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Geek Speak

79 Posts authored by: Leon Adato Expert

Next week I'm flying down to Orlando, Florida to spend a week filling my brain with all things MS: Ignite. I'm especially excited about this trip because it is one of the first times as a Head Geek that I'm traveling to a server- and application-centric show.

 

To be sure, we get our fair share of questions on SAM, DPA, SRM, WPM, VMAN, and the rest of the systems-side of the house at shows like Cisco Live, but I'm expecting (and looking forward to) a whole different class of questions from a convention that boasts 15,000+ folks who care deeply about operating systems, desktops, servers, cloud, and applications.

 

There are a few other things that will make next week special:

          • There. Will. Be. SOCKS. It was a hit at Cisco Live. It was even more of a hit at VMWorld. And now the THWACK socks are ready to take MS: Ignite (and your feet) by storm. We can't wait to see the reactions to our toe-hugging goodness.
          • SWUGLife on the beach: For the second year in a row, Ignite will play host to the most incredible group of users ever assembled: the illustrious, inimitable SolarWinds User Group (or SWUG for short).
          • Geek Boys, Assemble!:  For the first time ever, Patrick, Tom, Kong, and myself will all be at the same show at the same time. It obviously a crime that Destiny couldn't join in the fun, but somehow I think she'll find a way to be with us in spirit. And of course we can just consider this a prelude to the all out Geeksplosion next month at THWACKcamp.
          • THERE. WILL. BE. EBOOKS.: For several weeks, I've been busy crafting the second installment in the SolarWinds Dummies series: Systems Monitoring for Dummies. While you can download it now from this link, we'll also have handouts at the booth to let all of the Ignite attendees know about it, marking the book's first live appearance on the show floor.


But that's more or less the view from show floor. There are things that I'm eager to experience beyond the booth border (#1913, for those who will be in the neighborhood).

 

Tom will be giving two different talks, both of which I personally want to hear about: "Upgrading to SQL Server 2016" is going to be packed full of information and one of those sessions where you'll either want a keyboard or a recorder to get all the details. But "When bad things happen to good applications" promises to be classic SQLRockStar in action. For that one, I plan to bring a lighter for the encore number at the end.

 

I also am very eager to get out and see what Microsoft is all about these days. Sure, I use it on the desktop, and I read the news, and I'm friends with an ever-growing number of folks who work in Redmond. But shows like these are where you get to see the aspirational side of a company and it's technology. Ignite is where I will get to see who Microsoft WANTS to be, at least in the coming year.

 

That aspirational quality will be on display nowhere as much as the keynote talk by Satya Nadella on Monday. Look for me to be live-tweeting at that event, at the very least.

 

Stay tuned for my follow-up log in two weeks, which I expect will be full of unexpected discoveries, a few food-related pictures, and hopefully a few shots of the SolarWinds friends we met up with while we were there.

Anyone who is having issues with performance or considering expanding their deployment has had to wrestle with the question of how, exactly, to get the performance they need. This session will focus on maximizing performance, whether tuning equipment to optimize capabilities, tuning polling intervals to capture the data you need, or adding additional pollers for load balancing and better network visibility.

 

In the "Orion at Scale: Best Practices for the Big League" session, Kevin Sparenberg, product manager, SolarWinds, and Head Geek Patrick Hubbard will teach you best practices for scaling your monitoring environment and ways to confidently plan monitoring expansion. They will focus on maximizing the performance of your expanded deployment, and more!

 

THWACKcamp 2017 is a two-day, live, virtual learning event with eighteen sessions split into two tracks. This year, THWACKcamp has expanded to include topics from the breadth of the SolarWinds portfolio: there will be deep-dive presentations, thought leadership discussions, and panels that cover more than best practices, insider tips, and recommendations from the community about the SolarWinds Orion suite. This year we also introduce SolarWinds Monitoring Cloud product how-tos for cloud-native developers, as well as a peek into managed service providers’ approaches to assuring reliable service delivery to their subscribers.

 

Check out our promo video and register now for THWACKcamp 2017! And don't forget to catch our session!

The other day, I was talking with my dad and told him IT Pro Day was coming up, and that I needed to write something about it. "Why is it IT PRO Day?" he asked, "Why not just ‘IT People Day’ or ‘IT Enthusiasts Day’? Why leave out all those aspiring amateurs?"

 

My dad was trolling me using my own arguments from a debate we frequently had when I was a kid. You see, my dad has been a musician his whole life. He attended Music & Arts high school in NYC, then Julliard and Columbia, and then had a career that included stints with the New York Philharmonic, NBC Symphony of the Air, and 46 years with the Cleveland Orchestra. Suffice to say, my dad knew what it meant to be "a professional."

 

As a kid, I insisted that the only thing separating pros from amateurs was a paycheck (and the fact that he got to wear a tuxedo to work), and that this simplistic distinction wasn't fair. Of course, what was simplistic was my reasoning. Eventually I understood what made a musician a "pro," and it had nothing to do with their bank account.

 

So that was the nature of his baiting when I brought up IT Pro Day. And it got me thinking: what IS it that makes an IT practitioner a professional? Here's what I've learned from dear old dad:

 

First, having grown up among musicians, I can PROMISE you that being a professional has nothing to do with how much you do (or don't) earn at “the craft,” how obsessively you focus on it, or how you dress (or are asked to dress) for work.

 

Do you take your skills seriously? Dad would say, "If you skip one day of practice, you notice. Two days and the conductor notices. Three days and the audience notices. Pros never let the conductor notice." In an IT context, do you make it your business to stay informed, up to date, know what the upcoming trends are, and get your hands on the new tech (if you can)? It even extends to keeping tabs on your environment, knowing where the project stands, and being on top of the status of your tickets.

 

"If you're not 30 minutes early, you're an hour late," Dad would say as he headed out at 6 p.m. for an 8 p.m. concert. "I can't play faster and catch up if I'm 10 minutes late, you know!"

 

Besides the uncertainty of traffic, instruments needed to be tuned, music sorted, warm ups run. While not every job requires that level of physical punctuality, it's the mental piece that's relevant to us. Are you "present" when you need to be? Do you do what it takes to make sure you CAN be present when it is time to play your part, whether that's in a meeting, during a change control, or when a ticket comes into your queue?

 

When you first learn an instrument, a lot of time is spent learning scales. For those who never made it past the beginner lessons, I have some shocking (and possibly upsetting) news: even the pros practice scales. In fact, I'll say *especially* the pros practice scales. I asked dad about it. He said that you need to work on something until you don't have to think about it any more. That way, it will be there when you need it. As IT pros, we each have certain techniques, command sequences, key combinations, and more that just become a part of us and roll off our fingers. We feel like we could do data center rollouts in our sleep. We run product upgrades "by the numbers." The point is that we've taken the time to get certain things into our bones, so that we don't have to think about them any more. That's what professionals do.

 

This IT Pro Day, I'm offering my thanks and respect to the true IT professionals. The ones who work every day to stay at the top of their game. Who prepare in advance so they can be present when they're needed. Who grind out the hours getting skills, concepts, and processes into their bones so it's second nature when they need them. Doesn't that sound like the kind of IT pros you know? The kind you look up to?

 

The truth is, it probably sounds a lot like you.

As companies race to the cloud and adopt DevOps culture as part of that process, it's becoming more apparent that the word "monitoring" has a significantly different meaning within the walls of a data center than it does in the DevOps huddle area. But what, if anything, is actually different? Or is it all just jargon and an attitude of not invented here (NIH).


In my panel discussion, 'When DevOps Says "Monitor,"' I will be joined by Nathen Harvey, VP of Community Development at Chef, Michael Cote, Director of Technical Marketing at Pivotal, and Clinton Wolfe, cloud architect and DevOps practice lead (and current "hero for hire" seeking his next adventure). In our conversation, we'll break down expectations, and yes, even bad (monitoring) habits in the DevOps world in a way that will make a traditional monitoring engineer feel right at home.

 

Because it was so successful last year, we are continuing our expanded-session, two-day, two-track format for THWACKcamp 2017. SolarWinds product managers and technical experts will guide attendees through how-to sessions designed to shed light on new challenges, while Head Geeks and IT thought leaders will discuss, debate, and provide context for a range of industry topics.

 

In our 100% free, virtual, multi-track IT learning event, thousands of attendees will have the opportunity to hear from industry experts and SolarWinds Head Geeks, such as myself, and technical staff. Registrants also get to interact with each other to discuss topics related to emerging IT challenges, including automation, hybrid IT, DevOps, and more.

 

Check out our promo video and register now for THWACKcamp 2017! And don't forget to catch my session!

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Recently, Head Geek Destiny Bertucci ( Dez ) and I talked about certifications on an episode of SolarWinds Lab. For almost an hour we dug into the whys and hows of certifications. But, of course, the topic is too big to cover in just one episode.

 

Which is why I wanted to dig in a little deeper today. This conversation is one that you can expect I'll be coming back to at various points through the year. This dialogue will be informed by my experiences both past and present, as well as the feedback you provide as we go on. I want this to be a roundtable discussion, so at the end we'll all have something closer to a 360-degree view. My goal is to help IT professionals of all experience levels make an informed choice about certs: which ones to pursue, how to go about studying, where to set expectations about the benefits of certifying, and even tricks for preparing for and taking the exams.

 

For today's installment, I thought it might make sense to start at the beginning, meaning a bit of a walk down Certification Lane to look at the certs I already have, when I got them, and why.

 

To be clear, I don't mean this to be a #humblebrag in any way. Let's face it. If you watched the episode, you know that there are other Geeks with WAY more certifications than me. My point in recounting this is to offer a window into my decision-making process and, as I said, to get the conversation started.

 

My first tech certification was required by my boss. I was working at a training company that specialized (as many did at the time) in helping people move from the typing pool where they used sturdy IBM selectrics to the data processing center where WordPerfect was king. My boss advised me that getting my WPCE (WordPerfect Certified Resource) cert would accomplish two things:

 

  1. it would establish my credibility as a trainer
  2. if I didn't know a feature before the test, I sure as heck would after.

 

This was not your typical certification test. WordPerfect shipped you out a disk (A 5.25" floppy, no less) and the test was on it. You had up to 80 hours to complete it and it was 100% open book. That's right, you could use any resources you had to finish the test. Because at the end of the day, the test measured execution. Instead of just asking "what 3-keystroke combination takes you to the bottom of the document" the exam would open a document and ask that you DO it. A keylogger ensured the proper keystrokes were performed.

 

(For those who are scratching their heads, it's "Home-Home-DownArrow", by the way. I can also still perfectly recall the 4-color F-key template that was nearly ubiquitous at the time.

 

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And my boss was right. I knew precious little about things like macros before I cracked open the seal on that exam disk. But I sure knew a ton about them (and much more) when I mailed it back in. Looking back, the WPCE was like a kinder, gentler version of the CCIE practical exam. And I'm grateful that was my first foray into the world of IT certs.

 

My second certification didn't come until 7 years later. By that time I had worked my way up the IT food chain, from classroom instructor to desktop support, but I wanted to break into server administration. The manager of that department was open to the idea, but needed some proof that I had the aptitude. The company was willing to pay for the classes and the exams, so I began a months-long journey into the world of Novell networking.

 

At the time, I had my own ideas about how to do things (ah, life in your 20's when you are omniscient!). I decided I would take ALL the classes and once I had a complete overview of Novell, I'd start taking exams.

 

A year later, the classes were a distant dot in the rear view mirror of life but I still hadn't screwed up my courage to start taking the test. What I did have, however, was a lot more experience with servers (by then the desktop support was asked to do rotations in the helpdesk, where we administered almost everything anyway). In the end, I spend many, many nights after work and late into the night reviewing the class books and ended up taking the tests almost 18 months after the classes.

 

I ended up passing, but I also discovered the horrific nightmare landscape that is "adaptive exams" - tests that give you a medium level question on a topic and if you pass it, you get a harder question. This continues until you miss a question, at which point the level of difficulty drops down. And that pattern continues until you complete all the questions for that topic. On a multi-topic exam like the Certified Novell Engineer track, that means several categories of questions that come at you like a game of whack-a-mole where the mole's are armed and trying to whack you back. And the exam ends NOT when you answer all the questions, but when it is mathematically impossible to fail (or pass). Which led to a heart-stopping moment on question 46 (out of 90) when the test abruptly stopped and said "Please wait for results".

 

But it turns out I had passed.

 

Of course, I was prepared for this on the second test. Which is why the fact that it WASN'T adaptive caused yet more heart palpitations. On question 46 I waited for the message. Nothing. So I figured I had a few more questions to answer. Question 50 passed me by and I started to sweat. By question 60 I was in panic mode. At question 77 (out of 77), I was on the verge of tears.

 

But it turns out I passed that one, as well.

 

And 2 more exams later (where I knew to ASK the testing center what kind of test it would be before sitting down) I was the owner of a shiny new CNE (4.0, no less!).

 

And, as things often turn out, I changed jobs about 3 months later. It turns out that in addition to showing aptitude, the manager also needed an open req. My option was to wait for someone on the team to leave, or take a job which fell out of the sky. A local headhunter cold-called my house and the job he had was for a server administration job at a significant amount more than what I was making.

 

It also involved Windows servers.

 

By this time I'd been using Windows since it came for free on 12 5.25" floppies with Excel 1.0. For a large part of my career, "NT" was short for "Not There (yet)". But in 1998 when I switched jobs, NT 4.0 had been out for a while and proven itself a capable alternative.

 

Which is why, in 1999, I found myself NOT as chief engineer of the moon as it traveled through space but instead spending a few months of my evening hours studying for and taking the 5 exams that made up the MCSE along with the rest of my small team of server admins.

 

Getting our MCSE wasn't required, but the company once again offered to pay for both the class and the exam as a perk of the job (ah, those pre-bubble glory days!) so we all took advantage of it. This time I wasn't taking the test because I was told to, or to meet someone else's standard. I was doing it purely for me. It felt different, and not in a bad way.

 

By that point, taking tests had become old hat. I hadn't passed every single one, but my batting average was good enough that I was comfortable when I sat down and clicked "begin exam".

 

Ironically, it would be another 5 years before I needed to take a certification test.

 

In 2004, I was part of a company that was renewing their Cisco Gold Partner status, when the powers-that-be discovered they needed a few more certified employees. They asked for volunteers and I readily raised my hand, figuring this would be the same deal as the last time - night study for a few weeks, take a test, and everybody is happy.

 

It turns out that my company needed 5 certifications - CCNA (1 exam), MCSE (6 exams), MCSE+Messaging (add one more exam to the 6 for MCSE), Cisco Unity (1 exam), and Cisco Interactive Voice Response (1 exam). Oh, and they needed it by the end of the quarter. "I'm good," I told them, "but I'm not THAT good".

 

After a little digging, I discovered a unique option: Go away to a 3 week "boot camp" where they would cover all the MCSE material *and* administer the exams. Go straight from that boot camp to a 1 week boot camp for the CCNA. Then come home and finish up on my own.

 

It is a testament to my wife's strength of character that not only did she not kill me outright for the idea but supported the idea. And so off I went.

 

The weeks passed in a blur of training material, independent study, exams passed, exams failed, and the ticking of the clock. And then it was home and back to the "regular" work day, but with the added pressure of passing two more exams on my own. In the end, it was the IVR exam (of all things) that gave me the most trouble. After two stupendously failed attempts, I passed.

 

Looking back, I know it was all a very paper tiger-y thing to do. A lot of the material - like the MCSE - were things I knew well and used daily. But some (like the IVR) were technologies I had never used and never really intended to use. But that wasn't the point and I wasn't planning to go out and promote those certifications in any case.

 

But taking all those tests in such short order was also - and please don't judge me for this - fun. As much as some people experience test anxiety, but the rush of adrenaline and the sense of accomplishment at the end is hard to beat. In the end I found the whole experience rewarding.

 

And that, believe it or not, was the end of my testing adventure (well, if you don't count my SCP, but that's a post for another day) - at least it WAS it until this year when Destiny and I double-dog-dared each other to go on this certification marathon.

 

This time out, I think I'm able to merge the best of all those experiences. It is a lot of tests in a short period, but I'm only taking exams that prove the skills I've built up over my 30 year career. I'm not doing it to get a promotion or satisfy my boss or meet a deadline. It's all for me this time.

 

And it's also refreshingly simple. The idea that there is ONE correct answer to every question is a wonderful fiction, when compared to the average day of an IT professional.

 

So that's where things stand right now. Tell me where you are in your own certification journey in the comments below. Also let me know if there are topics or areas of the certification process that you want me to explore deeper in future posts.

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After a week with over 27,000 network nerds (and another week to recover), I'm here to tell you about who and what I saw (and who/what I missed) at Cisco Live US 2017.

 

The View From the Booth

Monday morning the doors opened and WE WERE MOBBED. Here are some pictures:

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Our backpack promotion was a HUGE crowd pleaser and we ran out almost immediately. For those who made it in time, you've got a collector's item on your hands. For those who didn't, we're truly sorry that we couldn't bring about a million with us, although I feel like it still wouldn't have been enough.

 

Also in short supply were the THWACK socks in old and new designs.

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These were instant crowd pleasers and I'm happy to say that if you couldn't make it to our booth (or to the show in general), you can still score a pair on the THWACK store for a very affordable 6,000 points.

 

Over four days, our team of 15 people was able to hang out with over 5,000 attendees who stopped by to ask questions, find out what's new with SolarWinds, and share their own experiences, stories, and experiences from the front lines of the IT world.

 

More than ever, I believe that monitoring experts need to take a moment to look at some of the "smaller" tools that SolarWinds has to offer. While none of our sales staff will be able to buy that yacht off the commission, these won't-break-the-bank solutions pack a lot of power.

 

  • Network Topology Mapper - No, this is not just "Network Atlas" as a separate product. It not only discovers the network, it also identifies aspects of the network that network atlas doesn't catch (like channel-bonded circuits). But most of all, it MAPS the discovery automatically. And it will use industry standard icons to represent those devices on the map. No more scanning your visio diagram and then placing little green dots on the page.
  • Kiwi Syslog - My love for this tool knows no bounds. I wrote about it recently and probably drew the diagram to implement a "network filtration layer" over a dozen times on the whiteboards built into our booth.
  • Engineer's Toolkit - Visitors to the booth - both existing customers and people new to SolarWinds - were blown away when they discovered that installing this on the polling engine allows it to drill down to near-real-time monitoring of elements for intense data collection, analysis, and troubleshooting.

 

There are more tools - including the free tools - but you get the point. Small-but-mighty is still "a thing" in the world of monitoring.

 

More people were interested in addressing their hybrid IT challenges this year than I can remember in the past, including just six months ago at Cisco Live Europe. That meant we talked a lot about NetPath, PerfStack, and even the cloud-enabled aspects of SAM and VMan. At a networking show. Convergence is a real thing and it's happening, folks.

 

Also, we had in-booth representation for the SolarWinds MSP solutions that garnered a fair share of interest among the attendees, whether they thought of themselves as MSPs, or simply wanted a cloud-native solution to monitor and manage their own remote sites.

 

All Work And No Play

 

But, of course, Cisco Live is about more than the booth. My other focus this year was preparing for and taking the Cisco CCNA exam. How did I do? You'll just have to wait until the July 12th episode of SolarWinds Lab to find out.

 

But what I did discover is that taking an exam at a convention is a unique experience. The testing center is HUGE, with hundreds of test-takers at all hours of the day. This environment comes with certain advantages. You have plenty of people to study and -- if things don't go well -- commiserate with. But I also felt that the ambient test anxiety took its toll. I saw one man, in his nervousness to get to the test site, take a tumble down the escalator. Then he refused anything except a couple of Band Aids because he "just wanted to get this done."

 

In the end, my feeling is that sitting for certification exams at Cisco Live is an interesting experience, but one I'll skip from now on. I prefer the relative quiet and comfort of my local testing center, and juggling my responsibilities in the booth AND trying to ensure I had studied enough was a huge distraction.

 

What I Missed

While I got to take a few quick walks around the vendor area this year, I missed out on keynotes and sessions, another casualty of preparing for the exam. So I missed any of the big announcements or trends that may have been happening out of the line of site of booth #1111.

 

And while I tried to catch up with folks who have become part of this yearly pilgramage, I missed catching up with Lauren Friedman (@Lauren), Amy ____ (), and even Roddie Hassan (@Eiddor), who I apparently missed by about 20 minutes Thursday as I left for my flight.

 

So... That's It?

Nah, there's more. My amazing wife came with me again this year, which made this trip more like a vacation than work. While Las Vegas is no Israel in terms of food, we DID manage to have a couple of nice meals.

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It was also a smart move: Not only did she win us some extra cash:

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...she also saved my proverbial butt. I typically leave my wallet in the hotel room for the whole conference. I only realized my mistake as the bus dropped us OFF at the test center. It would have meant an hour there-and-back and missing my scheduled time to go get it. But my wife had the presence of mind to stick my wallet in her bag before we left, so the crisis was averted before I had suffered a major heart attack.

 

So if my wife and I were in Vegas, where were the kids?

 

They were back home. Trolling me.

 

Apparently the plans began a month ago, and pictures started posting to Twitter before our plane had even landed. Here are a few samples. You have to give them credit, they were creative.

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But I got the last laugh. Their antics caught the attention of the Cisco Live social media team, who kept egging them on all week. Then, on Wednesday, they presented me with early entry passes to the Bruno Mars concert.

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My daughter took it all in stride:

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Looking Ahead

Cisco Live is now firmly one of the high points of my yearly travel schedule. I'm incredibly excited for Cisco Live Europe, which will be in Barcelona this year .

But I got the ultimate revenge on my kids when it was announced that Cisco Live US 2018 will be in... Orlando. Yep, I'M GOING TO DISNEY!!

 

Outside of the Cisco Live circuit, I'll also be attending Microsoft Ignite in September, and re:Invent in November.

 

So stay tuned for more updates as they happen!

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I realized that I do so many of these "travelog" type posts that, like Tom's "Actuator" newsletter, I might as well have a snappy name to go with it. So here we are.

 

Next week I'll be heading out to Las Vegas with 20 of my SolarWinds peeps (including patrick.hubbard and Dez ) for a week of madness called CiscoLive. So what are my goals for this trip, besides claiming my very own NetVet badge and avoiding bursting into flame whenever I walk outside? (The weather forecasts temperatures between 105 and 111 F°.)

 

First off, CiscoLive kicks off once again with the unofficial event known as #KiltedMonday. While I will NOT be sporting a kilt, I have acquired a scarf woven with the official Jewish tartan and will be wearing it proudly...

 

...along with socks. Because #SocksOfCLUS are also A Thing, and we at SolarWinds are very proud to be offering one of three new patterns for anyone who shows up and registers for a THWACK account.

 

Jumping ahead, a lot of my focus is going to be on Wednesday morning, when Destiny and I will sit for Cisco exams. I'm renewing my CCNA and Destiny is going for the CCNA+Security cert - because of course she is! While I cannot wait to talk to people in the booth, I admit that whenever there's a quiet moment I will probably be huddled in a corner reviewing ACLs, OSPF routing, and IPv6.

 

Finally, I'm looking forward to renewing old friendships that have become a yearly tradition. I hope to get to spend time on the dCloudCouch with Silvia Spiva (@silviakspiva) and Anne Robotti (@arobotti); attempting to get in a podcast with both Lauren Friedman (@lauren) and also Amy Lewis (@CommsNinja), and finding a minute to chill with Roddie Hasan (@eiddor).

 

And, of course, that ignores the fact that 20 SolarWinds folks will all be in the same place at the same time for more than 30 minutes in a row. So you can expect jokes, videos, tweets, interviews, and more!

 

Next week I'll let you know what I actually DID see, as well as anything unexpected that I happened across.

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Want to know a secret?

 

I'm going to start at the end.

 

If your environment collects syslog and trap messages, no matter what vendor solution you are using, create a filtration layer that will take all those messages, process them, and forward just the useful ones along.

 

Now, moving from the end back to the beginning, here's what you want to do: Get some copies of Kiwi Syslog Server, set up a load balancer like an F5 to do UDP round robin between all those servers, and set rules on the first server to filter out everything but the alerts you want to keep. For the messages you want to keep, set up rules to transparently forward them to the system(s) that will process and act on them. Export that rule set and import it to the other servers sitting behind the load balancer. Finally, update all of the devices in your enterprise to send their trap and syslog messages to the VIP presented by the load balancer.

 

That's the secret! Now that I've explained it, the trick, the bottom line, are you curious to know WHY I am telling you all this?

 

This is why: I've seen the following scenario a half-dozen times. I'm brought in to consult on a monitoring project and someone announces, "My monitoring sucks! It's dog slow and just doesn't work. Find me something else!" So, I poke around and realize that all of their traps and syslog messages are going to a single system, which also happens to be the monitoring system. In Solarwinds terms, that's the primary poller.

 

In my experience, network devices generate a metric buttload (yes, that's a scientifically accurate measurement) of messages per hour. In more boring terms, we're talking about roughly 4,000 messages per hour per machine.

 

If you have a server that is trying to manage pinging a set of devices (and collecting and storing those metrics) along with pulling SNMP or WMI data from that same set of devices (again, and storing that data), along with presenting that information in the form of views and reports, and checking the database for exceeded thresholds to create alerts, and analyzing that data to provide baselines, and... Well, you get the point. Polling engines have a lot of work to do. And one of the ways they stay on top of that work is having a finely tuned scheduler that manages all those polling cycles.

 

If you then start throwing a few million spontaneous messages, which must be processed in real-time, what you have is a VERY unhappy system. What you have is monitoring solution that "sucks" through no fault of its own.

 

Once I am able to point this out to clients, the next question is, "Should we turn off syslog or traps?" Of course not. That is a rich and vital source of information. What you need is to put something in front of those messages to filter them out.

 

Which brings me back to the "filtration system."

 

BUT... there's a catch! The catch is that most syslog and trap receivers expect to also process those messages themselves - to create alerts, to store the data, etc. What is needed in my example is to be able to ignore the messages that are unimportant, but then FORWARD the ones that matter to another system that is able to act upon them. The challenge here is to forward them without changing the source machine.

 

Many trap and syslog handlers can forward messages, but they replace the original machine with itself as the source. That's not helpful when you want to correlate a syslog message with data collected another way, say SNMP polling, for example. To do that, you need to perform what is called "transparent" forwarding, which keeps the original source machine information intact.

 

Kiwi Syslog has done this for years. But not so with SNMP traps. For a variety of reasons, which I won't get into now, that capability hasn't existed until 9.6, the latest version.

 

Now that this essential function within your monitoring infrastructure is available (not to mention really, REALLY affordable) you can impact the performance of your monitoring system in a great big, positive way.

 

So, take a minute and check out the new version. Forwarding traps transparently isn't the only new feature, by the way. There's also IPv6 support, SNMP v3 support, use of VarBinds in output, logging to Papertrail, and more! Try it and let me know what you think in the comments below.

 

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Two weeks ago, I had the privilege of attending and speaking at ByNet Expo in Tel Aviv, Israel.  As i mentioned in my preview article, I had hoped to use this event to talk about cloud, hybrid IT, and SolarWinds' approach to these trends, to meet with customers in the region, and to enjoy the food, culture, and weather.

 

I'm happy to report that the trip was a resounding success on all three fronts.

 

First, a bit of background:

 

Founded in 1975, ByNet (http://www.bynet.co.il/en/) is the region's largest systems integrator, offering professional services and solutions for networking, software, cloud, and more.

 

I was invited by SolarWinds' leading partner in Israel, ProLogic (http://prologic.co.il/) who, honestly, are a great bunch of folks who not only know their stuff when it comes to SolarWinds, but they also are amazing hosts and fantastic people to just hang out with.

 

Now you might be wondering what kind of show ByNet (sometimes pronounced "bee-naht" by the locals) Expo is. Is it a local user-group style gathering? A tech meet-up? A local business owners luncheon?

 

To answer that, let me first run some of the numbers:

  • Overall attendees: 4,500
  • Visitors to the SolarWinds/Prologic booth: ~1,000
  • Visitors to my talk (~150, which was SRO for the space I was in)

 

The booth was staffed by Gilad, Lior, and Yosef, who make up part of the ProLogic team. On the Solarwinds side, I was joined by Adriane Burke out of our Cork office. That was enough to attract some very interesting visitors, including the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Orbotec, Soreq, the Israeli Prime Minister's Office, Hebrew University, Mcafee, and three different branches of the IDF.

 

We also got to chat with some of our existing customers in the region, like Motorola, 3M, the Bank of Israel, and Bank Hapoalim.

 

Sadly missing from our visitor list, despite my repeated invitations on Twitter, was Gal Gadot.

 

But words will only take you so far. Here are some pictures to help give you a sense of how this show measures up:

 

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But those are just some raw facts and figures, along with a few flashy photos. What was the show really like? What did I learn and see and do?

 

First, I continue to be struck by the way language and culture informs and enriches my interactions with customers and those curious about technology. Whether I'm in the booth at a non-U.S. show such as CiscoLive Europe or ByNet Expo, or when I'm meeting with IT pros from other parts of the globe, the use of language, the expectations of where one should pause when describing a concept or asking for clarification, the graciousness with which we excuse a particular word use or phrasing - these are all the hallmarks of both an amazing and ultimately informative exchange. And also of individuals who value the power of language.

 

And every time I have the privilege to experience this, I am simply blown away by its power. I wonder how much we lose, here in the states, by our generally mono-linguistic mindset.

 

Second, whatever language they speak, SolarWinds users are the same across the globe. Which is to say they are inquisitive, informed, and inspiring in the way they push the boundaries of the solution. So many conversations I had were peppered with questions like, "Why can't you...?" and "When will you be able to...?"

 

I love the fact that our community pushes us to do more, be better, and reach higher.

 

With that said, I landed on Friday morning after a 14-hour flight, dropped my bags at the hotel and - what else - set off to do a quick bit of pre-Shabbat shopping. After that, with just an hour or two before I - and most of the country - went offline, I unpacked and got settled in.

 

Twenty-four hours later, after a Shabbat spent walking a chunkble chuck of the city, I headed out for a late night snack. Shawarma, of course.

 

Sunday morning I was joined by my co-worker from Cork, Adrian Burke. ProLogic's Gilad Baron spent the day showing us Jerusalem's Old City, introducing us to some of the best food the city has to offer, and generally keeping us out of trouble.

 

And just like that, the weekend was over and it was time to get to work. On Monday we visited a few key customers to hear their tales of #MonitoringGlory and answer questions. Tuesday was the ByNet Expo show, where the crowd and the venue rivaled anything Adrian and I have seen in our travels.

 

On my last day, Wednesday, I got to sit down in the ProLogic offices with a dozen implementation specialists to talk some Solarwinds nitty-gritty: topics like the product roadmaps, use cases, and trends they are seeing out in the field.

 

After a bit of last-minute shopping and eating that night, I packed and readied myself to return home Thursday morning.

 

Random Musings

  • On Friday afternoon, about an hour before sundown, there is a siren that sounds across the country, telling everyone that Shabbat is approaching. Of course nobody is OBLIGATED to stop working, but it is striking to me how powerful  a country-wide signal to rest can be. This is a cultural value that we do not see in America.
  • It is difficult to take a 67-year-old Israeli taxi driver seriously when he screams into his radio at people who obviously do not understand him. Though challenging, I managed to hide my giggles.
  • Traveling east is hard. Going west, on the other hand, is easy.
  • You never "catch up" on sleep.
  • Learning another language makes you much more sensitive to the importance of pauses in helping other people understand you.
  • Everything in Jerusalem is uphill. Both ways.
  • On a related note: there are very few fat people in Jerusalem.
  • Except for tourists.
  • Orthodox men clearly have their sweat glands removed. Either that or they install personal air conditioners inside their coats. That's right. I said coats. In May. When it's 95 degrees in the sun.

 

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As I type this, I find myself somewhat unexpectedly winging my way back to Israel. For those who recall, I was here last December for DevOpsDays Tel Aviv (described here and here) with the specific goals to:

 

  • Continue my conversations about the intersection between DevOps and traditional monitoring
  • Increase my knowledge of cloud technologies and the causes behind the push to cloud
  • Eat my body weight in kosher shawarma

 

Very recently, an opportunity to speak at Bynet Expo fell into my lap, where we had a chance to articulate SolarWinds' approach to cloud and hybrid IT monitoring and management. The shawarma was calling me back, so I had to go.

 

This is where I'll be for the next week, soaking up some bright Israeli sunshine, meeting with over 3,000 IT pros in the booth, and offering my thoughts on how Sympathetic Innovation is the key to managing hybrid IT.

 

I can't wait to share the experience with everyone when I get back.

 

Oh, and there may be some food pictures. And even a video or two.

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Recently, a rare moment of alignment occurred here at SolarWinds. All the Head Geeks came home to roost, brainstorm, debate, break bread together, and simply bask in the warm glow of friendship and camaraderie.

 

But the event, which only happens between two and three times a year due to our speaking and convention appearances, caused some confusion among the rest of the staff: They didn't know what to call it. Were we a gaggle of Geeks? A herd? A NERD herd?

 

Other collections have interesting names. There's a murder of crows, a conspiracy of ravens, an ostentation of peacocks, and exaltation of larks. There's a troop of baboons and a shrewdness of apes. A parade of elephants and a bloat of hippopotami.

 

Even among humans, we have some interesting group names: a blush of boys, a hastiness of cooks, or a superfluity of nuns.

 

So, I thought I would put it out to the ever creative THWACKizens:

 

What do YOU call a collection, gathering, grouping of Geeks? Are we:

  • A convention?
  • An argument or quibble?
  • An array or hash?
  • Or maybe a chaos or grok.

 

Share YOUR ideas in the comments below!

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On April 4, Seth Godin -- the writer I aspire to be like -- wrote, "The Invisible Fence" (Seth's Blog: The invisible fence ). In his usual eloquent yet terse style, he said:

"There are very few fences that can stop a determined person (or dog, for that matter).

Most of the time, the fence is merely a visual reminder that we're rewarded for complying.

If you care enough, ignore the fence. It's mostly in your head."

 

It caught my eye because once upon a time I looked into getting an Invisible Fence for my dog, pictured above. Also pictured above is my son, and to say the two were thick as thieves is an understatement. Aside from when he was at school, they went everywhere together. The boy thought the dog was his responsibility, at least that's what we'd told him. But our dog knew better. The boy was her human, a responsibility she took very seriously.

 

Which is why the Invisible Fence rep stood in my driveway, looked over at the dog and her human, and told me not to bother. "Dog's like that," he informed me. "they guard their flock no matter what. If she hears him and decides she needs to be there, a 10-foot brick wall won't stop her, let alone a shock collar, no matter how high you turn it up. What it will do, though, is make her think twice about coming back."

 

Years later, with the dog laid to rest and her human almost grown, that comment has stuck with me.

 

How often, I'm left wondering, do we build fences?

Fences around our work.

Fences around our teams.

Fences around our interactions.

Fences around our relationships.

Fences around our heart.

 

Fences, which, as Seth writes, are mostly in our head.

 

And, like the salesman told me that day, fences that do nothing to keep others locked inside artificial boundaries, but do an amazing job of keeping them from coming back once they are free.

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When I head out to conventions, especially the bigger ones like Cisco Live, I always expect to find some darling technology that has captured imaginations and become the newest entry in every booth denizen's buzzword bingo word list. And most of the time, my expectation is grounded in experience. From SDN to IoT, and on through cloud, container, and BaaS Blah Blah as a Service (BaaS), each trend is heralded with great fanfare, touted with much gusto, and explained with significant confusion or equivocation.

 

Not this year.

 

Chalk it up to the influence of Berlin's tasty beer and solid work ethic if you want, but this year the crowd was clearly interested in "the work of the work," as I like to call it, or "less hat, more cattle," as my friends in Austin might phrase it.

 

Don't get me wrong. The sessions were engaging as ever. The vendor floor was packed. The attendees came early and stayed each day to the end. The DevNet area was bigger than ever before. It was, by every measure, a great conference.

 

More about DevNet: While there were a lot of younger faces, there was no shortage of folks who clearly had put their years in. Patrick was the first to notice it, and it's worth highlighting. Folks with depth skills in a technical area were taking time to begin training on the "new thing," a set of skills that are up-and-coming, which do not match, in any way, the techniques they use right now, which may not even bear a resemblance to their current job. But they were there, session after session, soaking it in and enjoying it.

 

But as I commented to patrick.hubbard and ding, I hadn't yet found "it." And they both pointed out that sometimes the "it" is simply thousands of people spending time and money to come together and share knowledge, build connections, and enjoy the company of others who know what they know and do what they do.

 

Meanwhile, a steady stream of visitors came to the SolarWinds booth asking detailed questions and waiting for answers. Sometimes they had several questions. Often, they wanted to see demos on more than one product. They ooh'ed and ah'ed over our new showstoppers like NetPath and PerfStack (more on those in a minute), but stuck around to dig into IPAM, VNQM, LEM, and the rest.

 

After speaking to someone for a few minutes, visitors were less apt to say, "Can I have my T-shirt now?" and more likely to say, "I would also like to see how you can do ______." For a company that staffs its trade show booths with an "engineers-only" sensibility, it was deeply rewarding.

 

But there was no "trendy" thing people came asking about. There simply was no buzz at this show.

 

Unless - and I'm just throwing it out there - it was US.

 

You see, about a month before Cisco Live, SolarWinds was identified as the global market share leader for network management software (read about it here: http://www.solarwinds.com/company/press-releases/solarwinds-recognized-as-market-leader-in-network-management-software). Now that's a pretty big deal for us back at the office, but would it matter to in-the-trenches IT pros?

 

It mattered.

 

They came to the booth asking about it. To be honest, it was a little weird. Granted, a kind of weird I could get used to, but still weird.

 

So it turns out that Cisco Live didn't feature a buzz-worthy technology, but instead we found out that we got to be the belle of the ball.

 

PostScript: Next year, Cisco Live will be in Barcelona, Spain. Espero ver tu alli y hablar con tu en ingles y español.

Leon Adato

Trite Business Lies

Posted by Leon Adato Expert Feb 27, 2017

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When someone brings up the topic of lies at work, most of the time people think of the big stuff, like embezzlement, falsifying data, or fudging fantasy football stats. But there's a whole other category of lying that happens all the time. Not only are these lies tolerated, but through some combination of repetition, vehemence, and mind control, employees of all stripes have come to believe them as true.

 

Part of the reason for this is that the lies are small (and therefore insidious). They often pass themselves off as sage advice or commonly-understood truisms. At worst, they may appear to be clichés or business tropes. Many are hard to argue with unless you've thought it through.

 

Nevertheless, they are lies, and especially in this era of #AlternateFacts, deserve to be exposed as such.

 

So take a look below and see which of these phrases match up with your personal experience or reality. If you have stories, reactions, or your own additions, let us know about them in the comments below!

 

“Perception is reality”

No, it’s not. I perceive myself to be an AMAZING dancer. But 48 years of evidence (as well as testimony from my wife and children. ESPECIALLY my children!) indicate otherwise.

 

The truer statement is that perception is powerful, and can override facts. Knowing this is so does NOT mean we must kowtow to a requestor’s built-in perceptions or preconceived notions, but rather that we need to understand those perceptions and build compelling stories that bring the person to the actual truth.

 

“The customer is always right”

The truth is that customers can be, and often are, wrong. This can be due to the fact that they’ve been misled, or un- (or under-) informed, or one of a hundred other reasons why they are asking for the wrong thing, looking for the wrong solution. And then there’s the rare (but not rare enough) case when they are simply bat-guano crazy and want something stupid.

 

However, the customer IS always the customer. They are always the one who wants to buy, and we are always the one who wants to sell. Understanding this relationship doesn’t mean we have to sell our soul, ethics, or values to sell our product. Rather, it gives us the freedom to find the right customer for our product, and come to terms with the fact that not EVERYONE is a customer (or at least not a customer right now.)

 

“Work smarter, not harder”

What am I supposed to think here? That I've been working stupider up until now? That I've willfully withheld a portion of my intellectual capacity? Or that I'm just phoning it in? Regardless of which inference you make, it's not a kind reflection on me, nor on what you think of my work product and work habits.

 

If you think I stink, or that I'm slacking off, or that I've gotten into a behavioral rut, then please just say it. If you think I'm overlooking something obvious, then say THAT. And if you don't think EITHER of those things, don't say this to fill the dead air.

 

“Think outside the box”

Like "work smarter, not harder," this one has the one-two punch of an insult AND the implication that I can’t solve a particular problem.

 

I list this as a lie because there IS no box. I may have fallen into a rut or a set of sub-optimal habits. I might be hyperfocused on a particular outcome or trajectory; I could just be lazy and unwilling to put in the extra effort that thinking about something differently might require.

 

Whatever the reason for my inability to find a novel solution is, it's not "a box." Calling it that doesn't get me any closer to changing my behavior OR solving the challenge.

 

“Lean and Mean”

Back in 2004, Bob Lewis translated this as "emaciated and unpleasant" (http://www.weblog.keepthejointrunning.com/?p=1886) and that has stuck with me. Lean is all well and good, as long as we mean "healthy" rather than "underfed.”

 

But "mean" (unless you mean "average,”which you probably don't) is a trait I would not find advantageous in the workplace. When would it be considered organizationally good to be rude, dismissive, short-tempered, or (to use Lewis' term) unpleasant?

 

Rather, we should strive for our teams and organizations to be healthy, focused, and determined. You can even throw in “hungry” if you want, as long as it’s not due to a lack of sustenance (i.e., resources).

 

"I just need you to hold out until..."

In my experience, this is a statement that comes in three month cycles. Just keep working on-call for a little longer. Just keep putting in the extra hours. Just deal with this (last) fire drill.

 

Just put up with this sub-optimal situation.

 

After two years of ongoing struggle where the answer was routinely, "This is only going to be until the end of quarter,” I finally confronted a manager about how the situation hadn't gotten better. The situation may have changed, but the workload, sense of crisis, etc. had not improved. His response was surprisingly transparent, "Oh, I didn't mean it would get better. I just meant that it would change."

 

A company, department, or team that has gotten into the habit of trying to wait out bad situations is one that has given up on solving problems. Just remember that.

 

If you find yourself on the receiving end of this particular lie, one response is to ask for specifics. Such as:

  1. “Then what,”  as in, what is the situation going to be at the end of the <time period>?
  2. How are we going to get there between now and then?
  3. What are your expectations of me during that period?
  4. What will we do if we miss our target (date or end-state)?

 

By using these questions, and then the logical follow-up responses along with copious documentation, you are asking management to commit to a set of goals and outcomes (this is a technique also known as “managing up”). It also gives you a fairly accurate barometer as to how hard you should be looking for a better situation.

 

“This company is like family”

No, it isn't. Most companies are too large to have the group dynamics of a family. A company lacks the long-term history, shared genealogy, etc. that create lasting bonds.

 

That's not to say that people working at a company can't feel a close friendship and camaraderie. But it's still not family.

 

Those who make this type of comment are typically trying to instill in you a sense of loyalty to them right before they ask you to do something that goes against your personal interests.

 

“Human Resources”

I know, I know, this is the name of a department. But the name of the group is a misnomer bordering on a trite falsehood. Almost all of the frustration I've ever had (or heard coworkers have) with HR stems from misunderstanding their core mission.

 

In my experience, HR exists for two primary reasons:

  1. To keep the company out of lawsuits arising from employee interactions
  2. To shield upper management from the messier aspects of employees, including salary negotiations, grievances, etc.

 

They are NOT there to help you grow as an employee. They are NOT there to provide a sounding board. They are NOT there to help create a positive work environment.

 

They are NOT a department designed to help the employee in any way, unless "help" intersects with one of the two areas above. Use them in the same way you would use the legal department. Because that's pretty much what they are an extension of.

 

“Treat Your Users Like Your Customers”

I have a few issues with this. First, when I run my own company I can choose which customers I want to deal with. I do that by deciding how and where I market, which jobs I accept, and which I'm too busy to take on right now, and by setting a price for each job that reflects the level of effort and aggravation I expect to have while doing the work.

 

Equally, my customers can choose whether to hire me or the person down the street.

 

Within a company, NONE of those things are true. I can't say no to the accounting department, and they can't find someone ELSE in the company to provide the same set of services.

 

In addition, customers and vendors come and go. But Sarah in the mail room today will become Sarah the head of accounting tomorrow. So how I treat her today matters for the duration of our time at this company.

 

“The squeaky wheel gets the grease”

I learned long ago that this is SOMETIMES true. But more often, the more accurate phrase is "The squeaky wheel gets REPLACED!"

 

When, how, and to whom one squeaks is a lesson many of us learn by experience (meaning: doing it wrong) over time.

 

So, anyone who blithely tells you this probably wants one of the following outcomes, none of which will be good for YOU:

  1. They don't realize the truth of the situation either
  2. They have the same complaint and know better than to open their mouths. but they are perfectly willing for you to lead the charge and take all the heat.
  3. They want to watch you make a spectacle of yourself for their entertainment

 

“The elevator pitch”

Brevity is wonderful when it pushes us to create simple elegance. But often it just causes us to stress more, talk faster, widen the margins, shrink the font, and try to jam more into less.

 

Effective storytelling is partially about knowing when your forum and format fit the story you want to tell. Otherwise, you end up babbling like a fool and ruining your chances of making a case later on.

 

Some issues, requests, and explanations are complicated and can't be reduced to a 30-second overview. If you run into someone who demands that all of your interactions, requests, etc. be put in that format, then they're not really listening anyway.

 

“That's not part of our corporate culture/DNA”

There's a famous story about five gorillas (you can read it here).

 

Phrases like, "that's now how we do things,” or "That's just how it's done here,” or "It's not part of our DNA,”  are all lies, and all fall under the heading of Not Invented Here (NIH). It is often code for, "I don't want to," or worse, "The thought of doing things that way scares me."

 

As stated earlier, companies are not family. They also aren't organisms and thus don't have DNA. If they have a culture, it is because the people who make up the company actively choose to propagate a set of habits or a particular perspective when doing business. And culture or no culture, a good idea is a good idea. People want to do well, want to succeed, want to get ahead.

 

How you respond to this lie depends largely on your stake in doing something differently, and your role in the company.

 

“If you hire good people, they won't require supervision”

Stephen Covey famously said (http://www.azquotes.com/quote/855055),

"If you can hire people whose passion intersects with the job, they won't require any supervision at all. They will manage themselves better than anyone could ever manage them. Their fire comes from within, not from without. Their motivation is internal, not external."

 

That's great. Let's see if they file their expense forms correctly and on time.

 

People at all levels of the organizational chart require supervision. What they may not need is meddling middle managers.

 

The best supervisors are part janitor, part secretary, and part cheerleader. They keep things clean (meaning they ensure an unobstructed path for their staff to pursue work); they attend higher level meetings and report back the information honestly and transparently so that staff can take the actions that support the business goals; and they publicly recognize successes so that their team feels validated in their work.

 

Also, this is insulting in the same way that "work smarter" and "think outside the box" are. It's a form of managerial "negging" (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Negging). It implies that if you DO need supervision, you are obviously not passionate enough about your work and may be the wrong person for the job.

 

“It's easier to ask forgiveness than permission”

Yes. And all planes are equipped to make a water landing. Well, at least once. Whether they can take off after that is just a minor detail, right?

 

In an unhealthy environment, people do things on the sly and hope they don't get caught. If they DO get caught,  it seems many believe throwing themselves on the mercy of the court is as good a strategy as any.

 

But in mature, professional, adult environments, asking for permission is always preferable and always easier for everyone.

 

“Failure is not an option”

Nope, in some situations (often ones where this lie is uttered), it's practically a sure thing!

 

There is no guaranteed success. There is no outcome that is 100% predictable. Some failures, once they are in motion, are unavoidable no matter how much planning was done beforehand, or how much staff are on hand during the failure to try to save it.

 

Not only is this statement a lie, it's also not particularly helpful advice.

 

“So what's the point?”

My point is certainly not that everything, or even most things, said at work are a lie. What I AM saying is that some of these trite and overused clichés have reached the end of their useful period.

 

Or as Sam Goldwyn said, "Let's have some new clichés."

 

Ain't that the truth.

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Last year I wrote about my experiences at CiscoLive Berlin (or #CLEUR, as it is hashtagged on Twitter).

 

This year, as I'm sitting on the plane to meet up with patrick.hubbard, ding, stevenwhunt, and the rest of the gang, I thought I would take a few minutes before catching some fitful transatlantic naps and share some of the things I'm looking forward to seeing.

 

Sharing the PerfStack story

Without a doubt, the thing I'm MOST excited to share with the attendees is PerfStack and the way it allows network engineers to combine data from across the infrastructure and compare it with application insight. This isn't just your usual "MTTI / It's never the network" gag. This is about enabling every IT professional to become a true "full-stack" engineer, and even a data scientist, snapping together data from across the enterprise the way Master Builders snap together "interlocking plastic building pieces" in the Lego Movie.

 

Arduino

A close second to PerfStack is my excitement to see what the Arduino booth has in store this year. As I mentioned in my summary from 2016, this activity captured my imagination like nothing that I've seen at a convention in a long time. I'm hopeful they up their game, but even if they just do a repeat of last year's side-quest, I'll be happy to play along. It was the ultimate cross-vendor ice-breaker.

 

IoT

So much has happened in the world of IoT this year (which frequently finds its way onto the pages of Geek Speak), that I'm keen to see how Cisco, the speakers, and even the vendors on the floor are responding. To be certain, we can't keep doing the same old things. But HOW everyone is choosing to respond will be as interesting as anything else.

 

Clouds and Containers

Finally, the inexorable march continues from pure on-premises through the haze of hybrid IT, to the eventual nirvana of cloud-based everything. As much as this has been a "virtualization, server, and application" type story, network (and Cisco) have had their roles to play and will continue to drive the conversation. I haven't paid as much attention to this sector of the industry as I should, leaning heavily on the experience and insight of fellow Head Geeks kong.yang and sqlrockstar, but it's time for me to start building my knowledge in this area.

 

That's what I'm looking forward to. Is there something YOU are particularly keen to hear about? Let me know in the comments and I'll try to do some of the legwork for you and report back next week!

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