Musings of an ISP engineer Part 1

-Mondays are for emergencies leftover from the weekend. Try not to schedule meetings or things that can’t be fluid.

-Customers lie, even when they don’t do it intentionally. They can’t help it.

-Sometimes you have to ask your questions in different ways. The more educated the person you are asking the question to, the more you have to do this.

-Automation is the future. Learn it. Embrace it.

-When dealing with customers make sure to get them to define anything halfway vague. I once had a 30 minute call with a customer who said “it” wasn’t getting online. “It” ended up being a Toaster. Damn you iOT!

-Configurations just don’t change unless someone or something made it change. Quit spending countless hours second guessing your production configuration. If it has been working for the past 90 days and all of a sudden it isn’t, do a once over but don’t spend alot of time on your config. Spend your time looking for outside influences. Layer 1 and layer 2 issues are more common than OSPF or BGP configs just changing.

-I hate buzzwords. Stop sending me emails that are nothing but buzzwords

-If you have a networking product and it doesn’t support IPv6, the following image automatically comes to mind on how you get to work

-Once a packet leaves your network you have very little control over it. Your job is to know what those influences are so you can predict how your network reacts.

This is just on map from one backbone provider of their connectivity to the Global Internet.

-Ask for as much stuff as you can before the sales contract is signed. Your salesperson might not be there tomorrow.

-While on the topic of asking for things. Ask for route maps from your fiber providers. Ask what gear you are plugged into and where it is. Too many times I have known more about the physical layout of my circuit than the tech dispatched.

ISP networks are far different than enterprise networks.

-Network design is Philosophy mixed with best practices, mixed with vendor-specific logic, and a side of experience. Realizing there are many right answers will make you a better engineer.

-Just reboot it is an acceptable fix the first few times for a network device.

-If you ask me to fax you something I will probably stop talking to you. Only the government and vacation scammers use faxes. I don’t want to talk to either one of you.

-Cisco live is just a cult meeting for geeks.

-An ISP network is as close to a living thing as you can get with computer parts. Seasoned veterans can look at traffic flows and know if something isn’t right. A good ISP engineer just doesn’t know just how to turn the knobs and make things work. There is a lot of reading between the lines.

-Make friends with the NOC folks at data centers where you have equipment. They can save your ass.

-Your job as a service provider is to provide raw Internet to your customers. Don’t worry about what they are doing. Give them the bandwidth and call it a day. Your life will be simpler.

-I don’t get excited about much in terms of outages. I can’t control fiber cuts. I can’t make the splicers work faster. I can’t make the storm go by quicker so we can climb the tower. Save your energy for when you can really make progress.

-There is never money for redundancy until after you need it. Then it’s your fault it’s not redundant.

-Learn speed reading. At the very least learn how to scan large amounts of text quickly.

-Knowing how to google is not enough when searching online. Knowing how to filter and read search results is an art.

-There are reasons I built my own bar. Most of them are due to user interactions.

-Create information funnels. Monitoring software, mailing lists, co-worker messages, upstream outages, and even local power and weather are just a few things you and/or your team needs to know. Cutting down the time of sifting through things is huge! find a way to get the most relevant information in front of you the quickest.

-Strings of expletives can be very calming. Even better when said out loud. My wife can attest to hearing, from the ground, profanity ridden conversations I am having with with inanimate objects while I am 300 feet on a cell tower.

-People you can learn the most of are probably not even in your field of work. That outside perspective can make you grow more than any technical manual you may read.

-If I am in charge of the network I don’t do network by democracy. Subscribe to my philosophy or I’m out.

-Be open to input and a second set of eyes. Just because you have to subscribe to my Philosophy doesn’t mean I don’t want your input or can’t learn from you.

-Well rounded engineers are hard to find. Round engineers are easy to find.

-Every team should have a researcher /analyst. These are the Gunnery Sergeants of the IT world. I spend more my time researching prices, specs, etc. than I want to.

-I don’t care about windows vs mac. Android vs iPhone. Why do you care so much? Hellman’s vs Miracle whip is the true discussion.

-Mac and linux users love to tell you why they think you should come over to their side. I don’t want to join your cult. <this was written on a mac>

As they say at the end of the Casper slide..stay tuned for part 2

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