of time in the Email Security world, so I went into that test thinking that it would be an easy test. It was not. This was the test I barely passed. If I needed 10 points to pass, 10 points was exactly what I passed with. I believe the lack of material for the SESA exam led me to have a difficult time during the test since I simply relied on most of the material from the SCOR exam and my own personal experiences.

Relevancy

Is the CCNP Security exam relevant to what is happening in the world today? Yes! Especially Chapter 1 of the SCOR Official Cert Guide. Chapter 1 was one of the longest chapters as it covered a wide range of agencies, documents, attacks, and defenses. This is mostly general information that applies to the security world, not just Cisco security. As I mentioned earlier, this chapter is a journey, but one that was extremely educational. With everything we do in our professional lives, we should always have a security mindset. As I have experience with most of the security products covered in the guide, the SCOR and the SESA were personally relevant. The CCNP Security would be a certification to pursue if you are going to work with or have experience with the products. It’s mostly Cisco-centric and not a general security cert. My advice is to also pick a concentration exam that you might have experience with, or at least have some materials to use for your studies.

I found pursuing the CCNP Security to be a pleasant, but mildly challenging journey. It was not the most difficult certification I’ve pursued, but it made sure to keep my stress levels elevated during the exams. There is plenty of material and test engines out there for the core SCOR exam. If you are working with Cisco’s security products, give this one a try.

Ep 63 – NFD26

In this episode, we break down our thoughts on the recent Tech Field Day event, Networking Field 26! Both A.J. and Tim were in attendance for the event and learned a lot from each of the presentations. They break down what they saw and Andy and Dan ask some questions and give their thoughts on the event as well.

To see the presentations from Networking Field Day 26 you can visit the event page here: https://techfieldday.com/event/nfd26/

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Ep 62 – Ok Shitbirds its Time to Learn about Tracket Pacer!

In this episode we talk to Tracket Pacer, aka Lexie! Lexie has been making waves on social media as she live streams her learning and preparations for the ENSARI Exam. Lexie works as a Network Engineer for a large cloud focused company, but how she got there is one amazing story!

You can follow Lexi:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TracketPacer
Reddit: https://www.reddit.com/user/tracketpacer
Look for her live streams on: https://www.reddit.com/r/shortcircuit/

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Ep 61 – Home Labs!

In this episode we are talking about home labs! Where do you start? Is there actually merit in having a physical lab? We share our experiences and thoughts on the matter. Our conclusions may surprise you! (But probably not…)

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Faces of the Journey – Chris Denney

“Faces of the Journey” is a series that highlights individuals in the network engineering community. The journey is the path we take through our careers, and it can be very different for each of us. While the destination is important, it’s all about the journey!

Chris Denney (AKA Smilin_Chris) was born and raised in a suburb of Jackson, Mississippi and currently resides in Asheville, North Carolina. Chris has done it all since he started working, as a teenager. At the age of fifteen, he had a summer job working for the city doing everything from laying asphalt, to maintaining ballfields and cemeteries. That job taught Chris the lesson that he did not want to do that kind of work long term. During college, Chris managed a clothing store in between soccer seasons. Like many others we have talked to, Chris gained an interest for technology from video games. A good friend from high school helped him build a computer from spare parts so they could play Counterstrike together. A few years later, the company that his friend was working for was looking for an IT tech and Chris was recommended for the position. Other than building a couple of computers, he had not had professional experience in IT so he was starting off in the deep end of the pool. Chris was immediately supporting lawyers, doctors, dentists, and a small processing plant. It was wild, scary, and awesome all at the same time. He learned a lot and is very grateful that this company took a chance on him. While Chris kind of fell into IT, he chose to pursue networking as a discipline. Most everything else he had encountered in IT just made sense, while networking took some more work. That drove him to want to dig deeper, so when a work opportunity presented itself that was geared toward networking, Chris jumped on it. When it comes to the future, the only given direction for Chris is growth; stagnation is terrifying and he wants to keep moving forward!

Follow Chris:

Alright Chris, We’ve Got Some Questions

What advice do you have for aspiring IT professionals? If you’re looking for a job, be patient. This is an ever-expanding field and opportunities will continue to make themselves available. Keep studying. Keep applying. Also, don’t be afraid to take a job that isn’t a perfect fit for you. Get in, get some experience, and move on.
If you’re just starting out at a company and trying to make a name for yourself, find a hole in your team’s armor and fill it. Then, be the go-to person for it. Prove your value.

What is something you enjoy doing outside of work? I’ve played soccer for over 30 years. I hope I’ve got another 30+ years in me. A few other things I truly enjoy are chasing waterfalls and overlooks with my wife, hanging out with friends, watching concerts/music live, and traveling to any place that is wholly unlike anything I grew up around.

How do you manage your work/life balance? Poorly, lol. I’ve allowed myself to become the “go to” guy for too many things and I’m always the first call on them all. That includes after hours, unfortunately. I’ve been working to make sure that everyone on my team knows where to find my documentation for troubleshooting/creating tickets.

What is your strongest “on the job” skill? That’s a good question. I’d love to tell you that I’m the “knower of all things technical.” Since I’ll probably never be the smartest person in the room when it comes to tech…I’d have to say it’s either my dependability or my soft skills. I take great pride in my ability to see things through to completion. Also, having a very diverse work history helps me communicate with pretty much anyone in my corporate environment.

What motivates you on a daily basis? My family and my team. I never want to let either of them down. They both deserve the best version of myself I can offer, and I continue to work to ensure that they get that.

Bert’s Brief

I’m not just saying this because he plays soccer, but Chris is a team player, for sure. What I really enjoy about Chris is that he is incredibly personable. He will always ask you how you are doing and what you are up to before ever bringing anything up about himself. Chris brings a strong balance of technical and soft skills to the table and has to be a bright spot on any team. It’s always great to have Chris on the IAATJ Happy Hours, where I believe he is definitely a fan favorite.

Ep 60 – Return to the Office!

In this episode, Andy and A.J. talk about what returning to the office looks likes, and is it really a requirement for IT Professionals? What’s your situation? Are you being asked to return to the office full time or a portion of the time, or is it still optional? Hit us up on Twitter so we can hear more sides to this story!

Eric Chou’s book, Mastering Python for Networking, 3rd Edt.: https://amzn.to/3tt03Yy

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Ep 59 – From Marketing to Offensive Security!

This week we talk to Lily Clark. Lily has taken an amazing journey from Sales, to Customer Success, to Marketing, and she has recently landed in Offensive Security! Hear how Lily has taken on learning tech and landing her dream job working in Offensive Security.

Useful Links:
Kali Linux – https://www.kali.org/
Parrot Linux – https://www.parrotsec.org/
Free INE Training! – http://checkout.ine.com/starter-pass

You Can find Lily on:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lilycclark/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/seclilc
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/seclilc/

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Ep 58 – Wheezy!

This week we talk to Luis, better known as NetSecWheezy! Luis shares his journey with us on how he went from slinging ice cream to Network Engineering! He’s had an exciting career so far and made some risky, yet rewarding moves. Wheezy is also one of the most active members of our Discord community, he is always pushing people to be and do their best, and he’s usually the first to congratulate someone when they post in #winning. He even shares some super exciting #winning news of his own, but you have to listen to hear it!

You can find Luis:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetSecWheezy
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/luis-garcia-jr-87243a147/

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Ep 57 – Welcome to Tom’s Corner!

In this episode, we interview Tom Hollingsworth! Tom shares how he went from being a Sr. Network Engineer at a Partner to the face of Tech Field Day! Tom also shares his journey to the CCIE, #29213. Also, if you’re interested in joining TFD as a delicate you’ll want to listen in!

Links from the show:
Network Field Day 26: https://techfieldday.com/event/nfd26/
Becoming a Field Day Delegate: https://techfieldday.com/delegates/become-field-day-delegate/
Tom’s speech on imposter syndrome, to Field Day Delegates: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MF0dtK2caW4

You can find Tom:
On Twitter: https://twitter.com/NetworkingNerd
Blog: https://networkingnerd.net/
Tech Field Day: https://techfieldday.com/
Gestault IT: https://gestaltit.com/

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Ep 56 – Documentation

In this episode, we talk about their experience and the importance of documenting the network. We also go over the various tools used to document the network as well as the different types of diagrams. We’ll even discuss how you can get started and learn how to document your network for free – no need for expensive tools to make a basic network diagram.

Tools:
Diagrams.net (formerly draw.io) – https://app.diagrams.net/
Lucid Chart – https://www.lucidchart.com/pages/
Snag-it – https://www.techsmith.com/screen-capture.html

Support AONE:
Patreon – https://www.patreon.com/artofneteng
Boson CCNA – https://artofneteng.com/boson-ccna
Boson CCNP – https://artofneteng.com/boson-ccnp

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Making Meaningful Connections Online

This weekend I definitely felt old online. I was trying to figure out how to get into DEFCON’s packet hacking village’s CTF Friday morning. I couldn’t figure out the process for the life of me and had to ask for help…very specific help. ‘Go to this channel and type exactly this’…I felt like a real old dude trying to figure out technology. You had to access their Discord server, choose the correct role, go to a specific room and type out a specific cmd for a bot to put you into a queue.

The CTF was pretty cool. First of all, you had to actually capture traffic. I haven’t done that many CTFs but all previous ones involved a pcap that you download. Here they had packet generators and you had to use tcpdump, tshark or wireshark to capture the traffic. This in itself was neat. You did all of this inside a linux VM that you get creds for once you follow all the steps described above. Second of all, you had a 2-hour time limit in which to solve your prompts. I could get about half done of most of the prompts, but they didn’t just ask you to find a certain type of traffic. You then had to do some sort of forensics, to download and decode a pdf or mount an image to find a file. So, since I don’t have much of the forensic type of experience, and nothing with those sorts of tools, with say pdfcracker, I didn’t far too well. I think I left after 90 minutes and a score of negative 250 (I took some hints) I felt like I have a lot more to learn. I did tell the person helping me in the chat that I would do better next year 🙂

In the midst of all this, at some point after the CTF, I was messing around with some settings in Discord, and accidentally called a friend I’ve been chatting with online for some time now. Tony E didn’t answer but called back a few seconds later. We maybe only chatted for ten or fifteen minutes but something he said during this conversation, along with the conversation in it of itself struck me, he said:

You can’t spread yourself too thin on a whole bunch of different social apps if you want to have meaningful online relationships.

This one thought, one sentence, really made me reflect a bit for the rest of the afternoon. I had been chatting with Tony for maybe a year, almost daily but we have never hopped on a chat. In this one chat, he got to meet my daughter, he showed me some cool note taking ideas. I feel, I can’t speak for him, that in regards to a ‘meaningful online relationship’ hopping on a live chat can really help facilitate that.

My main social app, ever since my mom died, has been Twitter full stop. I was mostly on Facebook to upload photos of the family for my mom to see. I’ve found quite a few friends on Twitter. People I talk with all the time. After my conversation with Tony I was wondering; Am I really having as meaningful online relationships as I can? I mean, the people I talk with everyday are really cool, but what if, we just jumped on a call? Would they be down with that? These thoughts lead me to think perhaps I can move more to Discord and spend less on Twitter.

Today, I got on a thirty minute call with Robin. He helped me troubleshoot somethings on my end and I got to try and figure out some issues he was having with his home lab. Again, nothing really ground breaking came of the conversation itself but moving beyond text, how I mostly interact on Twitter, to video on Discord did seem more meaningful (by a lot).

I’ve tried doing the Art of Network Engineering’s ‘happy hour’ and while I do enjoy the time I’m on there, it is a bit harder to be around a larger group of people I don’t know online. When do I chime in, what do I saw or talk about?! Being an old guy, I realize this is something I probably quickly got to get more familiar and comfortable with.

A lot of people, like Network Chuck, will tell people to create a blog right now. Teach people things. Get active on social media…put yourself out there. I see a lot of blog posts or youtube videos that are really not good, where you can tell the person didn’t put that much time into it. It looks more like they were trying to put themselves out there before they figured out what they were putting out or trying to package it well. I’ve never really like accounts on Twitter that are heavily curated, only sharing articles, never in the replies, never having an opinion. I’ve always tried for the most part to have meaningful interactions online, straying away from things I don’t like and doubling down on being authentic and myself.

This blog, my social presence, due to a short conversation I had on Discord by accident, will be a bit more intentional in creating more meaningful interactions and relationships and to that I’m grateful to those I’ve made friends with and those who’ve I’ve not yet to meet. All the best. Till next time.

Ep 55 – Change Management

This week we discuss every IT Pro’s most hated, yet most helpful, thing – change management. What is it? Why does it exist? Why is such a pain? But, yet, why is it so helpful to us? We get to the bottom of these answers and more!

Special shoutout to our Patreon members for making this episode extra fun! We had a last minute change in scheduling and the Patreons recommended the topic and were there asking questions a long the way. If you’re interested in being an AONE Patron go to patreon.com/artofneteng.

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Cumulus in the Cloud Just Got Real

So I was just checking the Cumulus Docs as you do to see if they finished this feature I was really excited about and guess what, it looks to be up! The big thing I’d been waiting for was the ability to build your own topology on their ‘Cumulus in the Cloud‘ platform. This will also be my first post, of which I’m somewhere up to 15, that will be primarily image driven so that I can show the true beauty of the platform.

You’ll have to create an account but accessing and using their platform comes with zero out of pocket, at worst, you may receive an email from time to time. Once you login you’ll wind up on this screen, where you can choose between building a prebuilt simulation or creating your own.

Alright, this is where I was getting a bit excited, my pupils began to dilate and a slight rush of euphoria began to run throughout my body. Let’s click on ‘Create your own’ and check out this awesome UI!

Alright, once you drag and drop your devices and connect them, which is very intuitive I might add, you’ll be able to either save your simulation in a multitude of ways and/or simply start your simulation by clicking the button in the top right. Options you have of each node are host name, OS, Memory, CPUs and hardware model. All hardware model seems to do is map the correct amount of ports to the chosen model. If you wanted to, save this simulation for later use. You’d want to save this as a .dot file. I’m a leave it at default kind of guy when first trying something out.

Once you are all loaded up, you’ll be able to console your devices right from the browser and all of your devices can be nicely tabbed in the same window, as shown below, for pretty gosh darn easy access.

One thing you may want to consider when building a configuration is creating a ZTP file or just know that no configuration will be completed when your simulation comes online. Even devices you have connected in your prebuild beautiful UI will need to be administratively turned on once you are all booted up.

Another cool thing to check out, after you have fun connecting up and running all your little devices is cumulus netq, which is fun to check out from the gui or the command line.

The only thing that I tried to do, but couldn’t get to work on the custom build as opposed to their prebuilt simulations was the ability to enable ssh. I kept getting an error, whereas, when I use the prebuilt configurations I’m able to upload a key and get a IP and port number so that I can connect to my simulation from my laptop instead of using the console through the website like I showed above. Perhaps I have to do a bit more configuration but adding a service isn’t outlined in the docs as of this writing. One other thing I’ll have to further investigate is what the minimum configuration needed to get my nodes connected to the internet like the prebuilt simulations are.

What is cool is that you can, in perpetuity, run your network simulations on someone else’s CPU cycles which I think is pretty darn cool. It lowers the barrier of what you need to build a multi-node simulation. You don’t need your own server, just an internet connection. If time is running out on your current lab you can bring down your configuration and relaunch the same exact simulation. It’s got to be possible to connect to your devices from your local machine and have the devices in your simulation connected to the internet which pretty much means the possibilities are endless.

Ep 54 – eiddoR

This week we talk to CCIE, Technical Solutions Architect, Cisco Press Author, Pilot, and Blogger – Roddie Hasan. Roddie has over 30 years of experience in networking, and today focuses on Cisco Software-Defined Access, among other technologies. We’ll hear how Roddie got into IT and what ultimately influenced him to choose networking. Roddie also shares his experience on obtaining his CCIE and becoming a published Author.

Get the book:
Cisco Software-Defined Access – https://amzn.to/3ydIvRK

You can find Roddie:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/eiddor
Blog: https://ccie.tv/
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCr99uMkkIbWE8LW5PqYd1zw

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Transcript (Beta)

This is the art of network engineering podcast. In this podcast to sportiness technologies and talented people, we aim to bring you information to expand your skill sets and toolbox and share the stories of fellow network engineers.

We’ve all seen the stories, heard the tales. For years now, local networks have been flirting with packets demanding Internet access. Depletion of IPV for addresses is continuing rapidly. Of course, IPv6 is the ultimate answer. But adoption is slow.

We live in the age of the Internet of things in there were oh, so many. I’m pretty sure you can even connect your toilet directly to the Internet now. I mean, seriously, what the heck? Why would you do that?

Luckily, all these years there has been a service working tirelessly to keep the lights on, bridging that gap until IPv6 saves us all in that gap. Bridger. It’s me. I am that man in this is the R2 network engineering that mad dash.

All right. Thank you, NAT-man. I am AJ Murray @noBlinkyBlinky NAT-man is Tim Bertino @TimBertino. NAT-man, how are you doing?

Not too shabby. Nathman is an extremely low budget film,

but

it is unrated so anything can happen. Hmm.

Can we expect multiple sequels of Nathman like we have other popular. Oh, I hope not rhyme with that. I don’t know, I think I think we need. I don’t want to do that when I’m in or at least other characters that we might find in that

man, that man versus

animal. I’m just dyslexic battle.

Dan, Dan made it home from Vermont. Dan, how are you doing?

Well, I’m I’m a little bit sadder, but I made it home safely. So that’s all that matters, I guess.

I know my wife had to keep checking with me. She’s like, oh, you’re sad. You know, I miss my friend. I miss my buddy. We had so much fun. We did. He got really drunk, too. No, he didn’t.

No, we really didn’t. We have a lot to drink, we think.

We did. Yes, we did. Lots of beer was was consumed.

Andy, how are you? I’m good, A.J..

Not too much to report. I had some ice cream tonight.

Hey, that’s a good night.

I’m mad at you, by the way. Yeah. Because the time I had gone a fairly decent amount of time without without hitting the ice cream bucket and you started talking about it a few weeks ago. You’re welcome. Yeah, I appreciate that.

You can afford it. You look like all of 90 pounds soaking wet.

So have you got it just for you, Andy? Thanks, brother.

All right, guys, we do have a guest this evening, but before we introduce our guests, we’ll get through our normal playlist here. So Andy, can I get a goat scream for the winning? Grabbing out

what? Your battery in the battery area? Hey, look, there it is. Was that yours or mine? It sounds like you

have to ask Andy if you have to ask.

Wait a minute. My goats failing. Hold on.

That’s a failure, reply Cornetto.

Time for Mattocks. Word out. But we learned the

winning this week is Bill Murray. He passed his VCP seven. Oh, congratulations, Bill. Eric Smith passed the security plus exam. OK. This is my favorite win this week. The underscore EOC accepted a position as a network deployment engineer at Red River graduation night.

Did he know who works there?

Yeah.

Yes. He knows who works there. Thank you, Tim. You’re welcome. At your coworker, the underscore EOC.

We need to get him on, by the way. I know a little bit about him and he’s got a great story.

Yeah, I agree. I’m sure we will.

So he started or when does he start?

I believe he starts mid-August. Okay. Acceptance of position. And is working through that process, so we’ll expect to see him here in mid-August. Mick, Manny McMahon and me, if I can pronounce that right, Nicholas passed his definite associate and the MS1.

Are you familiar with the ECMs? No, no. That is engineering Cissoko Meraki Solutions. Oh, OK. So did they change the two parter? There’s part one and part two. And he’s completed part one and moving on to part two.

But more importantly, they passed the definite associate. That’s that’s a big one.

Yeah, that’s nice.

Yeah, we talked through that in the happy hour last week. That was really cool.

Yeah. Now, is that the. I’m not even trying to pronounce it. Ah, say the alphabet there. But is that the see him in a like 2.0?

Sure. So the the CMA is a partner related. I think it’s like partner only like partner and Cisco employee only kind of thing. And then the ECMs is the customer side. So I forget what it used to be called.

There was like a Cisco, there’s this and a which is the partner side. And then there was the C and O, which is the Cisco Meraki network operator.

Okay, Samone, it’s just a course you attend for a day. Yeah, I got you. Right.

Right. Gotcha. Yeah, Mike T got another security plus win, so congratulations, Mike. D.J., Ninja and Z, which I can only imagine stands for New Zealand, accepted their first network focused role at an MSB, of course, in New Zealand.

So congratulations menja awesome hard reset the screen name hard reset. Got their first IT job offer. So congratulations. Hard reset. Yeah, nice. Got some new patriots. The words Get the Patriot. So welcome aboard, Josh. Jordan. Manny and I got to say their last names because they’re both get the same first name and the same last initials.

So welcome. Bill Murray and Bill Maskey, Ethan and Javier, who joined moments ago just before we started recording. So I had to slide that on there. So welcome. Welcome. Thank you, Caitríona. Yes. Thank you very much. Appreciate that.

We really appreciate your support. Andy, can I get another goat screen?

I’ll try.

There we go. Got him warmed up.

Don’t stop. Be quiet. Your goat. Yeah. Once you get my good started, Ajja. Oh, boy. What kind of podcast is this? I don’t know.

My editing this one. This is going to be a yeah. Slice and dice. This one. Yep. OK. Very excited for our guests this evening. They are a Cissoko press author and sieci, i.e. 74 72. Everybody, please welcome Arati to the show.

Thank you so much for joining us.

Thanks for having me.

Everybody really appreciate you taking the time to be with us this evening.

Appreciate it. Thank you.

So, Randi, what do you do?

It’s in my bio.

So I that’s nice. Yeah, I’m a

technical solutions architect at Cisco Systems. Been there for 13 years, 13.

Wow. All right. Yeah.

So what does the day to day look like

of a of a TSA? So I’m at the

the worldwide level focused on DNA center software, defined access ice. So TSA is generally TSA is an overlay to the community generally, right. OK, Nancy would have a direct customer relationship with TSA or technical solutions architect would be brought in for as an SME, for a focus either of enterprise networks focus or away in focus or data

center focus. And then that’s that’s usually kind of at the area level. And then at the worldwide level, we’re kind of hyper focused on technology. So my focus is did a center software defined? So I haven’t had to really think too much about when beyond connecting it to sday or DNA center or data center.

I haven’t had to do much of that at most most the last three years and spent just doing DNA center and software client access.

So Vanessa is working with a potential client, and then they need like an s the access guru.

They’ll bring me in the bring me in to do a park or to do a demo or to help them in their lab or to answer to have architecture, discussions, that kind of stuff. So it’s pretty.

Are you the guy like your your build that stuff?

I will. If it’s on

site, I’ll help you build it on site or on the customer site, rather. We don’t have port facilities at Cisco, but I don’t. And then we’ll do demos, anything kind of presales are we kind of elite usually leave once the architecture and migration discussion is done.

Move on. It’s kind of a small group within this because we don’t scale that long.

So did you get in on the ground floor of SD access?

I did.

I was I was a TSA, an enterprise networks, TSA in the federal space at Cisco when DNA Center in SD Access came out. So my focus was included, that kind of stuff. So soon as SGA started the prerelease stuff and the demos and giving those, that’s when I started learning.

So you have been around since day one.

So speaking of you being like a TSA and you’re talking about SD access, what else have you done?

So, Ben, do networking for the 30 years, OK, believe it or not. So before you go before being Izzet, I was in SC, so I covered everything. For that, I was I was in the federal space as a network engineer.

The network design engineer at a federal entity for a few years. Did again mostly land and win stuff when it was called SD win. For that, I was with Sprint, did a lot of us a lot of wind stuff at Sprint as well, Cisco stuff.

And then so now networking goes back almost 30 years. But I also did Microsoft stuff and that where stuff at the same time is Solaris stuff. Auclair certified way back then as well. And then before I did everything I could.

How far are we going back then?

Doing great. Yeah, it’s origin stories are concerned.

I did everything I could to avoid getting into it. I was I was really I got started and I think I got my first computer in eighty four. And so I got started really early. I was really good at it.

Everybody called. I was the kid that would help them fix their printer or whatever. But I never wanted to do it as a lesson. You know, just just I did everything I could to avoid it. So I went I majored in music in college.

I drove a taxi for a couple of years.

Wait, what instrument? I play drums. You have to pickiness, drums,

drums, piano, drums was my main one. And then I play piano and moved back there. Which is a hobby, too.

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Yeah, that’s yeah. Do you have a kid at home?

I do. Yeah. Yeah. What do you

have? A Gretsch Maple that I rarely ever play.

Oh, nice. Yeah. Is that going to be the next episode? Yeah.

We’re going to have a jam session. Oh, me too. Many drummers.

Yeah. Yeah. If I start playing probably around the same time, I got a computer around 12 or 13 years old. So.

So I did everything in the music. Whatever you wanted to go in the music? I did. I did well. I didn’t want to go into it.

And of course, I was in bands in the eighties in high school and loved doing that kind of stuff and thought to get big hair.

I, I had

big Robert Smith, the cure hair. Yes, I did.

I guess I’m just discovering that right now. I still got a good head of hair,

but it was pretty big and most was the thing back then. So I just finished it with Hairspray and my mom would get mad because I would use all our hairspray.

So, you know, I tried I

tried everything, got it in music, drove a taxi for a couple of years. So cars sold insurance and mutual funds just did all kinds of crazy stuff. Wow.

You did have it. You had a diverse background there.

I did, yeah. And got married. Fairly young and had a kid and realized I actually needed to make some money and pay, you know, pay for things, so here we go, I’ll start doing Kinsolving. So I started doing consulting it, consulting officially in 92, 93.

OK, based on what skills?

So back then it was just pieces are just learning IPX and SBX back then. And then eventually at ninety three, five, one and four into.

Were you self-taught because you didn’t go to school with South Korea?

No, I was completely. So I had a knack.

You taught you?

I did, yeah. I had the MSDOS three point two manual, and I just read manuals. I literally would read vendor manuals. That’s all we had. We didn’t have the first book I bought was in ninety six. It was the Unix System Administrators Handbook.

So you could get an interview and a job based on like, yeah, I read the manual and I know how to answer your questions, like is that how you say.

Yeah, I would just break stuff. I just, you know, decide I took

a part with the computer that my parents spent so much money on, and I broke it and then figured out how to fix it. And it’s really

nice. Yeah. Yeah. Because, you know, I think back, you know, back in the 90s and whatnot, like, you know, the Internet was just booming at that time. Right. And so, you

know, late, late 90s, it was. Yeah. Yeah.

What I’m getting at is that’s impressive that you were able to, you know, teach yourself this, because, you know, nowadays, I mean, we’ve got a plethora of things to learn from. We have, you know, online video courses. You can you can go to online, you know, regular college courses now.

It’s just insane. Like we’ve got all these manuals, we’ve got all these, you know, Fisher Cert guides, all that stuff. And you guys didn’t have all that back in the day. And and so that’s very impressive. I like hearing that.

Yet I still complain, Dan. Yeah, I know, right?

Yeah. We we didn’t have YouTube.

We didn’t

have. Right. There you

go to the library and use the Dewey Decimal

System. I absolutely used to do it at school systems.

And Andy and I

know Andy for our listeners that don’t know what that is. Can you please

put a link in the show notes?

So don’t do that. How do you transition from I am fixing the PCs to to networking.

So I started

working at a computer store in

ninety five, I think ninety

four right before Windows ninety five came out and I was building PCs and fixing and assembling PCs. And then it was a service called This Company Wants to Buy Five Pieces. We need to figure out how to connect them together.

And back then it was B and C Connectors and IPX. So I learned NetWare on my own to do that. And then he came out and I put IP and IPX on the same network with those cards and just kind of taught myself and figured it out at the shop and then kind of like the networking piece

I opened up. I helped start one of the first commercial ISPs in Canada. OK. And through that, I learned Unix and IP. I think I opened a tap case in like ninety three, 92, 93, and the tac engineer taught me subnet.

And that’s how I learned subediting. This attack engineer taught me a subnet

and then that was it. I’m not sure they do that anymore. So they probably don’t. I looked him up the other day

because I can look him up in the directory. He’s long gone. But I found the email. Here’s here’s what a network Maska is. And everything was still class will back then. And here’s why you can’t use this this mass with this IP address and

that a P one or a P two

is it’s OK.

So remember the case, man? It was a courier connecting a T a frame relay T one to twenty five hundred router to get this ISP up and running. And again,

that’s very cool. Like, did you print that email out? Because I print that out and like, you know,

Frank, should I do have I do have the email somewhere.

I looked it up a couple of months ago because I wanted to look up this guy just to thank them. Right. Because that was it. Like I did a lot of it stuff and I was good at computers and fixing computers.

And I was the guy that would call. But actual IP networking and networking in general was really because of this. I mean, I was doing Unix stuff at the ISP.

Yeah. Did you find networking as easy as you found working with hardware? I did.

I did. I was a they say math music folks that are good at music are also good at math. So I was always a good math guy. And so that was that was the easy part. And it was fun.

Yeah. Yeah. I just found it enjoyable to do. So I kept on. Now.

OK, so why did you go for your first Cisco, sir?

That would have been two thousand. So I got. I moved it from the Canada, the U.S. I had had my Mxi and I had my network certifications that the U.S. got my S.K in in late 99, early 2000.

Now, were

you were you still doing the consulting gig during all

this? Yeah, I was with a

company called Paraná. Andy might remember them. They were they were bought by Sprint, but they were one of the big consulting firms.

And that was before my time.

You did say decade? Yeah. I’m sorry. I’m just I’m just kidding.

And you could you could tell me to pound sand if it’s too personal. But why did you move from Canada to the states? Was it for job opportunities,

job or mostly job opportunities?

I was tired of the cold. I was tired of the snow. You know, it’s now it’s the opposite now. I’m tired of the heat. Right. I would give anything if it would snow right now because I could get a good night’s sleep.

So. So back then, you know, it was 98. The economy was booming down here, especially in Dallas. And the cost of living is really low. And your companies were throwing money left, right, center at you. They were flying you wherever for your just for an interview.

They would fly just to do a you just to do it. And they paid for the move and all that kind of stuff. So I just decided to go for it. And it’s just a good change. Different different cultures, different food down here.

So I, I was mainly with Paramatta that I was doing Cissoko stuff, Solara stuff and Microsoft stuff. And they wanted they really encourage certain stations back then at Sprint bottom. And so I got my I think in ninety I think it was early two thousand.

And then within six weeks I went to see a CD, a C CNPC CD. So I did an exam a week for like, oh, wow, seven or eight weeks. All three of those knocked out. Yeah. It was just

like, I don’t know how I do it. My fifth. Wait a minute.

What what exam’s

ACDA copycatted in five weeks?

Can grief. Oh, did you did you have a wife at that point or.

I did. I had a wife and I now know a life. A life for the wife. No, no, no, no. I mean, it’s the same thing, Daniel. I would I would work.

I would come home and read the book whenever the book was for that exam. Yeah. And I would just go and do the exam.

I, I don’t know how I did it, to be honest. Where the 800 page books.

Yeah. Yeah, they’re the big thick system guides. Yeah. Yeah. I don’t know how I honestly I mean, I’m almost fifty right now and I don’t know how I was able to do that back then. How? I can’t read a brief page right now without falling asleep.

On the same way. Yeah. So so obviously,

you know, then the kind of next step in the progression of the CCRA and back then Sprint would pay for the lab. OK. But you had to use your own time to study. So I went to my. So I was like I think I was seven exams in for all those Cissoko exams.

In my eighth exam was the written.

So did you fail any of those seven, not one.

I have I have never failed a Cissoko exam in my life.

Casada like you.

Yeah.

So I think it’s honestly I think I’m just stubborn. It’s like I think my my mindset is if I fail

is I’m not going to do it again. So I’ll just go. Which is really a bad attitude, especially for your listeners, don’t you?

It’s OK.

I, I have an idyllic memory, so I’m able to retain stuff really easily. So what does eidetic mean? It’s like a photographic memory, but it’s more associative.

And how do we get one of those?

Yeah, it’s it’s a curse. It’s a curse, because

I can still tell AJ how how bad I felt when he tried to get me that dude podcast a few months ago. And I completely forgot about me because I still remember those feelings,

because I find out. So. So it’s

a curse. It’s a blessing and a curse.

What do you remember everything that’s ever happened to you? I can recall pretty much everything.

Yeah, it’s I might need a

reminder here and there, but as soon as I get

the reminder, it just pops

into my head. What’s your face from taxi? You remember that woman? I forget her name, the pretty woman from Taxi, one of the actress.

I mean, I think she has whatever

she remembers, everything that’s ever happened to her. She’s been on all these shows and like you can ask her anything she said today, the date, the weather like.

Yeah, it sounds awful. Yeah. Yeah, it’s good for exams, though.

It’s it’s good for exams and it’s good. It’s good for work. It really is good for because I can have a conversation with the customer and six months later they call me and say, remember this? And I’ll be like, oh, yeah, that’s right.

And then I can talk to you. You don’t have to take notes.

Probably.

I can’t take notes. If I take notes, I actually forget.

I said, you’re not paying attention, right. Because you’re trying to say, yeah, yeah.

My my the part of my brain that remembers is focused on figuring out how to use a pen.

So. All right. He’s never going to

forget about Nathman.

Yeah. And that picture stuck. I won’t forget about Nathman or all

the jokes he made about Andy before he joined

up. Yeah. Yeah, I’m used to it. I’m a beat man. So.

So, CCRA, you were studying on your own.

Sprent was going to pay. I was going to pay for it. So I went did the written pass that first time. And so.

So what was the written like? Because if you’re to compare that to today, because terrible today, if you take the copy, you’re also taking these i.e. written. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. No, no. Then, you know, there was probably multiple exams to do the copy and then you still had to do this essay written and then you still

had to do the CCI lab.

Correct. Yeah. So they the Q&A was the one exam day was one exam. PE was four more and then the other one in addition to C, C and. Yeah, and as you got higher, this the the certs were newer and they had been around for a few years by then.

So the exams were pretty good and pretty solid. But as you got further into up the chain of certifications, those exams got a lot sloppier, is not as many people were doing them or proofing them or giving each other.

OK, so by the time you got to the IEEE, so my numbers. Seventy four. Seventy two. So there were six thousand by then, right? Right.

And for anybody else, because no one was like one thousand twenty four. Not one. Yeah. Right.

Okay. Thank you. So so by the time I got to that exam is one hundred question Multiple-Choice, just like all the rest. But it was very rough. Very sloppy. I mean. But by then I was used to it because I had done the DPI was pretty rough as well.

And then got the got the CCI written out of the way, and I kind of made. And for those that are going to go for the CCI, I know it’s different now than it was when I did it back then.

But I kind of I wouldn’t let myself Labbe use lab equipment until I passed the written exam. Because the written exams. The MP, the that we’re all theory, you were you could learn on equipment and you can type OSPF 16 and configure and OSPF network, but that’s not going to help you in a multiple choice questions just

church, just not you need to know the timers. You need to know the default. You need to know this man versus this command as written, but not at the root of especially. And I think what I’ve seen happen with people I’ve mentored in the past is they’ll learn how to do it on the device and think they’re

going to face the exam, that the exam is wrong, because, you know, the old the old saying is that there’s the right answer to the wrong answer and then the Cissoko answer. So the Cissoko answer on the exam is doesn’t necessarily have to be the one that matches what you did on your router or switches the one

that you read in the book. The books are written for a reason. The blueprints are written for a reason. So I kind of band myself from touching network here on work related until I got the CCRA written out of the way.

And then once that was out of the way, I went on eBay and bought one rather at a time and built my own lab at home and spent six months, used all my vacation time in that six months and passed the exam on May twenty third.

Twenty one.

Wow. Your first shot? My first shot, it was a two day exam, so two

day and it had high p ipx apple to that boUi Adobe you Atim Lane. It had all the non IP protocols. One day was a IP, the other day was not IP. So it was a two day exam.

You you didn’t find out if you made it to the second day until the next morning. So you do your first hour should stress.

That’s brutal. I allowed to curse on this podcast because so lots of fun. So I,

I went I did the first day. And you sit down, you do the exam and you know, you’re stressed. Everybody’s talking about this. This is so difficult. You’re never going to pass first time. And there is me like I’m not going to do this again if I don’t understand that.

So I did it got through the first eight stressed out. And you go back to the hotel. I did it in San Jose. I woke up at three in the morning and in my head was shit. I forgot to send communities like that.

Was this that was like. And for those listening, is it the same communities as the

BGP command you need to actually pass the communities on to to the neighbors. So I woke up remembering that I forgot to type me because I had practiced every scenario leading up to the exam and I knew what to type.

And so you get into the lab the next day to the lab room the next day. And if there’s a booklet on your desk, you sit and you start day two. And if there’s not, you wait for the doctor to call you up so they can review what goes wrong.

Everything was done in person. Back in the lab, you had a rack beside your your your table and you had the cable at cabling, gave you points the way you cabled your equipment, because they would for troubleshooting, they would bend the pin.

So you had to straighten the pins out to figure things out. Wow. So you got points for the way you cabled your network. You got points for a network diagram. You had a big sheet of construction paper on your desk that you had to color in with pencils to do your routing protocols and your ass numbers.

And redistributing Mark where you research points were was it was a grind?

Was that the first version of Visio right there? Yeah, the sixty four parts of what

they gave caveman visio. Man five, five, five pencil

crayons that a sheet of construction paper. Nice.

So pardon pardon my ignorance here Roddy but. Was were there concentrations for the CIA back then or was it just route switch that there was one,

i.e. there were

three there was a sky blue, which was based on the mainframe delice w IBM stock. You’re saying trigger

words for me right now, which might be IBM or Adobe LSW.

Yeah, I that was I was. But when I was working in federal deals, w was my thing.

So I know who the CIA blew. That was I

think there was a security one now. There wasn’t a security one. There was a when ESP one. So CXP sky blue and CIA roots, which I think those were the three. And then later came the voice in the security.

Gotcha. Yeah. And they aspe one resol employee and it was all strata come ATM stuff.

And did you say that was in 2001, right?

  1. I got my. I just hit my twenty year anniversary just a couple of months ago.

Nice. Yeah. Congrats on that. Thank you.

Did you get your plaque and all that stuff?

Yeah. Long story. No, not yet. I’m still

working. OK, I have my my original plaque. I have my

10 year plaque, but they haven’t sent me my 10 year.

I got you. I got you. Yeah.

So before the IEEE, you mentioned doing the KNP or the CDP. Did you just want to get into design or was it just something to do?

It was just something to do. You back then you only needed the CNA to be able to write the CCI written. But it had been told I talked to a couple of guys that were at Sprint at the time, and they said, get get all of the certifications on your way up, even if you think you’re not

going to use it or it’s not something you want to do. It’s DPE was one extra exam on top of the N.P. or two extra exams because

just a week, right? Yeah. Well, we do. Yeah. Yeah, that’s true. Yeah. Yeah, maybe I’m oversimplifying it, but because back then it was. Yes, you are.

Yeah. It was just product knowledge, right? It was, it was six hundred rueter. What model of this router has this kind of interface that kind of OK? At the time, though, I was in pre-sales with Sprint, Paraná, they were called back then.

And so that’s not helped. So, you know, it did help me get into I didn’t really have an idea of what exactly I wanted to do in networking. We just did know I was a consulting engineer back then.

So that’s what we did. I sold network stuff and I implemented network stuff and everything counted. Right.

Gotcha. So you’re saying while you were at Sprint, you were actually consulting doing that?

OK, gotcha. Yeah, I was a kid.

The thing I can’t remember my exact title, but yeah, my title at Sprint, I was a consultant, a network consultant. No, I didn’t actually work for Sprint proper running their network. I was a salesman. Yeah.

Okay. Gotcha. So it sounds like because we’re in 2001 right now. Right. That that’s where we’re at and on this timeline. And so you were in consulting from 92, 93 ish all the way up to 2001. Pretty much.

Okay. Yeah, it’s interesting. I don’t think we’ve heard that yet. So when starting their first gig is consulting. So. So is that the same as a contractor or consultant?

Yeah, in a way, it wasn’t we didn’t we weren’t a body shop, so it wasn’t like you would get somebody in for six months just to be a network engineer. It was more presale stuff. I did a lot of pre sales during that time.

Yeah. Which, you know, is good and bad, I guess. I mean, that’s what I’m doing again now. So it kind of came around for of full circle. Yeah.

Yeah. So like SC is a pre sales

position or not? It is. SC is a preacher at

Cisco as high as a pre sales position? Yeah.

Yeah. Right. So you kind of went from did you go from consulting to SC like like formally?

No. So I went from

consulting and I got on to a project at a federal entity and got home from the project. And the guy guy there just actually recently passed away. He called me up and said, hey, we really like the work you did here.

You want to come to our lead network design engineer. Oh, OK. So that was it. So I went there. I was there for six years. And then so I was you by then. Obviously see it better than you.

OK. And so so yeah, this story ended. So I passed past. Got it, got the number and went back to doing whatever I was doing and ended up as a network design engineer network. Yeah, network design engineer. I think it was my formal title for this federal entity for six years

that the CCI, you change your life. Did you get better jobs?

More money? Yeah. Back then. Yeah, yeah. Okay. Back then, absolutely. I mean, Sprint had the deal. If I passed, they would pay for everything. And then if I passed, I would get this bonus or this pay increase at the time when jobs when consulting gigs would come up.

Customers were asking for cecilians. So it opened up a lot of consulting jobs within Sprint on behalf of Sprint. While I was there. Right. So there were no society needed for to do this, that I qualified for that.

Once I got my say, yeah, it was almost immediate. It was like the day after I got back, I started getting, hey, do you want to go do this gig somewhere else or do you want to go to this?

Yeah, absolutely. Yeah.

Yeah, it was worthwhile. And you did it in less than a year, right?

I did it in six months.

Yeah. So why do you only have one?

It’s so easy. Yeah, that’s a good question. Yeah, I only like Eipe.

I don’t like IPv6.

Let’s beat up on Piecyk now. You know, I

was never a security guy. I was never a real voice. The voice focused words. I probably could have done the service vider one because I did do a lot of emplace while I was at Sprint. Yeah. And the blue one may have been handy, but the blue one had retired, I think, by about 2004.

2005.

Yeah. So. So how long were you there at Sprint then? Because we were at two chiasm one. That’s when you passed your I.D.. So how long were you still at Sprint for then?

I was at Sprint for three years, from ninety three to ninety eight to twenty one.

OK, so after you get your ideas.

Yeah, 98 to 22. So she

doesn’t bounce

for some. I stayed my mandatory one. So funny story. So the other agreement was. But they would they would move me down from Canada and they would sponsor me for all the stuff. And I had to stay a year after my Sikhi and a year after the sponsorship was done.

Well, they decided to get out of the consulting business and they were going to start laying folks off that were in my division and that I wasn’t going to be one of them. So I went to my. So this this customer called me and said, hey, we want you over here.

This was in 2002. We want you at this federal entity. Love the job you did. What do you say? So I called my bosses for it and say, can you lay me off?

That is a funny story. I it’s something we’ve heard that either. What are you talking about?

I said, yeah, I got a lot of stories. They said, what are you talking about? I said I said, it’ll save you have to layoff so-and-so. I’ve got a job lined up. They’re going to close the division eventually, anyway, I got to find something else within Sprint or find something else, it’s done.

So it did. I got my severance. I got all my stuff covered and fast to the next job a week later. So that was I was at the federal entity for six years.

For six years. Yeah. Yeah. And where did you say your title was some sort of like a design network?

Design engineer. OK. But I did.

Some operations as well, implementations, but overall, I was responsible for. I can’t. I can’t tell you who it is, but it

was yeah, you know, that’s a

very large, important national network and it covers all areas of the U.S. And so I, I was kind of at the top of the food chain at that point. So I could I was in charge of network, the land designs, the land designs, connecting all the sites together, making sure everything talked to the mainframes with the.

That’s where my deal is. W stuff came in and then eventually Internet connectivity and orders and that kind of stuff.

Did did they let you see the aliens?

No. No, because remember, I am Canadian, so I was technically he was a walking one. Yeah. It’s not a

sacred place, but it’s just not one that I talk about. Yeah. Yeah.

So so in your six years there, did you did you gain over a lot of experience in that six years or so? So what I’m what I’m getting to is did you ever feel like you were starting to.

There’s a there’s a term going around our discord thanks to river and discord arrest out. Right. Like do you feel like you you were not not being challenged at this job or did did you do a lot of growing in this job?

What I did a lot of growing probably for the

first four

years. First for, you know, until I

got the network to a point where it was modern and stable. So we converted from twenty five links to four, and that was project one. Right. So that we did get through that kind of stuff and then get rid of we we started taking out mainframes and places and replacing them with servers.

OK. Right. And then virtualization, virtualization started to come in. So we had to get rid of now we get rid of the Solaris servers and bring in Linux servers so that they could run virtualization and then the Windows stuff.

And so getting that stuff connected, the network getting lips to move between data centers. But this was all new. Right. So once I think once I got to that point, I think I kind of peaked from a technical perspective, at least from what not that I knew everything, but for what my employer needed.

I got it. I got it all done. And that’s my last thing, was getting the win stuff off of frame relay, because I had put the frame relay in initially. And then a few years later, we’re yanking out the Premiere and putting a lesser distance, getting Jerry and IP sec working over that, using Internet as a backup

, getting everything connected, virtually overtops using overlays. Can you know? Yeah.

Yeah. Can you also hit on. So you said something that that I don’t know if you wanna say triggered me or not, but so I’ve been at my job for about nine years or nine years. Like last month.

And you said that you got the network to where you were wanting it. Right. And you said in about four years, like, how does that feel? Because I haven’t gotten mine to where I want yet.

So it’s like, did did you

get over that mountain? You were just like, oh, finally, it’s the way I wanted it designed.

Yeah, it’s it’s a good feeling. I mean, it I’ve been fortunate.

I’ll tell this to anybody this I’ve been really lucky. I’ve had some really solid managers that trusted me and that knew what I was good at and knew that if I wasn’t good at something, I would say I wasn’t good at it or I wouldn’t pretend to be something like something I don’t want to do in this

industry is tell people, you know, something that you don’t know because it shows. So my managers, I’ve been really lucky with managers throughout my career, honestly, from day one. And he trusted me. And he he would come to me and say, this customer wants this.

Our internal customers, this application has this requirement. So we figure out how to get this done. I would say this is how it’s done. They would come back and say, well, I met so-and-so on an airplane and he said not to do this.

And I would say, don’t listen to that crap. My boss, my boss would go back to them and say, no, we’re not going to do it that way. So I didn’t get a lot of pushback. OK. Not that I was always right, because I was still growing and still learning, but I was I was given a lot

of flexibility to do things the right way because I kind of had a methodology. I knew I knew the concepts between behind and availability and redundancy and all that kind of stuff. I wasn’t as very methodical in my approach what configuring it as a network or designing a network.

So I was given a lot of freedom, flexibility. Not everybody has that I can appreciate. So it can be tough. But yeah, I felt it felt good. It. It freed me up to once I was done. It freed me up for some of the silly things that customers would ask for, and that’s kind of where it started

wearing thin a little bit. And it’s like, you know what, maybe I need to get back into consulting, but, you know, working. The difference for me, at least, because I started off consulting and then I went into an actual network position where I owned the network.

I got an appreciation for outages. What those cost in terms of money and reputation. Right. I got an appreciation for being on call all the time. I got an appreciation for what that takes and being careful when you’re considering something and planning something properly before you can figure it so you don’t cause an outage.

And then and this is something to help me and my skyy checking your work after you do it, no matter how good you are and how smart and how many times you’ve done it. Everybody makes mistakes. And if you know those verification commands or you know what to test and what to look for when you’re done, you’re

going to save yourself so much time down the road. Especially if you don’t answer your phone and somebody else has to troubleshoot it, right, so.

We’ve been there solid advice, they’re very leery.

So you left there. You climb that mountain, you left there and you went to Cisco.

Yeah. My ultimate goal once I started getting my keanna and stuff was to work at Cisco. I was just I just that was just where I wanted to be. And honestly, it was that Ptak engineer that inspired me.

And I just like I said, you know what? I want to work there. And so. Twenty eight. So 15 years later, 15 years after I had that encounter or the interaction with the tech engineer, I was at Cisco 2008, ajoint Cisco.

And I’ve been here ever since.

Nice. What was that first job? Cisco.

Yes, it was hard only because they have a pretty involved interview process. Right. My first job was as a network consulting engineer covering large financial accounts at Cisco. And in that time, that’s presales that was post sales. And I did post sales for four, five years at Cisco.

And still consulting, but sales consultant. So I would help them when they would add to their network. But I was still kind of having the same discussions, the architecture, discussions and design discussions that I was having when I was doing pre-sales evidence was I didn’t have a number.

And I would also be the one that they would call if something went wrong.

So this might be a dumb question. I call tech when something goes wrong. So what what is post sales, exactly how they differ from support.

So if if you have if you’re a large customer. And you’ve got a global network that needs so so TAC is great, but Ptak doesn’t necessarily know your network and the time it takes to open a case. Tell them your problem.

Figure out the solution. The problem they don’t have time to remember or to learn your network. So advanced services exists for customers that want to buy a block of ours.

Well, you’re a dedicated architect to certain clients, right?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. You’re dedicating certain clients.

So you have familiarity with their staff, with their processes and also processes for the Canadian people, their staff, their processes, their their network. You’re engaged with them throughout your contract, not your your contract with their contract with Cisco.

You can be a dedicated resource. You can cover three or four accounts. Kind of like an Etsy, right. As he’s would generally know their account. So nces that as they recall back then, I don’t know what they’re called something else now, but Networx consulting engineers knew their accounts and so they would still call Tilk.

So they called me and said, hey, we’re having this issue. I would say open Takase. I’ll have a look at it in the morning. But if they needed help moving the case along or getting bug scrubs done or researching code or Ptak tells them to do something, they would run it by me.

That’s the kind of stuff we weren’t Ptak. And we were very careful to position ourselves not being tapped, because I don’t have a lab where I can test every scenario.

So now. So if you pay enough, you get one of you.

Yes, that’s it.

Yeah, that’s exactly it. You get one to me or five of me. Yeah.

In my work as a partner during deployments and stuff, I’ve worked with advance services and talk about sharp.

Yeah. Yeah, it’s it’s

I, I didn’t I had fun because I was doing peer networking, but what I found when I was in advanced services, I did learn, but I didn’t I only learned what my customer. I had no opportunity to learn what I didn’t know that Cisco made servers until I got out of advanced services because my customer didn’t use

UCS. Yeah, I knew what they bought and because I would only see it when I would show up and I’d have to go help them install it or put it in. But it was the ease and the TSA that we’re ahead of the game in that new Cisco products.

I didn’t learn about I didn’t know a product or an OS until I actually the customer needed it. I didn’t have time to go learn. I didn’t get to go see the announcements and all that kind of stuff.

So in that way, I kind of feel like I lost a couple of years. I mean, it wasn’t a waste. I did get better at networking and I got really, really good at Nexus seven thousand sixty five hundred, but I didn’t know some of the other stuff that Cisco was doing.

So you said when you were just starting out into networking that you wanted to work at Cisco. Did you have an ultimate goal of what you wanted your role to be or you just wanted to get in the door and see what happened?

I just wanted to get in the door and see what happened. I would I was I would have gone to task. I would have gone to as I would have gone to be able to go gone today. OK, I just wanted to be at Cisco.

Yeah.

So how did you pick your position? Like, was it the first that came up? Or you’re like, well, I’ve been a consultant before. I’ll do that for Cisco.

Yeah, it was the first

the first that came up. They offered me a job and I took it. Yeah.

Is the culture as good as I hear?

Yeah, it is. And that’s to to answer Tim’s

question, I know I had a question like I, I was an important question. I don’t want to forget it. But everything you’ve heard about Cisco, I mean, of course, it depends on your manager and your team, but it’s a really good place to work.

I mean, they don’t have the startup mentality that a lot of startups still have. And a lot of companies do think we don’t. You don’t get the free sodas in the in the break rooms anymore. But they they they they are very good at empowering employees and trusting employees.

We don’t. One of the things that drove me nuts about being in federal. And when I worked at the federal entity was our laptops were so locked down to a point of being almost useless. So we had to be patient.

So, you know this story.

So, you know, we can’t tell you

where I work. But you’re preaching to the choir there.

It was it actually got as bad as we had to carry two laptops. I can have a laptop that I can access my network devices with and I can have a laptop that I could do my emails with.

Right. And it was just very slow. So you know what I’m talking about, right. So at Cisco, I did one of the

first first things I get is I get this packet with my laptop and its cover sheet saying, OK, it’s got windows wherever we are up to back then XP or something on it. If you want to install your own ass or OS, you’re on your own.

But go for it. Here’s how you access the network.

You actually have admin privileges on your work, but

I still do are still even in 2021. I do. I mean, we have they’ll still make sure my screensaver

set to 10 minutes and that I have a password that changes every six months. But at the federal place, we had to change our stupid password every month and we didn’t have single sign on. So I was changing 20 passwords every month and they had different password requirements up trash.

And my old employer, I

realized they had to describe a different password requirements. And then they would lock the laptop

down and lock. You can install security because we don’t have this. And I have a license. No, you can’t install it. You don’t have admin rights. So I have to open a ticket to get them to install a piece of software for me that I need to do my job right.

And it was just so frightening. You know, we can laugh about it and complain about it, but it actually was stressful because I would. Those laptops are so bad, they would take like 10 minutes to boot up.

Right. And I was sitting there, my pagers going off,

and there’s an outage in Philadelphia. Some guy named Andy did something wrong. Yeah, I got it.

I’m waiting for a very plausible I’m waiting for my laptop to boot up. And it because it’s sitting

there doing the decrypt process that some goofball engineer put on there. Right. So anyway, they’re very empowering. They’re very trusting. So even today, we get control over you. But, you know, who knows? Of course, depends on your manager.

But it’s a fun place to work. There’s the cool part, and this is why I don’t know that I’ll ever leave, as there’s always someone smarter than you. Hmm. And that’s the way you learn. Right. And and honestly, to to a person at Cisco, I’ve never once gone to somebody for help and had them say, I’m too

busy, I can help you go somewhere. And I’ve been here 13 years. I’ve never want to come across that mentality. Every TSA or see or as you see or AM is always willing to help you on your customer, whether they get paid on it or not.

Right. I could go to attack guy and not have to open a case to get a question answered. I could go. They don’t sit there and say, oh, open the package and I’ll answer the question. Just hit them up on our chat program is the answer.

Right. So, yeah, it’s a great it’s a great place to work, honestly. I mean, you know, if they don’t pay startup money, it’s a big company. We have sixty thousand employees, but. I like it here. I do like it.

It’s awesome.

Yeah, A.J., what did you want? Yeah, I know you guys, you

have a question? Yeah.

Yeah, I was just going to, you know, kind of prompt you. How did you get from that post sales into pre-sales?

So so would that be the systems engineer job?

That was

my job. Yeah. So funny. There’s another funny story.

So I was in L.A. for

five years covering a large financial account and the. See that covered?

The place I used to work, the federal entity,

was moving to another account.

Hmm. So my boss, my ex boss at this federal entity asked Cisco,

can we move Roddie over to the RC

South?

So nobody asked Rotty if that’s what he wanted.

Nobody asked. Right. So they had this conversation. This is that’s a good point, Tim. So they had this conversation.

I had no idea. I hadn’t talked to any of these folks five years. And I get a call from the account manager and he says, hey, I was just talking to so-and-so at the customer. And I was like, oh, how’s he doing?

He’s like, he’s good, but there he is leaving and they want you to be dressing.

So full circle again,

I end up moving from advanced services to the sales organization and federal to cover to be the for my old employer.

So I built I had built that network.

So I knew the network. Yeah, I knew the funkiness. The government places, the federal institutions do. I knew the processes. I knew the politics. I knew the staff. I knew all the people there. So I didn’t that was a cool again, I’ve been so lucky I didn’t have to learn that stuff as well as learn how to

be an SC. I got you right. I got to learn how to be Annecy in an environment that I was 100 percent Premiere Pro. That’s pretty. I didn’t have to introduce myself to anybody, I didn’t have to go and say, OK, here’s how I do things.

They knew how I did things. They knew how to talk.

They knew what to expect. Basically.

Yeah. Yeah. So it’s, again, very, very, very lucky. I mean, I don’t yeah, I don’t I’ve been really lucky in my career. Those kinds of things I was there for as. Yes. On that account for three years.

And then what does it do?

What does it you do? So I’m not trying to be. No, that’s a good question.

It’s it seems like a really great gig. We’ve talked to a couple. Yeah, I’ve never talked to a Cisco SC, but. You know, you’re a very technical guy. You built the network. What does that SC role look like for you, like what do you have to learn and do differently that you were doing in your engineering job

? Yeah, it’s it’s a different it’s a different.

So Cissoko now calls are eskies. They call them essays. And I have to correct myself sometimes. So now it’s system architects instead of system Virginia Junior Seau. And he is the. So an account team at Cisco is made up of an account manager and an essay.

So the account manager does the number of sales, these type stuff, and the essay does the technical sales. So the AI is responsible for recommending a platform to fit a requirement or recommending a solution to fit a requirement.

Learning the customer network, learning how what they need, anticipating what they might need in the future. You’ve got a bunch of these routers that are going to be end of sale in a year. Let’s start planning to migrate away.

Here’s the new platform. Essay will go on and do tech talks to tell them about new platforms and new software features.

It’s a hard it’s

I would say that the SC position or as a position at Cisco is a hard decision. Hmm. And it’s mostly because you are responsible for all things Cisco.

Was going to ask you, do you only have a narrow set of products? No.

At all? No. An essay is a generalist, so you have to know routers, switches, data center, enterprise security, collaboration, storage servers. What else do we do? Whatever cloud stuff, all the stuff that we do and say, Hachemi, you can’t you can you can’t know everything about everything, unfortunately.

But that’s what makes it hard, as you have to know at least a little bit about everything. So so you can at least have the first conversation and then know who to call to bring it. So then you would bring in T.S.A..

Right. So a lot of essays have a Calabro background. So their focus is collapse of the really strong collab, but they’re not so strong on routing and switching. So they’ll bring it T.S.A. and sooner than a regular essay.

Right. But that’s what makes the job hard, is you have to keep on top of all of those solutions and technologies and know what Cisco is bringing out, because you’re responsible for making sure those solutions get in front of customers.

So how did you personally gauge how deep you had to go in any given discipline?

I don’t know that I thought about

it too much, Tim, I and my career, I was a route switch guy, so that was the no brainer for me. I mean, so when when we would come out with the Nexus stuff, I would learn I wasn’t a.

You mean when I was working at the federal entity, we didn’t have access right. To cats. About a hundred was the switch of the data center and the switch. The campus didn’t. There was no distinction between data center technology.

So when I became by the time I became an essay, there were the data center was its own world and had its own product line. So I guess I wanted to just using data centers, example, I wanted to get as good a data center as I was at campus and Branch Technologies.

OK. But I didn’t want to get into being really good at firewalls and really good at telepresence or really good at sort of just I didn’t have an interest. Now, is that true?

Yeah, I do want to say I appreciate your pun. You said that at your core, your about switchgear.

Appreciate it. Okay. I that was intentional. Yeah, absolutely not intentional.

Thank you, Tim, for pointing out my bias.

So we spent a lot of time on your story and how you got to where you were, which is amazing just before we run out of time. I have no idea what SD access or DNA center are. Oh, so I don’t know when we want to pivot to that.

But if you could just do like a high level because they’re your areas, right? They are, yes. The book UROD. And so can you teach a dummy like what is this stuff really quick and like?

Well, yeah, right

before you get into that, though, but why why SD access? Because there’s a certain book in a. Oh, yeah. Like how did you get into that, you know.

So she didn’t.

For some reason, I thought we just finished the intro. It’s just the whole podcast

because it goes by myself. I’ve caught myself like I’m

you proud of you’re talking way too much about

yourself, but I guess.

Well, you’re an interesting cat who’s done a lot. And I’m really learning a lot from this. So that’s you know, now we’re at the part for me. We’re like, well,

what is this? Who’s an expert at? And I just I thought I was just

supposed to introduce myself. I didn’t realize that the podcast would actually be my story, which is kind of cool. I just.

OK, so. Yeah, so Dan

wants to know why I got into ASTIA or why a customer should get into

it. So there’s a book out there.

There is a book out there. Yeah, I’m trying to get to your book. I wrote a book. Yeah, that’s all right. Yes. So OK. So Andy, I’ll come back to your

question after I talk about my book that I really don’t publicize whole. You don’t know. I’m just not comfortable doing it.

But I guess so. We fast forward

a little bit. So I was an essay for three years, and then I was a TSA still in federal covering just enterprise technology. So land and when and then I had this opportunity come up about three and a half years ago, focused on DNA center a.D.A.

So about a year and a half, two years ago, a friend of mine had written a couple of books for Cissoko Press, we were just kind of talking back and forth. And I said, you know, one of my kind of bucket list items was to write a book.

That’s what I got started reading when I started to do my certification. So. And he said, yeah, you said when I talked to the to the the publishing house once in a while, there’s a topic that comes up that I think would be good at.

We’ll do it. So a couple of months later gives me a call and said they want an e-book. Are you in? I said, sure,

let’s do it. Oh, yeah. Do you have a writing background? No, I mean, are we counting blogs and trolling people on Twitter? I was like six guys, man. I should have been trolling. I guess I should

write a book on trolling people on Twitter.

No, I had

I’d never written anything beyond. I mean, I’ve written white papers and written kind of architecture documents and stuff like that. But I’d never written anything like a book and.

I do want to talk about the book experience a little bit,

because it’s yeah, people a lot of people ask me, and so he said, yeah, let’s write a book on Sa’dah. So I was like, OK, it’s been on my list. I always wanted to have my name on a Cissoko press book because I knew a lot of authors and they were always really sharp and always helpful.

I want to be one of those people,

so I’ll never do it again. Just wait. That’s that’s the entire experience that I did it and I’ll never do it again.

It’s I’ll tell you, man, it’s a mine. It is it is a different experience, and I can write I can write an email, I can write tiar, I can go back and forth with A.J. I could write a blog post about food and networking and talk about it, but I’m going to write the way I speak.

Hmm. When you’re writing a book. First of all, you you have deadlines, right? I’m writing a blog post, I have like 15 posts and drafts right now

that have been there for like two and a half years. I know that’s not his right. So, I mean,

I have posts on like IPv6, so like I’ll never get to them. Right, because I believe this is never going to be a thing.

So I, I

should get at it that way to

it. Oh, no. I really mean every bit. So we’ve got that right. Yes. So you get this

this you know, here’s your milestone’s, right? You want to get one fifth of the way through by this day, one, two fifths, three, 350, four, etc..

And, you know, I kind of got in my head

what I want to talk about. But I sat down to do this damn book and I started writing it like a lab guide. And I thought, this isn’t going to fill a book. This is like 15 pages at best.

Right. And so I called the my

buddy who coauthored it, Jason Goule. And I said, and I’m writing this, and it just doesn’t feel right. I’m writing a lab guide and I know we don’t want a lab. And so we kind of gave me some ideas because he had written a couple of books before and I started doing it, but I just kept running

out of words. And you hear authors, tactical, not tactical, talk about sitting in front of a blank word document, not knowing what to type. I was like that every damn day.

I mean, I know my shit.

I know Sa’dah at this point. I know how to talk about SDI. I know how to sell S.J I know how to help people test you. How do you how do you write about it in a book? So I started and I went into the oh, here’s the history of automation, I think, OK, I’ll start historical and

maybe that’ll kind of give me some ideas. And so I did a little bit of that and talked about Ansible and all that kind of stuff. So I sent some drafts to the publisher and they came it was marked to hell.

So you can’t use you. You can’t use wi you can’t use my you to use has to be impersonal.

How many how many passwords that they have to cut out to you? Yeah. Just curious. Personal. The impersonal, you know, way of writing is intentional.

It is. It it’s like so, you know, again, I would if I read on my

blog post right now, I would say, you know, next thing you’re going to do is do this and then we’re going to see what happens. Right. You can’t write something like that in an official book. Be more engaged, and that’s not well, you think.

I don’t know why. Right. I don’t get it. But it’s that’s the rule.

And it’s just I’m not saying people shouldn’t do it. There are some fantastic to suppress authors, authors out there. And I’ve learned a lot from those books.

I’m just beating up on the you know, because it’s in fashion.

Yeah, but.

But it just wasn’t for me. Like I couldn’t I can write in my natural language in the way I speak and. Because maybe it’s just maybe I’m weird, right, because but because of the way my brain works, communicating that stuff has to be communicated in my style.

I’m sitting there and you tell me to write this, but write it in this way. I really struggle. And it took me I missed deadline after I felt so bad for Jason. And he was getting crap from the publisher because I was the deadline and we got it done.

We have done at two coauthors and we got the book done. And it’s been out, I think, since August. So it’s been out for almost a year. Just got a couple of copies there, I believe. I do believe he’s going to probably steal one and be helping the others.

So the book is about software,

Cissoko software to find access. And so answered to get to your question, Andy. You want to hold it up there

and there it is. I say,

listeners to the people actually get to watch these videos.

Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, absolutely. Oh, you did your hair. I like this one. But you’re blue for some reason, Mr. Poppets. Very, very, very. Yoho’s very bad. His new nickname. Wait, wait.

How does how does it feel to hold that book like when it’s done and you suffered through it and now you’re on a Cissoko press book? I mean, that’s got to be a high watermark, right?

Like, yeah, I’ll never do it again. Right. But I was it felt good. No, that’s a good question. It really is. That’s a great

question.

I and I’ve

had people ask me, it feels great. I have my name on Cisco. You can I have an author page on Amazon. Hmm. Right. You Google my name now with software defined access or Cissoko. Now you’re getting hits for my book, not shitty blog posts that I wrote down

or tweets where I’m trolling IPV six people. You’re actually getting a legitimate

author page on Google and an author page on Amazon. So that’s pretty cool. That is really cool. Yeah, it was. I think I was I think I was so anxious to get it done because I was so it took a lot of me just it was so stressful because of the whole language thing and being able to

talk. I don’t know that I enjoyed it as much as I should have. I wish I had I wish I had it. Yeah, it’s a big deal and it’s a big deal. And it kind of opens up things people can introduce me as author.

I don’t consider myself an author. I wrote some pages for a book, but but yeah, it is you know, I can sit there and say, look, I you know, I probably read my first Cissoko press book in ninety eight.

Ninety nine. And, you know, here we are twenty three years later. And I have my name on one now.

So, yes, I’d have them all over my

house and be given to people like, look what I did. That’s I. Yeah, yeah, yeah. That’s what I’ve been doing. And it came out kind of

during the pandemic. So I wasn’t able to we didn’t have a book signing this bill. And that was all right. Yeah. We were supposed to have a book signing. It’s just a lot of us and it’s just a lot of Europe.

But those got called off.

Well, well, next year what we can do that. Twenty twenty two in Vegas. I’ll be able to get your book signed by you. Is that if

they if they’re going to do. Yeah. Regardless whether or not there’s a book signing, Andy, I’ll go and I’ll sign

the book for Alison. Yeah.

You can finally figure out what the access is.

Yeah. And have a

conversation. Breakout session. Yeah.

There you go. Meet the engineer.

So you talked about timelines. Were you getting to write this is part of your Tsay job or was this all on your own time?

It’s all my own time.

Oh, yeah. It’s it just prid like saying you got to be on a book or like the Cissoko, say, hey, we’re going to give you a bonus because you’re on up now. There’s only 10 percent of sales. Sounds like a

program you get.

It’s a separate it’s yeah. It’s writing for Cissoko. Press has nothing to do with working at Cisco. I don’t know which you

and the publisher and

the publisher. Yeah. Yeah, my my boss knows because I told him that I was writing it. Other than that, there’s absolutely no tie and I get paid from the publisher. Okay. You know, again, you don’t I didn’t do it for the money.

I don’t. Yeah. Yeah. Right. You don’t write. There is writing books to make money is don’t do it because you don’t like it.

But I did it. I mean, I did it because I love the technology. Right. I didn’t do it.

It was it wasn’t an ego thing. It was there was some pride there. I did want to have my name on it. And, of course, Cisco Press. But that was just more of a cool not because I want my name out there.

I plan on a different career, man. I’m fifty years old. I’m at where I’m at and I’m happy where I’m at.

But isn’t it interesting how difficult it is to put into words or like to take the technical stuff that you know how to do and how it works? Like I remember when we were starting out and then we played around with some YouTube stuff.

And like like it’s it’s so difficult. Like, I know how to do this. I do it for a living. I do it every day. But then to try to explain it and put it into words and have it make sense and bring somebody along, it’s just really, really difficult.

It’s tough.

And I can do it so.

So I could do it talking to you interactively. No problem. I can give a Cisco Live presentation and talk about SD access. Right? I’ve done lots of those those.

But putting it in a form is a different thing, putting

it in a form, especially

in something where a certain amount of content or words are expected.

Yeah, right. That’s pressure, too. It is.

And not every technology is conducive to a book. And I’ll say that about FDA, right? It’s matured and changed. The gooi has changed drastically since we did the book and the books. Only a year old, so. Mhm. Yeah, it is.

It’s tough. And I, I was like I said, I’m proud, proud that I got my name on it. Proud that I got it done. I’m glad I got it done. I don’t regret it one single bit, but one of the draft blog posts.

In my on my blog is why I wrote a book and why I’ll never do it again.

I want to read that post. Spoiler alert. Just listen to this episode. Yeah. Are you a Patriot member and you should join the Patriot. Yeah, that’s nice.

So, Cerutty, let’s answer Andys in these questions now. What? At a high level, what is as the access.

So. I’m going to try not to be sales on purpose, because, again, I’m

I’m really not if you want, I’m really not sales.

And so software to find access is I modify my language. So we’re supposed to say Cisco software to find.

Right, right.

We’re not allowed to say USTDA or just so Cisco software defined access.

Andrew is is is an overlay

as a fabric technology for the campus and branch. And what it that so if you’re familiar with Asiye, it’s kind of like aiki. But for the fabric, for the campus and branch where you have users and Iot devices versus servers and applications,

can I ask you an embarrassing question? We’re in the trust tree. Right.

And it depends on who’s editing this episode.

Yeah, that’s a question.

What the hell’s the fabric, OK.

Yeah, I don’t like that word.

I shouldn’t use it.

I don’t either. People keep explaining it to me. And I think it’s a bunch of damn switches tied together somehow. But I don’t get it.

It’s it’s a it’s a. I don’t know who can explain it better than me, so.

Well, the way I look at it is it’s a bunch of virtual people. You know, if you want. But I just. Yeah, I don’t know when. As soon as you said Fabrica Mike, I still don’t know. Do you use like which brand of fabric fabric softener do you have to use, you know, cynically make it act right

and all that.

Yeah. So now is an abstraction. Is it the fabric? I would I would

call it an abstraction. You’re basically you’re glomming a whole bunch of network devices together to perform one to look cohesive so that you can plug anything into that. Glam of NOWER devices in and have it be the same,

but of all these disparate pieces.

Yeah. Instead of necessarily having an object.

Yeah, it’s a it’s logical, right? Exactly right. So if they don’t have to be directly connected together. Right. Your fabric could ride over a whole bunch of infrastructure. But so technically, your employees network is a fabric. Right, you’re rippin from side to side, B is a fabric fed ramp.

It’s an overlay. Right. It’s an overlay

with those with those be considered threads.

Are you getting

mad at this? I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to pull you off and distract. So, OK, so I think I got fabric at my core.

I’m a distribution guy.

That’s how you do upon Dan. So to answer that, that, too.

And you just you said it would get weird. So software defined access is an overlay technology. I prefer that word. Thanks, A.J.. And so what did what? I’ll get into the features in a minute. But what it allows you to do is basically set up this overlay between your floors, buildings, sites, department departments, the departments, more biological

. Yeah, absolutely. And wear anything that wherever you plug in your your your laptop or your Iot device. It and a better way to say this.

It doesn’t matter which port you can connect to any any

port on this fabric’s which will behave on a

specific port. Right. Right.

You don’t have to statically assigned the VLAN or make sure that that beeland has access to this defo gateway, because this is where the router is with this layer three. Right. Everything’s kind of overlaid on top. So it’s software and software defined, and that’s where we get into the data center part in a minute, but it’s an

overlay technology using the land and list to accomplish this. Right. So you have a bunch of layer three capable switches that are set up as routed access. Right. That’s your underlay. OK. And if you remember the way Cisco used to recommend to do networks probably eight years ago is we wanted layer three on every switch and every

switch is the default gateway. So NZDF access fabric, that’s how you configure your underlaid, because the underlays role is to forward layer three packets as quickly as possible wherever they need to go. OK. Those packets. Are the FDA overlay package.

OK, so when you send a ping to Dan, regardless of where Dan’s laptop is plugged in, that package is going to get encapsulated by your access switch. And it will be sent directly to the lookback address of the switch, the ban is connected to it.

Hmm. Right. So it’s not going to go through the network natively. It’s not going to have the same disbands destination IP address all the way through the network, the destination IP address. As soon as that packet leaves, your switch is going to be the loopback address of the switch that Dan is connected to.

And then that could be excellent tunnel. The excellent tolit. It’s exactly the excellent uses Lisp as the control plane and find out where Dan lives. Right. So it’ll say, OK, this pack, it’s going to 10 one or sorry, f, e, a B colon a

one four seven colon.

Oh, wait a minute. We’re not using that technology.

So it’s going to go to 10 one, one,

one, and it’ll do a list lookup, say, hey, where is 10, one on one list build the control plan will say it’s on this switch. Here’s the loopback address to the switch. The switch will then encapsulate it and be excellent and send it directly to that switch.

So the beauty is there can be anything in between those switches. OK. It’s layer three all the way through the network. So you can use SCMP to load balance between your lines. So you’re no longer there’s no spanning tree.

Right. Which is. So that’s when I want to be the sales guy that started when when I when I want to be the sales guy, I

find the oldest person in the room

and tell them that they’re going to get rid of Andy. You’re going to get rid of Sansho. You’re never going to have to worry about a

spanning tree loop or root bridges or priorities or any of that stuff ever again, because I love every switch. Is layer three connected to every other switch? Every link is a point to point slash thirty or slash 31, depending on how weird you are.

And then I’m going to throw the statement, I’m going to troll the slash.

Thirty one people next. So.

Hey, listen, it should be slash thirty one. It’s a point the point. There’s no reason to waste time. Oh, my gosh.

There we go. Look at my my serenity. Now, my opinion. You just want to live in a lower body in any

broadcast address or gateway and a

point to point, because that’s what the guy that invented IP said to do. Yes, but he was wrong then. You know what? Why send a broadcast but also point them off when we standardize on IPV? Andy, you can do whatever you want with whatever technology.

Right now, I’m changing

the phrase it’s now get off Andys overlay.

Yeah.

Listen, if a slash 31 didn’t work, he should have wrote the protocol so that a slash thirty one wouldn’t. All right. Well, we found out who the weirdo of our group is.

So anyways, I thought the point to point connections, obviously, like the ad thing was bad, but

man, nothing matches

the answer you want. So so anyway, so talking about. Oh, so you get rid of fantasy.

That’s that’s what I do. I find the oldest guy in in the room named Andy, and I tell him, hey, you get rid of spanning tree because everything is layer three. We’re going to use it to bounce across these layer three.

So we’re going to use your links efficiently. You can, even if you’re really weird, have non Cisco devices in between. If you if your mandate, because you work at a federal agency, says you have to have other devices and you want to put a.

Juniper Rueter in between your two fabrics, which is you can do that, did it juniper out or can brute layer three packets between the two? It’s good.

Did did that hurt to say that

it looked a little painful? I was just wondering how to use the F word before I said it.

So it’s not a magical feature in a Cissoko image.

It’s standards based.

It’s OK.

Yeah, it’s naturally whatever it is.

Yeah, it’s based on. And you just have to

be able to root on your

switch and your good. Yeah, you. Well, the nonsense Cisco switch doesn’t even know that it’s Sa’dah, right? It’s just routing a layer through packet from point to point. He doesn’t care. He’s not part of that conversation. He doesn’t know about the Zoolander list.

So where’s that magic happening on the

edge to these two end point switches? Right, that the axis

has to be Cissoko. Yes, that’s the members of your fabrica.

You’re going to have a border, which is how traffic gets in and out of the fabric, the control plane, which is like the dnes server for the stuff and an edge switch, which is your axis. So all of those functions have to be Cissoko, Catalist ninety three hundred ninety five hundred ninety four.

Does it have to match the the the 9000 series? Because I know like in Asia, you have to have the Nexus nine, like the ninety three hundred nine, so.

Yeah. So it’s Cesc for Catullus 9000 series. All of them. And the catalyst thirty eight fifty in the Catullus thirty five sixty all support SDI the ISR for case support the border function. Because you might want to have a router’s a border instead of a switch.

And then there are some other different models that are.

Well now, now you’ve piqued my interest here. I’m curious why the thirty five sixty legacy.

It’s it was a learson when we came out with

this nine K hadn’t come out yet. So as came out about eight months before the ninety three. Probably a year before the cat. OK, so we were we had already designed it, but we we came out with kind of just after each other.

So the cat thirty eight fifty and the thirty six fifty the layer three people on licensable support.

OK. Now, so let me ask this. Do you have to have a certain OS for that?

I mean, it’s going to be current anything now. So he has to has been out for five years old.

So like on the ECI side, you know, you have to have the inex OS, the Asai mode kind of thing. So you don’t have to have.

No, it’s asexually.

OK, it’s just your plane asexually. And so the other things that before I forget, the other things that it gives you, so you get the fabric. And so that’s the fabric piece and being able to plug in. But it also has the excellent implementation we’re using supports scalable group tags for seats or secure group tags, depending on

what you want to call them, which allow you to mark your traffic. Based on the authentication and authorization process. So when you log in, your port is enabled for anyone to say you’re going to log in username and password.

IPv6 thinks ice is going to that

have a policy. I got to stop. I said I ice ice has a policy

that says, OK, you’re allowed in. I’m going to look at my ID and that password matches. And it’s I’m going to put them on this VLAN and I’m going to assign them this to you because using group engineers.

And then Dan loggin, same process happened, but Dan might be ingroup accounts. Right. So all of your traffic and issues, it hits a network is going to be marked in the engineering group, all dance traffic is going to be marked in the accounts all the way through.

That will stay in the Beachland header is the.

The policy is

that it’s just a

tag. That’s the market. Right.

And then and then you can write policies that say permit based on the tax permit, engineering to accounting Dinni ingenuity, accounting. They’re written as standard or standard ACLs, almost, right? They’re not stateful. It’s not a firewall. But you can have what they call micro segmentation within the fabric very easily.

So am I writing these policies? In DNA center or in ICE?

Yeah, so I’m going to. So that’s that’ll get me to the day center topic. So DNA center orchestrates. The state configuration. So when you when you want to build your network, you either discover or onboard your devices in the center so they can be preexisting if you manually configured your underlain or you can pull them out of

the box and put them and do what we call LAN automation, which will build the underlay automatically for you based on whatever parameters you give it. So it’ll go into a brand new factory out of the box switch and the switches come and play it plug and play mode.

Now they have four, six, six, seven years. Right. It’ll discover it. It’ll push the appropriate underlying configuration to it. It’ll give it a name and IP address. It’ll onboard it into the center and then indignation or you pick your fabric rules.

I want this switch to be an an edge switch. I want this switch to be my board or I want this switch to be the control plane. I want this these authentication policies, dot one, X map, whatever it will orchestrate all the configuration on the switch, as well as some of the configuration in ice.

So you start to build your authorization authentication policies in ice. But you’re. Security policies, so the permitting accounting to engineering you actually do in DNA center and DNA sender will push them to ice. There’s no magic. This is trussing, right?

This is Cisco Kossak. So all the policies are still live in ice, and ice is the one that pushes the policies down to the edge, which is whenever you log in. But the orchestration and the configuration is done in Indianness.

Did you have a wind question? So if you’re doing. Veselin, across the network, you’re doing Veselin across the way, and you got to have jumbo frames enable that, correct?

You should have jumbo frames, and so we tell you to have jumbo frames in it. So how does that. One hundred and fifty bytes. I think you need so you you got to get up to six fifty somehow.

OK, so how would that work with like SD win if you’re leveraging diey that maybe the carrier doesn’t support that. How do you make Sa’dah function? Sorry, Cisco software defined access. How could you make that function? Does it fragment or do you just say, no, sorry, it’s not going to work?

No. So.

St. Cisco software defined access is a is a campus branch technology, it’s not a wind technology, so we don’t actually support stretching of fabric across a.

OK, so you just treat it as separate sites. I’m just trying to piece together.

So what will happen is if if

one is the host at one side is on state fabric in the house, on the other side is not all of the excellent stuff gets stripped as soon as it leaves the border. So, again, you don’t have your empty wissam’s if you’re running a technology called multisite, which allows you to do and end SGA or end to

end segmentation. I think right now at. I don’t want to say this without knowing for sure. I think right now we still require six hundred MTU across the way, and if you want to do multisite. OK, but I have to confirm that yet.

Yeah, because you have to allow for the overhead. I mean, obviously the. The old solution for us old folks is to adjust the PM to you on the end hose or to use it. That seems to be a just mess on the edge, which will work, but it won’t work with Euterpe.

So if you’ve got Euterpe traffic that’s 50 underbite, it’s going to get it’s going to get dropped or fragmented, which is worse. Right.

Gotcha.

OK, so A.J., I don’t think we want to go too much further in SD access because I think we want to actually do an episode just on access, right?

Oh, yeah.

We were getting fired up.

So these are the questions. We should certainly get questions. Yeah, I love it.

I love them. Back to the great.

So, yeah. So I just want to go like a little bit deeper into the DNA center as being like the central hub of it. And then and then we can put a bow on it.

Sure. So to do center will orchestrate

software to find access so that software defined access. Oresteia is one of the applications in DNA center. DNA Center also does software image management. So you can I’m going to start to sound like a salesperson now, but you can upgrade each define your golden image per site, per building, per floor, per platform, per model, and automatically upgrade

those devices to that version of code. Download it from Cisco automatically. You can schedule it to stage it ahead of time. You could schedule to reboot it later. You could scheduled to happen right away. Software image management is another one.

Hold on. Yes. How do you deal with the licensing?

So you hesitated, rotty? I did, because it sounds stuff has changed.

Yeah, well, it sounds magical. It’s about it is magic how to deal with. But then you got to deal with the licensing. You can’t just push stuff without buying licenses.

It’s magical now. You know, so so we have now. That’s a good question. So we we have changed

things a little bit recently. However, we don’t distribute images based on license features. We’ve had one image philosophy now for a few years. So there is one ninety three, 48 eight. That’s forty eight image out there for. Seventy six three.

There’s not one for services, there’s not one for enterprise, you don’t we don’t have different images for different lights and more. So the licensing is actually in the configuration. Oh, OK. Right. So you enable your license on your switch.

You can have a talk to smart licensing to validate online, or you can download a path and then enable it locally. So image distribution, upgrading your router license doesn’t matter. It’s the configuration will hold the license information. OK, OK.

Sweet. I hated that answer so much.

He’s done, he’s gone, Adoree, he’s anti rage quited once again. He’s got that stance, which

is now because he knows he doesn’t have to worry about losing anyone, which is great. So Swim is the name of that feature and DNA center software image management. It does templates. So you can again, based on your config, you can type in configuration templates in DNA center and have it roll those templates out to different platforms

, different buildings, different sites. You can standardize based on any of those parameters or criteria that it has assurance, which is like a monitoring platform that will it’s the strength right now are very wireless centric. So it can look at the onboarding process.

It’ll tell you all your Sanaa’s and all your wireless stuff, know wireless parts. And all these words don’t mean anything to me, but I’ve seen them on screens. So I know they’re I know they’re legit. So I don’t tell you what the scenario is.

And if there’s any interference and rogue apps and all that kind of stuff, it allow you to place apps based on strength. It doesn’t have all of the features that Cisco Prime has found of Cisco prime is the big thing right now with wireless, with Cisco Wireless.

But most of those features are being copied into Cisco DNA. So. It lets you see the usage on your devices, usage on your links. We have application assurance which will actually get down to Office 365, is having issues in this building.

This router is part of that conversation. This is how many users are affected because we’re getting all the user information from ICE. Right. This is how many users are affected. Here’s this device, it’s unhealthy. This is probably the cause of the problem.

So that’s kind of things that insurance will do. It’s based on. It takes information from S&P syslog, NetFlow streaming telemetry. And correlates it all together and matches it against a known set of issues that it’s in the database, that database comes from 30 odd years of packages.

So they basically said, what are what of our customers? What are the most common issues our customers have run into over the last 30 odd years? Let’s put those into insurance and let’s get it. Sure. Let’s teach decenter insurance how to recognize these issues based on this specific message and syslog or this message is in a trap

or this message in that or this kind of pattern in that. So it will do that. It’ll give you it’ll tell you what the issue is. It’ll give you a list of suggested actions. If the suggested action is something you can do on a switch that’s in the or a router, you can click perform action now and

it will actually go through that action. It’ll say open attack case and send them a show IP, SPF, neighbor, click here to get that command. So you click the button that pops up to show IP. Hmm. OK. I’m I really I know I sound like a sales guy now because

I know you do some magic so. Well, some of that stuff is good. Some of that stuff works most of the time. It’s not it’s not magical yet, but I think it will get there.

I like the direction they’re going. I really do. Otherwise I wouldn’t be as passionate about it when I talk.

Does it make anybody else like weirded out that, you know, we spend all this time learning Seelie and now everything’s getting pushed to like Gooi and just.

Yeah, it’s weird, right? It took me took me six

months to be on board with this because I went through the experience of Asai, like Dan mentioned, where you have to run a different code base or a different image or different mode on the switch where you didn’t have access to the sea a lot.

And that really that really pissed me off.

I, I

was so furious. And then so I get into Asda and we’re doing the same thing. It’s like, no, stay away from sealife, because if you type of command, there’s a chance of DNA change going to reverse. And so honestly, it took me six months to JUSTMENT.

So it really did. I really had a lot

to let a lot of things go. And I run into this when talking to people about this whole time. It’s again, it’s usually the oldest person in the room, and it’s like, I’m not going to give up Mights

and Avel password and and that’s

true and that’s not where I’m going with it, because it seems like the benefits and the magic of I mean, it’s totally worth it if I’d be fine never touching it. So I figure if I could get all the benefits that you’re spelling out.

Yeah, that I think the

the the caveat I give is that that assumes that we that we Cissoko got everything right.

Right.

Yeah, right. Which if you could do in this lifetime, you know that there are always going to be. So now are things are getting better? Where do I trust automation? More absolute. I started doing stuff about four and a half, five years ago, and there were a lot of times where I needed to get into the Seelie

to verify things. I never jump on the Seelie right now other than to reset around it.

So that’s what’s scary is you’re handing over the keys to the kingdom to this.

Yeah.

You trust this total ecosystem in the. Okay, here you go. Don’t don’t destroy me. But companies

have I mean, I worked I

did a good job with that stuff, Miraki. Right. Right. You’ve never seen a Muraki Seelie. It does. It doesn’t exist.

So it can be done. I think that

I’m not going to criticize Cisco at this point. But what we’re kind of trying to do this on a platform that has a history of the Seelie first and now iOS sexy. But previous to that, it was Ilson.

We got folks that have been in this industry for a long time that have always done it this way. And we’re still calling it Catalyst’s, right? If you had said Catalist OS when I was getting my Skype, it was it was Catto’s.

It was the SEC commands like the stuff has been around for a long time. And people are are used to using it and it’s ingrained in them. First thing you want to do is know your enable password so they can go in and can take things right.

So, yeah, if we can get it right, it is it’s it’s great. And I think honestly, it is better now. It is a lot better now. We have six months to stop. Hesitating with the automation.

Wow. Amazing. Also sounds expensive.

Well, that’s a conversation for another day.

Yeah, there are a lot of other things that DNA center does. So if we ever

if we do another one of these and I can screen share, I can demo DNA to go through, the

100 percent want to do this. Absolutely. For sure.

I would love to do that. Yeah. OK, I’ll cut down on the puns in the jokes.

Oh, no, don’t do that. This Covid. So this has been great. Oh, I fly airplanes. I am a pilot. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah. Oh, yes. I forgot about that.

I did forget your copious free time when you’re not getting every certification there is.

I haven’t flown in like eight years, but I did get it just to get it. That was a bucket list. Cissoko pressing and getting my pilot’s license and with your bucket list.

Nice stuff

for you. I do want to bring one thing back up from. Yeah, towards the beginning of the show, because I think we cut you off. You were telling a story about your secret lab and you got through the first day.

You walked self up in the middle of the night because you forgot the Sun community or you thought you did. What did the second day, the morning you walked in, what happened?

So second day. So you really have no idea

how you did. Right. You get in there because it’s it’s it was a nine hour day. Your Dossett from traveling in a couple of days before. So you’re already tired. You go and you do that full day. You’re overwhelmed, even though you’ve done practice labs and you really have no idea.

So I go to the hotel, wake up 3:00 in the morning, say, oh, shit, I forgot to send communities, walk in. I see the booklet on my desk.

And I realize

I bought myself another three hours of this, so the first half of the second day is all of the non Eppie stuff that I talked about so that we IPX will talk to you as an audience member. So you get again.

So there’s a new booklet now with new exercises and new scenarios that you have to do, that you have to configure, and that takes you to lunch time. So same process you go for lunch, and when you come back, if there’s a book put on your desk, you sit down

and you

complete the lab. If there isn’t, you’ve failed. You’ve got to sit and wait for the profit. So I go to line to come back. There’s a book under my desk, so now is the troubleshooting. So I don’t know how it’s done now.

So I know that the lab is just a one day lab now back then. And I mentioned earlier we had the physical equipment was all there. And they wouldn’t just mess with your configurations, they would mess with your cables, they would take a T1 cable and they would jam it in upside down, well, if you’ve ever used

it to one cable, it doesn’t go upside down. They do it upside. So the pins would bend. So you’d have to look and identify event. Chuck the cable and grab another cable. And so this was the troubleshooting.

So I, I got.

Got there. Got the troublesome section that was that was the part I was looking forward to the most. Once I once I got to that part, I was I was like, I love television because I had all my config memorized.

So first thing I did was do a show run.

And I did well, I didn’t type that got rid of that command.

Oh, that’s that’s different that I don’t get rid of that Covid. Oh, I that photographic. There was a different line between

these two commands. I got to add that command back in so that that part was easy. Got the physical stuff that my connectivity up and running and I passed. And the only thing I got wrong in the two days was that stupid sent me in.

And you woke up, he said like 3:00 in the morning.

And and I was like, yeah, I knew I got it wrong. Yeah, it was I you know, I’ve been lucky. I was I was prepared.

I, I really did burn up all of my. All of my vacation time to do things. Mm hmm. And that’s not easy to do when you got shoes for at the time at a four year old daughter. So I would take I would spend the day with her and then I would be up all night, literally.

She went to bed. I would be up all night in my lab. And I had a stack of six, twenty five hundred, a bunch of back to back T1 cables. And I had an Estienne emulator and I had.

A terminal server that I would have to catalist switch and I would just go through scenario after saying back then you had to buy these scenarios online and then they’d send them to you and big stacks of paper and reams of paper scenarios.

So I basically went through every scenario every night, all night until I had them all memorized. But I was still trying to this is the comment I made earlier about verifying thing I would even though I had to memorize and exactly what to do for every single one of them, I got more practice doing the show commands

in the verification commands, know what to look for, to know that it worked, because that would still make a typo. Right. But at that point, I knew if I made a typo, I knew exactly what. But it’s just because I looked at that output so many times and it was repetitive, repetitive, so the repetition helped me a

lot.

And your lab instead of sleeping, is

that what you said? Yeah, I

would I would maybe sleep. I drop Robert school in the morning at eight o’clock, eight thirty. I’d sleep for like three hours and then I’d get up and start working again. And I let’s start doing other stuff.

So like three hours a day. Sleep more? Yeah, for six months.

That was the vacation time was. No, that was

like five weeks of vacation where I was really hardcore. But the six months per area was still. Yeah, I was still doing a minimum of six, seven hours a night. So I was working. And then I come home and then spend some time with my kids.

It didn’t mess with your retention or your mental health or anything, just guessing yourself.

I was now I was 30. I had plenty of energy

just last week. I’m 31. There’s there’s no way I could do it. Yeah. I mean, I think the that was tough.

It was tough. But I don’t know. I honestly don’t know how it is. I really don’t know. I won’t say it was easy. It was tough. I just I don’t know that I could do it now. But part of it was I really I really loved the technology.

Like it’s like today I’ll go mess with I don’t do any docker’s part of my day job. But I’m I’m trash and containers all day long. It’s just stuff I like doing. It’s interesting. So, um, so that stuff you networking has always been interesting to me.

So it was fun for me to do that. It wasn’t it didn’t feel like work or it was a challenge for sure, because I was learning a lot about the protocols. But it’s just fun. No, but you do.

Oh.

Oh, excellent. Well, he is rotty, he has never failed a Cissoko exam. He is CCRA 74 72. He is a Cissoko press author. The book is Cisco Software Defined Access. We will drop a link to our show notes and you can pick it up there and wherever books are sold, I’m sure.

Rodney, where can people find you? Twitter. Back.

What you got

today? I’m going to lock my Twitter after this.

You know,

I’m just I’m just thinking, A.J., I may have failed one of the research for that six years ago, but it’s a different story for another time.

But they said that I was like, oh, that helped.

And that no, that is exactly what the listeners needed to hear, that you got to fail.

Yeah, that’s correct. Yes. Yes. Don’t don’t

don’t do anything that I’ve done in the last 30

years that don’t have the attitude

that I’ve had in the last three years now. Yeah, I think so. The question was, where can you find me? You can find me on Twitter, usually trolling people. My handle is doesn’t have a pronunciation. I don’t know.

This is for you on here. You guys know my handle. Do you know what it means? No idea.

The squirrely

no, no Arabic, that’s

Arabic, that’s my name in Arabic, but what is my hair? What is my my Twitter ID?

Hmm. Eido?

Yeah. Do you know

what it is?

No, I do not. Come on. All right, so it’s literally my first name backwards. Oh, that’s so. And it’s right here. It’s right in front of my face. So we automatically go to acronyms. It’s just what we do.

Yeah, the squeaky the squiggly

stuff that you pointed out and is my name in Arabic. So, yeah, the squiggly stuff.

That’s what they call it. Yeah. Sorry, I, I didn’t want to

be Andy insensitive, so I just use the language

they used today by my Twitter. My handle is eEye

DDR, which is my first name backwards, which now everybody knows the secret. Yes, that’s

that’s where I hang almost. I do have a YouTube channel, actually.

The I’ve got some videos up on that YouTube channel if you want to Google me, but

you can watch your YouTube

channel. I have just Broady. I don’t know. Hassan, YouTube. Yeah. Yeah, I think I find it. Yeah.

Yeah. It’s it’s I know I’m not good at self promotion. I’m really not going to stop

trying to do it. I believe there’s a there’s a blog in there, too. Right. Oh, there’s a blog dot TV. OK, so the blog is mostly technical.

Not Cisco centric, per se. But there’s also some cooking stuff on there, because I am also I also love to cook. It’s my theory.

You’re you’re in Texas. Have you been

to Franklin Barbecue?

Have been to Franklin Barbecue? Yes. Yes. How is it if you like barbecue, it’s good.

I love barbecue. I’m reading his book. He’s my hero when I come to Texas. Definitely. Please go to Franklin Barbecue.

We can.

It’s in Austin. It’s about four and a half hours away for me. But you let me know and we’ll get down there.

It’s like an hour and a half. Wait in line, right, to get this, guys?

Yeah, yeah, yeah. No, it’s good. It’s it is. If you like barbecue.

I’m not huge on barbecue, but if you like barbecue it, it’s good barbecue for sure.

All right, man. Yeah, that’s nice. Yeah.

All right, Randi, thank you so much for joining us. Any any last minute words?

No. Thanks for coming. This is a lot of fun. Wasn’t as weird as Tim

made it out to be. I knew he was going to like that. And I had now. And I honestly, again, if I if I,

I would have thought there’s no way he came up with that, just based on my tweet. So I feel better that you already had that plan. Yeah.

No, it was a good

time, guys. I’m glad we finally got to do this. You know, I give you guys I give you shit about forgetting about me, but

well, much, much deserved shit.

I feel lucky to be here and hopefully have come back and do a demo for you.

Yeah. Yeah, definitely. Absolutely.

Anytime, guys.

It’s actually. Well. Yeah. Join us again next week for another episode. Thanks again, Ronnie, and have a good night. Everyone, this is A.J. If you like what you heard today, then make sure you subscribe to our podcast on your favorite pod catcher, smash that bell icon.

You get notified of all of our future episodes. Also, follow us on Twitter and Instagram. We are at are of net, and that’s part of an AT&T. You can also find us on the Web at Art of Network Engineering dot com, or we post all of our show notes.

You can read the blog articles from the co-hosts and guests and also a lot more news and info from the networking world. Thanks for listening.

What are you t-awk-ing about?

Today I’d like to talk to you a bit about studying in public, how I go about it and some of the benefits it has given me the last few years. Studying in public, which I’ve mostly done on Twitter until I started writing for this blog is something I’d recommend everyone trying to learn something new do. In the following I’ll give two examples of me ‘studying in public’ and then give insight along the way and conclude with it’s benefits.

As weird as this may sound, my favorite thing to do lately as it relates to tech is parsing logs and pcaps. I’ve enjoyed getting introduced to tools like editcap, tcpdump, tshark, jq, cut, uniq, and sort and piping them all into each other to extract just the right information and display them in a pleasing way. The past few months I often see people on my timeline getting acquainted with python and if it has anything to do with reading in a file and doing some parsing then printing I’m often running through my mind ‘how would I do that in bash…’

One tool I’ve yet to touch, which I feel may level up my log and pcap ninja slicing is awk. One coworker of mine, and now my current FOR572 instructor casually use this tool to do some amazing things. So perhaps it’s time for me to dip my toe in the awk waters?!

As I’m writing this very sentence, I’ve still not used awk, I’m literally going to try it out right here for the first time. What we need though, is a task, so let’s look at Kirk Byers first set of exercises for his free Python for Network Engineers course. To be clear, I’m not saying you shouldn’t learn python or that doing everything from bash is ‘better’ but I think it’s fun to learn how to do things using multiple tools, and also, you may find yourself on a Linux server that isn’t connected to the internet, may not have a certain version of python installed or you are missing the python packages to get your script to run but chances are you will have common bash tools at your disposal. We move.

The first exercise in lesson one asks us to:

Create a Python script that has three variables: ip_addr1, ip_addr2, ip_addr3 (representing three corresponding IP addresses). Print these three variables to standard output using a single print statement.

Well we won’t be using python to do this, let’s try this with awk in bash. [15 min passes while I went to the google and tried a few things out]. I’m back and we do have ourselves a bash one-liner that will solve the first prompt:

$ echo | awk -v ip_addr1='192.168.16.1' -v ip_addr2='10.10.1.1' -v ip_addr3='172.16.31.17' '{print ip_addr1, ip_addr2, ip_addr3}'
192.168.16.1 10.10.1.1 172.16.31.17

What did I learn doing this first exercise? Well, first off, to set a variable with awk you use the ‘-v’ option. Furthermore, their is no syntax I could find to do multiple variables with one ‘-v’ option, instead, as shown above you have to do a ‘-v’ for each variable. With print we are able to print all three of our variables separated by a ‘,’ within brackets and a quotation. I am left with one question though:

I don’t understand why the command works with echo and doesn’t run the same way without it…what magic is echo doing here is the real question OR what is possibly missing syntax wise without echo. One cool thing about twitter is that people much smarter than me are willing to offer their time and provide insight, as Roddie and Quinn do here. I’m very thankful for having so many people out there helping me along 🙂

A quick aside, I often do learning in public, that was this blog post is and I think it’s helping me grow more than anything else. By posting what I’m doing, even if it’s the most trivial newbie thing it starts a lot of conversations. From other people learning at the same level as me or from more senior people showing best practices or alternative or faster ways to accomplish a task. I definitely recommend sharing what you are learning in some capacity on a platform where others can interject. You’ll learn a lot and make a few good connections along the way!

If you were curious how Kirk solved his prompt with python:

from __future__ import print_function

ip_addr1 = "192.168.16.1"
ip_addr2 = "10.10.1.1"
ip_addr3 = "172.16.31.17"

print(ip_addr1, ip_addr2, ip_addr3)

Another person who’s quick to help anyone learning is Kirk himself. This is yet another example of how studying in public can help open your eyes and give insight you’d otherwise be left in the dark about. For me, I’ve been doing a bit of tech stuff since the early 2000s. When I first started there wasn’t an online forum with people interacting. I thought I was doing ok, as compared to people in my office and those I interacted with, but today, with a bunch of people on line, I’m continually pushing myself and my boundaries of knowledge with people way smarter than me. So, even if I’m not being pushed were I’m at I have a whole world to help guide and help me grow now.

Looking a bit into awk it looks like I got a lot to learn, and once I get back into my bigger data sets at work I’ll dive deeper into it’s search and printing functionalities. I’ll also reference ‘Effective awk Programming’ Arnold Robbins on Oreilly Books. Did we learn a lot from this one example? Maybe not, but sometimes the first step is the hardest and I hadn’t written a post here on the Art of Network Engineering recently and I wanted to try and get back on the horse so to speak. If I’m able to break through in the next few months on the awk train, be sure to check back in for a more extensive awk walkthrough.

This was just one example of ‘learning in public’ and I found myself writing a script later the same night. Another thing I’m trying to navigate and get better at. I got help again when I was stuck and ended up finding out I could do my whole script in one line. I found out all these things in a matter of minutes and a good nights rest. If I wasn’t learning in public who knows how long it would of taken me to gain these insights.

If you are interested in the script you can follow this thread, or see the final version below:

for i in {0..599}; do
    echo -n "Status Code ${i} seen: " >> ./statuscode.txt
    tshark -n -r lab-1.2_capture.pcap -Y "http.response.code == ${i}" | wc -l >> ./statuscode.txt
done

sed -i '/seen: 0/d' ./statuscode.txt

This will give you the output:

$ cat statuscode.txt 
Status Code 200 seen: 1138
Status Code 204 seen: 28
Status Code 301 seen: 2
Status Code 302 seen: 44
Status Code 304 seen: 21
Status Code 307 seen: 1
Status Code 403 seen: 1
Status Code 408 seen: 6

But, after a good night’s sleep I realized you can get this all done in one line much more efficiently:

$ tshark -n -r lab-1.2_capture.pcap -Y 'http.response.code' -T fields -e http.response.code | sort | uniq -c
   1138 200
     28 204
      2 301
     44 302
     21 304
      1 307
      1 403
      6 408

So while I didn’t dive all the way in and provide a step by step tutorial I hope I was able to give you insight to another aspect of my learning style and perhaps it can help you when you are starting out on a new learning venture. I remember at first being a little nervous of putting myself out there or ‘sounding dumb’ and I soon realized everyone is out here beginning or everyone has at one time been a beginner. Will, that’s all today, happy learning!

Bert’s Brief (by @TimBertino)

Andre was gracious enough to let me give my thoughts on the “learning in public” concept. I share the same sentiment about getting started with writing publicly as you are learning something knew. I had the thoughts like:

  • If I’m new to this, what’s the point of writing a blog post? Nobody is going to get anything out of this this, right?
  • Do I really want to show the world that I’m a beginner in X, Y, or Z?

I’ve learned to throw those thoughts to side and I agree 100% with Andre. There are great benefits to learning in public, such as:

  • Writing a blog post about something you are learning forces you to explain what you learned. You become a teacher, if you will. This can really help you better understand concepts. You do NOT have to wait until you are an “expert” in something to write a post or teach it to someone else. This was a hurdle that I had to get over.
  • As far a blogs go as a method of learning in public; writing is a skill. Writing about what you are learning about allows you to practice the art and find your own style.
  • You never know when you might bring inspiration to others. You could be greatly helping other people who are at similar points in their journeys.
  • As Andre mentioned, just by posting a question on a social media platform like Twitter, you can make some awesome connections.

So, I encourage you; write that post, ask that question, practice your craft, and help others along the way. And if you need a platform to write blogs, connect with us here at the Art of Network Engineering!

Ep 53 – Manny

In today’s episode we talk to Emmanuel Pimentel, aka Manny! Manny is a prominent member of our community. He joins us and shares his journey on breaking into Enterprise Networking via retail! He has that perfect balance of positivity, drive, determination, and compassion. When someone has a win or achievement posted within Discord or Twitter, Manny is always one of the first people with a “congratulations” comment. He is not only working hard to help himself to succeed, but he wants to see others succeed as well. Enjoy this episode with Manny!

Manny was previously featured on The Faces of the Journey series – https://artofnetworkengineering.com/2021/04/30/faces-of-the-journey-emmanuel-pimentel/

You can follow Manny:
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emmanuel-pimentel/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/MannyBytes88
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mannybytes/

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We’re Launching our Patreon!

Today we are excited to announce that we are launching our Patreon site! This comes just after hitting 100K downloads, and just prior to our 1st Birthday! Visit https://www.patreon.com/artofneteng to get started!

When we launched this podcast on July 24th 2020 with our first two episodes we had no idea we would be celebrating 100K downloads less than a year later. The community reaction has been amazing. The outpouring of appreciation for our podcast and other content has been positively overwhelming.

After being encouraged by much of our fan base to launch the Patreon we finally decided to do it. So, you might be asking, “What does that mean exactly?”

From the very beginning we made a commitment that we would never produce content behind a pay wall. So, even if you don’t subscribe to our Patreon you will still get every bit of content that we produce. So, now you might be asking “Well then what do I get for subscribing?”

There are 3 Levels of AONE Patreon Supporters. The first is Official Patron and that’s a $3/month donation. At that level you’ll receive a shoutout on the Podcast and know that your funds will go to covering the very minimal operating costs of the Podcast and YouTube channel, and we’ll be putting the rest back into the community.

The next level is our All-Access Pass at $5/month. At this tier you’ll get all the benefits of an Official Patron, plus:
– You’ll get access to live stream as we record our episodes. You’ll get to watch in real time as we are creating new episodes.
– You’ll also get to chat with the co-hosts and guests as we record. There may even be time for Live Q&A sessions with our guests.

The last level is the VIP Patron, at $10/month. In addition to the Official Patron and All-Access pass, as a VIP you’ll also get:
– A 15% discount in our merch store as long as you’re a VIP
– Early access to new content. We’ll make new content available to our VIPs ASAP, before we post it publicly.
– Early access to new merch! We are currently working on new designs and you’ll get early access to them!

Whether you decide to become a Patron or not, please know that all of us at The Art of Network Engineering sincerely appreciate your support of our content! The biggest things you can do to help, that don’t cost you anything, is to listen, subscribe, like, comment and don’t forget to SMASH that bell icon to be notified of all of our future content!

Ep 52 – The Cinna-man

From Collaboration to Cyber Security Engineer – this week we’re talking with Robin Canela! Robin shares his coming-up story, and how the quarantine in 2020 motivated him to make some big life changes. Hear how in this episode!

You can find Robin:
Twitter: https://twitter.com/RobinCanela
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/robincanela/
Blog: https://robincanela.com/

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Ep 51 – SD-WAN

In this episode we’re talking about SD-WAN! We discuss the benefits of SD-WAN, over traditional WAN, and share our experiences with various SD-WAN offerings. We don’t deep dive because we were trying to keep the discussion vendor agnostic. Consider this our intro to SD-WAN as there is much, much, more to discuss on the topic, which we will in future episodes! Enjoy episode 51!

Pro tip for future podcasters – Keep the bullfrogs out of your recording studio.

Aaron’s blog is a great resource for all things SD-WAN – Check it out here:
http://aaronengineered.com/blog

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Ep 50 – Ask us anything!

You Tweeted us, DM’d us, emailed us, sent recordings, and some of you even sent us videos! We answered every single question we got in this 2 hour ask us anything special! Thank you for your support – now on to the next 50!!

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Ep 49 – Burnout and Rustout

In this episode we are talking about Burnout and Rust out! These will two are likely to hit any professional at some point in their career so we thought we’d take some time to discuss what these look like and how to most effectively deal with them. Special thanks to our Discord members for having this discussion and Riv3r for defining “Rust out.”

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Ep 48 – Out-of-Band Management

This episode is sponsored by OpenGear, providing secure remote management of your critical network infrastructure.

In this episode we talk to Dan Baxter, SE Manager, with OpenGear. We discuss Dan’s break into tech from Art Teacher to SE. We then answer the question “What is Out-Of-Band Management?” Then we touch on the OpenGear advantage! If you’re considering an Out-of-Band Management solution please take a look at OpenGear.

Dan Baxter
Email: dan.baxter@opengear.com
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dan-baxter-5b18721/

OpenGear
website: https://opengear.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/Opengear

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Learning Linux and my First Ansible Playbook

So Linux has never been my daily driver until a few months ago. Now it’s my daily driver for work and home and with that I’m learning a lot and since you can use a lot of the applications in conjunction with each other with piping and what not. So in essence, learning one new tool or application can open up unseen possibilities in other tools.

The coolest command I learned this past week is watch. In my day job I’m often deploying tools that create logs, like Zeek, and I’d often ls or ll to see if I was having logs created or if the conn.log was getting bigger. Enter watch, simply run any command as you normally would and ‘<ctrl> a’ and add watch to the beginning of the command. Doing this, you get your normal output but it updates every two seconds and if any values change they will change within the output. I found myself using this command again when I was monitoring my kubenertes cluster, instead of ‘kube get pods’ I’m now typing watch ‘kube get pods.’ I’d have it open like a dashboard when deploying or troubleshooting pods.

Then later on in the work week I started having an issue with trying to track time on all of my devices. I surmised that when time got too far off one of my applications would begin to fail. My first attempt was a bash script that simply ssh’d to each device and ran the time command. But by the time I got to the 8th or 9th device, since I was putting in the password, I wasn’t really getting the result I was looking for. So if you got a hammer use it on everything right?! I ended having 10+ windows open, all small and organized on my desktop running ‘watch timedatect’ and I would watch the timing of my devices slowly drift and in due time, prove my hypothesis.

Then came the weekend, and I started looking into ansible. I found an example where they had used one command to connect to and check the time of all the devices in their inventory file. This really perked my interest. Could I have found a tool even cooler than watch in less than a week?!

Interlude: I installed gns3 and started a small topology of cumulus Linux devices to go on this ansible adventure. I’m not going to dive too far into the specifics of the playbook as far as indention or how to or where to put vars as the documentation is really good. Google is your friend here. I’m just here to walk through my first playbook 🙂

The first thing I did when starting this adventure into my first interaction with ansible was creating an inventory file:

[atlanta]
spine01 ansible_host=192.168.49.3
spine02 ansible_host=192.168.49.4
leaf01 ansible_host=192.168.49.5
leaf02 ansible_host=192.168.49.6
leaf03 ansible_host=192.168.49.7

[atlanta:vars]
ansible_user=cumulus
ansible_python_interpreter=/usr/bin/python

Next I used ssh-keygen and shipped a public key to all the devices in my topology so I could connect without username:password. A quick google search of ssh-keygen will get you squared away in no time. This is all what’s needed to do what I was trying to do at work earlier in the week, check the time on all my devices:

ansible all -a "date"
leaf01 | CHANGED | rc=0 >>
Sun 13 Jun 2021 12:37:15 AM UTC
leaf02 | CHANGED | rc=0 >>
Sun 13 Jun 2021 12:37:15 AM UTC
spine01 | CHANGED | rc=0 >>
Sun 13 Jun 2021 12:37:15 AM UTC
leaf03 | CHANGED | rc=0 >>
Sun 13 Jun 2021 12:37:15 AM UTC
spine02 | CHANGED | rc=0 >>
Sun 13 Jun 2021 12:37:15 AM UTC

Since I’m trying to learn automation I began to brainstorm what could my first ansible playbook do?! A playbook is simply a series of tasks rather than just running one task like illustrated above. To do this I followed along with the cumulus documentation and did one of my switches manually so I understood the steps and what was needed to accomplish this task. In short, here are the main things my ansible playbook needs to do:

  • edit two lines of a conf file
  • enable and start two services

Let’s try to go line by line-ish on what’s happening in my playbook.

---
- hosts: all

I guess the beginning of all yaml files, of which the playbook is, starts with a ‘—‘ and the second line is saying that I want to run what follows and all the things in my inventory file.

  become: yes
  vars:
    conf_path: /etc/nginx/sites-available/nginx-restapi.conf

Become with the switch to yes is saying that you want to be root and on the next line i’m declaring the value of the variable conf_path which I’ll call later in the playbook.

  tasks:
    - name: edit the nginx-restapi.conf file
      replace:
        path: "{{ conf_path }}"
        regexp: 'listen localhost:8080 ssl;'
        replace: '# listen localhost:8080 ssl;'

Here is the first task, of which you can name whatever you want. In path, I call the variable above and then I do a regex search and then replace with the last line. The goal of this task is to comment out a line.

    - name: edit another line from file
      replace:
        path: "{{ conf_path }}"
        regexp: '# listen \[::]:8080 ipv6only=off ssl;'
        replace: 'listen [::]:8080 ipv6only=off ssl;'

In this task I’m trying to uncomment a line. I also had to escape the [::] in the regex search, which tripped me up for a bit.

    - name: enable nginx service
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: nginx
        enabled: yes
    - name: start nginx service
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: nginx
        state: started
    - name: enable restserver
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: restserver
        enabled: yes
    - name: start restserver
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: restserver
        state: started

The rest of the playbook is just enabling and starting the needed services as speechified in the cumulus linux documentation. All together the playbook looks like the following, of which, with all yaml files indentation is very important.

---
- hosts: all
  become: yes
  vars:
    conf_path: /etc/nginx/sites-available/nginx-restapi.conf
  tasks:
    - name: edit the nginx-restapi.conf file
      replace:
        path: "{{ conf_path }}"
        regexp: 'listen localhost:8080 ssl;'
        replace: '# listen localhost:8080 ssl;'
    - name: edit another line from file
      replace:
        path: "{{ conf_path }}"
        regexp: '# listen \[::]:8080 ipv6only=off ssl;'
        replace: 'listen [::]:8080 ipv6only=off ssl;'
    - name: enable nginx service
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: nginx
        enabled: yes
    - name: start nginx service
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: nginx
        state: started
    - name: enable restserver
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: restserver
        enabled: yes
    - name: start restserver
      ansible.builtin.service:
        name: restserver
        state: started

To further improve this playbook, while it does work, I’ll build in some checks to verify everything is working as it should so you don’t have to do it after the playbook runs. To run the playbook I use the following command:

ansible-playbook enable_RESTAPI.yml --ask-become-pass

I use the –ask-become-pass so that I can enter in the root password for the devices instead of me hard coding them as a var or something. There maybe another way but today that is where we stand.

Thanks for hanging out with me and going through my very first ansible playbook journey. I’ll leave you with the verification that the REST service is working on the cumulus device, till next time!

$ curl -X POST -k -u cumulus -d '{"cmd": "show interface json"}' https://192.168.49.4:8080/nclu/v1/rpc | jq
Enter host password for user 'cumulus':
  % Total    % Received % Xferd  Average Speed   Time    Time     Time  Current
                                 Dload  Upload   Total   Spent    Left  Speed
100  4373  100  4343  100    30  12268     84 --:--:-- --:--:-- --:--:-- 12353
{
  "bridge": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": null,
      "native_vlan": null,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": [
        {
          "vlan": 10
        }
      ],
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 9216,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "0c:b0:0e:37:ae:01",
      "vlan_filtering": true,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 229,
        "MTU": 9216,
        "Flg": "BMRU",
        "TX_DRP": 0,
        "RX_OK": 540,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": []
      },
      "vlan_list": "10",
      "ip_neighbors": null
    },
    "linkstate": "UP",
    "summary": "",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "Bridge/L2",
    "speed": "N/A"
  },
  "vlan10": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": null,
      "native_vlan": null,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": null,
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 9216,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "0c:b0:0e:37:ae:01",
      "vlan_filtering": false,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 208,
        "MTU": 9216,
        "Flg": "BMRU",
        "TX_DRP": 0,
        "RX_OK": 540,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": [
          "192.168.49.4/24"
        ]
      },
      "vlan_list": [],
      "ip_neighbors": {
        "ipv4": [
          "02:42:b3:6f:5f:9b",
          "0c:b0:0e:07:88:01"
        ],
        "ipv6": []
      }
    },
    "linkstate": "UP",
    "summary": "IP: 192.168.49.4/24",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "Interface/L3",
    "speed": "N/A"
  },
  "lo": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": null,
      "native_vlan": null,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": null,
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 65536,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "00:00:00:00:00:00",
      "vlan_filtering": false,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 3393,
        "MTU": 65536,
        "Flg": "LRU",
        "TX_DRP": 0,
        "RX_OK": 3393,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": [
          "127.0.0.1/8",
          "::1/128"
        ]
      },
      "vlan_list": [],
      "ip_neighbors": null
    },
    "linkstate": "UP",
    "summary": "IP: 127.0.0.1/8, ::1/128",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "Loopback",
    "speed": "N/A"
  },
  "mgmt": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": null,
      "native_vlan": null,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": null,
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 65536,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "8a:9d:94:9a:3f:8f",
      "vlan_filtering": false,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 0,
        "MTU": 65536,
        "Flg": "OmRU",
        "TX_DRP": 13,
        "RX_OK": 0,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": [
          "127.0.0.1/8",
          "::1/128"
        ]
      },
      "vlan_list": [],
      "ip_neighbors": null
    },
    "linkstate": "UP",
    "summary": "IP: 127.0.0.1/8, ::1/128",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "VRF",
    "speed": "N/A"
  },
  "swp1": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": [
        {
          "adj_port": "swp3",
          "adj_mac": "0c:b0:0e:07:88:00",
          "adj_mgmt_ip4": "192.168.49.2",
          "adj_mgmt_ip6": "fe80::eb0:eff:fe07:8801",
          "adj_hostname": "JumpSwitch",
          "capabilities": [
            [
              "Bridge",
              "on"
            ],
            [
              "Router",
              "on"
            ]
          ],
          "adj_ttl": "120",
          "system_descr": "Cumulus Linux version 4.3.0 running on QEMU Standard PC (i440FX + PIIX, 1996)"
        }
      ],
      "native_vlan": 10,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": [
        {
          "vlan": 10,
          "flags": [
            "PVID",
            "Egress Untagged"
          ]
        }
      ],
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 9216,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "0c:b0:0e:37:ae:01",
      "vlan_filtering": true,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 322,
        "MTU": 9216,
        "Flg": "BMRU",
        "TX_DRP": 0,
        "RX_OK": 2318,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": []
      },
      "vlan_list": "10",
      "ip_neighbors": null
    },
    "linkstate": "UP",
    "summary": "Master: bridge(UP)",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "Access/L2",
    "speed": "1G"
  },
  "eth0": {
    "iface_obj": {
      "lldp": null,
      "native_vlan": null,
      "dhcp_enabled": false,
      "description": "",
      "vlan": null,
      "asic": null,
      "mtu": 1500,
      "lacp": {
        "rate": "",
        "sys_priority": "",
        "partner_mac": "",
        "bypass": ""
      },
      "mac": "0c:b0:0e:37:ae:00",
      "vlan_filtering": false,
      "min_links": "",
      "members": {},
      "counters": {
        "RX_ERR": 0,
        "TX_ERR": 0,
        "RX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OVR": 0,
        "TX_OK": 0,
        "MTU": 1500,
        "Flg": "BMU",
        "TX_DRP": 0,
        "RX_OK": 0,
        "RX_DRP": 0
      },
      "ip_address": {
        "allentries": []
      },
      "vlan_list": [],
      "ip_neighbors": null
    },
    "linkstate": "DN",
    "summary": "Master: mgmt(UP)",
    "connector_type": "Unknown",
    "mode": "Mgmt",
    "speed": "1G"
  }
}

Ep 47 – Get Awoken When it’s Broken!

This week we’re talking about everything on-call! What is it? What’s being “on-call” actually look like? What it means to various organizations. And most importantly – what you should look for when interviewing with a company when discussing being on call and compensation.

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Ep 46 – Time Management

In this episode we’re talking about time management. We share tips and tactics we use to make the most of our time. What do you use to help manage your time? We’d love to hear from you! And, we’ve got some really exciting news, but you’ll have to listen to find out!

A.J.’s app recommendations:
Todoist – https://todoist.com/
Forest – https://www.forestapp.cc/

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CCNA Series – Endpoints and Servers

In this post of the CCNA Series, we will be covering endpoints and servers in the network. In the CCNA exam topics, we are looking specifically at Network Fundamentals > Explain the role and function of network components > Endpoints and Servers. While studying in-depth enterprise network infrastructure topics and concepts, I think it can be easy to gloss over why the network is there in the first place. I always like to think of the network as a service that is there to support business functions. Businesses utilize technology for many reasons, for example to become efficient, scalable, and to provide excellent outcomes. Typically, they look to implement and leverage applications to achieve these goals. Well, those applications need to be able to be accessed and hosted (or served) somehow. That is where endpoints and servers enter the picture. If enterprises didn’t have endpoints and/or servers, then we wouldn’t really have a need for networks, would we?

Endpoints

Endpoints are the actual devices that connect to our networks so that we can gain access to those business critical applications that we brought up earlier in the post. In the last post around L2 and L3 switches, we introduced the concept of the three-tier architecture with the core, distribution, and access layers. As depicted in the image above, endpoints can be thought of as being at the edge of the network, so naturally, they connect to our access layer switches that provide initial connectivity or entry into the network at the edge. Endpoints can connect to the network either wired via directly connecting to a switch, or wirelessly, leveraging radio waves to connect to a wireless access point. Examples of common endpoints at the access layer are desktop and laptop computers, printers, phones, tablets, and scanners. Some endpoints, such as desktops and laptops are used to access applications and services, while other endpoints, such as printers, provide a service. For example, a laptop can communicate with a network attached printer to print documents. Endpoints in the network are used to gain access to services, as well as provide services themselves.

Servers

At a basic level, servers can be thought of as endpoints as well. They connect at the edge of the network just as end user endpoints do. The difference is that servers typically connect to the data center access layer versus the end user access layer such as a switch in a small data room on a floor of a building. It was stated earlier that businesses rely on the network to provide access to critical applications. Well, those applications are hosted on devices called servers. Servers can be physical (meaning typically one application per box), or virtual (meaning multiple apps/servers per physical machine). Also, servers can be hosted in on-premises data centers, external co-location facilities, as well as “in the cloud”. Examples of applications or services hosted on servers are email, websites, ecommerce systems, and media servers. To round this out, in our enterprise business example, servers house the applications that provide value to the business.

But Why?

Conclusion

I think it is important to remember that the network is a service (or potentially even a utility, if you want to take it that far). In an enterprise setting, the network is necessary because access to applications and information drives a business forward. Client or user endpoints are leveraged to gain access to those business critical applications, and servers house or host those applications and information. The network is there to provide the connectivity from the client endpoints to the servers that host the applications.

Ep 45 – Softskillz

In this episode, Dan, A.J., guest host Tim Bertino, and returning episode guest Tim McC talk about soft skills, their importance, how to sharpen them, and more. Join us as we share our experience with our own soft skills and were we see their importance shine the most.

Cisco config rollback documentation – https://www.cisco.com/c/en/us/td/docs/ios-xml/ios/config-mgmt/configuration/15-sy/config-mgmt-15-sy-book/cm-config-rollback-confirmed-change.html

Follow Tim Bertino:
blog: https://netication.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/TimBertino

Follow Tim McC:
blog: https://carpe-dmvpn.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/juangolbez
YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC60oFllzMzQQmlhIQMkMa8g

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Contact us artofnetworkengineering@gmail.com
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Join the Discord Study group – It’s all About the Journey- https://artofneteng.com/iaatj

Faces of the Journey – Teneyia Wilson

“Faces of the Journey” is a series that highlights individuals in the network engineering community. The journey is the path we take through our careers, and it can be very different for each of us. While the destination is important, it’s all about the journey!

Teneyia Wilson is a Network Engineer originally from Denver, Colorado, who recently found herself back home. In 2004, Teneyia and her family moved away from Colorado. Being part of a military family, she and her family have lived in many cities in the last sixteen years. Teneyia currently holds two network engineering positions (yes, you read that correctly, two), one of which as a Network Engineer III with the ISP, Spectrum. If you thought that holding two network engineering positions was impressive, get this, IT/network engineering is not Teneyia’s first profession. Before getting into IT professionally, she ran a personal training studio from 2012 to 2019, while also managing a retail store with GNC. Teneyia has been fascinated with technology since middle school and knew then that she wanted a degree in IT, but took a different path for a while. Then, in 2018, she decided to quit her retail job to become a Network Engineer. She went to Barnes and Noble to purchase the CompTIA Network+ book and the Cisco CCNA 200-125 book set. At that time she was not working, so she spent five to eight hours a day reading, taking notes, and watching videos to catch up on the technology that she had missed out on over that nine year window. Teneyia found quickly that getting certifications made sense to her to be able to break into IT so that she could build experience and grow on a technical level (but she has not stopped the certification study by any means). After achieving both the Network+ and CCNA certifications, Teneyia got a help desk position at a managed service provider (MSP). A year later, she earned the CCNP Routing and Switching certification, and accepted a position as a Network Administrator with DXC Technology. In August of 2020, Teneyia moved back to Colorado and is now a Network Engineer with a 911 dispatch center and Spectrum. Teneyia’s fascination with technology started early in life by taking apart a Nintendo NES, computers, and phones to see how they worked. Teneyia is always striving to be a great engineer, who is highly skilled at troubleshooting and design, while helping others along the way. She is currently studying for the CCIE certification and will one day become a Principal Engineer or Solutions Architect.

Follow Teneyia:

Twitter

LinkedIn

Alright Teneyia, We’ve Got Some Questions

What did you want to be when you “grew up”? A multi-business owner. I had plans/ideas for restaurants and clothing lines. I use to love cooking and making clothes. I created a whole clothing line/brand between 2003-2009.

What advice do you have for aspiring IT professionals? Like anything else, don’t rush the process. Take your time to fully understand the technologies. Know how and when to use them. Ignore the imposter syndrome, no one knows everything. Take risks and never stop learning.

What is something you enjoy to do outside of work? Outside of work, I love lifting weights and competing in bodybuilding competitions. I also have a project car. I’m not in the car scene as much as I was when I was living in Los Angeles but still love fixing up and cruising in my 350z.

How do you manage your work/life balance? When studying for certs and/or training for a bodybuilding show, I create weekly schedules and stick to them. I schedule work, family time, errands, study, gym, everything. I prioritize most important to least and try not to deviate. In the off season and when I’m not preparing for a cert exam, work stays between 9am-5pm. I completely shut off computers and work thoughts to spend time doing what my family wants to do.

When learning something new, what methods work best for you? When learning something new, I like to get the information in multiple ways. I read books, watch videos, ask questions to people who have experience and get as many hands-on hours as I can. Even when I don’t have access to get hands-on practice, I find alternate ways to “do” the things I’m learning. For example, I write out or type in notepad configurations over and over when I don’t have access to physical equipment or an emulator. When I didn’t have real people to practice leading fitness classes, I setup my video camera and lead the workout like it was a gym full of people.

Bert’s Brief

“Discipline is more important than motivation!” This is the current pinned tweet on Teneyia’s Twitter profile. I guess I’ve always kind of thought that finding motivation or “the want” to do or accomplish something was the most important thing. Well, as Teneyia has shown, that’s only part of it. I’ve now shifted my thinking that motivation is really just the beginning. To achieve something that is important to you, discipline is the real secret sauce here. If you can find a way to stay consistent on your path, you will get there. Teneyia’s journey is great example of this. She decided to shift into IT just three years ago and what she has accomplished since then is really incredible. Teneyia does not keep her passion to herself, by working to help others along the way. Although she has already accomplished so much, this is really just the beginning for Teneyia and I predict that there are big things to come in the future. Check out Teneyia’s episode on the AONE podcast. One thing that I learned from that episode that I have already put in to practice is to give myself just five seconds to be scared or overwhelmed in a situation. After that five seconds, you put it behind you and focus. I have a feeling that will stick with me for a long time.

Ep 44 – IT Factor Crossover!

In this episode, two worlds collide! We chat with Frank Padikkala and the IT Factor podcast! We talk with Frank about the similarities between IT and AV professionals and how the two worlds often meet. We encourage Frank’s listeners to join us as we know a lot of the members of our own community have roots deeply embedded in AV. And we learned that Frank obtained his CCNA at just 17 years old!

Follow Frank on Twitter: https://twitter.com/frankpadikkala
Check out AV Nation and The IT Factor!
https://avnation.tv/
https://twitter.com/AVITFactor

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GIAC Certified Intrusion Analyst (GCIA) // SANS503 Review

If you’ve been following my feed a bit, you know I’ve been going pretty strong for the last four months into SANS503. More than half the blog posts I’ve had published on this site were dedicated to a tool introduced or covered in this course. Well, I cleared the exam and it’s probably in no small part due to blogging. Not that blogging or studying in public was the only thing that amounted to a successful exam but it surely did help in my opinion. In the following I’m going to reflect a bit on the SANS503 course and GCIA exam.

I know, the major drawback to SANS courses is cost, and I get that. Each 5-6 day course runs on the plus side of seven thousand dollars and a certification attempt is no small pocket change either. That aside, if we are just here to judge content, this was the best cyber related course I’ve taken and the best certification experience I’ve ever had. To put this into a little bit of context, I’ve taken 7 Cisco exams at the associate and professional level, 4 Juniper associate level tests and 3 CompTIA exams. I’ve subscribed to INE, CBT Nuggets, Pluralsight, Linux Academy and O’Reilly Books. This course bests everything I’ve done up to this point. Perhaps this is just a hint that I need to do more focused training and less video on demand type stuff?!

SANS503 (the course)

The number one thing I liked about the course was the Virtual Machine and the Lab Workbook. Each section of the class concluded with lab exercises that we completed on our vm. We created rules, tuned rules, searched pcaps, created packets, created scripts and had a comprehensive capstone exercise to bring everything together. I went through this workbook twice. I probably spent 100 hours in the exercises alone. I went through the first time as I was following along with the course. I needed a lot of hints and had to do a lot of extra research as most of these tools were new to me. The second time through, I did almost all the exercises without using any of the hints. Really felt like I got the foundational understanding of how to use the main tools discussed during the class, namely, snort, tcpdump, tshark, scapy, wireshark and zeek.

I did the self paced version of the course. I got a recorded version of the course that I could watch at my own pace. This was perfect for me. As I mentioned before, this was the first time I’d ever used snort or wrote a snort rule. So I got to take my time with the material and really hone in on the fundamentals of using the tool. The instructor was excellent, clear and engaging even though it was not interactive. Besides just learning some tools the class also dug into major protocols. We went through ethernet, ip, tcp, udp, icmp, dns, smb, http and tls. One of the major themes of the course was being able to parse these different packets in hex. After doing this for a few months it’s not so difficult to pull out the next header field and what have you.

GCIA (the certification)

The certification exam was difficult for me. I had done one practice exam before taking the actual exam and scored an 89%. Not only that, I had more than an hour to spare. This had me feeling very confident. On the actual exam, as opposed to the practice test I took, I didn’t get any feedback per question, whether it was right or wrong. For whatever reason, perhaps just the added pressure of it ‘being an exam’ I was second guessing myself and was looking up more answers and even verifying answers I knew were right (it’s an open book exam). When I submitted the last question I had one minute remaining of my four hour allotted testing time. I scored two points lower than my practice test when all was said and done, an 87%.

What I like most about the exam is that since it is open book, there isn’t any really stump the chump kind of feeling when an obscure question about an IP option comes up. Instead, using documentation you can easily decipher what you need and come up with the answer.

Before going through the examination process I had read in other blog posts or youtube videos of people making an index. People would go through each book and index terms so that when they came across a question they could go to their index and hopefully find the answer in a reasonable amount of time. I did not do this, I used the index provided in the lab book portion of the materials and truth be told I didn’t use it that much. My thought process is that if you put in the time on the material (there are five main books), you will have a pretty good idea of where to start looking for that topic.

Lastly, one of the coolest parts of the exam is that it has a VM portion where you interact with pcaps using the tools and protocol knowledge outlined in the course to pull out answers. This was way more slick than any Cisco simulation I’ve ever done. Overall I think the exam really covered everything in a fair and balanced way and didn’t at all feel like a random trivia question extravaganza.

Conclusion

If you get the chance definitely take the opportunity to do some of their training. I’m hoping to take FOR572, Advanced Network Forensics: Threat Hunting, Analysis, and Incident Response and the associated GNFA next. It will, I’m sure, be covering a lot of the same tools but I’m excited to get the point of view of a different instructor that will hopefully shed light on new things.

Also, I think I’m going to continue to keep blogging a bit here. I started out not knowing whether I would like it or find it useful. I think blogging and ‘studying in public’ is kind of a way to hold myself accountable even when the passion or motivation maybe lacking a bit that day. Hope you will continue this journey with me and I’ll see you on the other side on our next adventure.

Ep 43 – You get 5 Seconds

In this episode, we talk to Teneyia! She shares her upcoming story on how she went from being a fitness trainer to Network Engineer. She shares her viewpoints on motivation vs discipline, and why one matters way more than another. She also gives great advice on handling interviews, and what to do when you are in a situation that makes you feel nervous or scared. Enjoy this episode with Teneyia!

Follow Teneyia:
Twitter: @TeneyiaW
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/teneyia-wilson/

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Contact us artofnetworkengineering@gmail.com
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CCNA Series – L2 and L3 Switches

In this edition of the CCNA Series, we are going to cover network switches. In the CCNA exam topics, we are looking specifically at Network Fundamentals > Explain the role and function of network components > L2 and L3 switches. Before we get into the difference between Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches, let’s describe and understand what switches are and what their role is in a network. In their simplest form, switches are hardware or software devices that provide connectivity to the network. For the simplicity of this article, unless otherwise specified, we will be focusing on hardware based (physical) switches. Who and/or what do switches provide connectivity to the network? Well, that depends upon which “layer” the switch resides. In the traditional campus infrastructure model, we can look at the network as having three layers; access, distribution and core.

Traditional 3 layer campus design
  • Access Layer
    • The switches at the access layer provide endpoints, or devices their initial connectivity to the network. The access layer can be thought of as the edge of the campus network, because this is where the network begins for devices. This is where our computers, printers, phones, and much more, connect to the network. The network is providing the service of delivering data to the required destinations for the connecting devices.
  • Distribution Layer
    • While the purpose of the access layer is for switches to connect to endpoints, the distribution layer switches connect to other switches. The distribution layer bridges the gaps between access layer switches at the local site (intra-site communication), and the local site access layer and the core layer, which provides connectivity to other sites (inter-site communication). The distribution layer provides two main functions, that both stem from the concept of network scalability.
      1. Acts as an aggregation layer for the access layer switches. As the number of access layer switches grows at a site, it is not functionally or cost effective to connect each access layer switch together directly to provide connectivity between them. It makes more sense to create a layer of switches “above” the access layer to provide the intra-site connectivity.
      2. Provides connectivity to the core layer which in turn provides connectivity to other sites (inter-site connectivity).
  • Core Layer
    • The purpose of the core layer is similar to the distribution layer in that it provides the service of aggregating switches to provide scalability. However, rather than aggregating access layer switches, the core layer ties together the different distribution layer switches between sites. Configuration and service-wise, we try not to get too fancy with the core layer. The core is there primarily to move packets through the network (between sites, if you will) as quickly as possible. In depth security and authentication services are typically handled in the lower layers of this three-tier model.

Now that we have covered the very basics around the purpose of switches and their roles depending on where they live in the network, let’s now describe, compare, and contrast Layer 2 and Layer 3 switches. Back in the “old days”, switches solely provided the Layer 2 functions in the network and routers (previous post) solely handled the Layer 3 functions. Switches typically have many physical ports and as stated earlier, connect to either devices at the edge of the network, or to other switches to get up or downstream in the network. Routers, on the other hand, tend to have fewer ports and provided routed (Layer 3) connectivity between different network segments. What do we mean in the traditional sense of switches operating at Layer 2 and routers at Layer 3? At Layer 2 of the OSI Model, we forward data (called frames) through switches based on their destination MAC addresses (burned in, or hardware addresses). In contrast, at Layer 3, data (called packets) is forwarded through routers based on destination IP addresses (logical addresses).

Layer 2 Switches

As covered in the previous section, switches operate at Layer 2 of the OSI Model by default. As frames flow through a switch, the switch builds what is called the MAC address database (aka the MAC table). The MAC table is used to properly forward data frames to the correct destinations. When a frame enters a switchport, the switch takes note of the source MAC address, the port the frame entered the switch on, and the VLAN that the port belongs to, and adds that as an entry into the MAC table. Later, when a frame enters the switch with a destination address of that first MAC address that was added to the table, the switch knows which port to forward that frame out. If that original device/MAC address gets moved to another port, the MAC table will be updated to reflect the port move. At Layer 2, VLANs are used to provide network segmentation. An access port on a switch can only belong to a single data VLAN, and traffic from a VLAN should only be forwarded out ports in the same VLAN. For traffic to cross VLANs, a routing function is needed.

Layer 3 Switches

Again, traditionally, Layer 2 functions have been handled with switches, and when subnets have been needed to be defined and Layer 3 forwarding used, we had relied on separate devices, called routers. As switches developed over the years and resources could be added to them, they began to be able to handle more functions. It then became a popular question that if switches can handle handle routing functions from a resource standpoint, do we really need separate hardware routers everywhere in the network that we define a Layer 3 boundary? Enter, Layer 3 switches. Layer 3 switching is just another way to say that we are providing routing functions in a switch. This can be handled in few different ways from an interface standpoint.

  1. Routed Port
    • This is a native Layer 3 interface on a switch and most resembles a “normal” interface on a traditional router. To recap, switches operate a Layer 2 by default, so to convert a Cisco switchport to a routed port, the command no switchport is entered on the interface. After that, an IP address and subnet mask can be entered just like on a traditional router interface.
  2. SVI (Switch Virtual Interface)
    • An SVI is a virtual Layer 3 interface on a switch that corresponds to a specific VLAN. Before Layer 3 switches, to provide routing for devices on a VLAN, we would need connectivity to an external router via access or trunk ports and the router would handle the Layer 3 functions of separating routed networks and forwarding packets between networks/subnets. An SVI is initiated by entering the global config command of interface vlan vlan-id. Then, an IP address and subnet mask can be defined. Finally, the SVI needs to be enabled with the no shutdown command.
  3. Layer 3 Portchannel
    1. To provide higher bandwidth and resiliency at Layer 3 on a switch, a Layer 3 portchannel can be used. The physical member interfaces need to be configured for Layer 3 with the no switchport, added into a portchannel, then the IP and subnet mask information is configured on the portchannel interface.

But Why?

Summary

Many switches out there today can operate at both Layer 2 and 3, which can cut down on the amount of network hardware that is needed. As always, when selecting solutions, you need to determine your network requirements to make sure you are selecting the correct gear to suit your needs. You can think of a Layer 3 switch as a switch that can also act as a router.

TSHOOT – Linux Networking Style

When I got restarted in networking circa 2018-19 everyone on my timeline would always profess how much they loved Cisco’s TSHOOT exam. People had tickets to do and felt like they were showing off what they knew, their experience, rather than answering trivia questions. “I always recert my CCNP with the TSHOOT exam…” or so the story went.

Enter Cumulus Linux, the networking arm of Nvidia. They’ve had a cumulus in the cloud offering for sometime now and I logged in the other day after a long hiatus just to check things out. They are currently running Cumulus Linux version 4.3 with vim now on it’s standard image 🙂

Cumulus Linux – Where Networking Magic is Created

There was one new thing that really caught my eye. One of the ‘Demo Modes’ they have now, once you are all logged in and have your virtual 2 racks of equipment powered on, virtually cabled and spun up is called ‘Challenge Labs.’ Currently, there are 4 challenge labs. Each lab is loaded and solution validated from the oob-management-server within the topology by way of an bash script. To load the first challenge you simply run a bash script that loads the configuration to the applicable devices using an ansible playbook.

cumulus@oob-mgmt-server:~/cumulus-challenge-labs$ ./run -c 1 -a load

Challange #1

Server01 is unable to ping server02 or server03. Server02 and server03 are able to ping each other.
Challenge #1 Topology

Here we go! Are your wheels spinning? Are you coming up with possible issues and areas to look? The first thing I like to do when I first encounter a problem ticket is:

  1. Check power (is it plugged in?)
  2. Check physical connections (is the ethernet cable plugged in?)
  3. Verify the documentation/topology (fix documentation if incorrect)
  4. Recreate the issue, in this case, verify the ping fails from server01 -> server[02|03]

I don’t really have to worry about power here since we are all virtual but I can verify that the IPs in the diagram and the interfaces connecting the devices are correct. Let’s take a look at server01, is it’s IP correct and is it using ‘eth1’ as specified in the diagram?

cumulus@server01:~$ ip a show eth1
3: eth1: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 1500 qdisc fq_codel state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 44:38:39:00:00:32 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff
    inet 10.1.10.101/24 scope global eth1
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever
    inet6 fe80::4638:39ff:fe00:32/64 scope link
       valid_lft forever preferred_lft forever

Now, when we look into our first cumulus switch, I can discuss one thing that’s really cool about it. You can check the port configuration the same way we did above, with ‘ip a’ or we can use more of a traditional ‘command line’ for a networking device utilizing what they call nclu (network command line utility). Let’s log into leaf01 and have a look:

cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ ip a show swp49
51: swp49: <BROADCAST,MULTICAST,UP,LOWER_UP> mtu 9216 qdisc pfifo_fast master bridge state UP group default qlen 1000
    link/ether 44:38:39:00:00:59 brd ff:ff:ff:ff:ff:ff

So ‘ip a’ isn’t showing us everything we want here but I think it’s mighty cool that i’m on a ‘switch’ and i got native Linux commands at my disposal. We can tell we don’t have an IP address configured so we are operating at layer 2 and we are up.

A command I like to go to straight away on a Cisco device is ‘show ip int br’ and we can get a lot of the same sort of data with Cumulus’ nclu command ‘net show interface’:

cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ net show interface
State  Name    Spd  MTU    Mode       LLDP                          Summary
-----  ------  ---  -----  ---------  ----------------------------  ---------------------------
UP     lo      N/A  65536  Loopback                                 IP: 127.0.0.1/8
       lo                                                           IP: ::1/128
UP     eth0    1G   1500   Mgmt       oob-mgmt-switch (swp10)       Master: mgmt(UP)
       eth0                                                         IP: 192.168.200.11/24(DHCP)
UP     swp1    1G   9216   Trunk/L2   server01 (44:38:39:00:00:32)  Master: bridge(UP)
UP     swp49   1G   9216   Trunk/L2   leaf02 (swp49)                Master: bridge(UP)
UP     bridge  N/A  9216   Bridge/L2
UP     mgmt    N/A  65536  VRF                                      IP: 127.0.0.1/8

With Cumulus, if configured, I always find myself typing ‘net show lldp’ as one of my first orientation sort of activities. LLDP (link layer discovery protocol)

cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ net show lldp
LocalPort  Speed  Mode      RemoteHost       RemotePort
---------  -----  --------  ---------------  -----------------
eth0       1G     Mgmt      oob-mgmt-switch  swp10
swp1       1G     Trunk/L2  server01         44:38:39:00:00:32
swp49      1G     Trunk/L2  leaf02           swp49

OK. Now let’s verify the issue. Let’s see if server one can ping the other servers in the topology:

cumulus@server01:~$ ping 10.1.10.102 -c 3
PING 10.1.10.102 (10.1.10.102) 56(84) bytes of data.
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=1 Destination Host Unreachable
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=2 Destination Host Unreachable
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=3 Destination Host Unreachable
--- 10.1.10.102 ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 0 received, +3 errors, 100% packet loss, time 2034ms
pipe 3
cumulus@server01:~$ ping 10.1.10.103 -c 3
PING 10.1.10.103 (10.1.10.103) 56(84) bytes of data.
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=1 Destination Host Unreachable
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=2 Destination Host Unreachable
From 10.1.10.101 icmp_seq=3 Destination Host Unreachable
--- 10.1.10.103 ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 0 received, +3 errors, 100% packet loss, time 2027ms
pipe 3

You may have seen the issue already, you may not. But let us get on the working switch, the one where both hosts can ping each other, and see if you can spot the difference:

cumulus@leaf02:mgmt:~$ net show lldp
LocalPort  Speed  Mode       RemoteHost       RemotePort
---------  -----  ---------  ---------------  -----------------
eth0       1G     Mgmt       oob-mgmt-switch  swp11
swp2       1G     Access/L2  server02         44:38:39:00:00:3a
swp3       1G     Access/L2  server03         44:38:39:00:00:3c
swp49      1G     Trunk/L2   leaf01           swp49
cumulus@leaf02:mgmt:~$

We can see that the ‘good’ switch has access ports to their servers and the ‘bad’ server is configured as a trunk. Two solutions come to mind straight away. One, we could configure the server link to the switch as a trunk. Since we are working with ‘cumulus linux’ within the challenge I’m going to assume we want to change leaf01 to have an access port to it’s server, but with what vlan? Let’s check on leaf02:

cumulus@leaf02:mgmt:~$ net show bridge vlan
Interface  VLAN  Flags
---------  ----  ---------------------
swp2         10  PVID, Egress Untagged
swp3         10  PVID, Egress Untagged
swp49         1  PVID, Egress Untagged
             10

Aright, vlan 10 it is. One last thing I need to check out before logging off of leaf02 is a hint on what the command to use, for this I’ll grep the configuration:

cumulus@leaf02:mgmt:~$ net show configuration | grep -B 4 -i access
  address dhcp
  vrf mgmt
interface swp2
  bridge-access 10
interface swp3
  bridge-access 10

Let’s jump back on leaf01 and fix this issue once and for all:

cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ net add interface swp1 bridge access 10
cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ net commit
--- /etc/network/interfaces     2021-05-04 20:46:36.925028228 +0000
+++ /run/nclu/ifupdown2/interfaces.tmp  2021-05-05 00:42:00.327566444 +0000
@@ -7,20 +7,21 @@
 auto lo
 iface lo inet loopback
 # The primary network interface
 auto eth0
 iface eth0 inet dhcp
  vrf mgmt
 auto swp1
 iface swp1
+    bridge-access 10
 auto bridge
 iface bridge
     bridge-ports swp1 swp49
     bridge-vids 10
     bridge-vlan-aware yes
 auto mgmt
 iface mgmt
   address 127.0.0.1/8
net add/del commands since the last "net commit"
================================================
User     Timestamp                   Command
-------  --------------------------  ---------------------------------------
cumulus  2021-05-05 00:27:03.636686  net add interface swp1 bridge access 10
cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$ net show lldp
LocalPort  Speed  Mode       RemoteHost       RemotePort
---------  -----  ---------  ---------------  -----------------
eth0       1G     Mgmt       oob-mgmt-switch  swp10
swp1       1G     Access/L2  server01         44:38:39:00:00:32
swp49      1G     Trunk/L2   leaf02           swp49
cumulus@leaf01:mgmt:~$

Last thing to do is to log into server01 and see if I can now ping server[02|03]:

cumulus@server01:~$ ping 10.1.10.102 -c 3
PING 10.1.10.102 (10.1.10.102) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 10.1.10.102: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=20.8 ms
64 bytes from 10.1.10.102: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=4.09 ms
64 bytes from 10.1.10.102: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=3.48 ms
--- 10.1.10.102 ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2002ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 3.489/9.475/20.844/8.042 ms
cumulus@server01:~$ ping 10.1.10.103 -c 3
PING 10.1.10.103 (10.1.10.103) 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from 10.1.10.103: icmp_seq=1 ttl=64 time=5.85 ms
64 bytes from 10.1.10.103: icmp_seq=2 ttl=64 time=11.8 ms
64 bytes from 10.1.10.103: icmp_seq=3 ttl=64 time=2.76 ms
--- 10.1.10.103 ping statistics ---
3 packets transmitted, 3 received, 0% packet loss, time 2003ms
rtt min/avg/max/mdev = 2.768/6.825/11.853/3.772 ms

We’ve verified we have solved the issue, but I also want to let you know that the run script also comes with a verification option that will make sure you solved problem statement. To do this, we log back into the oob-server:

cumulus@oob-mgmt-server:~/cumulus-challenge-labs$ ./run -c 1 -a validate
Validating solution for Challenge 1 ...
PLAY [server] ******************************************************************
TASK [include_tasks] ***********************************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:25 +0000 (0:00:00.059)       0:00:00.059 *********
included: /home/cumulus/cumulus-challenge-labs/automation/roles/common/tasks/validate.yml for server03, server02, server01
included: /home/cumulus/cumulus-challenge-labs/automation/roles/common/tasks/validate.yml for server03, server02, server01
included: /home/cumulus/cumulus-challenge-labs/automation/roles/common/tasks/validate.yml for server03, server02, server01
TASK [Validate connectivity to server01] ***************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:25 +0000 (0:00:00.355)       0:00:00.415 *********
ok: [server01]
ok: [server03]
ok: [server02]
TASK [Display results for server01] ********************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:27 +0000 (0:00:02.523)       0:00:02.939 *********
ok: [server01] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.101 is alive
ok: [server02] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.101 is alive
ok: [server03] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.101 is alive
TASK [Validate connectivity to server02] ***************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:28 +0000 (0:00:00.112)       0:00:03.051 *********
ok: [server01]
ok: [server03]
ok: [server02]
TASK [Display results for server02] ********************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:30 +0000 (0:00:02.422)       0:00:05.474 *********
ok: [server01] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.102 is alive
ok: [server02] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.102 is alive
ok: [server03] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.102 is alive
TASK [Validate connectivity to server03] ***************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:30 +0000 (0:00:00.087)       0:00:05.561 *********
ok: [server01]
ok: [server03]
ok: [server02]
TASK [Display results for server03] ********************************************
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:32 +0000 (0:00:02.087)       0:00:07.649 *********
ok: [server01] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.103 is alive
ok: [server02] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.103 is alive
ok: [server03] =>
  msg: 10.1.10.103 is alive
PLAY RECAP *********************************************************************
server01                   : ok=9    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0
server02                   : ok=9    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0
server03                   : ok=9    changed=0    unreachable=0    failed=0    skipped=0    rescued=0    ignored=0
Wednesday 05 May 2021  00:57:32 +0000 (0:00:00.083)       0:00:07.732 *********
===============================================================================
Validate connectivity to server01 --------------------------------------- 2.52s
Validate connectivity to server02 --------------------------------------- 2.42s
Validate connectivity to server03 --------------------------------------- 2.09s
include_tasks ----------------------------------------------------------- 0.35s
Display results for server01 -------------------------------------------- 0.11s
Display results for server02 -------------------------------------------- 0.09s
Display results for server03 -------------------------------------------- 0.08s
cumulus@oob-mgmt-server:~/cumulus-challenge-labs$

So this wasn’t the most complicated ticket, and the further challenges get a bit more involved to solve. My hope is that you can see how relatable the output is from the nclu if you are coming from learning or working on Cisco, Juniper or Arista. Also, if you love Linux how cool is it to have all this functionality in a native Linux platform?!

Conclusion

Seeing how easy (and FREE and easily accessible) it was to setup a lab and a challenge from within the lab I hope that you can see the potential of Cumulus VX as a learning platform. Furthermore, this challenge script found on the oob-server within this free cumulus in the cloud offering could be a framework for future TSHOOT challenges.

If you want to run this lab locally, that’s also no issue as they have their process documented on their Gitlab repository. Once more, you’d think with all the devices you’d need some special hardware but as I mentioned in an earlier post, a single instance of Cumulus Linux needs less than 1GB of ram.

Lastly, if you need help getting along, the docs for cumulus are great and my friend Aninda Chatterjee has put together a great series of blog posts covering getting started with Cumulus Linux.

Ep 42 – A Look Back

In this episode we are joined by Tim Bertino once again! Tim, A.J., and Andy celebrate a ton of wins from our Winning channel, Tim introduces an exciting new blog series on the AONE blog that focuses on the CCNA, and we take a brief trip down memory lane recapping that last 30 or so episodes. Whether you’ve been with us from the beginning or just joining there’s a little something in this episode for everyone!

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CCNA Series – Routers

In the first ever post of the AONE CCNA Series, we are going to start from the top. If you are following along on the CCNA exam topics, we will be covering Network Fundamentals > Explain the role and function of network components > Routers. Routers represent a critical component of network infrastructure in that they connect networks together, both physically and logically. What do we mean by logically? Well, the main purpose of a router is to receive data, find out where it needs to go, and send it out the interface (or port) in the right direction. Routers operate at Layer 3 of the OSI model, which means that they “route” or forward packets (data) based on the packets’ destination IP addresses. IP addresses can also be referred to “logical addresses”, and they signify the logical location of a device in a network. The IP address of a device can and may need to change depending on its movement in a network. MAC (or physical) addresses are a contrast to IP addresses in that they describe more of a physical location of a device in a network (at Layer 2). In fact, each device is said to have a “burned in address” or BIA, which is a device’s MAC address at Layer 2. This is a “permanent” address that the device keeps and uses no matter where it lives or moves within a network. But that’s enough about Layer 2 and MAC addressing for now, we’re here to talk about routers. Now that we know that a router’s purpose is to get data from one place in a network to another, let’s get into what routers might look like and how they perform this ever-important function of delivering our precious packets from point A to point B.