Goodbye 2020… and never come back!

As we approach the end of the year, we can finally say goodbye to 2020. Goodbye 2020… and never come back!
But, it is also time to look back at 2020 and try to see what the year 2021 promises us.

So, in 2020…

 

COVID-19!

The first thing that comes to mind when we talk about this year, and I think this will be the case for a long time, is the COVID-19!

Who could have foreseen at the beginning of January that the entire world would be masked to go to work or shopping? And that many people have to work from home all the time?

We all know it, it changed a lot of things. And for us as network engineers?
Well, I think many many companies had first to drastically increase the capacity of their VPN accesses. I saw a statistic a while ago that the average VPN supported users by large companies was between 12% and 15% of total users. Of course, this depends on the type of business, if the company has a lot of sales in the field, this number would be higher. But this is an average.
Today, the same average is more than 95%! So, for many companies, this means a lot of work to increase the VPN capacity very quickly last March/April.

About Internet traffic, it changes a little bit less. But it can depend on the architecture of the company. For example, if the VPN accesses are in the cloud, a transfer of the traffic load from the main site(s) to the cloud must have been felt.

On the other hand, I spoke with few service providers here in Switzerland and they all confirmed that the traffic has not exploded. As some newspapers predicted… Obviously, working from home doesn’t mean more traffic overall. The traffic is distributed a bit differently, but no traffic explosion.

 

For my part, what else in 2020?

 

Cisco Champion for the second time!

Again this year, I had the honor of being selected to be part of the 2020 Cisco Champion program.

In a nutshell, the Cisco champion program is a group of people who like to discuss and share their knowledge about technologies. Cisco provides us the infrastructure and support to make this sharing as easy, efficient (and fun) as possible. With, for example, A Cisco Webex Teams private chat, newsletters, special events and presentations, participation in trials and beta-tests, and many many more. It is also an incredible opportunity to be in touch with some of the “rock stars” of our industry. I am very happy and honored to be part of this community this year again. And I have already applied for next year!

You can get more details on the Cisco Champion program here: https://community.cisco.com/t5/cisco-champions-public-documents/tkb-p/CiscoChampionsPublicDocuments

Cisco Live… virtual.

Last January, I was looking forward to it because I already had the green light from my management: Cisco Live US! But there too, the COVID-19 came and changed everything! Then Cisco Live became Cisco Live Virtual.

I am sure it’s not easy to convert an event like CLUS into a virtual event and therefore fully online. But to tell the truth, I have been disappointed. No real in-depth technical sessions, no opportunity to interact with Cisco staff or other attendees. It was a series of marketing-oriented presentations. What a sad thing!

But again, in the organizers’ defense, it was a last-minute change, and is it really possible to transform an event like Cisco-Live to a remote event? I don’t think any online tool can replace the great social interaction that takes place during a conference like Cisco Live. And that’s what makes it unique.

Unfortunately, the pandemic is not over and next year’s event will again be virtual. But, it seems that Cisco has anticipated well this time, to create a real online event. You can find more information here: https://www.ciscolive.com/us.html?zid=cl-global

 

Learning and certifications

In terms of what I learned and certifications, 2020 was a great year!

As I had written in this post about the impostor syndrome, make an achievements log. It helps to remember the successes of previous years, not only the difficulties. And so, I had the chance to participate in so many interesting courses this year, that I had to review my achievements logs. Here is the list:

  • A single-day course on Docker.
  • A five-day course on Ansible and Kubernetes administration.
  • A two-day course on CI/CD, including Jenkins and Ansible AWX.
  • A three-day course on Agile projects management.

These courses greatly helped me to open my mind to DevOps and Agile methodologies and also to microservices network architectures. And this also motivated me to start studying again for a Cisco DevNet certification.

So, in summer 2020, I started studying again in the evenings and on weekends to take the Cisco DevNet Professional Core exam. And I passed the exam at the end of October on the first attempt:

I talk about it in more detail in this post.

 

My goals for next year

 

The next couple of weeks

This year again, I am on PTO during the holiday season, until January 7th. What better way to spend time with the family, skiing, and other outdoor activities.
But, I will also take advantage of this time to continue learning. And I am planning to read these two books:

 

1. Building Data Centers with VXLAN BGP EVPN: A Cisco NX-OS Perspective

Cisco press book from the data-center gurus Lukas Krattiger, Shyam Kapadia, and David Jansen.

 

Building Data Centers with VXLAN BGP EVPN

 

 

2. Programming and Automating Cisco Networks: A guide to network programmability and automation in the data center, campus, and WAN

Another Cisco press book from the network automation rock-stars Jason Gooley and Ryan Tischer.

 

Programming and Automating Cisco Networks

 

I don’t think I can read and study both books in depth in such a short period of time. But I plan to finish them at least by the end of January.

 

And later?

Learning and certifications

Since I passed the DevNet Professional Core exam in 2020, I would like to take a Concentration exam in 2021, to be a DevNet professional certified. So my goal is to pass the “Automating Cisco Data Center Solutions (300-635 DCAUTO)” exam. And this will allow me to already have one foot in the Data-Center Professional certification path.

After that, I could think about the DC-CORE exam. Probably for 2021 – 2022, who knows.

I strongly encourage you to take a look at the Cisco DevNet exams. There is a lot to learn and if you take an exam before February 24th, you will be part of the DevNet class of 2020:

And what else for 2021?

Next year, I also have big projects in my company, starting with a major network migration in mid-January.

Then, I am more and more interested in the network and services architectures. I will see if I can dig more on this in the second part of next year.

 

See you in 2021!

So again: goodbye 2020… and never come back!

Now, I sincerely hope to see you again as soon as possible in an (almost) normal world. And my best wishes to you and your families for the upcoming festive season!

 

Featured image by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash


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