Ethan Banks

Author Archives: Ethan Banks

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.

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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.

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Day Two Cloud 085: Hosting Your Infrastructure Code In The Cloud

Let’s say I host my Infrastructure as Code provisioning stuff locally. It works. It’s nearby. I feel in control. Are there good reasons I should move that stuff to the cloud? Here to help us sort the pros and cons of that question is Calvin Hendryx-Parker. Calvin is the co-founder and CTO of Six Feet Up, a Python web application development company.

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Jassy’s Replacement At AWS Matters

As Andy Jassy takes over the CEO role at Amazon, the question is asked, “Does it matter who takes over at AWS, the position Jassy is vacating?” The idea is that AWS is such a dominant force in public cloud, an untrained monkey could sit at the helm and AWS would continue printing billions of dollars. So who cares who replaces Jassy? Whoever the new human is, they can’t get it wrong.

That might be exactly right, but for the thought exercise, I decided to go a different direction. For purposes of this opinion article, I choose to entertain the idea that Jassy’s replacement does matter, and matters a lot.

Growing A Gargantuan Gorilla

We can all agree that AWS is the 800 pound gorilla of public cloud. However, I believe AWS will see increasing pressure from all quarters. By way of comparison, let’s consider Cisco Systems of the last ten years.

Cisco has dominated the networking space in a variety of categories for a very long time. The last decade has seen them as the target all of their competitors aim at. In that context, did it matter who replaced John Chambers when he moved on? You Continue reading

Heavy Networking 560: Moving Big Data Sets From Far-Off Locations

Construction sites generate tons of data but often lack network connectivity. Today's Heavy Networking explores how one CTO has found ways to move huge data sets to HQ and the cloud using everything from Free Space Optics to LTE to consumer broadband. There are also stories about flying drones and robot dogs, and the operational impacts of SD-WAN. Our guest is Michael Shepherd, CTO of Rogers-O’Brien Construction.

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Day Two Cloud 083: Should Cloud Be A Public Utility?

Computing power is a vital part of modern life. Should access to that power be more equitably distributed? Is there a role for a public-utility-style cloud that could make computing more cost-effective and accessible to a broader number of constituencies? These are the starting questions for today's episode of Day Two Cloud. Our guest is Dwayne Monroe, a cloud architect, consultant, and author.

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The Dystopian Reality Of Human Data Trafficking

Amazon Alexa wants me to know that they celebrate International Data Privacy Day. I’m awestruck at the chutzpah of this claim.

Reviews of a Samsung smart television I’m considering express frustration at the crapware loaded onto the system because it is difficult to navigate and tracks viewing habits.

An app I need for my Mac immediately requests access to my Documents and Downloads folders for no obvious reason. Denying the request has no impact on the functioning of the app.

A phone app I use to help me track strength exercises wants me to share my data with the Health app. It won’t stop asking me about it, even though I’ve repeatedly denied the request. Why? It’s not just for my own well-being, I’m certain.

Garmin shares my workout data, all highly personal containing health & location information, with various third parties, and there’s no way to opt out if you want to use their hardware.

Twitter delivers customized ads, even though I had at one time opted out, at a rate of 1 in 3 or 1 in 4 tweets to my timeline.

Facebook rages against Apple for daring to require that apps hosted in the Apple store contain Continue reading

Heavy Networking 558: No Time For Hardware – The Case For NFV

Network Functions Virtualization (NFV) transforms routers, load balancers, firewalls and other network devices into virtual instances that can be service-chained, spun up and down as needed, and are cloud-friendly. But if you're a hardware hugger or have been been burned by virtualization in the past, should you avoid NFV? Today's Heavy Networking guests want to change your mind. The Packet Pushers speak with Michael Pfeiffer, a Cloud Networking Architect for a VAR; and Brad Gregory, Senior Product Manager at Equinix.

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Tech Bytes: VMware’s vRealize True Visibility Suite Illuminates Dark Corners Of Your IT Stack (Sponsored)

On today's sponsored Tech Bytes podcast we discuss VMware's vRealize True Visibility Suite (TVS), an add-on that helps you understand transactions from the physical layer all the way through to the application layer. Our guest is Apolak Borthakur, VP/GM at VMware.

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Day Two Cloud 081: Abstractions Should Save Typing, Not Thinking

Today's Day Two Cloud episode is part one of a two-part show on abstractions. Hosts Ned Bellavance and Ethan Banks riff on the idea that "Abstractions are there to save you typing, not to save you thinking." The upshot? Abstractions don't eliminate issues, they just move them someplace else. And that has repercussions for design, development, infrastructure, and operations.

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Heavy Networking 557: User Experience Is A Full-Stack Responsibility (Sponsored)

Digital Experience Monitoring (DEM) is the topic on today's Heavy Networking. IT folks tend to view user experience from their own particular area of responsibility--networking, security, app development--but the reality is there's a common set of data that IT should consume and understand. Sponsor Catchpoint joins us to discuss its DEM platform and how it measures user experience using metrics that are relevant across the IT stack. Our guest is JP Blaho, Director, Product Marketing at Catchpoint.

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The Attention Economy And The IT Talent Dearth

In IT operations, finding talent is difficult. For years, there has been a shortage of folks who are capable of maintaining complex infrastructure. To be sure, some of this is geographical. And certainly, the rate of technology change makes it difficult to find people with specific product skills. Hard to find a Kubernetes expert with ten years of experience. ?

But I suspect there’s a couple of other things going on that, when combined, make the talent dearth even worse.

The Brutality Of Complexity

When I was studying for Novell Netware 3 (before directory services) certifications decades ago, there was a lot to know. Networking with IPX. Architecture of x86 servers. NLMs. Storage strategies. Mail systems. Whatever else was in those red books many of us had on our shelves.

Pre-AD Microsoft certifications were similarly challenging. Domain controllers. Backup domain controllers. File & print systems. User permissions and design strategies. The GINA. Networking with IP, IPX, and NetBEUI. Mail systems. IIS. So much more.

That was before the addition of directory services to Novell and Microsoft operating systems. Directory services changed the game for file, print, email, and more back in the day, and it put a major burden on IT Continue reading

Heavy Networking 556: The State Of GNS3 For Network Labs

GNS3 is a tool for building virtual networks for labbing. Heavy Networking welcomes GNS3 co-founder and developer Jeremy Grossman and networking instructor David Bombal. We cover the state of GNS3 in 2021, including what GNS3 can do that maybe you didn’t know, and what’s on the roadmap.

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Heavy Networking 555: Top Network Design Trends Of 2020

Today's episode is the last Heavy Networking of 2020. In the spirit of an end-of-year reflection, we're going to talk about network design trends from this year, some of which were driven, or at least accelerated, by the pandemic hellscape that was 2020. Our guest is Zig Zsiga, a network designer, architect, CCDE, and instructor.

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