Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Stop Starting...

One of the things I'm struggling with as I attempt to get into network automation and programming is the huge volume of information.

There's DevNet, all the Cisco YouTube channels, udemy courses, cbtnuggets, Cisco press back catalogue, blogs, twitter, Facebook groups, webex teams, the list goes on and on.

I've found that I've been utterly daunted by just how much information is out there.

I spotted a quote on twitter just yesterday though -

'you must build an actual project '  @wellpaidgeek

- which pretty much summed me up.

I've spent so much time researching that I've been unable to see where to start. I look at one area and it sends me on to another, and another, and another. Before you know it I've watched 4 YouTube videos and read various blogs and not actually done anything!

So today marks my first actual steps.

I've got my new laptop due for delivery any time now. First tasks are:

  • Get it set up.
  • Install Visual Studio Code.
  • Link to my Github profile (?) page(?) whatever...
  • Work through the Visual Studio Code Python tutorial
  • Make Cisco DevNet my homepage.
  • Work through the Programming Fundamentals course.
  • Work through the Python Fundamentals course.
  • Move on to the DevNet sandbox environments and have a play there.
  • Check out NAPALM
  • Check out Netmiko

Thats all well and good but I've not actually 'done' anything even if I manage to clear that lot any time soon...

As result a simple task I'm going to look at will be :

  • A simple Python script to take pre and post change snapshots of the kit I work on. 
  • Next, develop it so I can split out specific tasks based on the type of device I'm making a change on.
  • Next, add a Diff process to compare the before and after state of my changed devices.
  • Further down the line I want to be able to look at the active connections at any one time and run a comparison for before and after my change.
  • Next, lets take all that detail and store it in a central location to be reviewed at a later date if needs be. 
  • Those are all read only tasks so I guess at some point I'll be looking to run the actual change and then run all the post checks as well.
  • It would also be nice to have a basic web page our ops team can reference to check the live status of the connections on the devices I'm working.
  • The list goes on...
Now you might say 'Hey, Sparky! there's already code out there that can do that!' - well yes, that's true. But where's the fun in copying some one else's work? what would I learn?

Today is the day I stop starting and simply start doing.

Wish me luck!






Thursday, February 6, 2020

Cisco Live 2020 - Barcelona

I was able to attend Cisco Live 2020 in Barcelona this year and it was EPIC!

It's the first time I've been to Cisco Live and had no idea what to expect. I thought I'd make a few notes on my experience with the view of keeping a list of reminders in the event that I get to go again.

In no particular order:

  • Wear comfy shoes, I was walking at least 12km each day!
  • Don't worry about the schedule - it is not possible to do everything you might want to do so pick out your 'must do's' then us the app to bookmark anything else of interest
  • Download and use the app - Cisco Events - about 2-3 days before the event the Cisco Live event was added and I could login in using my Cisco account and access my schedule (that I had already started to fill up online)
  • Make time for the World of Solutions hall and the The Hub / DevNet halls - its not all break out sessions. 
  • Get to the Walk-in Labs early, find out what time it opens and get there before 9am - I found that after my 9am talks I'd get to the Walk in Lab area at around 9:30 and all the seats were full and there was a massive queue.
  • Same for Capture the Flag - it fills up quick so get there early or go there late in the day
  • The food was awesome, everything was free (meals, sandwich bags, tea, coffee, fizzy drinks) and breakfast was also available via pastries and muffins!
  • Get Social - Follow @CiscoLiveEurope and monitor #CLEUR for updates and news
  • Drop  in on sessions that have already started, if you spot a session that you hadn't seen on the schedule before you arrived don't think twice about rocking up and standing in the corner. I did this a few times and found there was always a spare chair. People's plans change and I never had trouble find a chair even on the ones I hadn't register for prior.
Would I go again? ABSOLUTELY! I learnt more in one week at Cisco Live than I had in previous roles going back years. In your day to day role you will no doubt have a set number of duties and its really easy to forget that there's more to networking than the bit you do. Cisco Live opened my eyes to whats out there and what's coming in the future and it was amazing.

I also loved the fact that I was with like minded people who were enthusiastic and that got me really engaged and excited about the possibilities on my return to work.

I doubt I'll get to go to Amsterdam next year but I'll be sure to be planning a visit as soon as I can.