3 Things Engineers Need from Leaders

Being a manager does not make you a leader.
Now that I have your attention, I’ll dive in a little deeper. Think of it in terms of creating a meal. You can look at your pantry and see you are missing certain ingredients to your recipe. You go out to the store and purchase those ingredients. You come back and toss the ingredients in the pantry. Done! The meal has been created. Well actually, no. You have the ingredients you need, but nothing else was done. You still have to spend time putting the ingredients together, cooking the meal, making sure the taste is right, add a ton of salt and pepper, and finally serving it. It’s easy to gather the ingredients listed in a recipe, but it might not be as easy to turn that recipe into the perfect meal. It takes time and effort. The same applies to an engineering team. As a leader, or perhaps a chef, having the ingredients is not enough. In order for an engineer to grow in an environment, work must be done. Yes, some of it falls squarely on the shoulders of the engineer, but some of it comes from leadership. My goal here is to discuss three ingredients that a leader can combine that can make a difference in their team. Continue reading 3 Things Engineers Need from Leaders

Simple Cisco Text File Changes

As we are busy diving into the world of programming and automation, I’d like to remind everyone of a way to make simple config changes to a Cisco switch or router using a text file. This might not be a breakthrough, but it helps when making changes to switches or routers when those changes can possibly disconnect you from the device. Imagine working on a re-IP of a switch or even a point to point link. You have your notepad ready to go. There is a new IP and default route and all you have to do is copy/paste. You paste in the IP and lose connection. Your default route change never actually pasted because you lost connection right after the IP change. You can no longer connect to the device; panic ensues. What might be a better way to make this change and avoid the “Uh oh!” moment? Continue reading Simple Cisco Text File Changes

5 Tips for New Engineers

Next year will be my tenth in a network engineering role. I’ve seen team members come and go, leadership change and roles changes as well. Nothing is ever static, especially the technology. For those looking to enter a network engineering role or are simply young in their IT career, I wanted to jot down a couple of tips that I hope can help them be successful in their roles. I originally was going to make this network-centric, but honestly it applies to any type of role you might be in. Continue reading 5 Tips for New Engineers

Image Swap: ASA to FTD

Firewalls are a necessary component in any network environment, especially in an enterprise. Take a look at your front door, would you remove it permanently? Firewalls have evolved over the years from simple gatekeepers to complex security solutions that integrate with the rest of the network. Imagine if you could program your front door to only allow people in who wore green shirts. Once inside they would only be able to walk into the living room…on a Tuesday. My own firewall journey started years back on Juniper SSG350s then onto ASA and Palo Alto. I am currently looking into Cisco’s Firepower Threat Defense (FTD). As a fan of most things Cisco (ASA CX anyone?), FTD adds visibility to the rest of the ecosystem that might include AMP, ISE and Stealthwatch. With an ASA 5512-X in hand, my mission is to replace its ASA image with FTD. Continue reading Image Swap: ASA to FTD

Networks: A Personal Connection

Has anyone ever been excited to go to a job they hate? Perhaps on the day they were quitting. No matter what your profession, passion determines how deep into your job or career you will go. If you lack the willingness to learn and the willingness to love what you do for a living, there is no passion. If you find yourself with that lack of passion, what you are currently doing might not be for you. No matter what that job is right now, do it to the best of your abilities. Even if what you are doing is not what you envisioned for yourself. What you are doing might not even have been on your personal roadmap. The goal is to someday look around and find yourself in love with what you do. It does not matter if you accomplish that goal at 20 or 60 years old. I want to write to motivate those working in IT that have not yet found their passion or to those who are interested in the realm of networks. I am a Network Engineer and I love what I do. Continue reading Networks: A Personal Connection

New Location, Who Dis?

Building a network for a new site from the ground up is great experience for engineers and administrators. However, if you are not organized it can also be a nightmare. Companies all over the world handle the “New Site” process differently. The way you maneuver through the project depends on the size of the organization as well as the teams involved. Some places have a complete Project Management Org that will take your project, organize it, shine it up and help you complete it. Project Managers can be a big help by following up with vendors, partners and making sure the teams are meeting deadlines among other things. However, sometimes you might not have a team of PMs helping you. You might be the PM for your particular “New Site” project. Whether or not you are the one doing everything or just the racking of equipment the following items or milestones are just reminders of tasks to keep in mind. Continue reading New Location, Who Dis?

Challenge Accepted

Have you ever read a biography or saw a movie about someone’s life? There are many of them out there. It seems like every month there is a “Based on a True Story…” flick that gets released. It does not matter if the person was an athlete, a politician or even an astronaut; one thing that you will never read or hear them say is “That was the easiest thing I’ve done”. Never. Their accomplishments were hard earned. Blood, sweat and tears went into reaching another level. I would say the same applies to those of us working in the field configuring switch ports , looking over security logs and even providing phone support. No, I am not comparing surviving a war or landing on the moon to someone closing out a “My Netflix does not work in the office” ticket, but a similar mentality is needed. The mentality and actions of someone who wants to reach a higher level professionally needs to mirror those that meet challenges head on or even better: Someone who constantly looks for those challenges. Our professional lives need to be like a treadmill on a constant incline. Many times when our lives level out, we get complacent and speaking for myself, lazy. Look for a challenge and climb! Continue reading Challenge Accepted

Do it Live: Cisco Umbrella

Can you give me a list of all the destinations employees at your company are browsing to on the internet in the office and out? Would you know if all of those sites are safe? Are they clicking on those “Free Tablet Just For You!!!!!!” email links? The internet can be a dangerous place. DNS helps users easily reach destinations. Who is going to remember the IP addresses to hundreds of sites? However, DNS can lead users to malicious destinations as well. You might have a need to protect users or enforce company policies at the DNS level.
This post will be a review of Cisco Umbrella. We’ve been using it in production. This will by no means serve as deployment instructions. Please refer to Cisco Umbrella’s documentation for those. These are just my thoughts on how the process went. Continue reading Do it Live: Cisco Umbrella