Few days ago I celebrated the end of my first year with Cisco. I have been working as a team member of Cisco Advanced Services field delivery team under Asia Pacific region that covers customers in mostly South East Asia countries for a year. I have been involved in several large-scale projects, I have traveled many countries and meet new friends, and I have learnt many new technologies since I join. Some may say I have achieved my goal. But I must say nope, I haven’t reached my perfection. Not even close.
I must say frankly that joining this company is not the end of the tunnel. It’s even too early to say I have seen the end of my journey. This place is still not the one I have been searching for. The team is great but I want more. I’m still not ready to move to a comfort zone. I’m yet to discover my one thing and becoming immortal, I mean, reaching my objectives to become an expert.
During my journey in the past several years I can see myself have evolved from one phase to another. I started my career about 8 years ago as a network engineer who must worked in shift in one Network Operation Center. Then I moved to work as project engineer. Later on I turned into a pre-sales engineer who spent more time meeting with customers and make only high level solution. Then I was forced to go back to the field, but this time as a project leader who required to lead the team and to understand the end-to-end flow of the whole process in the project. I was outsourced once to my customer for a year to become a consultant and a daily administrator. Many times I must worked with overlapped roles: as consultant, lead engineer and technical project manager, at the same time. My last role before I become an NCE with Cisco AS was as individual consultant, doing contracting job.
From technology perspective, I have evolved as well. I started with normal LAN and WAN. Then I moved to network security for a while, from installing firewall, fine tune IDS, geeking out with authentication and encryption, up to the level where I had to deliver security assessment for medium size business. I had fun doing wireless installation as well as roaming around the city to discover who’s the ignorant out there not bother to enable the security feature in his Access Point. I have been involved in many enterprise networks from remote access to datacenter. I used to play with many OS and many areas until I realized that I have to focus on one thing that I really like. It must be within networking. And in the top of the pyramid in networking lies Service Provider technology.
We are talking about carrier grade level network devices here. Where in enterprise fancy feature is more important, but in SP scalability, performance and stability most matter. Feature is important too but it can’t be deployed until its stability can be guaranteed.
I have been in Sydney for two weeks now doing only testing for the highest end product Cisco can make so far. It’s fun since I can really check whether what’s written in datasheet is correct. When the result is not as expected the first way to find out is by trying to understand how the architecture works. I have to go to the detail, can’t be playing only on surface anymore just like when I used to deal with Enterprise networks. Must dig into the hardware and protocols detail. And when all hopes seem lost, I must consult the oracles. Those are the guys who make the product and test it in daily basis. And for all my testing I don’t have to reinvent the wheel, all the tools are available. Knowing scripting is good but there are many already available ready to use.
So have I seen it all? I don’t think so. But I feel like I’m getting closer to get my respect. I’m on the right track and I must stay focus to keep it that way. To bad I can focus on this thing in Sydney only for several weeks, but I’m glad I have the chance to do so. I know what to do next, I have the plan and I’m also looking for a window of opportunity. I'm glad I have to go through all the phase. I'm happy because everything I have done so far makes me understand more about my purpose. All my experience really shapes me, and I don't think I should skip any of it.
And indeed, I’m still in the beginning of my journey.
Happy anniversary, Cisco. It’s been a wonderful year.
And I hope you guys have evolved as well just like me.