Sunday, September 24, 2017

Looking into the future...Cloud

For the past year our family have experienced a lot of new things, challenges, and overall growth. We have a new addition and now we're a family of three! You really do learn to survive on less hours of sleep, very rarely do I sleep for my than 6 hours a day now, less for my wife unfortunately.  Even with that considered we wouldn't have it any other way.

I'm still at it here and there with Python scripting but my big focus for the last year was completing the Cisco Certified Design Professional (CCDP). This exam was absolutely tough and I barely squeaked by but I made it through. Even though I'm not playing much with Cisco at the moment, the concepts hold true for many other vendors as well. The most difficult topics were new tech that I just don't get to play with along with security. Be sure you understand Cisco ACI at a high level and Cisco security IDS best practice designs at a low level.

Next up for me is most likely Sec+ but I've also been taking a hard look at cloud infrastrucure. Our enterprise is heavily focused on moving as much as we can to cloud or at the very least, a hybrid infrastructure. Not much as landed in our Networking team's laps but it's coming down the line fast. Most likely I'll dive into AWS to get a good sense on what it's all about. Because I'll be honest physically racking less equipment is not anything I'll ever complain about!

Stay tuned for further updates and don't forget to check out my Github to the right -->

Sunday, December 25, 2016

2016 Recap

A lot has happened this year, including a employer change, new family addition, and new certifications. The employer I work for now has a huge Juniper presense which allowed me to grow my CLI skills with a different vendor besides just Cisco. In order to take full advantage of this change, I went ahead and knocked out a few of Juniper's lower level certifications. I took and passed both the JNCIA and JNCIS-ENT this past summer to help vet my new learned skillset.

Along with Juniper we're also rolling out our own NGFW's that rivals many competitors such as Palo Alto. Not only have I had an opportunity to get more hands on experience with our firewalls, I have the chance to administer Juniper SRX's and Palo Alto's which has been very challenging but engaging.

In my past roles I never had much of a chance to deal with network load balancers which always bugged me. While I played around with Cisco ACE's (now extinct) I didn't find them very intuitive with a weird learning curve. This year I've had the chance to deploy and implement virtual F5's using their LTM and GSLB modules. I only touched the GSLB (DNS Load Balancing) very lightly but I did get some great experience with LTM (De-facto Server Load Balancing).

To end the year off, our first little one arrived, which meant that I didn't want to dig to deep into the certification world right now. Instead I'm now diving into Python so that I can script some of the repeatable stuff I do on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I'm very noobish but with a help of a fellow colleague, we're starting to make some useful stuff.

Check out my github link to the right ---> I'll be keeping this updated as time goes on and my skill level increases. Hope everyone has a happy holidays, I'm excited for what the next year will bring!

Thursday, November 5, 2015

Digging into IP Packets

For the next 6 to 12 months I'm going to take a departure from focusing solely on certifications. I want to gain a better understanding of the underlying protocols that encompass my career daily. This will mean deep diving into the TCP/IP protocol suite. Not only do I want to understand what a general IPv4/IPv6 looks like, I want to learn how to correlate trends based on the IP packets that traverse my network.

Alcantel-lucent Ocean Fiber Cable Run

This will help immensely in troubleshooting security and general network connectivity issues. Not only that, but it can be used to stop certain teams from automatically blaming particular incidents on the network. Through the use of packet capture tools that show exactly what's happening between two hosts. There can be no if, and, or buts about whose fault it is for a particular problem using concrete logs.

Not that a packet capture will be used for every incident but it's good to have "big guns" that you can pull out of your arsenal every now and again. With that said, pulling out a "big gun" is no use if you have no clue on how to operate the weapon. Hence why I've been culling over multiple WireShark and huge TCP/IP books to help get me started. Having a strong foundation is important for just about any goal in life. We all know fundamental learning can become boring and repetitive quickly because typically it's not the cool bleeding edge stuff but it's VERY important. Mastery comes from making tasks second nature which requires constant repetition.

Just like a race car driver has to learn how to drive a fast car slow first, the same can be said with networking. We must learn how to configure and design small elements of a particular portion of a network first before moving on to deploying networks that can properly scale along with become resilient.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Cisco CCDA Passed!

I just left the test center with a passing score for the Cisco CCDA exam. Overall the exam was a lot more fair than what was described on the many internet forums I attend. There were a handful of questions that def. wasn't mentioned in the FLG\OCG.

I think part of the reason is that the FLG\OCG books are a little long in the tooth. For example Cisco NAC is mentioned all over the CCDA books, but nothing is mentioned about Cisco ISE. The same thing for the Cisco SONA framework, good stuff to know; at least at a high-level.

I'm taking a break from certs for a while. I want to do some independent research on the TCP/IP stack and deep dive into packet inspection. After that I'll most likely read through some CCIE material for a refresher on all of those routing protocols.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

CCDA Test Scheduled

After a deep dive review of all CCDA topics, I finally scheduled the test for next week. As part of the review I completely read through the Campus Network for High Availability design guide along with skimming through the Cisco SAFE reference guide. Looking up a few Cisco SONA white papers didn't hurt either.

By far my weakest topic is security, it always has been for me. But I feel a lot more confident about my network security knowledge at a high level than ever before. Going in to this exam I didn't expect to gain as much design knowledge as I did considering that this is supposed to be an Associate level cert. I was surprised by how I view my own networking projects with my employer compared to this time next year.

Once I get through this cert, I plan on taking a break from Cisco centric certification for at least a few months. I'm plan to deep dive into WireShark along with reading a book or two on specifically the TCP protocol. My goal is to be well rounded with the fundamentals before deep diving into a specific area of networking. This will allow me to be more versatile and more open to what possibilities are out their with network implementation, design and configuration.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Almost Ready for the CCDA Test....I think

The CCDA OCG book was polished off a few weeks ago. I haven't been able to schedule the exam yet due to projects and work travel. I hear that this test is a beast so I went well beyond just the Cisco press books. The design certs isn't about just knowing the technical aspects within the CLI. In fact I only recall a few sections that even mentions or references a CLI command. It's meant to show you how to gather business requirements, plan, implement, and operate within the business constraints given. At least on a very high level; the knowledge I've learned over the last 8 months has already helped me with many of the projects I'm a part of.

Monday, May 18, 2015


Typical world of IT to make everything an acronym. So many that there are multiple acronyms that are the same but mean something different depending on what you're referring to (i.e. RFC).

Anyways, I'm slowly making my way through the OCG book, finishing the small section on Data Center. If I recall the FLG book never really hit this topic at all so I learned quite a few cool new things. Especially on the virtualization front which lightly touched on Virtual Device Contexts and access layer switching within the virtual environment.

I'm hitting every practice quiz, study reference, and additional study topics that the book is offering me. This will give me the right amount of repetition I need to be ready for the exam itself. Honestly I felt like I should of studied for the CCNP R/S this way. At my current gig, we didn't touch routing too much besides DMVPN. So a lot of the intricate routing theory I'm starting to loose.