It really feels to me that here in the US there’s an abundance of tech jobs and they’re being filled with fresh talented people that don’t think the same way I did when I entered the workforce so many years ago. And that’s GREAT! When I got my start, I dove in to protocol analysis and deployment, and network design. In my first professional network engineering job, I had a great mentor that taught me network operations. It was extremely manual, extremely organized, and worth 100% of the effort.
In my job, I help and interact with smaller businesses, typically fewer than 1,000 employees. Considering what they’re asked to do, these companies have some of the brightest IT minds I’ve come across. I need to remember they come from a different place.
Here’s what I mean: I still have music I ripped from CD’s and I constantly play the game of which external hard drive it’s all on. Today thanks to Apple and others, my playlist is nothing more than a list of songs I have rights to listen to and it really doesn’t matter if it’s played from my device or from the “cloud.” I cherish these experiences and I learn from them, not to keep them alive, but rather to pass on these lessons.
The same sort of thing is true in the networking world. Cloud-managed networking systems are very powerful and optimized out of the box. It’s a solution that meets some needs many people weren’t aware were even there. Still there’s a huge need to proliferate and maintain on-premises network deployments, and that’s where I often find pain. This pain has a name. Its name is “Default Settings.” Case in point: Cisco offers arguably the best on- premises wireless LAN products in the industry; yet day after day I talk to smart network engineers feeling genuine pain. This is precisely why I authored 3 Steps to Tuning a Cisco WLAN Controller From Default Settings. Default settings are there for a reason and often times that reason is not to maintain optimum performance. In the case of 802.11, the default settings are largely dictated by the WiFi Alliance.
If your world is one where you are tasked to manage an on-premises network, wired or wireless, Cisco or otherwise, I have one other lesson I’d like to pass on. Network management is an important part of what you do and there was never the perfect product, not even from Cisco, that worked really well. Until now. That’s where I get to introduce Cisco Prime Infrastructure.: a product that is much less expensive than the competitors and quite powerful. You may not know this, but Cisco’s not had the best of luck in the network management department. (Maybe you do.) Cisco Prime Infrastructure, and the advancements made with our latest offering v2.2, changes that. It’s an on-premises solution that runs as a virtual appliance. It monitors all network elements not flagging up/down, rather health. It automatically manages configuration archives and it has a very robust set of troubleshooting and reporting tools. The topology map is surprisingly easy to use and understand. If you want to have it push out scheduled configurations, you can designate? that, too!
If you’re managing a network of more than 15 or 20 elements, consider Prime Infrastructure. If you want to kick the tires, you can download now and use it for 60 days and with 100 devices. Like it? Just add a permanent license.