Javier Solis

1 minute read

The Why

I decided to try out deliverying content via YouTube. Everyone’s consuming information in many different ways nowadays. I’ve even started listening much more to podcasts while I’m on the road. And now you can almost learn anything by watching YouTube, so I thought I’d give it a try. The intro, “Why Networking…”

@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

3 minute read

Big Site Changes

I’ve made quite a few changes to my site. The first thing you’ll notice is the name change. I decided it was time to move away from the Apextier domain name. I originally received the domain from a close friend. My original intent with the site was using Apextier to run a side job for web dev work years ago. I eventually stopped building websites. Apextier sounded cool at the time and became a useful place for my technical blog. I decided that something like LifeNetEng was more personal and appropriate to what my blog is all about. Life of a Network Engineer.

Admin or Engineer

There’s actually lots of debate about what truly classifies an engineer verses an administrator. In some cases, you’re required to have an engineering degree in order to hold such a title. I’ll be straight up. I only have a Bachelor’s of Science degree in Business Information Systems. However, I think there are definitive differences between a network admin and engineer. When I was an admin I spent lots of time playing in a GUI/CLI, installing and replacing components, managing multi-vendor networking gear, and making sure the network stayed up and running. Now that I’m working for a networking hardware vendor (Extreme Networks) I’m spending time diving into protocols, building network designs, writing code to solve problems, and contributing ideas towards existing and new products. I’ve definitely shifted towards an engineering role. Who knows, maybe I’ll even get to be part of building a switch/router some day.

Farewell to Wordpress

With all this change I also decided to move away from Wordpress. Don’t get me wrong Wordpress is great, but I had security issues in the past and still can’t get some of my code patched due to being on legacy Godaddy hosting services. I decided to check out other options. Being that I’ve had previous experience working with HTML/CSS I decided to move my blog to a purely static configuration.

I started looking at different static site generators which assist in provisioning a sites link structure. I tried Hugo and Jekyll. I choose Hugo as it was a bit easier for me to pick up the syntax. Once you have Hugo installed you can get going by creating a new site and creating new pages with the following two commands:

hugo new site nameofnewsite
cd nameofnewsite
hugo new posts/my-first-post.md

Then you can start the built-in Hugo web server with the following command in your new hugo web directory:

hugo server -D

I also found a nice Hugo theme, did some testing, and started rebuilding my original Apextier blog post content with Hugo.

I also wanted to get away from having to manage web server OS and application level updates. I started digging in my AWS account to see what service offerings were available. One of the simplest ways to host a static site on AWS is by serving your HTML/CSS files from an AWS S3 bucket. You can enable static website hosting from your S3 bucket, copy your files to the bucket, and enable public read access. KISS, keep it stupid simple. I also added AWS Cloudfront in order to serve up https. AWS S3 buckets can’t host secure SSL web services on its own. The final product is now what you see.

I’m completely off Godaddy and am hosting my site on AWS. Not only can I brush up on my HTML/CSS skills, but I’ll also get more hands on experience with AWS. The biggest drawback from moving away from Wordpress is the ease of enabling post comments. I’ll have to do some more research to find an effective method for posting comments using Hugo, but for now I’ll just stick with providing my contact information on public forums such as Twitter and Linkedin.

Until next time,

@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

2 minute read

Driving Software

Being a Systems Engineer or really a “Sales” Engineer, I speak with lots of IT folks about products that Extreme Networks sells. Rarely do I have conversations around hardware features such as feeds and speeds or physical components. Every competitive networking vendor mostly has access to the same commodity ASICs. In the networking and infrastructure world software has become King or Queen. Software is the driving factor for change and creating some healthy competition in the Networking industry.

More specifically, what I spend time talking about is how software solutions can solve technical issues or enable the rapid deployment of new solutions regardless if it’s hosted on-prem or the cloud. There, I said it. It doesn’t matter where it lives. What matters is how it lives.

Everyone is Talking About Software

If you look around, you’ll find Cisco DevNet. It’s a fantastic resource that teaches you about open APIs, gives you access to Cisco sandboxes, and has tons of technical resources that focus on you guess it SOFTWARE. Juniper hosts NRE labs focusing on the Network Reliability Engineering model, which provides learning content around open source automation tools. Vendors continue to add open APIs not only to their hardware but software solutions too. Extreme Networks recently donated Stackstorm to the Linux Foundation for continued growth by the open-source SOFTWARE community.

SDN with one controller to rule them all is dead. However, people still want to be able to customize traffic flows. We want to stich different products together using customized workflows, automate those pesky CLI commands, and rid ourselves of having to make multiple mouse clicks in a GUI. Knowing Linux and open source tools will become necessary if you want to elevate your IT career.

Learn Something New

I’m not saying networking folks need to transition into programmers because we still need knowledgeable networking people with real-world experience. However, it wouldn’t hurt to step up your software game. I challenge you to take three of the most frequent CLI or GUI clicks you do every day and challenge yourself to automate some of your tasks. You may learn something new, have some fun doing it, and will become a software King or Queen.

@javi_isolis