One of my subscribers trying to figure out how to improve his career choices sent me this question:
I am Sr. Network Engineer with 12+ Years’ experience. I was quit happy with my networking skills but will all the recent changes I’m confused. I am not able to understand what are the key skills I should learn as a network engineer to keep myself demandable.
Before reading the rest of this blog post, please read Cloud and the Three IT Geographies by Massimo Re Ferre.
Tom Hollingsworth wrote another must-read blog post in which he explained what one should do before asking for help:
If someone comes to me and says, “I tried this and it failed and I got this message. I looked it up and the response didn’t make sense. Can you tell me why that is?” I rejoice. That person has done the legwork and narrowed the question down to the key piece they need to know.
In other words (again his), do your homework first and then ask relevant questions.
The mission of ipSpace.net is very simple: explain new networking technologies and products in a no-nonsense marketing-free and hopefully understandable way.
Sometimes we’re probably way off the mark, but every now and then we get it just right as evidenced by this feedback from one of our subscribers:
I was given short notice to present a board-level overview of VMWare NSX-T for an urgent virtualization platform change from Microsoft. Tech execs needed to understand NSX-T’s position in the market, in its product lifecycle, feature advantages, possible feature deficits, and an idea of the level of effort for implementation.
Got this interesting question from one of my readers
Based on my experience, the documentation regarding Linux networking is either elementary man pages for user-space utilities or very complicated Linux kernel source code. Does getting deep into Linux networking mean reading source code?
It all depends on how deep you plan to go:
Here’s the final push before we hit the summer break at the end of June (and recover a bit from the relentless production of new content we had throughout the first half of 2020):
- I finished the Introduction to Containers and Docker update just in time to cover the nuances of Docker Networking before the summer break. The first live session will take place today, the second one on June 11th.
- Later this week (May 28th) we’ll have some fun with routing protocol basics.
- Dinesh Dutt covered Vagrant in his last live session and plans to cover other network simulation tools on June 2nd.
- We did a “should I use VMware NSX or Cisco ACI” webinar a few years ago. In the meantime both vendors launched major new features, so it’s high time for a thorough refresh starting on June 9th.
- Mario Rosi will continue the Cisco ACI Introduction series on June 16th.
- David Barroso described the basics of Nornir in our network automation course. We’ll turn that material into an independent webinar (available with standard ipSpace.net subscription) and David plans to augment it with a deep dive into Nornir internals in a live session on June 18th.
- I will need another live session on June 23rd to continue the NSX-or-ACI comparison, and we plan to start the summer break on June 25th.
When I started designing Data Center Infrastructure for Networking Engineers webinar I wanted to create something that would allow someone fluent in networking but not in adjacent fields like servers or storage to grasp the fundamentals of data center technologies, from server virtualization and containers to data center fabrics and storage protocols.
Here’s what a network architect said about the webinar:
Being stuck at home like most everyone else we’re continuing the increased pace of content production in May 2020:
- I’ll continue the Introduction to Containers and Docker update. We got through the basics the last time and will cover Linux namespaces and how Docker uses them on May 5th.
- We finally found an independent guest speaker familiar with Cisco ACI. Mario Rosi will start the Cisco ACI series with an introductory webinar on May 12th.
- Dinesh Dutt will continue his Network Automation Tools update on May 19th.
- Hoping to get through Introduction to Docker on May 5th, I plan to do a deep dive into Docker Networking on May 26.
- Finally, I’m positive I won’t cover all the bridging and routing material I created in today’s webinar, so we’ll continue with routing protocol basics on May 28th.
Numerous online companies are using the COVID-19 crisis to make their products better known (PacketPushers collected some of them). Nothing wrong with that - they’re investing into providing free- or at-cost resources, and hope to get increased traction in the market. Pretty fair and useful.
Then there are others… Here’s a recent email I got:
Most of us are in some sort of lockdown (or quarantine or shelter-in-place or whatever it’s called) at the moment. Some have their hands full balancing work and homeschooling their kids (hang in there!), others are getting bored and looking for networking-related content (or you wouldn’t be reading this blog).
If you’re in the latter category you might want to browse some of the free ipSpace.net content: almost 3500 blog posts, dozens of articles, over a hundred podcast episodes, over 20 free webinars, and another 30+ webinars with sample videos that you can access with free subscription.
Need more? Standard subscription includes 260 hours of video content and if you go for Expert subscription and select the network automation course as part of the subscription, you’ll get another 60 hours of content plus hands-on exercises, support, access to Slack team… hopefully enough to last you way past the peak of the current pandemic.
With webinars being the only way to deliver training content these days, we’ll run one every week in April 2020:
Starting on April 2nd I’ll talk about one of my favorite topics: switching, bridging and routing, covering almost everything ever invented from virtual circuits and source route bridging to so-called routing at layer-2 and IP forwarding based on host routes;
I was planning to update the Introduction to Containers and Docker material for ages… but then had to move the December 2019 workshop to March 2020, only to cancel it a week before the coronavirus exploded for real in Switzerland. I hope I’ll manage to deliver the online version on April 9th ;)
Dinesh Dutt is back on April 16th with an update of Network Automation Tools webinar, in which he’ll cover (among other things) the new network automation tools launched since we did the original webinar in 2016.
On April 23rd Pete Lumbis plans to dive as deep into the intricacies of switching ASICs as he can without violating an NDA ;)
If you’re an ipSpace.net subscriber, you might have noticed how busy the last month has been (more about that later). February won’t be much better:
- Later today we’ll have David Barroso talk about safely managing network automation secrets.
- On February 6th I’ll describe the tools you can use to automate Azure deployments, including simple CLI scripts, Ansible, Terraform, and Azure Resource Manager templates.
- We’re starting the Networking in Public Cloud Deployments online course on February 11th.
- David Peñaloza Seijas will talk about Cisco (Viptela) SD-WAN on February 13th;
Finally, I’ll run a day-long workshop in Zurich on March 10th describing containers and Docker.
If you’re running a typical (somewhat outdated) enterprise data center, you’re using tons of VLANs and firewalls, use VLANs as security zones, and push inter-VLAN traffic through firewalls for inspection. Security vendors love that approach - when inspecting traffic they can add no value to (like database- or backup sessions), the firewalls quickly become choke points that have to be upgraded.
The amount of layer-2 tricks we use to make enterprise networking work never ceases to amaze me - from shared IP addresses used by various clustering solutions (because it’s too hard to read the manuals and configure DNS) to shared MAC addresses used by first-hop router redundancy protocols (because it would be really hard to send a Gratuitous ARP message on failover) and all sorts of shenanigans we’re forced to engage in to enable running servers to be moved willy-nilly around the Earth.
Design assignments and hands-on exercises were always a big part of ipSpace.net online courses, and our new Networking in Public Cloud Deployments course is no different.
You’ll start with a simple scenario: deploy a virtual machine running a web server. Don’t worry about your Linux skills, you’ll get the necessary (CCIE-level) instructions and the source code for the web server. Building on that, you’ll create another subnet and deploy another virtual machine acting as a back-end application server.
And then we’ll get to the fun part:
You’ve probably heard cloudy evangelists telling CIOs how they won’t need the infrastructure engineers once they move their workloads into a public cloud. As always, whatever sounds too good to be true usually is. Compute resources in public clouds still need to be managed, someone still needs to measure application performance, and backups won’t happen by themselves.
Even more important (for networking engineers), network requirements don’t change just because you decided to use someone else’s computers: