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 After three years, ok 6 months, most laptops are out of date.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?

Books and Covers – Don’t judge me

We tell our children “Don’t judge a book by it’s cover”. Modern Day Adages But isn’t that what we do everyday?

If you’ve talked with me before, you know my stance on “suiting up”, I think it should be left to Politicians, Layers, Gangsters and other such scum. But that’s purely my opinion and, usually, said in jest to the lawyers in my family. I equate wearing a suit with those people, and since I tend to not trust Politicians and Lawyers..well why would *you* trust *me*?


But I digress. In this modern day, we are no longer locked into working in a hard office 8-5 with an hour lunch where we go and have a couple of cocktails with our co-workers. Today we work from home, Starbucks, the airport or anywhere else that we can get free wifi. So I ask you, does it matter what I wear? If there are not customers coming into the office, I’m not visiting customers that day and I’m getting my work done in a quick and competent manner, why does anyone care if I’m wearing Jeans and a Polo?

Business Casual

What I find the most interesting about this is:

There is no generally agreed definition of “business casual”.”

I actually hate the term “business casual”, because to me it means I can wear jeans and a polo. I also prefer that people be clear in their instructions. If you want me in khakis/trousers say so. I prefer the stance of  “As your customer or better”. It’s clear enough, but still gives you some flexibility in what you are wearing.

“Dress Professional”, what exactly does that mean? Does that mean that if I wear a suit I’m suddenly better at my job? That I am suddenly “Professional” because I’m wearing a suit, even if my job is to sweep the floors?(and no I’m not knocking on janitorial duties, trust me all young Marines are professional janitors).

I’m sorry ladies and gentleman, but professionalism always has and will always be a measurement of how well we do our jobs, and not how well we dressed while doing it. Don’t get me wrong, when I’m in front of a customer I wear slacks and a polo, tattoos are in full view. Back when I was a field person doing installs and move/add/change I wore jeans. I’d much rather rip a $20 pair of jeans on the keyboard tray someone left just far enough out to snag and rip my pocket, than a $60 pair of trousers, which has happened.

Are Doctors professionals? Last time I took my daughter into the doctors office, guess what? The doctor and nursing staff (professionals right?!) were wearing scrubs, not slacks, a button, tie and a white lab coat.

Bikers (not professional right?) big scary guys on loud Harley’s, nasty tattoos, and bad attitudes….not so much BACA


So I implore you, don’t judge me by how I’m dressed, my tattoos or piercings, my hair. Instead judge me on my work ethic, how well I perform, how easily I can make you laugh when I’m presenting.

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!:

Emotionally Invested

So recently, I’ve been hearing from a lot of different sources that “We need to keep emotion out of it”, whilst talking about business. And for the most part I was agreeing with this, and then I really started to think about it.

Can you keep emotion out of it? Really think about this for a while, then come back. I *love* what I do, love is an emotion right? I *hate* when I fail, again isn’t hate an emotion? I get *scared* when I think I’ve missed something, especially when there is a deal hinging on if I missed this or not. I think you see my point.

You absolutely can NOT keep emotion out of it. With out emotion you don’t have *passion*. With out *passion*, you should be looking for another job. I can’t ever see myself just going about my day to day, being ambivalent as to whether or not I win, lose, fail, succeed, get a raise, get fired, get a promotion etc. etc. And I sincerely *hope* that if I ever do feel that way, I’ll have already found a new job.

Happy 238th Birthday Marines

(1) On November 10, 1775, a Corps of Marines was created by a resolution of Continental
Congress. Since that date many thousand men have borne the name “Marine”. In memory of them it is
fitting that we who are Marines should commemorate the birthday of our corps by calling to mind the
glories of its long and illustrious history.

(2) The record of our corps is one which will bear comparison with that of the most famous
military organizations in the world’s history. During 90 of the 146 years of its existence the
Marine Corps has been in action against the Nation’s foes. From the Battle of Trenton to the
Argonne, Marines have won foremost honors in war, and in the long eras of tranquility at home,
generation after generation of Marines have grown gray in war in both hemispheres and in every
corner of the seven seas, that our country and its citizens might enjoy peace and security.

(3) In every battle and skirmish since the birth of our corps, Marines have acquitted themselves
with the greatest distinction, winning new honors on each occasion until the term “Marine” has come
to signify all that is highest in military efficiency and soldierly virtue.

(4) This high name of distinction and soldierly repute we who are Marines today have received
from those who preceded us in the corps. With it we have also received from them the eternal spirit
which has animated our corps from generation to generation and has been the distinguishing mark of
the Marines in every age. So long as that spirit continues to flourish Marines will be found equal
to every emergency in the future as they have been in the past, and the men of our Nation will
regard us as worthy successors to the long line of illustrious men who have served as “Soldiers of
the Sea” since the founding of the Corps.

Major General Commandant

What happens when one can’t sleep?

Vegan, Angry Vegan, you’re a Carnivore in Hell
I wanna convert you, I wanna make you…eat meat

I can do it to you gently
I can do it with an animal’s grace
I can do it with chicken
I can do it with gourmet taste

But either way
Either (way), either way
I wanna convert you
I wanna make you…eat meat

I can do it to your mind
I can do it to your face
I can do it with beef
I can do it with fish eggs


Vegan, Angry Vegan, you’re a Carnivore in Hell
Vegan, Angry Vegan, you’re a Carnivore in Hell

I can do it in a chuscaria
I can do it any time or place
I can do it like an BOSS
To quiet down your rage


I can do it with meats of the water
I can do it with meats of dry land
I can do it with sushi
I can do it with my own bare hands

But either way
Either way, you know where it stands
I wanna convert you
I wanna make you…eat meat

Vegan, Angry Vegan, you’re a Carnivore in Hell
Vegan, oh my Vegan

Where did your pleasure go
When the meat came through you
Where did your happiness go
This force is running you around now
Getting you down now
Where is your pleasure now Vegan
Where has your pleasure gone now

Vegan, Angry Vegan…

Based on Poe “Angry Johnny”

Cisco Live 2013 aka Geeks in the Swamp


So being my first blog post, cause you know I heard somewhere this was the thing to do between tweets..thanks Amy (@CommsNinja) decided I’d revisit why I didn’t blog in the past, and why I’m going to be doing it in the future. So why is this titled “Cisco Live 2013 aka Geeks in the Swamp”? Well the picture above has a lot of tweeps and bloggers that finally made me rethink, and it’s where I was last week.

The Why I Didn’t

Basically, I could call it laziness and that would be a part of it, but not the whole truth. The biggest reason I didn’t blog was I couldn’t really find anything that “I” found interesting enough to blog about.

Let’s be honest, I work with wireless and oh yes it is definitely an interesting technology. But after ~5 years in TAC there wasn’t a whole lot I haven’t seen, broken, fixed, played with or snarked about. It was multiple conversation at Cisco Live this year, Tom (@networkingnerd) Andrew (@revolutionwifi) Colin (@colinmcnamara) Amy A.(@amyengineer), and way too many others to realistically list here, that made me realize it’s not what “I” find interesting, it’s what I can share to help others grow!! *facepalm* It really is that simple

The Why I Will

There are two main reasons why I decided I should kick off a blog, one is to share knowledge around wireless/BYOD which is kind of a passion of mine, and to help me document my learning of scripting (Python, Puppet etc).

Cisco Live 2013

Let’s call it what it is, Geek-vana! A bunch of really really smart people all getting together to share knowledge, see old and new friends, and let our Geek flags fly.

In years past (2006/2007/2008) I was stuck in TSC (Technical Solutions Center), and last year sitting in session after session. wHile I did learn a good bit during the sessions, this year I took a different tact. This year, it was all about the social aspects of the conference. I spent a vast majority of my time in the Social Media Hub. Chatting with new friends I met on twitter over the year, old friends I met at other events, and listening. Yes, I listened, amazing right!? Funny thing is when I did I heard the same thing. Blog, Bacon, Blog, Cloud, SDN, Blog, Unicorn and Bacon.

But being in the Hub also allowed me to be agile of calendar. I could go to the side meetings and briefings, there were a few where I thought I’d just listen and not have anything to share…turns out that I was incorrect about that.

To sum up, I learned a lot during the breakouts, where the network is going, why Engineers need to learn some scripting, what cloud can do for me, how many others enjoy bacon (really who doesn’t!), and that I should blog.

I call it a net win for the week.

So the long and attention kiddies.