Why aren’t our wired LANs more like WLANs? Wireless vendors have already been doing for years what switch manufacturers are only starting to get into in the last couple years. A rough comparison of a few attributes of typical wired and wireless networks shows striking differences in how we manage our LANs and WLANs.
We don’t think in five paragraph essays. At least I don’t. We think in small explosions of ideas in a nebulous, non-linear cloud of word pictures. It makes sense in our own minds, but try to communicate those ideas to someone else, and we find that sometimes we don’t have as clear a picture of our own ideas as we thought we did.
Network engineers like redundancy. It’s not that we just want double of everything – we want the networks we design and manage to be super fast, super smart, and super resilient. In the LAN and in the data center we’ve been logically joining network switches using technologies such as Cisco StackWise, the Virtual Switching System and Virtual Port Channels with fabric extenders in order to consolidate control and data plane activities and provide greater fault tolerance, easier management and multichassis etherchannel for path redundancy. These are great benefits, but they can be reaped only by proper design. Otherwise, an engineer may introduce more risk into the network rather than make it more resilient.
I can’t help myself. Even though I couldn’t wait to get out of a teaching career in my mid/late 20s, I still teach a class every semester at a local community college. I don’t plan to ever stop.
Amidst discussion of SDN ambiguity at Networking Field Day 11, SD-WAN stood apart as something we understood, and I think that’s because we understood its use case very well.
Being a good network engineer requires a strong technical skill set. In fact there’s an entire industry devoted to technical training in networking technologies. We know that persistent technical training is necessary to keep pace with constant changes in technology, so I’m sure we agree that technical proficiency is important for the network engineer. If you don’t have a deep understanding of how VPN technology works, you’ll have a very difficult time troubleshooting a site-to-site VPN without the help of some [unnamed] technical assistance center. But is that all that’s required for a successful career in networking?
Few fields require the continual professional development that IT does, but few fields offer the incredible rewards that a commitment to developing the skills of our trade can provide. Many factors come together to shape if, why, and how we advance in our field, and though I can speak only of my own experience, I believe the lessons I’ve learned from my journey so far may be of some value to others also on a similar path.
A brief overview of Cisco Nexus switches.
I get pretty excited when new network gear shows up at the loading dock. I get psyched when I get to configure an interesting technology that I rarely get to use. But considering our responsibility to our customer or employer, sometimes we need to put that aside in favor of the simpler (or cheaper) but more appropriate solution. Let me give you one example.
How many times has one of your network projects come to a screeching halt (probably at 2am) because you didn’t have the right power plug or patch connector? Seems like such a trivial thing, but millions of dollars of equipment won’t do much more than look pretty in the racks until it’s all powered up and connected together.