As some of you know, I had the privilege of being invited to my first Networking Field day which was held back in early March. The experience was incredible. Being able to talk directly to vendors (moreover, the subject matter experts at the vendors) about their current and upcoming offerings is an incredible experience. On top of that, I got to meet some of the network bloggers and experts that I’ve been reading and following for many years. These are the guys that helped me get involved in blogging and the networking community.
And now for a quick rant on the ‘networking community’.
GET INVOLVED! While it might be hard to believe, there is a VERY active networking community out there. It’s not hard! I started my blog in November of 2009. My first post was on how to configure guest wireless on a base license ASA security appliance. And I was running my blog on this…
That is an old Pentium 4 computer I found in a dumpster somewhere. It’s running CentOS with WordPress on top of it. I had to learn at least basic Linux to get the thing working (another learning experience!) and I’ve been using the box ever since. Should I upgrade? Maybe, but that’s not my point. You don’t even have to go this far, if you don’t mind having a URL like blog.wordpress.com you can do this for FREE! All it takes is your time!
A tweet that Ethan Banks (@ecbanks) sent yesterday sort of brought my thought process on blogging full circle…
And while your at it, write a blog entry on it! I can’t tell you how much blogging has helped my learning process. I’m a firm believer that sometimes you just need to hear an explanation phrased in a different way for it to make sense to you. There are likely thousands of blog entries out there on how to configure private VLANs on Cisco gear. Does that make them redundant or unnecessary? I’d argue that some of the blog posts out there make WAY more sense than Cisco’s documentation. It all depends on how you learn and how your brain processes the concepts. Another plus of blogging is having a public online archive of what you’ve been studying and working on. Forget how to do something? Have internet access? Just look it up!
I’ll admit, there were times over the last 3+ years where I neglected the blog entirely. Stuff happens, but I think you’ll find that once you start blogging, and really get involved, it becomes an addiction. I love blogging now. Why? Because I’m involved in the community. Here’s an example. I posted an article on how to configure standard and extended ACLs based on my CCIE studies. Within hours of posting I get a comment from Paul Stewart (@packetu) over at Packet University…
And just like that, something came up that hadn’t ever occurred to me. The networking community is about so much more than just blog posts. It’s about having a community of people who are REALLY interested in networking that you can communicate with, bounce ideas off of, and learn from.
And you don’t have to be an expert to get started. I had just just gotten my CCNA 4 years ago when I started blogging and all I had was a strong interest in learning more about networking. 4 years later I’m sitting on my couch studying for me CCIE and I get an email from Stephen Foskett (@sfoskett) asking if I want to come to a Networking Field day event.
My point is that you should get involved. Trust me, if you are interested in getting involved, you’ll be more than surprised by the experience. So if you’re interested in becoming part of the ‘networking community’ but don’t know where to start, just reach out! We’re all here to help you get started and everyone that’s involved loves it when the community get’s bigger.
End ‘networking community’ rant
Now that my rant is over, let’s talk a little bit more about the actual event. If you’ don’t know what Tech Field days are, the Tech Field Day site is a great place to start…
Basically, delegates from across the blogging community get invited to the events by Gestalt IT. Vendors have blocks of time in which they can talk to us about new technologies, new products, and ask for feedback. The whole idea is to connect people together. You ,as a blogger, get the chance to talk to the real subject matter experts at some of the vendors which is something that doesn’t happen as often as it should.
Another neat thing about Tech Field Days is that they are streamed live. That is, even if you aren’t there in person , you can watch the stream live and interact with the delegates through twitter or other social media. In addition, the videos are then professionally edited and posted online for you to view later. Here’s a quick run down of the vendors that presented and their associated recordings…
Cisco Data center and Borderless
Cisco OnePK and Puppet
Cisco One Controller
Cisco Catalyst Dual VSS
Cisco 3850 Demo
Cisco Identity and OnePK integration
Cisco DC Mobility
Stephen Foskett leading the Cisco Idol competition
Cisco In depth DC mobility discussion
Cisco Wired and Wireless Demo
Free-From discussion on SDN and hybrid Switching
Intro and General Overview
SWiS API Intro and Demo
Free product offerings
Introduction to the Wi-Fi market and Ruckus
Wi-Fi channel and protocol discussion
Welcome and Introduction
OpenFlow and ONF Discussion
MLXe and OpenFlow discussion
Macro Trends in Networking
Plexxi technology overview – WDM
Affinities and applications
Puppet for JunOS
Juniper Next Gen sneak peak
WebApp secure demo and discussion
So there you have it. I love the idea of being able to go back and view pieces of the actual presentations when I’m looking at a particular technology later on. A quick side-note on that topic. There is A LOT of content here. Many delegates explain the event as ‘drinking from the fire hose’. That’s totally true. There were lots of technologies discussed that I plan on spending a lot more time looking at. However, that’s going to take time. I fully expect to be generating NFD5 related posts for the next 3 or 4 months at least. Since I like to write more about the ‘hands on’ application of these technologies it tends to take more time, especially since all of this stuff is cutting edge.
The other huge plus of attending NFD5 was meeting some truly awesome people. Not only from the vendors, but the other delegates and Tech Field day staff. If you don’t currently follow these people, do so now…
Brandon Carroll – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/brandon-carroll/
Brent Salisbury – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/brent-salisbury/
Collin McNamara – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/colin-mcnamara/
Ethan Banks – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/ethan-banks/
Greg Ferro – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/greg-ferro/
John Herbert – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/john-herbert/
Josh O’brien – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/josh-obrien/
Paul Stewart – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/paul-stewart/
Pete Welcher – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/pete-welcher/
Terry Slattery – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/terry-slattery/
Tom Hollingsworth – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/tom-hollingsworth/
Stephen Foskett – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/stephen-foskett/
Claire Chaplais – http://techfieldday.com/delegate/claire-chaplais/
I was admittedly a little nervous meeting all of these people. I mean, this is a list of some of the smartest people in the networking industry. They were all amazing people to meet. I was more than honored to meet them all and look forward to continued contact going forward.
So that’s it. I wanted to get my first NFD5 post out there (along with my ‘community’ rant) to get things started. I’m taking a month or so off from CCIE studying to focus on blogging so expect some more NFD related posts in the coming weeks.