Category Archives for "Himawan Nugroho"

Source of Truth

"Imagine walking down the park with your wife, and suddenly seeing your ex. Wife talks automation, she agrees. Wife says intent, she does the same. Wife talks container... and now they are best friends forever."

Since Cisco and Google announced a partnership to deliver a hybrid cloud solution last year, I started following back to see what my ex is doing in software space. During my time in Cisco it used to be a hardware-first company, or a "software solution that must run in own hardware"-first company, so it is interesting to hear about the announcement of Kubernetes-based Cisco Container Platform recently. It is great to see new materials from Cisco DevNet to transform the skills for Network Engineer towards software-based and automation, just like this awesome Network Programmability Basics video course.

One blog post by Hank Preston about "Network as Code" caught my attention. He laid the three principles of Network as Code: 
  • Store Network Configurations in Source Control
  • Source Control is the Single Source of Truth
  • Deploy Configurations with Programmatic APIs
and now I would like to expand more about this Source of Truth, in the context of network device config generation.

Source of Truth is the Continue reading

Network Engineer Certification in 2018

Last week I was in Mountain View, in a room full of senior Network Engineers, and we were talking about the skills that need to be developed by more junior Network Engineers. Suddenly someone shouted from the back "CCIE!" and the whole room started laughing.

So CCIE is a laughing stock now?

No need to get offended. You have to understand the context here:
These group of people have been working for the best company in the world. They have been working on the most advanced network infrastructure. The company's undersea cables connect all contingents, to delivers 25% of worldwide Internet traffic.

These people didn't develop their skill through certification. They developed their skills by building the real stuff. When these group of Network Engineers realized the network capacity in the company's data centers has grown so fast that conventional routers and switches can't keep up to meet the requirements of its distributed systems, they decided to build its own instead. These Network Engineers build and operate software-defined networking, before the world invented that terminology. They've been automating network operation in Data Center, WAN, Internet Peering, all the way to Wifi and Enterprise networking, to support 7 company's Continue reading

Network Engineer Jobs

So you want to work for Google as Network Engineer? Check out one of the job ads here. I pasted the screenshot below just in case the ad is removed once the position is no longer available.

"You'll build software for distributed services, abstractions and the components of the system that operates and powers Google." OK, even this is not common in Network Engineer job description, it makes sense since Google is running one of the world's largest networks to connect its data centers that are scattered all around world. As minimum requirement, you must have experience in software development in one or more modern programming languages e.g. C++, Java, Python, Go, etc. And learn how to code using "Teach yourself Python in 24 hours" won't be enough since it is expected for you to have experience in data structures, complexity analysis and software design.

Is Google really looking for Network Engineer (NE), and not Software Engineer (SWE)? Yup, you still need to have expertise in networking protocols and technologies, including end-to-end packet flow, forwarding and routing. Google knows that a world class distributed computing infrastructure must run on world class networking infrastructure that is operated reliably and Continue reading

Building Intent Based Networking System

I've been unhappy with my creation-to-consumption ratio lately, which is the amount of time spent creating compared to amount of time spent consuming. Yes I spend time creating design documents, business proposals, system architecture, slides for both technical and non-technical content, product requirement documents, blog posts, and occasionally write simple codes, but much of my free time is spent consuming for Netflix, newspapers, Twitter, televised sports, Facebook, blogs, Medium, TV series, online courses and others.

You may say we need consumption as an input prior to creating. And I agree, consuming is fine if it is part of learning or research in order to create something. But creation must come first. So if I commit to create something, let's say a system design or even this blog post, I must start by starting the work first and whenever I feel some information is needed to add or validate the work only then I will consume new inputs to mix with the old ones and fuel creativity.

Tonight I'm sitting in front of my macbook, in an attempt to increase my creation-to-consumption ratio, by writing about building Intent-Based Networking System (IBNS). Let's start with problem definition.

The end customer is a Continue reading

Network Engineer Evolution

About two years ago I made a learning roadmap for network engineers who want to transform their skills towards Software Defined Networking. I presented it at various events including Cisco Live. It was good, but it looks like I didn't provide the full story. So let's discuss it again, and we will start from the very beginning.

Any network engineer who just starts his or her career today will begin in Phase 1: as the User of networking products where the engineer only knows how to configure the product, hopefully by reading the documentation from the vendor's website first. This type of engineer is what I call "Config Monkey" (sorry, monkey!). If you think you are still in this phase, please don't get offended: I started my career here too. There is no innovation at all, only follow the manual to make the products run.

Then we will move to Phase 2: as Advanced User of networking products. This is the phase where the engineer understands how networking protocols work in detail. He is a domain expert now and can start fine tuning the protocols to optimize the infrastructure. IGP timers, fast re-route, BGP attributes etc. and the engineer Continue reading

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, fourth of July, was my first day at Google Zürich. It’s been a very interesting journey so far, and from the beginning I spent most of my time to focus on three things: switch to Product Management to learn how to build great product, work on scalable Enterprise networking solution from cloud-based SDN to intent-driven automation, and learn data analysis in-depth from data visualization all the way to Machine Learning, to be used in product development.

As you notice, I rarely post new blog since I joined the company last year. And I find it quite difficult to find any active blog from other Googlers too. Just like any tech company, when we joined all of us signed an agreement containing various obligations including the requirement to hold proprietary information and trade secrets in strictest confidence. But I believe there should be some non-confidential things that we can share in our personal blog.

So why can’t we blog?

First, we are very busy here. And not because we have to, but we choose to.

I mean, there are just too many interesting things to do and to learn at Google. If you work for the Continue reading

2016 Year in Review

Every beginning of the year I usually review what I have done the past one year, make notes, and build the plan for the upcoming year. I made many mistakes in the past, did things I’m not proud of, however I use them as opportunity to learn and try to be better next time.

Early 2016 I found that my startup company was competing directly against Cisco (that was still my employer at that time). That was quite surprising. I founded that company in 2012 initially as my pet project, the lab for my MBA, where I can practice whatever I learned from the business school. My pitch for the startup was simple: we do what Cisco (or Cisco Services) will not do. We built online learning platform to learn Cisco certification using group mentoring system. We run physical network audit. We did system integration projects to interoperate Cisco products with any other vendors.

However, since late 2014 the engineering team in my company have evolved. They grew skills in network programming. The team put more focus on Software Defined Networking (SDN). They built lab to validate Network Function Virtualization (NFV). And then the team started to develop our own Continue reading

I’m Leaving You

No. It’s not you.
It’s me. It’s always been me.

I remember the first time we met. It was early 2000.
I was young and just graduated from Mechanical Engineering.
I didn’t have any job.
I was desperate. That’s when I met you.
It was like love at first sight.
I spent sleepless nights just to know you.
And more and more I spent time with you, more and more I love you.

I spent time with several others, but my mind and heart were always be with you.
I knew I have to get to you, at any cost.
Even if I had to sacrifice.
Even if I had to leave my home in Dubai.
Even if I had to leave all my friends behind.

Finally in 2006 we were officially together.
I remember it was November, in Singapore.
I couldn’t describe how happy I was.

I traveled many countries in Asia Pacific for you.
I never asked questions. I was a very happy man.
And you invited me several times to visit your home in California.
I was living my dream.

You asked me to move back to Dubai with you in 2008.
A request that I didn’t Continue reading

Big Data vs. SDN

During one Software Defined Networking (SDN) workshop I hosted in Jakarta early this year, my friend was presenting a session with thought provoking title: Big Data vs. SDN. He is the CEO of a Deep Packet Inspection (DPI) and Data Analytic company that relies on Big Data technologies, so I can understand why he brought up such topic. But just like the new movie Batman vs. Superman that will be released this week, should the two heroes are fighting each other? Should the two are competing between each other? Big Data and SDN obviously solve different problems. And the way I look at it, they are actually closer to work together to deliver platform to help business with CAPEX reduction, OPEX reduction and agility in delivering new services.

The most natural approach to define Big Data is with the bigness. However according to Gartner, Big Data is defined as “high volume, high velocity and/or high variety information assets” that can be used to improve decision making and provide better insights.The majority of raw data, particularly Big Data, does not offer a lot of value in its unprocessed state. Big Data Analytic is the process of examining Big Data to Continue reading

SDN Warriors All-In-One VM

SDN Warriors open community Facebook group today is releasing All-In-One VM v1.0, a Virtual Machine that anyone can run in PC or laptop to learn SDN & NFV skills. The VM runs Ubuntu OS and contains pre-installed OpenStack, OpenFlow network simulated by mininet with OpenDaylight controller, physical router simulated by dynamips, simple web portal and Network Manager written in python created by Riftadi SDN Warriors group admin. The VM is not created nor endorsed by Cisco, Canonical, ONF, Linux Foundation or OpenStack community, so please don’t ask for any support whatsoever from them. One way to use the VM is: by using only a single click in web portal we can provision automatically new vrouter VNF as OpenStack VM, configure OpenFlow network to connect physical router and vrouter, then configure OSPF routing in both physical and vrouter. You can start with this simple use case, then expand it as part of your learning. The VM is free to download and available here:

What a Week at Cisco Live Berlin!

What a week at Cisco Live Berlin! First time presenting BRKSDN-4005 in front of 180 people, many are CCIEs. Brought one talented Indonesian who demonstrated All-in-one VM to learn SDN & NFV at home, using a single click on web portal to auto provision physical router, openflow with ODL, router VNF on OpenStack KVM, from Network Manager he wrote in python. And btw he has 2x CCIEs ;-)

CCIE Skill Transformation to SDN Survey

I’m conducting “CCIE Skill Transformation to SDN” survey, to capture the perceived impact of SDN & NFV to CCIEs, as well as to understand how CCIEs think about their readiness to these new technologies. The result will be presented during my session at Cisco Live Berlin (BRKSDN-4005) on 16 February 2016. Only those who have passed CCIE lab can participate in the survey (regardless of your current CCIE status e.g. inactive or Emeritus). The information you provide is confidential and will not be disclosed as individual answer. No personal data will be exposed and shared to any parties. Thank you in advance for your support

Hackathon and New Way of Hiring

I’ve been very busy the past 6 months. I was juggling between my work at Cisco, my personal activities in Indonesia, SDN warriors group, my MBA final semester, traveling, my SDN & NFV skill transformation, family issues, and all other tasks. I don’t believe in multi-tasking, so what I did was actually task-switching. Make priority list of all the tasks, keep switching from one task to another, re-prioritize the list, continue switching and so on. And unfortunately updating this blog was never the top priority in the list.

Anyway, during August 2015 I was leading my team to host SDN Hackathon event in Jakarta, Indonesia. It was 3-day event, started with 8-hour SDN Workshop to explain the technology from the architecture, SDN & NFV use cases in real world, up to the discussion about the skills we must develop to become Network Programmability Engineer and Network DevOps. The Hackathon happened after the workshop where we challenge group of students for 30 hours straight to develop SDN solution ground-up, from setting up physical network infrastructure, virtual infrastructure, all the way to workflow automation to provision network services using Web User Interface.

I won’t talk in detail about the event. It’s been Continue reading

SDN Warriors

SDN Warriors Facebook Group is an open group for any Network Engineer who wants to transform to become SDN & NFV Architect, Network Programmability Engineer and Network DevOps. The group is run by mentors who are currently transforming ourselves and willing to help others to do the same. We have the skills and experiences with various SDN solutions, we have done SDN & NFV projects, we have hosted SDN Hackathon event, we have even created our own SDN products.
Non-SDN related topics will be banned, and please use English only

How to Bring SDN/NFV into Reality

Unless you've been living inside a cave, or on top of a mountain without any Internet connection, you must have heard or read the news about Software-Defined Networking (SDN). In fact, SDN news pops up too often these days it makes some skeptics start thinking whether it is really real or just another hype in networking industry.

The challenge is it seems like everybody comes with their own definition of SDN. Each networking vendor displays its solution based on each own interpretation of SDN implementation. IETF group called the Interface to the Routing System (I2RS) is still trying to standardize southbound programming protocols and network-wide, multilayer topologies that include both virtual and real elements, network overlays and underlays. Open Networking Foundation (ONF), as a user-driven organization dedicated to the promotion and adoption of SDN, until today is mainly focusing on standardization of OpenFlow protocol. And the rise of new SDN startups, no doubt have created lots of excitement with many innovations within SDN spaces, contributes to the confusion at the same time.

The questions from today's business leaders in companies that consume networking technologies: if we want to embrace SDN, are we on the right track? Which way to go? Continue reading

Skill Development Planning by the Dozen

I’ve been going to Cisco Live as one of the speakers for several years now. As Cisco employee, you can go to Cisco Live (for free) only if you are a speaker, or part of the World of Solutions exhibition, or if you come for the customers, or to support the network infrastructure for the event.

For the past three years at Cisco Live I’ve been sharing strategy and tips and tricks of how to become CCIE based on my own experience. My part of the session is focusing on skill development planning to achieve the objective, which is to pass CCIE lab exam. There are many technical sessions available during the event, but only very few talk about how to build learning plan and walk you through step by step of sample plan created by someone who has done it. I believe the session material can be applied outside CCIE context, and it’s relevant with my previous post, so I’m going to share it here with some updates.

Robert Grant mentioned that strategy is the means by which individuals achieve their objectives. In short, successful strategy can be achieved by having clear and consistent goal, understanding the environment Continue reading

SDN, NFV and Skill Development for Network Engineers

I came to Cisco Brussels 14 years ago to take my first CCIE lab. I didn’t pass that time. I went to Tokyo a month later and got my number there. Several years later I kept coming back to Brussels to pass my two other CCIEs.

Many people say there is no value anymore in taking CCIE these days. With SDN and NFV, everything will be done "auto-magically". We don’t even need network engineers anymore! Yeah, right. Last week I went back in Brussels to work on Network Control System, multi-vendor network device management tool from Tail-F that was acquired by Cisco June last year. NCS is the corner store of Cisco Network Service Orchestration framework for Cisco SDN and NFV solution offering. And I’m here to tell you that the world still need lots of network engineers, and CCIEs, or those who have CCIE-level skill set.

But first, let me talk more about NCS, a service orchestration for real-time service provisioning across multivendor networks.

Network devices were, and are still, configured using CLI. Then SNMP was created to help. Soon, we realized SNMP is great to monitor the network but it fails to become configuration management, as stated Continue reading

Go Up or Go Wide

You say, the world doesn't need CCIE anymore with the raise of SDN. I say, we still need CCIE, but those who can adapt. You say, my words are just futile last ditch effort to show the importance of CCIE certification. I say, even I still work for Cisco but I don't work for CCIE program, and I get paid not because of my certifications.

If we have data, let's look at data. If all we have are opinions, let's go with mine
(Jim Barksdale, former CEO of Netscape )

So let's look at the data to make the discussion more fruitful. If you look at Cisco revenue of each product line for the past 5 years, we see there is decline for NGN Routing and Switching business. And yes, Data Center business is growing in fast rate. And Data Center business includes unified computing, next generation fabric, cloud and most Cisco SDN solutions that are available today.

However, if you do a simple math you can see the combined revenue of Routing & Switching business is still close to half Cisco revenue as of today. We are talking about more than 20 billion USD business. It's declining Continue reading
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