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life# reload

by Jeremy L. Gaddis on December 12, 2011 · 3 comments

in Networking

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If you’ve been reading Evil Routers for a while, you already know that, back in May, I quit my job.

The idea was that, after I took care of some things here, I’d eventually move to the west coast. Basically, that never happened. I got lazy over the summer and did absolutely nothing that I needed to do and, instead, took advantage of all the free time to do things that I’ve wanted to do (not necessarily a bad thing).

In addition, I started a company to pursue a couple of ideas I’ve had for a long time. As you might guess, that required a lot of my time for a good while (like, every waking moment of every day). I’ve managed to off-load most of that to others and my involvement is pretty minimal at this point, which has freed up a lot of my time.

I was working on that “project” when I headed out to San Jose with my fellow networking nerds for Net Field Day 2. While there, I received an e-mail from a guy who reads this blog. He knew of a company in my area that was looking to fill a recently vacated position and wondered if I might be interested. I wasn’t really looking for a job at the time but I said I’d be willing to meet up with the guys and at least talk to them.

A few days after returning from NFD, I met up with the two guys at a restaurant to discuss their businesses, their needs, goals, and future direction. By the time we left, they had offered me a position there.

Like @fryguy_pa, I, too, have made a new start. My first day was just a couple of days after our little meeting. I would have preferred to wait a week or two, but they were anxious and excited for me to get started.

Officially, I am working for one of their companies, which I could best describe as a VAR and provider of outsourced IT. For some of our customers, we are their only IT support. Other customers have their own in-house IT staff and simply call on us when they’re in over their head and could use a little help. Without going into much detail, most of my work thus far in this role has centered around resolving server-side issues (like huuuuge SQL databases filling up the volume) and installing and maintaining Cisco ASAs.

In the coming weeks and months, I expect I’ll also get to work with various wireless technologies and VoIP as well. I’ll be involved in many different things but that should keep it interesting. So far, no two days have been exactly the same.

The other half — and more exciting part — of my work is for one of their “sister companies”, which is a wireless Internet Service Provider (WISP). Ironically, not long before meeting up with these guys, I decided that I’d like to work for a service provider, which I imagined would be a completely different environment that what I was used to at the .edu. Boy, was I ever right.

To borrow a word that my boss used a few days ago, the current network can best be described as a “clusterfuck”. When the WISP started out, they apparently took the “easy way” of doing things. That actually worked out just fine while they were relatively small. As the business and customer base has grown, however, the things that have been done in the past just aren’t going to cut it anymore.

To provide an example, the network currently stretches over a huge geographical distance with gear on a total of 54 towers and the customers numbering in the four digits. The entire network, however, is bridged.

EVERYWHERE.

Yep, one flat layer 2 network. One big broadcast domain.

I’m fairly certain that I don’t need to explain to any of you why this is bad, so I’ll save my breath. I think we can agree, though, that this only scales to a certain point and, well, we’re pretty much at that point.

Anyway, in the coming weeks I certainly have a challenge on my hands. In order to achieve some of the goals of the business (which I’ll talk more about later), one of the first things we need to do is get away from bridging and instead start routing traffic across our network. Considering this means we’ll likely have to touch nearly every piece of CPE gear out there, this is no small feat!

I’ll keep you updated in the coming weeks as this project (and my new position) progresses. Fortunately, the work ahead of me will, I’m certain, lend itself to some interesting (and maybe some not-so-interesting) posts. Stay tuned!

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