Ethan Banks

Author Archives: Ethan Banks

Day Two Cloud 093: Application Modernization With VMware (Sponsored)

Today’s Day Two Cloud tackles application modernization with sponsor VMware. As new application platforms such as containers and the public cloud take hold, organizations need to examine their application portfolio to figure out how  applications are meeting business requirements—and how they aren’t. The point of app modernization is to determine whether a new approach and […]

The post Day Two Cloud 093: Application Modernization With VMware (Sponsored) appeared first on Packet Pushers.

Why Being A Late Technology Adopter Pays Off

As a technologist helping an organization form an IT strategy, I’m usually hesitant to recommend new tech. Why? Because it’s new. Adopting technology early in its lifecycle is a risky endeavor. For most organizations, I find that shiny new tech isn’t worth the risk.

Emerging products and protocols are often accompanied by great fanfare. Talks are delivered at conferences, whitepapers are written, and Gartner Cool Vendor designations are awarded. The idea is to make you and me believe that this new tech solves a problem in a novel way that’s never been done before. This is the thing we’ve been waiting for. This is so much better than it used to be in the bad old times. Right. I’m sure it is.

Despite my cynical tone, I am hopeful when it comes to new tech. I really am. In part, technologists are employed because of tech’s ever-changing landscape. But I am also dubious during any technology’s formative years. I take a wait-and-see approach, and I’ve never been sorry for doing so. I believe that being a late, not early, adopter of technology pays off for most organizations.

You Aren’t Stuck With Abandoned Tech

If you adopt early, you are hoping Continue reading

When Stretching Layer Two, Separate Your Fate

On the Packet Pushers YouTube channel, Jorge asks in response to Using VXLAN To Span One Data Center Across Two Locations

if stretching the layer 2 is not recommended, then what is the recommendation if you need to fault over to a different physical location and still got to keep the same IP addresses for mission critical applications?


That video is a couple of years old at this point, and I don’t recall the entire discussion. Here’s my answer at this moment in time. If DCI is required (and I argue that it shouldn’t be in most cases), look at VXLAN/EVPN. EVPN is supported by several vendors. If you are a multi-vendor shop, watch for EVPN inter-vendor compatibility problems. Also look for vendor EVPN guides discussing the use case of data center interconnect (DCI).

Also be aware (and beware) of vendor-proprietary DCI technologies like Cisco’s OTV. I recommend against investing in OTV and similar tech unless you already have hardware that can do it and can turn the feature on for free. Otherwise, my opinion, for what it’s worth, is to stick with an EVPN solution. EVPN is a standard that’s been running in production environments for Continue reading

Day Two Cloud 092: What AWS Lambda Is Good For

Today's Day Two Cloud podcast is a thorough introduction to AWS Lambda, which is AWS's serverless compute service. We discuss how Lamdba works, what it can do, use cases, and more. Our guide for today's conversation is Julian Wood, Senior Developer Advocate for the Serverless Product Group at AWS. This is not a sponsored show.

The post Day Two Cloud 092: What AWS Lambda Is Good For appeared first on Packet Pushers.

It’s Not What You Say. It’s How You’re Heard.

In written communication, technical people can sometimes come across as impolite. I see this on Slack (talking down), Twitter (the angry tweeter), in emails (blunt and terse), in blog comments (bitter sarcasm or pedantry), Hacker News discussions (aggressive confrontation), and other places IT builders gather online.

Perhaps you, as just such a technical person, don’t mean to be impolite. Maybe your focus is on efficiency. Get to the point. Say what needs saying, however it comes out. Click send. Job done. Go back to facepalming at the Swagger docs explaining this ill-considered API you need to use.

Here’s the problem with your communications approach. To the person receiving your missive, you might sound like you’re upset. Or tone-deaf. Or maybe just a jerk. You’re presumably none of those things, at least not intentionally. We’re all nice folks who want to get along with our fellow humans, right?

It’s not what you say. It’s how you’re heard.

You need to communicate in such a way that you’re heard as you mean to be heard. If you’re not good at this and want to be, you can improve your messaging.

Before hitting send, engage in role reversal. If you received a Continue reading

Heavy Networking 571: Network Automation Workflows With Jenkins

Today on Heavy Networking, we talk about how to roll your own network automation workflow. Guest Steve Puluka has developed an automation workflow system that uses GitLab and Jenkins, among other tools, to make sure the network devices he supports are pure gold. We talk about how it works, and how you can put your own together.

The post Heavy Networking 571: Network Automation Workflows With Jenkins appeared first on Packet Pushers.

Free Networking ArubaOS-CX Lab Image From Aruba Networks

This is a continuation of my post documenting hassle-free, virtualized network operating system images you can download for labbing and learning.

Aruba Networks (HPE) ArubaOS-CX

What is it?

While you probably think of wireless networking first when Aruba Networks comes up, ArubaOS-CX is a ground-up network operating system for switches built by the former HPE ProCurve team, if memory serves me correctly. Aruba has been a part of HPE for some time, and the networking folks within HPE fall under the Aruba hierarchy as I understand it.

I wrote an overview of ArubaOS-CX as part of a series on the Aruba 8400 switch launch back in October 2017.

Aruba offers a virtual version of ArubaOS-CX delivered as an OVA. You can use the OVA as-is, or extract the OVA tarball to get to the vmdk and convert the vmdk to a qcow2 image, all depending on what your hypervisor needs.

How do I obtain the image?

  1. Create an Aruba Support Portal account & log in via
  2. Head to Software and Documents, currently
  3. In the left pane, filter on…
    1. File type: Software
    2. Product: Aruba Switches
    3. File Category: OVA
  4. Sort by: Version New To Old
  5. That Continue reading

Free Networking Lab Images From Arista, Cisco, nVidia (Cumulus)

Here’s my current list of no cost, minimal headache, easily obtainable networking images that work in a virtual lab environment such as EVE-NG or GNS3. My goal is to clearly document what these images are and how to obtain them, as this data is less obvious than I’d like.

I missed some. Probably a bunch. Let me know on the Packet Pushers Slack channel or Twitter DM, and I’ll do additional posts or update this list over time. Make sure your recommendations are for images which are freely available from the vendor for lab use with no licensing requirements or other strings attached. Use those same channels if you just want to tell me I’m wrong about whatever you come across in this post that’s…you know…wrong. I’m all about fixing the wrong stuff.

The list is vendor-neutral, sorted alphabetically. I have no personal allegiance to any of these operating systems. I’ve worked with both EOS and NX-OS in production environments. JUNOS, too, although I don’t have a Juniper virtual device on this list currently. I haven’t worked with Cumulus in production, although it’s been a passive interest for a while now.

Remember–configuration is the boring part. Select a NOS Continue reading

Don’t Be Complex When Simple Will Do

Let’s say you’re a consultant working on a couple of internet edge design projects.

In the first scenario, you are designing an internet connection for a factory.

  1. There are a few hundred workers who access AWS using the internet-as-WAN for critical apps related to factory operations.
  2. The factory is automated, and metrics related to production line health and performance are analyzed in AWS.
  3. There is an IoT network used for physical security that relies on an internet-based SaaS product to run reports and distribute alerts.
  4. A group of executives have offices at one end of the factory. Because of the pandemic, they don’t use them right now, but they do remotely access workstations with highly sensitive data that reside in those offices.

In the second scenario, you are designing an internet connection for an executive’s home.

  1. The executive has been working from home since the pandemic started, and finds the internet connection is unreliable for video calls. The video lags and gets pixelated. There are audio dropouts and audible jitter.
  2. The executive’s family members are also demanding internet users. The kids are in Zoom school. The spouse has a digital editing business and shares large files with clients.

Continue reading

You Can’t Think If You’re Always Thinking

On the March 25, 2021 edition of his Daily Check-In podcast, Ned Bellavance talks about feeling like he’s putting too many inputs into his brain, and not leaving enough time to hear his own thoughts. I have had similar concerns for myself.

I tend to have something going most of the time. Podcasts in the morning before settling into my office. Music during the day, typically something familiar or non-intrusive so that it’s not too distracting while I write and research. YouTube or a Boston Celtics basketball game in the evenings while I eat dinner and unwind from Zoomday. (Zoomday is everyday! ???) Before I go to bed, I read mentally engaging things. Books, a mix of fiction and non-fiction, currently Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World. Blogs like Astral Codex Ten plus a myriad of tech writers. When the sleepies finally hit, I turn off the glowing doom rectangle and hope my dreams aren’t unfathomable. Like the one two days ago where I was inside a commercial jet taxing rapidly through a city, the jet being chased by emergency vehicles that kept inexplicably bursting into flames. My dreams are fun. But I digress.

Like Ned outlined in his podcast, Continue reading

New Tech Skills In Two Hours

How long does it take to learn a new skill? It’s like…a really long time, right? You never have that much time to learn whatever it is. Most people who learn new skills are dedicated super humans who put in 25 hour days doing labs and reading books and taking courses and sniffing markers. Those folks sacrifice everything to stay ahead and command the respect of their peers. Right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work?

Don’t overthink it.

New skills come from one thing. Focus. That’s it. That’s the secret. Focus to learn a skill comes in blocks of a few undistracted hours at a time. Not dramatic sacrifice. Not bragging to social media about how you’re crushing it on your studies because you’ve given up your personal life.

Let the public drama queen masochists do what they feel they must to impress…whomever. They are not your role model. You don’t need to be them. You just need to find a few consecutive hours on your calendar. Block them off. Use them to focus on a single thing you want to learn. During the blocked off time, learn the thing. Do not do any of the other things that Continue reading

Buying Used Cisco Gear From eBay For Your Lab

While most of the lab work I do is with virtualized networking gear, once in a while, I need actual hardware. For instance, to fully explore QoS, hardware is key. Many QoS commands won’t be available to you in a virtual network device.

eBay offers lots of older networking gear for pennies or even fractions of a penny of what the gear was worth new. Why so cheap? Mostly, older networking gear is too slow for modern LANs and WANs. That’s a win for learners who don’t care about the speed as long as they can still use the old box to learn the fundamentals of routing and switching.

There are caveats to eBay networking gear, though, not unlike buying a used car. Know what you’re getting into.

You’re buying someone else’s junk.

Why is it junk? It could be the gear aged out, but still works fine. It could be that the gear broke, but you’ll be able to fix it. It could be that the gear broke, and you won’t be able to fix it. Sometimes, folks who move out of a data center sell pallets of retired gear by weight to whoever will take it just because Continue reading

Tech Bytes: Monitoring Remote Access VPN Performance With ThousandEyes (Sponsored)

On today's Tech Bytes podcast, we talk with sponsor ThousandEyes about monitoring remote access VPNs to get a clearer picture of connectivity and performance issues and to speed troubleshooting. Our guest is Alex Cruz Farmer, Principal Product Manager at ThousandEyes.

The post Tech Bytes: Monitoring Remote Access VPN Performance With ThousandEyes (Sponsored) appeared first on Packet Pushers.

Heavy Networking 563: Automating Documentation With Ansible, Genie, And Jinja2

On today’s Heavy Networking, we explore how to get network data you reference all the time and store it in a CSV using Ansible, the Genie parser, and Jinja2. Our guide for how to assemble these gears and get them cranking is John Capobianco, automation maven and Sr. IT Planner and Integrator for the House of Commons in the Canadian Parliament.

The post Heavy Networking 563: Automating Documentation With Ansible, Genie, And Jinja2 appeared first on Packet Pushers.

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