Author Archives: Russ

At Cisco Live!

The Network Collective crew—Jordan, Eyvonne, and I—will be at Cisco Live this week. You can normally find me hanging around the certifications or social media lounge, or just walking around the floor talking to folks. I’m presenting at the CCDE techtorial on Sunday.

Reaction: The Power of Open APIs

Disaggregation, in the form of splitting network hardware from network software, is often touted as a way to save money (as if network engineering were primarily about saving money, rather than adding value—but this is a different soap box). The primary connections between disaggregation and saving money are the ability to deploy white boxes, and the ability to centralize the control plane to simplify the network (think software defined networks here—again, whether or not both of these are true as advertised is a different discussion).

But drivers that focus on cost miss more than half the picture. A better way to drive the value of disaggregation, and the larger value of networks within the larger network technology sphere, is through increased value. What drives value in network engineering? It’s often simplest to return to Tannenbaum’s example of the station wagon full of VHS backup tapes. To bring the example into more modern terms, it is difficult to beat the bandwidth of an overnight box full of USB thumb drives in terms of pure bandwidth.

In this view, networks can primarily be seen as a sop to human impatience. They are a way to get things done more quickly. In the Continue reading

The Value of Community

What seems, now, like a few short months ago, I was drawn into a small community known as The Network Collective. This last week, we launched our paid membership service.

The first thing that must come to mind is that there will be training. Of course there will be training. A (minor) theme throughout the community launch among Eyvonne, Jordan, and I, is that the training on tap will be different from anything else out there. We all three have a great deal of respect for the existing training materials, and we all intend to continue to be involved in other training and education efforts. On the other hand, the style, tone, and content will be different at The Network Collective. The first series being launched are math for network engineers, a long conversation on network design, and a long conversation on communication skills. But training is, once again, a minor theme.

The major theme of The Network Collective is community.

Consider the position of the “average” network engineer. You are either the expert, or one of a few experts, on a topic very few people care about in your organization. What you build is largely seen as an opaque Continue reading