More Python goodness

Still working on learning how to use Python to do scripting and automation. I did hit a bit of a roadblock with one project as the documentation on the site had embedded links to some examples…and the links were broken. Kept trying to figure out how to get to them, tried different ways of creating the link from where the main documentation was at, nothing worked. Months of trying this off and on, and then I struck gold!! “Why don’t I just ask for them?” yeah, seems obvious and it should have been, but I had to do some digging to find an email address to send the question to. But wooo!! I finally have the schemas, so I’ll get back to that project eventually.

On to another subject kind of…

A friend of mine, posted some stuff a while back. Good resources to start learning with, so go take a look at Ashley McNamara’s blog.

And I’ve been working (trying too anyway) my way through the stuff on Cisco DevNet as well. Nice thing here as you go through the courses, they have links to their Cisco DevNet Github so you can clone the repo and have the scripts they use already. You’re always free to create your own, but if you are just using their sandbox server, they work great!

Schools, Enterprise or Not

How important is education? We hear this question all the time. So, how important is our children’s education?

Most school networking departments are working on a shoe-string budget. With this budget, they need to upgrade computers both for students and administrators, classroom peripherals i.e. smartboards, projectors. They also need to use this budget to keep their infrastructure  wired and wireless, and cabling up to date…for 5-7 years at a time. Yes you read that right, 5-7 years at a time.

Most people that work for at least a medium sized company, know that they will get a new laptop every three years. After three years, ok 6 months, most laptops are out of date. Wired networks get faster, wireless networks get faster, display drivers change get updated etc. And schools, the places where our children are supposed to be educated, have to wait 5-7 years.

Let’s think for a second, what do schools use that equipment for? To educate the next generation. Indeed more and more educational content is being presented online instead of via text books. School assignments are saved to the cloud. Heck even YouTube has educational content on it.

This post goes into how the children are more engaged with digital learning.

So the big Question: Are schools an Enterprise?

In my opinion, they absolutely are, or at least should be thought of as one. Let’s think about a school district that has 3,000, 5,000 or 10,000+ students. That’s HUGE when it comes to networking. How many switches are needed? How many Access Points are needed? What are the uplinks back to the MDF? Security? Internet Access? Server/Storage/Virtualization? Software? There are a lot of points that need to be upgraded, but how can they do that on small budgets?

I’ve been in schools that have 20+ year old fiber MDF to IDF, it’s not uncommon, and they can’t upgrade it due to budget constraints. They do what they can, upgrade switches, upgrade Access Points so that our children can learn. But to use one of my favorite analogies:

You buy a brand new Jaguar. It’s sleek, it’s pretty and it’s fast. But you live out on a gravel and dirt road. Makes a lot of sense right?

Now expand that to school networks. The students and faculty get spiffy new equipment, whether district or self provided. We’ve given the children a device that can access educational content at the speed of light,  but have constrained them to an infrastructure that is old and slow.

How can we expect our children to learn, to stay engaged when the local Starbucks has faster access? Why are we not helping our schools upgrade their infrastructure out of the dark ages? We go to work and expect, no demand, that the network be fast and stable. Why is this not a demand of schools? Or more importantly the School Boards?

How do we get more funding to the schools? How do we ensure that the next generation(s) has the tools necessary to thrive and surpass us?

802.11ac Speeds

Faster, faster faster!!! That’s what we all want right? Faster cars, faster computers, faster Wireless?


Well, let’s put the brakes on that for a minute and talk about this.

Let’s talk about what happens when we go “faster” and how we achieve it. Let’s start with Channel Bonding. Wireless uses a 20MHz wide channel to pass traffic, let’s think of this like a 1″ hose. In 802.11n with 5GHz channel bonding, we can now take that single 1″ hose and join it with a second 1″ hose, and basically have a 2″ hose that can spray more data. Sounds great right?!

The other way we get faster is modulation. Modulation let’s you say more in the same amount of space.. Anyone remember The Micro Machines ManJohn Moschitta could say more in one minute than you could. Or if you prefer this analogy, the smaller you can write on a sheet of paper the more information you can get on it. 802.11ac allows for up to 256-QAM Modulation and we can take that bonding and go 20, 40, 60, even 80MHz wide!! ZOMG the speeds, the speeds!! STOP


Now we need to think a little bit about how this is going to affect the wireless network. So to start a little refresher. In the U.S. we have 3 non overlapping channels in the 2.4GHz spectrum 1/6/11. Now we all know that the 2.4GHz is “dirty”, lots of things can (and do) interfere with it. We also know that with the density that is needed to support BYOD/BYOT that even when the power is turned to it’s lowest setting there are issues with CCI (co-channel interference) and ACI (adjacent channel interference).

In the 5GHz spectrum, we have more channels (9-12 depending on the installation), and a “cleaner” spectrum. For the purposes of this post, we are going to assume we have 12 channels.


40MHz wide, if we go with 12 channels, that means we can have 6 channels to use. In most environments that should be fine, really dense deployments like Stadiums aside.

80MHz wide, again assuming 12 channels, we have only 3 channels that we can use. This puts us right back to one of the issues with 2.4GHz, we don’t have enough channels. So let’s hope you’re not doing this.



In the above infogram, you can see the max connected rate and throughput for a an 802.11ac client with 1/2/3SS. Remember this is “theoretical” and perfect world.

802.11ac wave 2 allows for up to 4 SS, and channel bonding of 80-80 or 160MHz wide. If we have issues going 80MHz wide, why would you want to go even wider and have only 1 usable channel? And “usable” it may not be depending on what your neighbors wireless is doing. Adding another Tx/Rx pair to a device is going to, probably, make it bigger. We all want to carry aroudn 17″ laptops and phablets right? That’s why what I’m really waiting for is MU-MIMO.


So for all the spiffy new speeds we can get, to achieve those “theoretical maximums” we have to sacrifice our spectrum, which we shouldn’t do. Channel reuse becomes a pain again, even if you are using some automagic channel/power settings.


Granted, this is all IMHO, take it or leave it.

“Work Life “

I caught a post yesterday…ummmm ok maybe it was the other day…anyway when I saw it isn’t important what it was about is, “Work Life Balance”.


What is theWork Life Balance really? Well according to that wikipedia article, it is a concept of prioritizing work and lifestyle. Any less confused? yeah me either. What this sounds like to me is you work then you play…but make sure you make time to play.

Depending on your job, can you really balance work and life? Ok, sure if you have “desk job” an “8-5” or something where you are forced into standard set hours? Sure you can manage to balance it pretty easily. Once you the 5 o’clock whistle blows, you make like Fred Flintstone and don’t think about work until 8am ( ok 8:30am) the next morning. But to me balance equates to 50/50 work/life.

But what happens if you have a job that is not bound by set hours? What if you are doing more “project based” work? Well then we take a look at Work Life Integration….yup no link for this one, I couldn’t seem to find any singular article that really defined what it is/was/should be.

So from what I can infer from reading lots of articles, Integration means working when you need to. Don’t watch the clock, work when you are best capable of completing a task. Is that 6am, or maybe for you it is 10pm after the kids are in bed and the nightly news is over. If you want to go to the gym at 11am go. if you want to go for a bike ride at 2pm, go!


To me Work Life Integration feels like “Get your work done on schedule, to the best of your abilities, be responsive to your team/customers and all is good”


With the amount of remote workers increasing, I hope that the above methodology will become more prevalent. Does it matter if i’m at my desk from 8-5 so long as I am reachable? Does it matter if I take a couple of hour break in the middle of the day, so long as I put in my time later(or earlier)?

I won’t go into how this can keep workers more focused, less stressed and in general happier. But I will end on this post that I like to read when I’ve been thinking about taking a vacation. US vs Europe

The Importance of Social Media to the Network Engineer…Or I Tweet therefore I am

It takes a village to raise a child, it takes a Community to raise an engineer.

Over the last few years, more and more of us are using social media. And by “social media” I’m not just talking about email lists, support forums whether vendor supported or not (though they are important as well). No, I’m talking about Twitter, Facebook, Skype, FaceTime and all other forms of instant(ok semi-instant) communication.

This growing trend, from my perspective, has helped us grow more as engineers than anything else I’ve encountered in the 18 or so years I’ve been repairing/installing/designing systems.

In the beginning we all have a mentor. Someone that we are assigned to work with to help get us up to speed. Once you reach a certain level of competence you are thrust out into the big bad network to keep things moving smoothly. Of course you still have your co-workers you can rely on when you need help. But what happens when you encounter a problem they haven’t seen before? You can reach out to the vendors tech support group of course, but sometimes that can take days to get an answer from. I’m not bashing tech support, I spent the better part of five years doing it. But understand that tech support gets tons of calls, and you can only be so productive.

So what do you do? What should you do?

Why, reach out to the social media channels! Tweet out your question or issue! You would be really surprised by who will reply to your issue and how fast a response you can get. I’ve seen engineers in the US work with engineers in the UK, Australia, Germany (you get the picture?) to resolve issues. If someone doesn’t know an answer, they can retweet it to their followers as well:


We have study groups that run across social media, shooting out questions and scenarios they have in their books, and getting responses and explanations from other studiers or people that already have that certification. Being able to reach out to the people that create the materials, like Joe Onisick and Ron Fuller.

From Denise “Fish” Fishburne

In 2001 I tripped into what seemed to be the perfect job for me. I learn, I teach, I help people, and I get to play detective. Had anyone heard of “Denise Fishburne” (aka “Fish”) before 2013? Not really. Did I care? 🙂 Not really. It’s hard to care about not being “known” when you are a lab rat having tons of fun with great co-workers.

Social Media

In 2011 a friend of mine setup introductions with Network World. I submitted 2 sample blog posts and they picked me up. Network World suggested I sign up on this “Twitter” thing. Like many people who aren’t on twitter I had my own notions and ideas of what it was and I hadn’t voluntarily joined it. But I signed up. Didn’t do much with it. Just signed up.

In the spring of 2013 I started playing more with this “twitter thing” prior to CiscoLive. I still remember Jeremy Filliben coming up to me at CiscoLive in 2013 and saying “hi” as if he already knew me. He was my first “in real life” twitter connection.

**January, 2014** – yup… That’s when it all happened. John Spade had asked me on twitter to do a “Cisco Helpout – Women in Network Engineering” podcast. I said yes. Amy Lewis @commsninja was also on the show. Soon after I become a Cisco Champion. Then?

CiscoLive 2014
Met awesome and incredible other Cisco Champions
Hung out at the Social Lounge with the fabulous “tweet-up” gang
Went to my first customer appreciation party ever
Had a lot of fun playing with others with sparkly bats, bacon, tiaras, and masks
Got lots of hugs
After CiscoLive 2014? I have now moved over to writing for PacketPushers and Networking Computing. Admittedly I still pinch myself about Packet Pushers.

I’m your basic lab rat. I like playing in the lab. I come out of the lab about once a year for CiscoLive. Not really the type of job that screams “name recognition OUTSIDE of Cisco comes with this job”. The name recognition outside of Cisco truly has its root in social media. Social media allows me the best of 2 worlds: the lab rat job I love and the interaction outside of Cisco with awesome incredible people I would not have otherwise met.

Dennis Smith
I’d say being active in social & community help me move from Dell to EMC. Never hurts when ppl know who you are before you apply.

Jeremiah Dooley
It’s fair to say that Social and Community have been at the center of every professional opportunity I’ve had since 2010.

I was a Director at a regional service provider in February of 2010 when I initiated the first SP POC for the then new Vblock, long before there were “Acadia” or “VCE” organizations to support it. EMC drove it, with most of the original group of vSpecialists jumping in to assist. Needless to say, there were…issues. I got frustrated, and shared with Chuck Hollis one of the internal e-mails I had sent to my management, and his suggestion was that there were lots of people who would appreciate me sharing my experience publicly. He asked if I’d ever thought of standing up a blog.

From there, things snowballed. My sharing with the community led to relationships, that led to me being hired by Acadia/VCE, that led to me moving into a very visible position with the company. I’ve gotten to travel the world multiple times over, I’ve gotten to work with some of the best and brightest individuals and companies. I’ve been rescued when I needed it, and able to rescue others when they needed it. I’ve found incredible people who I want to learn from, learned to treasure mentoring and helping new people in the community and had fun creating new ways to give back. Being in the right place helps, but it was the community and my willingness to engage them directly that made those things happen. No one is an island in this industry. No one.

The community is the gateway to knowledge. It’s the gateway to resources. It’s the gateway to people and access to technology. Social is how the community interacts. You can’t separate the two, and without them my life would be very different, and my horizons and aspirations would be much smaller.

Heck, I even asked for help writing this blog post!: