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#CiscoChampion Radio S2|Ep 42: ACI and OpenStack

#CiscoChampion Radio is a podcast series by Cisco Champions as technologists. Today we’re talking about ACI and OpenStack with Cisco Technical Marketing Engineer, Lauren Malhoit.

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Cisco SME
Lauren Malhoit, Technical Marketing Engineer

Cisco Champion Guest Hosts
Hal Rottenberg (@halr9000) Developer Evangelist at Splunk
Raymond Hicks (@raymhicks) Founder of 5thColumn

Lauren Friedman (@lauren)

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#CiscoChampion Radio S2|Ep 41: Being a Cisco Champion

CiscoChampion200PXbadge#CiscoChampion Radio is a podcast series by Cisco Champions as technologists. Today Cisco Champions share their experiences as  team members and talk about how the program benefits them professionally and personally.

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Listen to this episode
Download this episode (right-click on the episode’s download button)
View this episode in iTunes

Cisco Champion Contributors
Bill Carter @ccie5022
Chris Brown @ChrisKnowsIt
Denise Donohue @LadyNetwkr
Eric Perkins @perk_zilla
Erick Bergquist @erickbe
Jon Hildebrand @snoopj123
Pantelis Stoufis
Scott McDermott @scottm32768
Stewart Goumans @WirelessStew

Rachel Bakker (@rbakker)

Benefits of being a Cisco Champion
Connecting with peers as a Cisco Champion
Memorable Cisco Champion Moments
Being a Cisco Champion at Cisco Live
How being a Cisco Champion helps give back to the IT community
Advice on becoming a Cisco Champion

Cisco Champions Program Overview
Cisco Champions are an elite group of technical experts who are passionate about IT and enjoy sharing their knowledge, expertise, and thoughts across the social web and with Cisco. The program has been running for over two years and has earned two industry awards as an industry best practice.

Resources and Links
About the Program
How to Apply for the 2016 Cisco Champions Program (nominations end November 15, 2015)
Contact the Cisco Champions Management Team

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Call for #CiscoChampion(s) Nominations 2015!

Perhaps you’ve seen the shirts. Maybe you’ve joined in or listened to an episode of Cisco Champion Radio. Or maybe you can not resist learning new things and having access to experts in your area of technical expertise.

Join us--submit your CIsco Champion for Data Center nomination today!

Join us–submit your CIsco Champion for Data Center nomination today!


No matter the reason, if you are curious about the Cisco Champion program, now is the time to nominate. yourself or a colleague for consideration for 2015!

The Basics:

  • October 1: Open call for nominations
  • October 31: Deadline to submit nominations
  • November 25: Cisco Champion Class of 2015 announced

Act now! It’s a great opportunity to participate in everything from blogger briefings to podcasts, and to get to know your industry and your peers better. We need your voice.


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Value of Cisco Certifications: Making Money Vs. Study

Imagine that you see a Tweet today inviting you to apply for a part-time networking job, something you can do in addition to your normal job. You appear to be qualified for the job, and the work looks interesting as well. However, it requires enough of your time so that you would have to set aside your current professional development plans, including study for that next Cisco certification. The job lasts one year.

Would you take the job, setting aside your certification plans for a year? How much money would you need to make in that job before it would entice you to abandon your learning and certification plans for a year?

This post works through a couple of ideas (like the above) about how to quantify the value of a certification. Many people expect that more skills and certifications will give them more Read More »

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Network Design for Automation

20140519-CISCO-spine-and-leafThere has been a lot of recent online discussion about automation of the datacenter network, how we all may (or may not) need to learn programming, the value of a CCIE, and similar topics. This blog tries to look beyond all that. Assume network configuration has been automated. How does that affect network design?

Automation can greatly change the network landscape, or it may change little. It depends on what you’re presently doing for design. Why? The reason is that the programmers probably assumed you’ve built your network in a certain way. As an example, Cisco DFA (Dynamic Fabric Automation) and ACI (Application Centric Infrastructure) are based on a Spine-Leaf CLOS tree topology.

Yes, some OpenFlow vendors have claimed to support arbitrary topologies. Arbitrary topologies are just not a great idea. Supporting them makes the programmers work harder to anticipate all the arbitrary things you might do. I want the programmers to focus on key functionality. Building the network in a well-defined way is a price I’m quite willing to pay. Yes, some backwards or migration compatibility is also desirable.

The programmers probably assumed you bought the right equipment and put it together in some rational way. The automated tool will have to tell you how to cable it up, or it  might check your compliance with the recommended design. Plan on this when you look to automation for sites, a datacenter, or a WAN network.

The good news here is the the Cisco automated tools are likely to align with Cisco Validated Designs. The CVD’s provide a great starting point for any network design, and they have recently been displaying some great graphics. They’re a useful resource if you don’t want to re-invent the wheel — especially a square wheel. While I disagree with a few aspects of some of them, over the years most of them have been great guidelines.

The more problematic part of this is that right now, many of us are (still!) operating in the era of hand-crafted networks. What does the machine era and the assembly line bring with it? We will have to give up one-off designs and some degree of customization. The focus will shift to repeated design elements and components. Namely, the type of design the automated tool can work with.

Some network designers are already operating in such a fashion. Their networks may not be automated, but they follow repeatable standards. Like an early factory working with inter-changeable parts. Such sites have likely created a small number of design templates and then used them repeatedly. Examples: “small remote office”, “medium remote office”, “MPLS-only office”, or “MPLS with DMVPN backup office”.

However you carve things up, there should only be a few standard models, including “datacenter” and perhaps “HQ” or “campus”. If you know the number of users (or size range) in each such site, you can then pre-size WAN links, approximate number of APs, licenses, whatever. You can also pre-plan your addressing, with, say, a large block of  /25’s for very small offices, /23’s for medium, etc.

On the equipment side, a small office might have one router with both MPLS and DMVPN links, one core switch, and some small number of access switches. A larger office might have one router each for MPLS and one for DMPVN, two core switches, and more access switches. Add APs, WAAS, and other finishing touches as appropriate. Degree of criticality is another dimension you can add to the mix: critical sites would have more redundancy, or be more self-contained. Whatever you do, standardize the equipment models as much as possible, updating every year or two (to keep the spares inventory simple).

It takes some time to think through and document such internal standards. But probably not as much as you think! And then you win when you go to deploy, because everything becomes repeatable.

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