Are you ready for another IT Blogger Spotlight? We sure are! This month, we managed to catch up with Brandon Carroll, who blogs over at Global Config and can be found on Twitter where he goes by @brandoncarroll. Here we go...
SWI: Brandon, Global Config is much more than a blog. How would you describe it in a nutshell?
BC: Global Config actually started out as just a blog when I was working on the CCIE Security lab exam. As time went by, though, and as I started doing training on my own I converted the blog into the frontend for my company, Global Config Technology Solutions, which is now a Cisco Learning Partner.
SWI: So then, what’s the Global Config blog all about these days?
BC: Well, I cover a number of different topics, primarily around network security and Cisco products. I also try to get some exposure to other vendors, too, though. For example, I do tutorial posts on how to do certain things with, for example, SolarWinds IP Address Manager and Engineer’s Toolset. Really, I only blog about products that I’m able to get my hands on and use personally. Still, since it’s my company, every now and then I sneak in a post about productivity and Mac, iPad and iPhone apps I think are particularly neat or handy.
SWI: So, you started blogging back when you were working the CCIE Security lab exam, but what are some of your favorite topics to blog about?
BC: Honestly, I just like to blog about whatever fascinates me. And I know that sounds weird, but sometimes I’m fascinated by a product and other times I’m fascinated by a concept or a topic that is covered in one of the courses I teach. Really, the most enjoyable things to write about are the topics that I come up with rather than the topics that somebody asks me to write about. That doesn’t mean that when my students ask me a question I don’t enjoy blogging the answer because I really do enjoy that as well. But there’s just something about taking a thought and putting it down in a blog post and then knowing that other people are reading it and finding value. That it might be helping them solve a problem.
SWI: Interesting. Do you find certain types of posts end up being more popular than others?
BC: Typically, my most popular posts are the tutorial posts. I also see quite a bit of interest in posts related to the Cisco ASA. Sometimes I’ll also do posts about great consumer products that end up being pretty popular. For example, last year I did a post about a D-Link product and using it for IPv6 connectivity. It ended up being one of my most popular posts.
SWI: So, how’d you get into IT in the first place?
BC: When I was 18 or 19, I was trying to become a firefighter. In fact, I joined the Air Force in hopes that I would become a firefighter. After I left the Air Force, however, I found it was very difficult to get a job in that line of work so I ended up working a number of odd jobs. During that time, I applied for a job at the phone company GTE and was hired as a field technician. As a field technician, not only did we install circuits for customers, but we also had laptops. When they would break, somebody had to fix them, and after some time that somebody ended up being me. I would spend part of my day fixing laptops for the other technicians that I worked with. From there, I transferred into a group called EPG, or the Enhanced Products Group, and it was there that I learned how frame-relay, frame relay switches and ATM switches worked, and I was also introduced to the world of Cisco routers and Cisco networking. That must've been right around 1998 or 1999.
SWI: Well, you’ve come a long way since then. As the experienced IT pro you are, what are some of your favorite tools?
BC: Oh, there are too many to list. It’s actually really hard to pick my favorites. One thing I tend to do is jump from tool to tool depending on what I’m trying to accomplish. I like SolarWinds Network Topology Mapper quite a bit because as a consultant I can quickly get a map of a customer’s network and compare it to what they tell me they have. I also like SecureCRT and ZOC6, which are terminal applications for the Mac. Of course, there’s NMap and Wireshark to name a few more.
SWI: OK, time for the tough question: What are the most significant trends you’re seeing in the IT industry right now and what’s to come?
Bc: Software Defined Networking. I think that a controller-based solution will ultimately be what everybody ends up using or at least how everybody implements their technology, and we’re going to see less and less of this hardcode configuration of data and control plans on individual devices. I think we’re also going to see a lot more virtualization. I don’t think we’re anywhere near being close to seeing the end of innovation there and I believe a lot of the newer products that we see in the virtual space are going to be security products. Overall, I think we are in a major transition right now, so being in IT or even starting out in IT at this point in time is going to be very interesting over the next couple years.
SWI: OK, last question: I’m sure running Global Config keeps you pretty busy, but what do like to do in your spare time?
BC: Well, I’m a family man and I like to do things with the kids, so when I’m not working or blogging we like to go camping and ride dirt bikes. We recently bought a truck and a fifth wheel trailer, so we’ve been visiting some local campgrounds. It’s an opportunity to disconnect the phones and teach my young ones what it’s like to play a board game for a couple hours. I don’t think people do that enough anymore.