Category Archives: Personal

New Lab Server & random updates

New Server:

So I just completed a purchase off eBay for a new server for my lab purposes.

For a while now I’ve been limited to 32Gb of memory on my old ESXi server, which is really more like 20Gb when my regular servers have had their share. Running a combination of different types of devices, each taking at least 4Gb of memory, doesn’t leave much room for larger labs.

I decided to go with a “real” server this time around. So I got an older Cisco UCS C200 M2 server with 2 x Xeon 5570 processors and an additional 96 Gb ram (on top of the 24 it came with). That stil leaves room for a bit of memory upgrades in the future (it supports a total of 192Gb) (had a budget on this one, so couldn’t go crazy).

Work:

Work has been crazy lately. 2 of my Team members just resigned so a lot of workload has to be shifted until we find suitable replacements. That means I’ve been working 65+ hour work weeks for a while now. Something that I dont find even remotely amusing to be honest. But I’ve been reassured that everything is being done to interview candidates, so im hopeful it will work out after the summer holidays.

We have a lot of interesting projects coming up, fx. our first production environment running Cisco ACI. This also included some very good training. Its really a different ball-game compared to the old way of doing Datacenters.

Also on my plate is some iWan solutions. Pretty interesting all in all.

Study:

Im still reading my way through the Cisco Intelligent WAN (IWAN) book. Its still on my list of things to do to take the exam I mentioned earlier, but keeping the work network running takes priority. Also I can’t help but feeling the pull of another CCIE when time permits, but its still just a thought (we all know how that usually goes right? 🙂 )

Personal:

September 16, my long-time girlfriend and I are getting married! Yes.. Married. Scary, but still something I look forward to. We’ve been together for an amazing 11 years on that date so its about time (she keeps telling me). As you may know, I proposed when I went to Las Vegas for Cisco Live last year, so its very memorable 🙂

Thats about it for now!

Take care!

Cisco Live US! 2016

I am fortunate enough, to be able to goto Cisco Live US! again this year.
Last year was such an experience, that my hopes are really high for this year as well.

I will be arriving on Friday the 8th and leaving on the 15th. Not a long stay this time, but it was what my boss could arrange for.
Again this year I will be bringing my better half, so she can experience the city and hopefully we’ll get a few hours of sightseeing in between commitments.

One of the things that im really looking forward to, is meeting up with friends and peers. This year is a bonus for me, as I get to say Congratulations to my friend Daniel (lostintransit.se) in person and not just on the phone, on passing the CCDE practical exam!

Also, a first for me, will be meeting up with Darren (mellowd.co.uk). We have been talking for a long time on twitter, mail and webex and im really looking forward to meeting him in person.

When we get closer to the event, I will be posting my Cisco Live! schedule here.

If you happen to be around the Las Vegas area, or even at Cisco Live!, drop me a line and maybe we can meet up!

See you there!

February – A busy month indeed!

Wow, what a busy month this has been!

So I started my new job on February 1st and thus far, everything has been really great.
My new coworkers are very friendly and helpful.

I’ve spent the better part of february, trying to get to grips with the SP network I will be focusing on from now on. Im still not where I want to be yet, but im getting there. One of the guys I will be working very closely with, started cleaning up the network when he was hired 9 months ago and he’s done a really great job with what he’s had to work with.

There are still some work to be done however, which is the very reason they have hired me and another very good friend of mine. A well run network is a dynamic beast which needs to be tamed. On top of that, the company growth has been around 30% a year, so alot of structure and processes needs to come with that growth, which is where I can really make a difference.

I’ve also had the good fortune of being selected as a 2016 Cisco Champion, which was a very nice surprise. I tried to squeeze in a few good technical posts last year, which I hope was useful to someone on the net. I’ve attended a few briefings so far, but they have mainly been about topics which I dont know enough about to offer any commentary on (UCS for example). Im hoping they are working on something in the routing realm as well 🙂

So for 2016, my primary objective is as previously stated, the CCDE certification.
Next month is Jeremy Filliben’s CCDE bootcamp, which I will be attending. I hope this will kick my butt into gear (I knew the change of jobs would hit my CCDE preparation). Im still aiming for a shot at the practical in late August.

Our Slack study group (Which Daniel Dib and I started) has grown quite a bit and includes a fair number of experts in different areas. If you are serious about CCDE or network design in general, dont be shy to mail me for an invite.

There are however, technologies which I also want to be familiar with to the level of blogging about them.

These include:

– Practical Segment Routing.
– Cisco’s iWAN solution.
– A deep knowledge of the ASR9K platform.
– Programmability (Python, API’s, etc.).
Now, back to work I go 🙂

/Kim

Doing right in the VAR role!

This post is my follow-up on a recent discussion on twitter.

Working for a VAR (Value Added Reseller) is not always the glamours life some make it out to be.

Working as a consultant, what you are really doing, is being the CEO of your own service company.
What you are selling, is basically your own services. The fact that your paycheck is being signed by someone else doesnt/shouldnt really matter.

The customer is building a relationship with you, as much as the company you are working for.
On top of that, you are continually building rapor in the networking world, so in my opinion, I would rather leave the customer with a good solution, rather than having to stick with the insane budgets that sales people end up shaving a project down to, just to get the contract.

So what can you do to create the outcome that is beneficial for all parties concerned (The customer, Your employer and yourself)?

Well, what I have tried in the past, is try and emphasize the importance of leaving the customer with the right solution based on his/her requirements and constraints. This discussion should involve both the technical side of things, as well as any account manager(s)/sales people involved. Try and focus on the long term results, such as customer satisfaction and reoccurring sales because of it.

Toward the customer, do your best to explain why solution X is better than Y, because of the requirements that are in place. Most people are sensible enough that, if you just take your time to explain the solution and have your reasoning in place, they will understand. Both of these (explaining and reasoning), is important for you to build the before mentioned rapor with the customer.

In the end, you should end up with a customer that will ask you for advice when in need, and trust your judgement when you recommend a solution. By doing this you effectively put the “fluff” from the account manager(s) aside and focus on the important work.

As engineers, we tend to focus on the technical side of a solution, but to be successful in our role(s), we also need to pay attention to the human/social aspect. Personally, this is an ongoing exercise, which I try to be very cognitive about when engaging with the customer.

So to summarize:

– Be a teamplayer, but know you are the one who has to face the customer regularly.
– Do your best to understand the customer and his/her requirements.
– Take your time to explain your solution to the customer.
– Never take the customer for granted.
– Pay attention to the social/human aspect when engaging with both the customer and your coworkers.

Now go and have a sit-down with that customer of yours!

/Kim

Why Cisco?

Why do i keep focusing so much on Cisco, when there are clearly alot of different vendors out there with similar products and technologies?

There are several reasons for this.

1) I began the professional part of my networking career with Cisco.
2) Cisco has a proven track record when it comes to education and learning.
3) Even though not always the best match for all use-cases, Cisco is a big player in almost all areas of networking.
4) The networking opportunities provided by Cisco is by far the best of what ive seen. Take for example the Cisco Learning Network.
5) Cisco Press is really awesome in my opinion. They have alot of really high quality books out there.
6) Great opportunities to interact with the company. By this i mean to participate in programs like Cisco Champions and different SME (Subject Matter Expert) related activities.
7) Cisco documentation is not perfect, but its hands down the best I’ve seen across multiple vendors.
8) And ofcourse Cisco Live! 🙂

That being said, recently i have begun to take a more neutral look at technologies. The reason being, that in this day and age, proprietary technologies become less prefered than open and standardised ones. This means that more interopability is possible, and to understand the big picture one cannot rule out other players.

All in all, i see alot of value in leaning towards Cisco. At least thats my outlook on things at the moment.

The case for lifelong learning.

People often ask me why i keep studying and when i will be “done”.
To me, this type of question seems odd, because i am committed to lifelong learning.

I am of the opinion that going through life without learning something all the time would be a life wasted. I think this goes back to the early explorers. Discovering new things, whether it be a new continent or simply a piece of knowledge really excites a certain type of people.

I am by no means comparing myself to these great explorers, but i understand what drove these legendary people to do the things they did, whether it be Columbus or more recently modern day astronauts.

My studies, whether they be in the field of networking or more personal related, will continue until the day i leave this crazy world.

There so much information and knowledge thats readily available in our day and age, that i would find it hard to simply ignore it and just lean back and say: “thats it, im done!”.

As I write this post, its about 6am in the morning. Part of my morning ritual is getting to the office early and spending some time studying before i start work. It helps me get into the mental rythm.

So I have a job for your! Tonight, instead of spending an hour or more watching TV, try and pick a book on a topic thats of interest to you, and read for a bit. You’ll be amazed at how it makes you feel. Afterwards you will have picked up a bit of knowledge you didnt have before! – Its THAT easy!

Thanks for taking the time to read this post!

My first Cisco Live!

Even though im still in San Diego, Cisco Live! US 2015 is but a memory.

But what a memory it is! It being my first time attending a Cisco Live conference, I didn’t really know what to expect.

What I was met with, was a conference full of really sharp and nice people. The conference staff was very helpful and polite and really made an impression on me, from the time I first stepped onto the pavement outside San Diego convention center.

We (I brought my better half to the US) arrived very late on saturday, so after a good nights sleep I took the bus to the convention center to register and pick up the first piece of swag, the famous Cisco Live bag.

One of the great benefits of attending the conference was meeting with my good friend Daniel Dib (from lostintransit.se). I hadn’t seen him since January, so it was really cool to meet up with him during the week.

On Monday Daniel and I attended a session together, but most other sessions I went to alone. For the record, I paid for this trip out of my own pocket, so I didn’t have any co-workers or anything to tag along.

Tuesday was also spent in sessions, but in the evening there was the famous CCIE party, where my +1 was a friend of Daniel. Rihkka, a network engineer from Finland. She’s also in the VIP program along with Daniel. It was very nice meeting her. Also met with people from back home for morning coffee (which was actually Iced Coffee since it was fairly hot outside).

Wednesday I gave the CCDE written a shot, but unfortunately didn’t pass. Its a really weird exam if you ask me. Its supposed to be a technology design exam, but, I dont know. It just irks me somehow. Also, I had the good fortune of having a talk with Jeremy Filliben (http://www.jeremyfilliben.com), a renowned CCDE trainer. He gave some good advice along with information about his upcoming CCDE training programs. Very nice guy indeed. Since I lost track of Daniel for lunch, I was fortunate enough to run into Rihkka again. So we had lunch together where she could explain a bit more about Finland to me 🙂

Thursday, things slowed down a bit. I decided to cancel some sessions to get time to meet up with folks. During this day I also had a chance to meet with some folks from the Cisco Champion program, which was very good. Unfortunately a private QoS session for Cisco Champions was cancelled, which I was pretty bummed about. It would have been pretty awesome to meet Tim Szigeti. The QoS guy 🙂

Finally I said my goodbye’s to Daniel and headed back to the hotel. My first Cisco Live conference under my belt!

Would I recommend this as a good value for a network engineer? Absolutely!! the inspiration from the breakout sessions alone would be enough to justify it, but the social aspect of it all is what really makes the point!

I will do my very best to come back next year!

Change of focus

I have decided to change my focus quite a bit.

I was planning on tackling the IOS-XR exam this year and was preparing for it by going through the blueprint. However another track kept pulling me towards it, and ofcourse thats the CCDE track.

I have spent the last 6 years learning how to do something, but so far i havent spent alot of time thinking about why that is.

I am not doing the CCDE track in order to pass the exam. I might not even go as far as giving the practical exam a go. I am however going to pursue the written exam for now, as it will give me a target for which to learn new stuff.

To that end, a few of us have created a study group, which im very thrilled about. It will provide an outlet for any ideas and thoughts as well as input. All in all great stuff.

So thats a quick update 🙂

Passed the CCIE SP Lab exam.

CCIE Service ProviderWell, a short update. I managed to pass the CCIE Service Provider lab exam on March 14th.

I am quite exhausted from the experience, but very happy 🙂

Mr. Ferro’s “Arse First Method of Technical Blogging”!

I just had a chance to go ahead and read Mr. Greg Ferro’s ebook called ”Arse First Method of Technical Blogging“.

The book is being published by Leanpub (leanpub.com), an independent publisher and the readers will get free updates to the book as they become available.

Mr. Ferro is well known from Etherealmind.com as well as the Packet Pushers podcast.

The book is all about writing a technical blog. It takes you through some important facets of writing a blog, namely why to blog in the first place and the importance of actually publishing something.

The book is short and to the point, something the book itself preaches in its contents.

The workflow of writing a blog post is examined with the outline of going from the bottom up. An interesting idea that I personally hope will help me get started with some blog ideas I have.

Mr. Ferro also offers some advice from his years blogging at Etherealmind.com as well as some information about editing and publishing tools. I appreciated this information as im always interested in ways of managing information.

My impression of the book is very positive. Sure it needs some work here and there, but its a work in progress and im sure he will incorporate any ideas and suggestions the readers might have. My own suggestion would be to include a short example of writing a blog post

In Summary
”Arse First Method of Technical Blogging“ is a book thats well worth the few bucks. It presents some very good ideas and pointers to get started with blogging technical material.

The main theme of the book is contained in the title. Start from the bottom and go from there, which is a great idea to actually get any writing started at all.

The book is a clear example that Mr. Ferro has put alot of thought into the workflow of writing blogposts, something that is obvious when reading over at Etherealmind.com.

I enjoyed reading the entire thing in one go and can recommend it to others.

Go ahead and get your copy here:

Disclaimer: I paid for this book myself because I was curious about its contents. I have not been asked to write anything or endorse it in any way.