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4+1 Practices for Effective Lifelong IT Learning (Part 1)

The debate of what we should be learning seems to be a more frequent topic today. For instance, there’s been a long-standing question for each new networker: after learning a little about routing and switching, does a relative newbie dive deep into route/switch? Move on to learn voice? Or security? Data Center? Or for emerging technologies like SDN, should we learn SDN as defined by the Open Networking Foundation, or ACI, or both? Should we build programming skills to become network programmers, or programming for network automation, or stick with traditional config/verify/troubleshooting skills?

So we can talk to coworkers and discuss/argue about what technologies we should learn… but then we all seem to agree that learning throughout our careers is hugely important. (In fact, the day I was wrapping up this blog post, the Cisco Champion podcast included several people making that very same point, in agreement.) And then we stop talking about learning, because we all agree. We agree that learning is important, and don’t talk about how to learn effectively.

Our long-term career prospects depend in part on learning about existing and emerging technology. But how good are our learning skills? Are we happy with the results? How can we get better at learning?

Today’s post begins a 2-part post that offers a top 4+1 list of answering that last question: how do we get better at learning? Rather than us just agreeing that learning is important, and moving on, let’s treat the process of learning as an important process, and learn how to do it better. Read More »

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How Cisco Certifications Landed Me the Coolest Job in South Florida; Literally

When I started with my first Cisco router back in 1995, I never would have imagined I would someday be the technology lead for an ice arena of an NHL team. I also would never have predicted the impact that having a Cisco certification would have on being recruited to that position.

Most of my career up until now was spent working in the small and medium business space, primarily on ISP and telecom space working with voice and networks with some software and infrastructure design in the middle. Cisco was a large part of everything that I did from routing and switching to voice over frame relay followed by voice over IP, with a large emphasis on small bandwidth efficiency and signalling. I’m even the lead inventor on an issued patent relating to intelligent rerouting of fax traffic on VoIP systems.

I never thought much about certifications. I have a BA in Economics which has served me well as a business owner and largely found all my work via word of mouth. There were not a lot of people who understood VoIP payload and signalling tuning, starting from the MC3810 and up through the as5300/as5800 series. This was primarily in international carrier / wholesale VoIP traffic and engineering.

As VoIP became more of a commodity good and the cost of equipment came down, this market dried up. In hindsight, I should have paid more attention to Cisco exiting that market, which proved to be a good decision. As my clients and partners moved on to other ventures and I was forced to begin prospecting.

Suddenly, here I was with 30 years since I’d written my first program and roughly 20 years of internet and Cisco experience and I was struggling. I had a lot of experience, but didn’t have a portfolio of work that included any big names, mostly small businesses that no one had heard of. I needed a way to give new clients the confidence to call me. I knew that once I started the conversation, I could close the deal. Before that, however, I needed to actually get that call or email. Read More »

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Winning Back the Weather Radio Channels Adds Capacity to 5GHz Wi-Fi Spectrum

In my last blog on 5 GHz spectrum, I discussed the recent FCC ruling that permitted outdoor access points to use the U-NII 1 band (5150-5250 MHz).

But the story doesn’t  stop there. As mentioned last time, there are significant technical challenges to using the 5 GHz band. It is not cleared spectrum. It contains incumbent uses that are important for national security and public safety. Therefore, it is imperative that Wi-Fi not create harmful interference to these incumbent systems. Cisco will not settle for less.

On the topic of interference, a particularly interesting component of the same  FCC ruling that opened the U-NII1 band for outdoor AP’s is that it also re-opened the Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) band (channels 120, 124, 128) with new test requirements for DFS protection. Hold on, let’s backtrack a bit before diving into what this means:

What is TDWR?

In brief, Terminal Doppler Weather Radar (TDWR) “is a Doppler weather radar system used primarily for the detection of hazardous wind shear conditions, precipitation, and winds aloft on and near major airports situated in climates with great exposure to thunderstorms in the United States.” TDWR uses the frequency band from 5600-5650 MHz which is why wireless network equipment needs to be proven to “do no harm” to TDWR. If you’re curious for more information on TDWR, then please click here and/or here.

A Brief History

Many of you reading this will recall that the FCC closed the use of the TDWR band several years ago as the result of numerous reports of wireless equipment creating interference with TDWR. Read More »

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Is Your Team Prepared for a Cyber Attack? Get Ready with CyberRange Training

The fire alarm went off in my building again, but fortunately, it was only a drill. By now, we are all used to the periodic fire drills for emergency preparedness in our workplaces. But have you ever wondered if there is a similar exercise possible for a cyber attack? The same logic applies. Your team will be better prepared to handle a disaster if they are trained for it.

Seeing is believing: Today I am excited to share this video from our Cisco Korea team that showcases Cisco CyberRange.

Read More »

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Recap: Cisco Social Broadcast – The Future of IT Education

Earlier this week, Cisco’s Chief Futurist Dave Evans and I took questions from you, our partners and customers, about our views and predictions for the future of IT Education.

The discussion covered a broad variety of fascinating topics, ranging from the impact of wearable technologies in the classroom, to how we can overcome skills gaps in critical areas such as network security with new approaches to talent development.

Technology has had a dramatic impact on education over the past few years with tablets, digital chalkboards and new collaboration tools changing the way students learn and professionals advance their careers.

Below is a link to view the recording of the broadcast. If you have any questions that didn’t get answered, please leave them in the comments, and Dave or I will get back to you: http://newsroom.cisco.com/feature/1332106

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