It has been a busy few weeks. A big part of that has been rebuilding my home lab to focus on doing real lab work not dabbling in whatever struck my fancy over the past few months. In doing so I have been spinning up machines left and right. Frustratingly I have had to spin up some of those servers 4 or 5 times in order to get to them to do what I need them to do.
Over and over and over we have been calling for the elimination of complexity when its not required. But in the simple deployment of a lab it takes digging around the web, countless hours of reading and multiple failed attempts, it would seem that the industry is not eating its own dog food. I would rather be be actively working with Openstack, OpenDaylight or ELK Stack opposed to troubleshooting why my install does not work after following directions to a tee.
We work hard on projects and products that we want people to adopt and buy. Those people honestly usually have better things to do than dig through pages of documentation trying to figure out how to get those projects and products installed. There a solutions for this. Some people would say use the automation and configuration platforms like Ansible, SaltStack, Chef or Puppet. I don’t really disagree. But building out the configuration files for each of these takes time even if they can deal with a large set of operating systems. There are also package management platform like apt and yum in the operating systems. But again these take time to keep up to date and are often at least a rev behind shipping code.
So I would like to propose that we all do something different using something we already have. Do something that many have been doing in some form for years. Build your dreams in projects and products. Then choose your preferred operating system and take the time to build a solid OVA and make it available to your clients. There are lots of options for keeping an OVA up to date with minimal effort. Operating systems provide options for automated updates using package managers if for no other reason than keeping security updates current. Once we have enabled our customers with rapid deployment of the projects and products we want them to use then we can lean on the automation and configuration platforms to keep them up to date and in compliance with organizational policies.
Along that line there is no reason that these same projects and products cannot be deployed just as they are now for clients who have more specialized requirements or preferences for platforms other than that of which the OVA was deployed on. Flexibility will always be a critical aspect of what we do in IT. However simplicity when possible should always be our goal. I would love to get others input on this. Please comment or join the fray on twitter you’ll find me there at @joshobrien77.
I have been very lucky in my career. There is pretty much no network vendor whose gear has not come across my desk and I have had the opportunity to install and play with on some level. Last year we engaged Meraki to consider then for both their Cloud Controller based Access Points but also for their new Access Switch product line. I did lots and lots of research and honestly found a mixed bag of info. On one hand people were saying this is really amazing stuff and if you can handle a bit less than full enterprise class gear you should really look at it. On the other hand I read a few articles like this one out of Canada that paints a picture of pretty shady practices from Meraki.
So I sat through their online demos, had local partners come in to tell me how amazing it was then I got my AP (Modle MR12) from them to play with and see what I thought. In all honestly their AP and overall wireless product underwhelmed me. My Cisco 1200 B only radio covered better and and my Cisco 1252 even in 2.4 only mode way out gunned this poor little guy. But what they do very very well is the management of it all. Even after I had decided that my company would not be moving to their access points nor the new switch line I decided to stick with System Manager because how good it was at managing remote devices and it was free! So right off the bat I do not hate these guys or their products I actually think they are pretty cool but over just not the right fit for what we needed.
Then tonight it happened. @MrFogg97 hit me up and said “Saw this on #meraki’s site when reading the announcement. http://twitter.com/MrFogg97/status/270346667495145472/photo/1 and yes I did say that and to this second I still believe its a great product. But then I asked myself what announcement. A quick trip to Meraki’s website told the tale. Cisco announces intent to acquire Meraki And that is why I am really writing this post. Read more
Simply put I am not going to target a specific vendor in this post but if you work for an IT vendor (Telco, SP, MSP, Hardware/Software maker, VAR, LAR, distributor, consultant) this list is a warning of the things you can do to really piss me off. It is not just me it is all of us. We have way to much to do on a daily basis to have to babysit the people who we pay to help us. So read, pay attention and don’t do this stuff!
1. Lie – Tell me what you can or can’t do and stick to it. This includes what your products can or can’t do.
2. Have a messy house – If your provisioning team does not talk to your sales team and no one talks to support you’ll piss me off.
3. Wing it – If I wanted to you to wing it on my project I would not have paid your your stupidly high rate. My 7 year old can wing it.
4. When you are getting it wrong ask me to not be me – Piss Off I am the customer I am right because I pay you monies.
5. Cover up your lie/mistake/bug/whatever else your covering up – Be honest with me I may not fire you.
6. Presume you know me by watching my twitter feed – I am more than 128 characters.
7. Blame your contractors – You hired them you fix it. I have to do that when you mess up!
8. Get me in trouble – If your stupidity makes me eat a bullet for you the world will know!
9. Lead with List price – We all know its BS. Give me the best deal you can and we’ll each do better by wasting less time.
10. Take a social or political stand corporately that makes me have to hate you – Really an Internet company siding with SOPA….
I am sure I have like 1000 more and I encourage my readers to jump on board and add them to the comments. In the end we all have jobs to do please don’t make me regret engaging you by making mine harder.
If your not sure what the title quote is from Check out Young Guns 2. As for this post however keep reading to see if I ever get to a point. Currently it is 3:37am in the morning. Again I can’t sleep. Not sure if I rested to much today after a week of almost not sleep, drank a bit to much caffeine or if I am just currently unable to calm down during this career transition. No matter what the cause I did what I normally do when I realize I wont sleep before I have to get dressed and head into work (in this case a my old office, my current clients office and the new office by the end of the day) I took a shower shaved and put on some coffee. I don’t know about you, but I do some of my best thinking in the shower or when driving on long trips alone. It was durring the above mentioned shower that this post and the thoughts it contain popped into my racing mind. Enjoy it could be a fun read.
Most of the feedback I have received concerning my new job and career path has been overwhelmingly positive. But some has not. Quite bluntly a few feel I have whored myself out for money. So let me tell you what I told them…Yes as a matter of fact I did. I did it for the money.
So I will start off by admitting that the title of this post comes from Seth Godin and his book Free Prize Inside. Let me start of by saying if you are an idea person read this book. But that is not what I want to focus on today. Part of this blog that I seldom touch on is that I am a consultant. I honestly think it is what I was born to be. I love sharing information, expertise and honestly my thoughts with other people. I don’t like to do so in a pushy or demeaning way (although I’m sure some think I do) but more from the perspective of there is more than any one of us can ever know so lets share and work together.
So when I am on client site I often find that I am referring clients to tools that they have no idea about. Things like my old favourite Ziptie (not a huge fan since Alterpoint was sold and the staff all laid off) or Angry IP Scanner. These are free tools that if leveraged correctly can do huge things for your management, troubleshooting and planning of your network. So when my General Manager sent out a request for what we should do at eTech this years I threw out some real challenges for what I would like to see us pull together in 11 days. Two of those things are major free prizes and its those that I would like to discuss briefly. Read more