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Category: certifications

Learn to Speak Your Peer’s Language with Webinars

One of the reasons I started creating webinars was to help networking engineers grasp the basics of adjacent technologies like virtualization and storage. Based on feedback from an attendee of my Introduction to Virtual Networking webinar it works:

I am completely on the Network side of the house and understand what I need to build for Storage/Data replication, but I really never thoroughly understood why. This allowed me to have a coherent discussion with my counterparts in DB and Storage and some of the pitfalls that can occur if we try to cowboy the network design.

Recommendation: if you have a similar problem, start with Introduction to Virtual Networking and continue with Data Center 3.0 webinar.

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The Lack of Historic Knowledge Is so Frustrating

Every time I’m explaining the intricacies of new technologies to networking engineers, I try to use analogies with older well-known technologies, trying to make it simpler to grasp the architectural constraints of the shiny new stuff.

Unfortunately, most engineers younger than ~35 years have no idea what I’m talking about – all they know are Ethernet, IP and MPLS.

Just to give you an example – here’s a slide from my SDN workshop.

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How Did You Learn So Much About Networking?

One of my readers sent me a heartfelt email that teleported me 35 years down the memory lane. He wrote:

I only recently stumbled upon your blog and, well, it hurt. It's incredible the amount of topics you are able to talk about extensively and how you can dissect and find interesting stuff in even the most basic concepts.
May I humble ask how on earth can you know all of the things you know, with such attention to detail? Have you been gifted with an excellent memory, magical diet, or is it just magic?

Short answer: hard work and compound interest.

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Too Many Details Can Hurt You (or Why You Need the Fundamentals First)

The IPv6 Security Summit at the Troopers conference always has a few awesome IPv6 presentations (many people claim Troopers is the conference to attend if you’re serious about IPv6), and this year was no exception. A day after the MLD bashing, Enno Rey delivered a great in-depth presentation on DHCPv6 features and shortcomings.

It seems the DHCPv6 intricacies presented in that talk were too much for some of the attendees – that afternoon I accidentally stumbled upon a visibly distressed gentleman who started our chat with “How could anyone expect us to deploy IPv6 in a production environment?

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You Must Understand the Fundamentals to Be Successful

I was speaking with a participant of an SDN event in Zurich after the presentations, and he made an interesting comment: whenever he experienced serious troubleshooting problems in his career, it was due to lack of understanding of networking fundamentals.

Let me give you a few examples: Do you know how ARP works? What is proxy ARP? How does TCP offload work and why is it useful? What is an Ethernet collision and when would you see one? Why do we need MLD in IPv6 neighbor discovery?

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Should I Go for CCIE or Some Other Certification?

One of my readers sent me this question:

I am already CCIE and work as a network engineer with pretty good salary. But I think that I am losing some passion for Cisco networking and have interests in many other technologies. Currently I am very interested in Linux and Python development. Is it worth to add some Red Hat certification along CCIE or should I pursue another CCIE?

I think “should I go for CCIE or RHCE” is the wrong question.

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SDN, Career Choices and Magic Graphs

The current explosion of SDN hype (further fueled by recent VMworld announcement of Software-Defined Data Centers) made some networking engineers understandably nervous. This is the question I got from one of them:

I have 8 plus years in Cisco, have recently passed my CCIE RS theory, and was looking forward to complete the lab test when this SDN thing hit me hard. Do you suggest completing the CCIE lab looking at this new future of Networking?

Short answer: the sky is not falling, CCIE still makes sense, and IT will still need networking people.

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Does CCIE still make sense?

A reader of my blog sent me this question:

I am a Telecommunication Engineer currently preparing for the CCIE exam. Do you think that in a near future it will be worth to be a CCIE, due to the recent developments like Nicira? What will be the future of Cisco IOS, and protocols like OSPF or BGP? I am totally disoriented about my career.

Well, although I wholeheartedly agree with recent post from Derick Winkworth, the sky is not falling (yet):

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Networking is like physics or math, not history

Every so often I stumble across a blog post (or receive an e-mail) complaining how hard it is to learn the material needed to pass a certification exam. That’s definitely true if you try the memorization approach to networking: trying to cram as many facts as possible into your grey matter. However, it’s impossible to make any reasonable progress that way; to move forward, you have to handle networking like you would math or physics: having a firm basic foundation, you slowly expand it, all the time trying to fit the new concepts into a coherent model (let’s call it “the big picture”).

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Off-topic: Maybe it’s you, not the Internet

Scott Berkun has (yet another) fantastic article on his blog: a teacher was complaining that the students use Facebook or check their e-mail in class. Scott’s response? Maybe it’s the teaching skills and the fascination with one-way lecturing, not the Internet, that’s at fault. Read the whole response; if you’ve been faced with too many narrow-minded teachers in your life, you’ll enjoy it as much as I did.

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