Have A Network Career Management Breakthrough!
I’ve seen it too many times. An outstanding Network Technician burns themselves out trying to perfectly manage a network using processes meant for a small network infrastructure.
Many Network Technicians start small. They learn the technology of networking, whether it be simplistic Spanning-Tree with switches or OSPF with routers, and they learn how to make a network simply work. Overtime they get better and start overcoming more challenging technologies such as BGP and MPLS and even begin crossing over into the Engineering realm of problem solving and network design.
However, the best troubleshooters and network engineers can all too often make poor decisions when it comes to actually managing the network. Network technicians and engineers love being on the console and in the CLI of a device, and rightfully so! So when it is asked of them to say for instance, change the default username of a device, they immediately do so by going into the CLI of every device, one at a time, and change the password. Some of them might even create a “script” in a text document such as the following:
no username generic
username generic priv 0 secret ABC123
While this may be “fun” to the network hobbyist (guilty) it will only work efficiently in a small network environment. These same network technicians and engineers will stubbornly (in my experience) try to use this same approach in larger networks! Shaking my head (smh, lol)...
Asking them for an inventory of network devices and IP address allocations will probably result in them producing a spreadsheet of some sort as well. These approaches do not scale well at all and wind up burning out many outstanding technicians.
It is my opinion that after just learning how to get networks working and packets flowing, it should be the priority of every Manager, Engineer, and Technician to fully invest in the proper tools to manage the network itself. I’m not talking about making the Terminal Emulator leap from Putty (http://www.putty.org/) to TeraTerm (https://osdn.net/projects/ttssh2/releases/) or something like that. We’re talking about making the jump to a Network Compliance Manager such as Solarwinds (http://www.solarwinds.com/) or one of a number of other tools.
With tools such as Solarwinds NCM, after putting in some work for the initial set up, a Network Technician can take inventory of their entire network in seconds. Can deploy the same above script to EVERY network device they own in a manner of seconds! Some NCM products, such as the Dell OpenManage Network Manager (OMNM), formerly Cisco NCM, can even push IOS updates from the server!
This is going beyond a Network Monitoring solution such as CastleRock SNMPc (https://www.castlerock.com/) or CA Spectrum (http://www.ca.com/us.html), but Network Management. With it we can push mass configuration changes in a matter of seconds to minutes, not hours or days. We can automate IOS updates, without having to manually transfer the IOS files over the network one at a time.
Without the proper tools to manage the network, and not just monitor, when it comes time for compliance checking, we will often find an organization with high turnover or simply non-existent compliance checks.
It does take some work to get network monitoring and management tools setup and properly pull in all your devices, and ensure the ACL’s are built just right to support them as well as the Firewalls, but it is well worth the investment!
It is how you can keep from burning yourself out! It will help keep you happy with a high job satisfaction while keeping the network not only running efficiently, but clean and compliant as well!