If you communicate with me via e-mail, IRC, or Twitter, you’d know that I haven’t really left. A question recently asked on the Evil Routers Facebook page, however, made me realize that I really need to start hanging out in the blogosphere again:
Indeed, the last post here on Evil Routers, “IPv6 — It’s Not An Option“, which was simply a cheap shot at some Marketing folks, was published just over three months ago. My last “real” post, explaining a Cisco ASA error message, is now nearly five months old. That is, by far, the longest hiatus in Evil Routers’ history.
The reason for this is quite simple: it’s been a beautiful (albeit abnormally hot) summer here in the midwest and, because of that, I’ve devoted much more time to the first four items in the title of this post, at the expense of the last one.
Seriously, though, when my options are to a) stay at home and write up some articles or b) go out riding the bike or spend the weekend on the lake, it really isn’t a tough decision to make! I hope that you’ll forgive me. =)
Anyway, when I started my current job, I was working mostly on the VAR/MSP side of the house. In the last six months or so, I’ve mostly been working on the ISP side of things. We have an existing network to maintain, of course, but my major project is, basically, designing and building out a completely new network encompassing our 50+ sites.
Our original network started out small, of course, but grew rapidly. Unfortunately, the folks who built it out didn’t have any real-world experience designing or managing networks and mostly learned as they went along. This led to several decisions that, well, let’s just say they weren’t the best decisions that have ever been made in the history of networking decisions. Whenever I started in this role, we were beginning to experience major issues because of those decisions.
The company officers — my bosses — are businessmen, of course. One has a good technical background, in general, but the other is “all business”. Fortunately, I’ve been able to explain the issues that were occurring and we all agreed that we needed to “start from scratch”, in effect, and do things right.
Luckily, right before I came on board, they had procured fiber to a new site that was going to be built — our new “datacenter”. This has allowed us to build the new network in parallel to the existing one, at a comfortable place, while making sure that the network is properly designed.
Several months ago, we installed the firewall, deployed the servers, and lit up the fiber at our new datacenter. Shortly thereafter, we brought a completely new site online and, I’m proud to say, the network has been extremely stable and much more reliable than the “old network”.
We’re making good progress on this project and slowly have been moving our POPs (and customers, of course) over from the “old network” to the “new network”. Redundancy is an integral part of the design and my bosses are starting to see the value of a properly designed network. As we expand our offerings to include things such as Voice-over-IP (VoIP), a reliable, stable network is more important than ever (not to mention that our customers will leave us if we can’t provide them with a reliable connection). Eventually, everything will be switched over to the “new network”, we’ll redo a few things on what’s left of the “old network”, and then connect the two together to provide even more redundancy.
Working on this project has, as you might guess, provided me with the inspiration for several networking-related articles. I already have some drafts written up, but they need finished and tweaked a bit before they can be published.
What you might not have guessed, however, is that I also have ideas for many articles that aren’t strictly networking focused. Many, many years ago, before Evil Routers ever existed, my blog lived at a different domain — linuxwiz.net. If you’ve met me in person, you probably already know that I’m a huge fan of Linux, having been introduced to it in 1996. If I have a server to deploy and running Linux on it is an option, I’ll choose Linux about 90% of the time (the remaining 10% is split roughly 50/50 between FreeBSD and Microsoft Windows).
I mention this because I’ve been debating whether to publish any Linux-focused articles here on Evil Routers. I thought about resurrecting the linuxwiz.net domain (which I still own) and posting them there, but I’d rather not have yet another web site to maintain. Ultimately, I decided that there’s a lot of overlap between the “network engineer” and “Linux sysadmin” realms and came to the decision that I’ll post those articles here.
To give you an idea of the types of articles that are in the pipeline, remember that I am, in effect, building a (wireless) internet service provider network from scratch and I’m also rebuilding the entire server infrastructure that goes along with it. Thus, you can expect articles on everything from BGP (transit customer, transit provider, and peering), OSPF (what we run internally), spanning tree, “non-mainstream” networking devices (i.e. Mikrotik), deploying Linux servers (CentOS and Debian, almost exclusively) via kickstart to make things easy, using puppet to manage those same servers, and installing, configuring, and maintaining various server software — Apache, BIND, FreeRADIUS, MySQL, OpenLDAP, Postfix, PowerDNS, and many more — on the Linux platform. I am a huge proponent of anonymity and privacy as well, and I’ve been lucky enough to have some major influence on our policies in that regard. You’ll hear about that too.
This article ended up more long-winded than I planned on but, for those of you who’ve been fans of the site, I wanted to provide an explanation for my absence and let you know that I’ll soon be serving up fresh, new content for your enjoyment once again.
On a side note, Evil Routers passed the four year mark this past weekend and I want to thank all of you for helping me make the site into what it is today. When it first started, I didn’t expect that the number of RSS subscribers would ever even come close to the three-digit mark. As of today, there are over 1,700 of you and the site has served up well over one million views! That absolutely blows my mind.
In addition, I certainly never would have expected that my writings here would result in me getting to visit the campuses of Cisco, HP, Juniper, and the many other companies that I’ve since been to. I didn’t even hold a single networking certification when Evil Routers was born (Network+ doesn’t count) — yet, since then, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet, in real life, some of the biggest names in the networking industry.
My sincere thanks goes out to each of you who I’ve interacted with in any way over the last four years. Here’s to the next four!