Category Archives: Vent

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!

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.

Time to put the beans to rest

Yesterday brought with it another Java security breach. It is security breach that doesnt yet have a fix for it (0-day), so short of disabling Java on your computer, you are out of luck.

Im continually amazed that we keep running this piece of software, but I guess I shouldnt be, given people’s track record of running insecure software (think older Internet Explorer browsers on windows).

My dilemma as a Danish citizen is the fact that we are forced to run Java applications from a certain vendor in order to access pretty much anything from our online banking, to our communication with the government. Ofcourse, the vendor in question doesnt seem to think there’s an issue at all.

I disagree. After countless Java security breaches its time we stop using Java alltogether.

Another great motivational video

Just wanted to share another great motivational video

 

Week on the wire – Week 9.

Its been a rough week. I have been finishing up projects and getting rid of loose ends.

I have also been giving a couple of lectures on IPv6 (Basically primers) to customers as well as some information on basic failover configuration in IOS. The advent of 3G and low cost gives alot of new opportunities for customers.

The rumor mill indicator is a solid green with news of the comming iPad 3.

And yes, i will be getting one as well. Sometimes i think i should have Apple as a permanent part of my
monthly payments.
Head on over to Mac Rumors (http://www.macrumors.com/) to learn more.

Some CCIE datacenter news.
Over on FryGuy’s blog theres a small piece that seems to confirm the CCIE datacenter certification:
http://www.fryguy.net/2012/02/22/ccie-data-center-it-looks-to-be-real/

There are more rumors about Cisco trying to go back to its core business as well. Even though Cisco fully commits to keep making weird things.

In this case its the Set-Top boxes: Cisco keeps making set-top boxes!

I keep thinking they should follow the Apple strategy. Its not bad to take/steal strategies from other companies when it might benefit your own business. In this case its: Keep-it-Simple! Focus on core areas!
Some very interesting information on D-Duplication in Windows Server 8:
http://feeds.fosketts.net/~r/StephenFoskettPackRat/~3/mvH5FuYyhfs/

And finally, i cannot recommend Endomondo enough. I use it to track all my exercises. Its an example of an App and a service that does something really well and doesnt include any crapware.

Try it out at: endomondo.com

A picture which is worth far more than a 1000 words.

The picture below should be put into a frame and put onto the desk of everyone in the IT industry.

By day, I am a consultant, so I have quite a few stories that relate to this picture.

Obviously the picture shows that, at every step in a project there are misunderstandings. In most instances, this is not intentionally, but simply a result of people not understanding where the other party is coming from and heading to.

Making sure that information is conveyed precisely requires a lot of effort. Unfortunally the time it takes to undergo this conveying process is left out of the project, either because the involved parties don’t think its nessecary or because it would mean less profit for one or more parties.

These misunderstandings are a cause of aggrevation and frustration for everyone involved. Everyone in the chain must fix or redo a portion of their work in order to satisfy the end-customer.

An example of a simple project will demonstrate this.

A customer wants a certain service, so he calls Acme up and asks for a meeting. A sales-rep goes to meet with the customer, trying to understand the customer’s needs and taking notes as best as he/she can. Unless the sales-rep makes an extra effort to ask questions that the customer might not have thought of and questions that will really nail down what it is that the customer wants, this is the first step that might go wrong, leading to erroneous data to begin with.

After the meeting, this sales-rep goes back to Acme’s technical team and asks how the problem he/she has described and understood can be rectified and what the solution might be.

This will be the next step where things can go wrong. Assuming that the description of the problem is correct (which is just as doubtful), the technical team might want to push a solution down the throat of the customer because it makes the most technical sense but not nessecarily the most business sense (for the customer).

Assuming the customer understands the implications of the solution and signs off on it, the people implementing the solution might have gotten a written description on what should be done and how. Unless this document is very specific, some assumptions on the part of the author might not be apparent to the implementer and hence not being carried out.

If the delivered solution does not fullfill the customers real needs, the customer will (rightfully or not) complain to either the Acme support people or the original Acme sales-rep/account-manager.

This person will in turn most likely accuse and blame the technical team for not coming up with the right solution.

And so the blame-ball rolls further and further down a waste-slope. Now imagine a larger project where even more parties and departments would be involved.

If this was an isolated case, then it wouldn’t be a huge problem, but unfortunally I see this very often. Even though the company I currently work for, has a focus on this, it still happens way to often.

Instead, if attention and more importantly time will be allocated to avoid this and improve communication, I am very confident that future projects would end up costing everyone less money and frustration.

In the end, this would be good for all parties as trust would be established and more projects would be able to get “cleared”.

So save the image and put it as your background. You will thank me in the end!

Staying informed…

Lately i have been watching a Ted video each day. I find this fascinating as i learn stuff in areas i would not normally be looking.

I can highly recommend this to anyone in order to stay informed on whats going on in our world.

Go there now: Ted.com

Thoughts on the Skype / Microsoft deal.

My take on the Microsoft purchase of Skype.

Only last week i attended a mandatory briefing of Lync, Microsofts all-in-all wonder for communicating.

Basically its a PBX, IM-server, Video-conferencing, Outlook-Integrator kind of a product.

Basically they have taken alot of code from alot of different half-done products and thrown them into one big pile and put alot of marketing money behind it.

Going beyond my own personal beliefs about Microsoft, the one big issue i have with Lync was the fact that they dont have a single product for the smartphone market. Not windows mobile/7 OS, not Android and ofcourse not an iOS app.

How do you expect to have a total solution when you are missing out on the device that people have on them constantly? — To me thats insane.

The guy couldnt even confirm whether work was under way for anything even remotely like it. The thing that came closest was the fact that you can log into a web-page and see your contacts. Really, thats it?

I only hope that with the purchase of Skype they will be able to implement a decent client for smartphones.

With that note. I will let you all get on with your day! — Take care.