Monday, December 24, 2012

What's Keeping Me Awake in 2012

The end of 2012 is near.
It's time to look back what I've done during the year with hope there are lessons to be learned, or to find any pending tasks I should try to accomplish in upcoming year.

At the beginning of the year I made a promise to myself to spend more time to help professionals and students from Indonesia to prepare for the competition in global market. How far have I reached with this promise?

On March, after I did my session in Cisco Live Melbourne, I passed by my country to meet students from 4 universities in 2 cities. Then I conducted free 8-hour workshop for more than 100 professionals. I also had opportunity to met other CCIEs and a reporter from local media who wrote about my activities in the news.

But I've never had any thought to do all of these just to become popular.

I have been away from my country for more than 10 years, working as Global Consultant for different companies from multiple countries. During the past 6 years in Cisco I've done projects for customers in more than 30 countries. I have seen and personally tried competing in global market. So I know how it feels. I can use my knowledge and experience to prepare other professionals and students from my country to be ready for this global competition.

And I know, global competition doesn't mean only when we try to get a job outside the country or to compete in climbing the career ladder in global company. Until now I still see many consultants from different countries work and live in Indonesia. I'm not against them. Perhaps we really need external consultant for specific area. But for most areas, like in computer networking, many are doing the work that actually can be done by local consultant from my country.

How come we can compete globally if we can't even compete as consultant in our own country? Why can't we take over the work that is currently being outsourced to external consultant? How to produce more qualified consultants with global mindset?

Those thoughts are the ones that keeping me awake in 2012.

Couple of months after my visit I co-founded GEM Foundation with few Indonesian friends. It's a non-profit organization with focus to provide a bridge between global professionals, entrepreneur, young professionals and students. We've been doing regular bi-weekly session over online meeting tool Webex called WebexSunday. We had many Indonesian professionals from around the world and entrepreneurs filled up the 2-hour slot, sharing their knowledge and experience for free.

We even registered the organization to become legal entity in Jakarta. To run more activities we need to raise fund as organization. But then we found out as non-profit the procedure to run activities to generate fund is more complicated. All of us who involve in the organization have no time to deal with bureaucracy. So I decided to come up with another solution.

Few months ago I co-founded a company with focus on helping Indonesian professionals and students preparing for global competition by offering advance training system that is designed thoughtfully to answer industry's latest skill requirements in computer networking. Some of the products we created are CCIE93, world's first community based mentoring program to help to pass CCIE in 93 days, Network Engineer+ to produce network engineer with CCNA-level technical skill but also possesses other skills that are more relevant with the industy, and Global Consultant class which is a unique training to combine in-depth IP NGN skills, hands on lab, best practice deployment and consulting experience.

The concept is simple: those who can pay, pay to attend our classes. Those who can't pay, will get subsidized. We offer scholarship for students and those who are willing to learn but can't afford the training price. We use the profit to build CCIE lab that can be used by community. We develop online platform to offer new way of learning "anytime, anywhere", "at your own pace", and "learn one thing a day". I personally even conducted the IP NGN class by myself in Jakarta early December.

With CCIE93 my goal is not only to help more Indonesians to become CCIE, but to create strong community where CCIEs as mentors are helping the candidates in their lab exam preparation. With Network Engineer+ I want to provide easy first step for those who have no background in computer networking at all, to learn CCNA plus all relevant knowledge such as the big picture of networking, wireless and security, communication, team work and other relevant skills such as documentation and project experience. With Global Consultant, I want to train and produce more Global Consultant like me, who will work and compete in global market as well as to become qualified consultants to do projects in our own country.

Meanwhile I also founded CCIE Club Indonesia as the hub for communication between CCIEs and all other computer networking professionals. We conduct CCIETalk, regular monthly online meeting with Webex, where CCIE is sharing his knowledge and experience to the community.

There are still many things to do. With so little time. Because I still have to work as Solutions Architect for Cisco and most of the time I have to travel to meet my customers within Europe, Middle East and Africa.

I might have not done much in 2012.
But now I know what needs to be done in 2013.

Monday, December 17, 2012

Comfort Zone

Many people mistakenly think comfort zone only applies to those who work for a big company. They imagine those people work in 9 to 5 basis, come every morning to office to turn on the light and turn off the light at the end of the day, and try to waste time whole day by socializing with colleagues, updating facebook status, and browsing through news site on the Internet.

According to Wikipedia "The comfort zone is a behavioural state within which a person operates in an anxiety-neutral condition, using a limited set of behaviours to deliver a steady level of performance, usually without a sense of risk."

Pay attention to the word anxiety-neutral, limited behaviours, sense of risk.

That means, even if someone works for a big company and everyday he has to take risk in making business-related decisions, he is not in comfort zone.

That means, even if someone works for his own business but always executes the same way he has been doing, he does not try to challenge new norm, he does not take risk, he only uses similar set of behaviours to achieve a steady level of performance, is more likely to be in his comfort zone.

That means, anyone who works in environment or situation where one does not feel safe, does not feel ease and always under stress, is not in his comfort zone.

It has nothing to do with the type of work. It does not mean full-time entrepreneur is always outside the comfort zone. It does not mean working for someone is always end up in the comfort zone.

What is the easiest way to stay away from comfort zone?

Jim Carrey knows best. Always say yes.

Always say yes to new opportunity. Say yes to new challenges. Say yes to new places.

I personally like this approach and I have embraced the principle of saying yes during the past few years of my life.

And where does it take me, you may ask?

- I have moved to several different teams inside Cisco, I changed manager three times this year alone
- I have lead many different projects in different countries
- My new team,  which I moved to it last month, is giving me opportunity to build development plan of the skills required to deliver new and emerging technology for all other team members
- I was able to build custom IPv6 training material kit for customer
- I made a project delivery model to help optimizing the cost during project execution
- I received few internal awards this year, and the highest rating for employee
- I'm currently focusing on Software Defined Network and working on my Python skill
- I have been volunteering to develop CCIE content as well as other certifications including the internal specialization program for Cisco employee
- I have been in Cisco Live few times as speaker for CCIE session
- I moved to a bigger house that all my family members love
- I'm currently a student of Global MBA program from Manchester Business School
- I did hajj, mandatory religious pilgrimage, two months ago
- I founded a non-profit organization and I have been managing its activities like regular Webex meeting to facilitate senior professionals who are willing to share their knowledge and experience to young professionals and students from my country
- I'm the chairman of a new company focusing on advanced education, at the same time as revenue engine to help the operation of my non-profit organization
- I created CCIE93 recently, world's first community based mentoring program to help my fellow Indonesians to pass CCIE exam in 93 days, then I created the new Network Engineer+ class as the bridge for those who want to learn computer networking even without any computer background at all
- I designed and delivered IP NGN class in Jakarta early Desember where I taught a 5-day training course combining technical theory, best practice, hands-on lab and consulting skill to help professionals in my country competing in global market

Always say yes. And stay away from comfort zone.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Journey of a Lifetime

I've traveled to many countries, I've seen many places, but there is only one place on earth that deserves to be called the ultimate destination. Anyone who shares the same belief as me should perform the journey to this destination at least once in their lifetime.
It's indeed the journey of a lifetime.

Insha Allah I will start my journey in less than 30 hours.

Labaik Allahuma Labaik!

Photo by Maitham Almisry

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

School for Global Consultant

In The Innovator’s DNA, published by Harvard Business Review press, the authors build on what we know about disruptive innovation to show how individuals can develop the skills necessary to move progressively from idea to impact.

By identifying behaviors of the world’s best innovators—from leaders at Amazon and Apple to those at Google, Skype, and Virgin Group—the authors outline five discovery skills that distinguish innovative entrepreneurs and executives from ordinary managers: Questioning, Observing, Networking, Experimenting and Associating.

Questioning. Innovators are consummate questioners who show a passion for inquiry. Their queries frequently challenge the status quo.

Observing. They carefully watch the world around them—including customers, products, services, technologies, and companies—and the observations help them gain insights into and ideas for new ways of doing things.

Networking. Innovators spend a lot of time and energy finding and testing ideas through a diverse network of individuals who vary wildly in their backgrounds and perspectives.

Experimenting. Finally, innovators are constantly trying out new experiences and piloting new ideas. They visit new places, try new things, seek new information, and experiment to learn new things.

While the four above are considered behavior skills, innovators count on a cognitive skill that we call "associational thinking" or simply "associating." Associating happens as the brain tries to synthesize and make sense of novel inputs. It helps innovators discover new directions by making connections across seemingly unrelated questions, problems, or ideas. 

Associating is about connecting the dots.

And the skills required to become Global Consultant are not very different with the above. Global Consultant must indeed be creative and innovative when dealing with different customers in different situations.

The question is: can we train someone to acquire those skills? Is our education system sufficient to develop the habit of Questioning, Observing, Networking, Experimenting and Associating? Can our school produce Global Consultant?

We could spend lots of time debating the answers but I believe there is one common thing that we could agree: our current education system was designed with standardization in mind. It treats everybody the same way. It assumes one learning method is applicable to all learners.

And the biggest problem is when learner believe they have to follow the system to get the reward, which is to graduate from this phase and move on to the next phase in life. They are not questioning. They are not observing. They are not encouraged to network, instead everyone is trying to compete with each other to get the highest mark. They are missing the opportunity to experiment. They fail to use those behavior skills as catalyst for associational thinking, despite the degree they receive on graduation day.

There was another debate about whether it's better to get the degree from school or professional certification like CCIE. My answer is simple: if those who take the formal education system and those who take the professional certification path are doing it just to pass the program, then both will not acquire the skills required to become Global Consultant. They both will find after they receive the degree or the certificate that they are still lacking the real skills to stay competitive. They will not be able to catch up in today's global competition.

We need a new way to learn.
We must invent new way to train the skills of Global Consultant.

This new way of learning must treat every individual as unique. Learners must be allowed to learn in his or her own pace. The right technology should be used to make the learning process fun and challenging, and it encourage the learners to question, observe, network, experiment and finally associate all the inputs and to connect all the experiences to come up with new idea.

Does such school exist?
Can we really train someone to become a Global Consultant?

How if I tell you there is a new learning system that offers the following:

Real World Application - the material is very relevant with the real world. It provide the big picture and solutions based to show the connections of all the pieces taught.

Customized - the material is customized to ensure it is relevant with the application in real world, as well as to accommodate learners with different learning pace. It's available anytime, anywhere, and it still encourages interaction between learners.

Experiment - the learning system does not only teach material from textbook but still let learners to challenge it using external references and to experiment through lots of hands-on work in the lab environment.

Project Experience - last but not least, each learner will be put in the middle of simulated project situation to provide experience on working as team, to practice communication skill and to shape the customer-oriented mindset.

Obviously all the above must be balanced with the constraint from financial and time.

I didn't say it would be easy. But I believe it is possible.

And that's why it is disruptive.

Sunday, October 07, 2012

Can We Train Global Consultant?

Fast learner. Hard worker. Able to work under pressure. Positive. Achiever. Strive for excellence. Self motivated. Be passionate with work.

Those are not the qualities sought from a Global Consultant.
Those are basic requirements.
Basic requirements to keep your current job, whatever it is.

Global Consultant needs something beyond.

Even Charles Darwin agreed the most adaptable consultant is the one who can survive. Not the smartest.


Team player, team leader, and at the same time able to work independently, anytime, anywhere with minimum supervision.
Understand the presentation is oneself, not the slides nor the animation. Able to convey the technical message to non-technical person.
Possess the T-shaped technical skills.

Possess extensive and broad experiences.
Customer oriented and business-aware.
Global mindset with can-do attitude.

And the most important: the ability to connect the dots.

Here comes the million dollar question: can we train Global Consultant?

Wait for my next disruptive idea.

Friday, October 05, 2012

Looking for Apprentice

Design workshop in Johannesburg. Lab testing in Sydney. Migration work in Riyadh.

I've worked as Global Consultant for more than 13 years, and about 6 years with Cisco Systems. I've traveled to more than 30 countries and I've engaged with many customers around the globe. I've done projects for customers in different industries and in multiple roles.

If someone asks me to describe my work, I usually replies: it's just like what Jason Bourne does, except I don't leave dead bodies.

Take over project in Praque. Meet the team in Munich. Re-establish customer trust in Bratislava.

In the past two years I started shifting my focus to multiple social ventures. I tried to build social networking group for professionals. I founded a non-profit organization to help students in my country to prepare for global market competition. I formed CCIE Club to re-connect all Indonesian CCIEs. I created CCIE93 mentoring program using a unique online learning platform.

I still enjoy working with global customers. I love solving customer issues. I always happy to see when customers apply my design or methodology to transform their network infrastructure to grow the business. But all the social ventures I initiated are the result of my gratitude to the good life I've got so far.

Breakfast in Dubai. Lunch in Vienna. Dinner in Budapest.

And I also realize that not many people can do what I do as Global Consultant. Or willing to do what I do. Or combination of both. During my travel I keep meeting the same folks in multiple places. I see familiar faces all the time. I keep doing all these global projects with the same persons I met in the past.

Is my work too boring for most people? If it's interesting, why don't I meet many global consultants like me? Or is it because it takes much more than technical skill to do the work, and not everyone can be qualified for it?

Present at Cisco Live San Diego. Meet friends in Silicon Valley. Drive Mustang through Beverly Hills and Hollywood.

I finally tried to build a list of what it takes to become a Global Consultant. The list consists of the skills, ability and experiences for each Global Consultant must have. Or so I thought.

It's beyond hard worker, fast learner, self-motivated, achiever, able to work under pressure or being passionate with the work.

It's about the right mindset, positive and can-do attitude.

It's about the ability to connect the dots.

Here is the list:

1. Adaptability
Global Consultant must be able to adapt with the new places. With the new people. With the new situation that may occur. Basically with all the changes that may happen.

2. Communication and Presentation Skill
Global project requires ability to communicate with people from different background and culture. Global Consultant must have the presentation skill to translate the technical terminology to non-technical person.

3. Team Player and Independent
It's not enough to be a team player. Or team leader, for that matter. Global Consultant must be able to work independently as well, with minimum supervision, anytime, anywhere, as long as the objectives are achieved.

4. T-shaped Technical Skill
Technical skill matters. And it's not enough to have in-depth skill in one particular technology, but to widen the horizon by knowing the other technologies too. Think about someone with a qualification equal to CCIE in Routing & Switching, and able to embrace MPLS within the core network, to deploy security measures with policies for all devices, and to integrate the solution to the next generation Data Center architecture.

5. Broad Experiences
Having broad experience is one way to build the confidence level. Dealing with many situations in different roles can hone the skills. In fact, that's one good way to build reputation.

6. Customer Oriented and Business-Aware
Last but not least, Global Consultant must always be focusing on the optimum result for the customers. Do what it takes to bring values and help customer's business to grow. At the end, that's all that matters.

When I look at the list above, I realize most of them can be taught. Global Consultant is indeed a result of combining mindset, attitude, skills and experiences. And a well designed institute should be able to produce one.

Make photos in Venice. Climb the pyramid in Mexico. Watch the game in Barcelona.

Who wants to become the new Global Consultant?

Wait for my next disruptive idea.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Changing the Mindset with CCIE93

Some portions of this writing was submitted for my MBA assignment. I like the idea of learning by doing. Study MBA, execute my ideas to launch the social business, then analyze it as part of the MBA assignment :)

About CCIE93

CCIE93 program, created by the author, is the world first’s community based mentoring program to help its members to prepare for CCIE certification exam. CCIE93 offers a self-pace learning methodology, by giving instruction to the members to study only one specific item a day, with guidance from CCIE as mentors, and when 93 days of instruction are completed, the members are expected to be ready to take CCIE lab exam. CCIE93 program relies on the community consist of students who want to learn, and CCIEs who act as the mentors. At the time of this writing, CCIE93 program has run for several weeks and currently there are 12 active CCIEs as mentor for about 50 CCIE candidates. CCIE93 is currently available only for Indonesians.

About CCIE and Cisco Systems

The Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert (CCIE) is the highest level of technical networking certification offered by Cisco Systems. It is well known and accepted worldwide as the most prestigious and the toughest networking certification in the industry. For years, CCIE has been listed as the best IT certification from several third-party websites including IT Certification Master (Burnjeko 2012), and it is considered as expert certifications that command the highest salary in IT industry (Crisp360 2012).

Cisco Systems is the leading networking company that has dominated the global market for networking equipment since it was founded in 1984. It is estimated that nearly 70 percent of the Internet runs on Cisco equipment (Rhéaume 2012). Cisco Senior VP and General Manager for Routing group shared the ACG’s 1Q2012 market share report: “Cisco has gained core routing market share in seven straight quarters (and 12 of the last 13 quarters), and edge routing market share four of the last five quarters” (Panditi 2012).

The impressive number of Cisco’s market share means: more jobs in networking are related to Cisco equipment, and more people need to be certified with Cisco certification especially CCIE in order to design, operate and maintain Cisco equipment.

Consumer Analysis

The target consumer for CCIE93 program is obviously the IT engineers who work in computer networking industry. According to Cisco website (Cisco 2012) only less than 3% of all certified Cisco professionals holds CCIE certification, and this number is less than 1% of the networking professionals worldwide. Cisco has not released the latest number of CCIE holders, but the latest CCIE presentation from Cisco Live (Van de Werve 2012) said roughly 30,000 individuals ever certified. A simple calculation from the above results on estimated number of 1,000,000 non-CCIE certified Cisco professionals, and about 3,000,000 networking professionals worldwide. It is considered a big market segment.

Even with huge number of potential consumer, as mentioned by Baines (2012) we should consider the consumer proposition acquisition process while developing the marketing plan. With Cisco Systems as the market leader in networking equipment worldwide, the motive to become CCIE is obviously to be recognized with the expert network engineering skills and mastery of Cisco products and solutions. The evaluation and selection process can be simplified since there is no other alternative for mentoring program, especially with the price range as discussed in Marketing Mix section. And once the consumer purchases the product (i.e. join the program) the re-evaluation process can begin with comparing with similar product from the competitor, which is very limited at the time of this writing.

Blue Ocean and Target Market

Instead of trying to compete in the same market segment with the current solutions i.e. Bootcamp classroom and online training model from competitors, CCIE93 decided to use Blue Ocean Strategy described by Kim and Maugborne (2011) to disrupt the market by plugging a new idea of online mentoring program into uncontested market space.

The latest count for the total number of Indonesian CCIEs is only 132. The author is a CCIE himself and passed the lab exam in 2001 as the 18th CCIE in the country. This means within 11 years in average only 10 individuals from Indonesia passed the lab exam. 132 Indonesian CCIEs in total is very less compare to more than 8,000 CCIEs in Asia region.

One of main reasons why the author is focusing on Indonesians as the target market is due to his social responsibility; he has tried to boost the number of Indonesian CCIEs for many years by sharing his personal experience over social media and virtual meeting, and finally decided to use CCIE93 as different approach to achieve his personal objective.

Marketing Mix

Marketing mix is defined as a set of four decisions needs to be taken before launching any new product (Bhasin 2011), which are Product, Price, Place and Promotion, known as the 4 P’s of marketing.

Product – the product is an online mentoring program where the members or the students can access the course material over the Internet to study at his own pace. The course materials are mainly tutorial video, reading materials, quizes and practice labs supplied by the partner, and it is suitable for the self-pace learning method. Everyday the members receive specific instruction to learn one specific item, and when 93 days of instruction are completed they are expected to be ready to take CCIE lab exam. There are mentors, who are already CCIE, available to answer any queries and to track the progress of each member.

Price – the analysis to define the right pricing model has gone into several iterations. The main consideration is the price range from the alternative solutions, but at the same time whatever price to be offered has to be affordable for Indonesians.

Place – the mentoring program uses online learning platform where both students and mentors can log in anytime and from anywhere. Member can see the learning instruction for the day, and it is up to him or her to complete the instruction immediately or not. Only after he or she completes the instruction for that day he would be able to access the instruction for the next day. The mentors use the same platform to answer the questions and track the progress. The communication between the students and mentors is the key of the program.

Promotion – the promotion was only mainly over email to several communities of IT engineers from Indonesia. The unique and new idea of CCIE93 can be considered as “an offer you can’t refused” by Chris Guillebeau (2012) since the value of the program can be seen clearly and outweigh the price, and there is no direct competition that can come close.

Changing the Mindset

As described in Steven Blank’s Four Steps to the Epiphany (2007), one of the steps is Customer Creation. Piracy is so rampant in Indonesia (Mariz 2012), many Indonesians prefer to copy course material illegally. In order for CCIE93 program to success, the author must educate the potential students first about the importance of purchasing legal course material. In the beginning it looks a difficult task, but after some time all the members agreed to pay the program fee that will include the course material. There were potential students who are rejected to join the program since they insisted to follow the mentoring only while using illegal course material.

CCIE93 is also trying to change the mindset of Indonesian CCIEs; usually after someone passes CCIE lab he will be busy chasing a better career opportunity or other personal goal. Personal approach was used to communicate to the CCIEs to persuade them to be involved in the program as part of "giving back" or social responsibility to the community.

This is one key factor to make CCIE93 program successful. Sometimes creating good product is not enough, even with the good price, place and promotion. Sometimes the customer needs to be created by changing and shifting the mindset.


Mirek Burnejko, 2012. The Best IT Certifications 2012 [online] (Updated January 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Crisp360 Editor, 2012. 7 Expert Certifications That Command The Highest Salaries in IT [online] (Updated 27 January 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Louis Rhéaume, 2012. Cisco CEO John Chambers: Firms Must Reinvent Themselves Each 5 To 6 Years [online] (Updated 23 April 2012) available at:  [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Surya Panditi, 2012. Cisco Gains Core Routing Market Share for 7th Consecutive Quarter [online] (Updated 18 May 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Cisco Systems, 2012. Cisco Certified Internetwork Expert [online] (Updated June 2012) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Bruno Van de Werve, 2012. TECCCIE-8000 CCIE Routing & Switching, Cisco Live

Paul Baines et all, 2011. Marketing, 2nd ed., Oxford University Press

W. Chan Kim, Renée Mauborgne, 2011. Blue Ocean Strategy, HBR's 10 Must Reads on Strategy, 1st ed., Harvard Business Review Press

Hitesh Bhasin, 2011. Marketing Mix – The 4 p’s of marketing [online] (Updated 6 October 2011) available at: [Accessed 25 August 2012]

Chris Guillebeau, 2012. The $100 Startup: Reinvent the Way You Make a Living, Do What You Love, and Create a New Future, 1st ed., Crown Business

Steven Gary Blank, 2007. The Four Steps to the Epiphany: Successful Strategies for Products that Win, 3rd ed., Quad/Graphics

Eduardo Mariz, 2012. What US Stop Online Piracy Act Means for Indonesia [online] (Updated 2 February 2012) available at: Accessed 25 August 2012]

Monday, September 10, 2012


Do you want to become a CCIE but does not know how to achieve it? Do you want to study but cannot afford or too busy to attend extensive bootcamp training model? Are you overwhelmed with number of CCIE materials to learn?

Introducing CCIE93, the world's first community based CCIE mentoring program. Designed for those who want to learn CCIE in his own pace, anytime, anywhere. Using state of the art yet simple learning platform, quality videos and practice lab materials, and guided by group of CCIEs as mentors. Follow instruction to study only specific item for the day, until 93 days, to be ready to pass CCIE lab exam!

Currently available only for Indonesians.

Himawan Nugroho
Creator and Lead Mentor

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Finally IPv6 Makes Sense

I've been helping Cisco customers (mostly Service Providers) in analyzing, planning, and deploying IPv6 in their network since 2007. I have provided both basic and advanced IPv6 training multiple times. And yet these days some people still ask question: why do we need IPv6? In more specific, if the question comes from Internet or Service Providers, the question would be: why do we need to invest in IPv6?

There is comprehensive slide from our marketing team for that. No, I won't discuss that. Nor would I discuss about the alternative like carrier grade NAT or the recommended strategy to migrate IPv4 to IPv6.

In today's reality, some customers are deploying IPv6 in the network because they are running out of public IPv4 address and they believe address translation is not the answer. Some customers are forced to deploy IPv6 by government mandate. For some, they are just following the trend to be on the leading edge. Some customers with superb business mindset are doing it because they are planning to launch new services or to open new business opportunities.

But what does this mean to you as individual?

Most mortals don't know about IPv6. They don't even care. If today you can browse the Internet, check your email, update your Facebook status, tweet your ideas, using IPv4, what different it's going to make when the SP give you IPv6 instead, or tunnel your IPv4 across their IPv6 network? Are you willing to pay more if you are using "IPv6 infrastructure" to use the very same services like Internet? I bet you aren't.

So if you think you are IPv6 guru because you are currently using HE IPv6 tunnel broker, you must be mistaken. For most people, you are just acting like a geek :)

Superb picture from my mentor to show what most people (who work in computer networking area) think about IPv6 address.

So why do the Internet or Service Providers need to invest in IPv6 while most of their users don't even care?

Because IPv6 is not for human being. It's for the "things."
All the things that need to connect to the Internet. PC, smartphones, tablets, wifi routers, IP cameras, IP phones, home appliances, sensors and any IP based devices.

In 2008, the number of things connected to the Internet exceeded human being population. Cisco predicts in 2016 the number of Internet devices is three time the population. So let's say 15-16 billion devices. And they all will need Internet Protocol (IP) address.

That's only 4 years from now. And since IPv4 theoretically can only provide 4 billion total IP addresses (if we can use them all) while IPv6 can provide 340,282,366,920,938,463,374,607,432,768,211,456 addresses, with IPv6 we can even provide 100 to each atom on the face of the earth.

Finally IPv6 makes sense.

Check out the nice infographic from Cisco for this.

And welcome to the Internet of Things.

Sunday, July 08, 2012

Too Busy to Study CCIE?

I heard this many times. Himawan, I want to become a CCIE, but I don't have time to study. Either because I'm too busy with my work, my family, my bachelor/master study, my social life, my newly born baby, my upcoming wedding, my (insert the excuse here).

It's always easy to come up with an excuse.

My reply is simple: why you want to become CCIE in the first place? Always start with intention. Good intention always produces good result. What's the purpose of doing something like chasing CCIE? If the reason is worth the time and money spent to become CCIE, one will find the way to get it, no matter how hard.

But Himawan, when you took your first lab, your previous company gave you 2 months off. Yes, but that was 11 years ago when CCIE was still rare and many companies were trying to be the first to have the most number of CCIEs. And as reminder, in exchange I was ready to get fired if I fail in two lab attempts. Will you do the same?

And here is another harsh argument for those who claim want to become CCIE but like to spend more time making excuses instead of working on it:

Given enough time and resource, anyone can pass CCIE.
Will you hire someone who can pass CCIE if he stops working completely and stays at home whole time just to study?
I know I won't.

Why, you may ask? Because we live in a very fast pace era where there is no more time can be allocated solely to study. Everyone is expected to do more with less. To achieve more with shorter time. To be more efficient. To be able to handle multiple tasks and assignments.

So if you want to really become a CCIE, make time. Show the world you can manage multiple tasks from your daily job, your life, as well as from your study. You need that skill to face the pressure during the lab exam day anyway. And for sure you need to be able to do that in real world.

Because that's the quality people are looking from you these days.
Especially after you get your CCIE.

PS: I work as global consultant for Cisco Systems. I lead multiple projects in several countries. I travel from time to time. I help developing CCIE content and write new questions. I speak in Cisco Live. I maintain internal certification program for new engineers. I'm a CCIE mentor inside Cisco. Outside Cisco I run a non-profit organization to help students rom my country to become globally competitive professionals. I have developers working for me to develop the platform for mentoring program and scholarship. I study MBA. I'm a father of three. I go offroading to the desert. I play snowboarding in Ski Dubai. I watch Ice Age 4 and Amazing Spiderman.
You get my point.

Thursday, July 05, 2012

Are We Evil Now?

Last night I woke up at 3 am, and found that Cisco has become the new evil. The new big brother. The one who tries to control the world. At least that's how the blog post in here and here see the recent changes with Linksys routers for home networking.

To make the story short: Cisco announced the cloud service for Linksys routers. It dramatically simplifies how users connect, control and interact with their connected devices, including personal entertainment and home appliances. It also offers mobile app which provides easy access to the router using a smartphone or tablet, make it possible for the users to connect devices to their Wi-Fi Router with as little as one tap of a button or with a quick swipe, as well as the Internet content filter app to protect all users and devices from accessing content from security vulnerable sites, adult content and other non-family friendly sites.

That sounds good to me! Cisco seems to change the game, one more time, and this time Cisco shows the world how by utilizing the cloud it can bring home networking to the next level.

But for some others, they see two major issues:
1. After the recent automatic update to the latest software version that supports the cloud service, users now must login to their router using Cisco Cloud Service account. For some people they feel like Cisco is forcing all Linksys owners to subscribe to the cloud service.
2. Those who like to spend time to read a long Term of Service from the cloud service, found some confusing wording that may lead to "Cisco can monitor everything you do and sell your information" kind of thing. Or shutdown the router when the users are accessing warez and porn sites.

Perhaps Cisco should inform the users that with the latest software update their Linksys routers will be connected directly to the cloud. But accusing Cisco is the new big brother? I think it's just too far.

Many people sign up to Facebook and willingly provide their personal details without questions. Google recently changed their term of service that makes it possible to target ads you based on the information you provide. Those companies are "selling" your information in a way, because information is somehow their key product.

But Cisco?

I've been in the company for only 6 years but one thing I know for sure: everyone is damn busy. We have lots of networking products and we are so busy with them. Some of us are busy developing the products. Some are busy selling and marketing them. And some like me are busy deploying them. If you are in the company and not part of the team who either develop, or sell, or deploy the product it means you are a cost center. I don't think we have a big team, who has not generated any money hence the cost center, with daily job to monitor Internet usage of hundred thousands of Linksys owners. Heck I'm not sure even if have a big team to monitor the Internet usage of Cisco employees!

And to date Cisco still makes the revenue from the products and services. And the company focus now are with core networking, data center cloud, video, collaboration, and business architectures. I don't see "targeted advertisement" there. And what Cisco did last year by offering early retirement packages to thousands of employees and shutting down consumers division of Flip, is to become more efficient and inline with the company focus.

So I don't think Cisco is planning anywhere soon to become over-the-top technology company. And I don't see any recent jobs opening for that. Do you?

So what do I personally think about what happened?
Great idea, that introduced with small glitch.

Perhaps the Term of Service needs to be reviewed and scrutinized word by word to avoid the confusion. But that's it.

So is Cisco evil now? No, I don't think so.
At least not with this case.

Instead we are actually ahead of the game in home networking. Think about most people who don't want complexity in managing their wireless connection. Those who want to put parental control to filter Internet connection for their kids. And to monitor their home appliances from the phone.

That's. Freaking. Awesome.

Disclaimer: Yes, I work for Cisco. And yes, I'm proud to be part of the company that changes the way we live, work, play and learn. But the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I was not asked nor forced to write this post by anyone. And if Cisco wants to counter those blog posts they have much better team of writers for the job, as shown from this post.

Thursday, June 14, 2012

CCDE, Shall We?

This week I'm in San Diego for Cisco Live US 2012.

It's been an amazing week. Even on last Saturday I had to fly 17 hours to reach Los Angeles from Dubai. Even then I had to continue driving 200 miles to reach San Diego. Even I didn't sleep at all during the flight, and I was able to sleep only 3 hours before my session. Even I had to deliver the 9-hour techtorial on the very first day of Cisco Live, together with the CCIE Program Manager and an expert from TAC team. Even I was completely dead and slept whole day after the session.

Other than my session, the inspiring keynote speech and demo by the CEO, all other great sessions for full week, Cisco store and all the parties at nights, I also had chances to meet many great guys. From book author to distinguished engineers. From customers in US and abroad, to one great guy who invented label switched multicast.

Two guys I met who reminded me to my past, because I used their book and guidance to become CCIE, are: Bruce Caslow, and Brian Dennis. Caslow is the author of the first CCIE book I read in 1999: Bridges, Routers, and Switches for CCIEs. Brian Dennis is the CEO and instructor from INE whom his video-on-demand and workbook I used to pass my third CCIE track.

There are many great guys I met in Cisco Live San Diego, but those two are special because they reminded me about the good old days, or the hard days, when I was trying to pass the CCIE lab. It would be complete if Halabi and Doyle came to the event too, but I guess that would never happen.

Meeting people from the past brought up some spark to my mind: how if I take one more certification, for the last time?

I'm quite excited about the new CCIE Data Center, but I know it won't be available soon. So the only option I have now is the CCDE. Yes, I failed it couple of times in the past, and it looks like I can get only one final free attempt from Cisco. The exam has been updated to version 2 now, and I heard there are some improvement from the version 1 that I hate, no, I meant, the version that was not to my taste :)

There are several reasons why I should not go for another CCDE attempt:

- I work as solutions architect for Cisco Advanced Services. I'm a tech lead in the project with Cisco customers. I do design. I always do. And I do many more than what CCDE can test in the exam: meeting real customer, capturing real customer requirements, leading design workshop, managing resources, discussing and listening, writing design document, and many other design related tasks. And I have already 3 CCIEs, I work for Cisco and I have about 13 years experience working in the same field. I don't think I need to get certified as a network design expert.

- CCDE exam test the knowledge in high level design. No low level design task. No product specific. No hardware architecture. I do low level design for real customers. I work with the details from physical link, IP addressing to low level configuration of IGP, MPLS, BGP, customer services, multicast, QoS, security and management, to migration strategy. I use best practices and the result from lab simulation and testing. I'm not sure if someone who works in low level design and such detail needs to get certified in high level design knowledge.

- As mentioned previously, I have two lives. I work for Cisco in the day, and I run my non-profit organization at night. Or probably the other way around :) But in short, I'm always busy. I travel from time to time. I also have a family I need to spend my time with, as well as all other activities like offroading on the desert or snowboarding in Ski Dubai. Every certification requires the most expensive investment we have to make: time. Time that may better be spent to do something else.

As you can see I can come up with many reasons not to take CCDE. And yet I can only come up with one reason to do it: because I'm a big fan of Cisco certification program. I call myself CCIE evangelist. I truly believe Cisco certification can help anyone to start or advance his/her career. I'm a living proof of this: everything I knew about computer networking at the beginning of my career, I had it because I followed Cisco certification.

Decision, decision.
So what's it gonna be?

My cool tattoo, thanks to Cisco Live.
Wondering if I can add another one next year.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Two Lives

Please allow me to share one secret: I have two lives.

In one life, I'm the "global consultant" for Cisco Systems Advanced Services. I act as the technical lead and solution architect to handle multiple Cisco AS projects in Emerging Markets, which covers eastern Europe, Middle East and Africa, even these days I'm busy traveling more to Nigeria and South Africa, to ensure our solution can overcome the customers' challenges in deploying new technology as well as maintaining their network infrastructure.

In another life, I'm the co-founder and the managing director for GEM Foundation, a non-profit organization that has the vision to prepare students in my country for the competition in global market. We have some activities like regular Webex meeting to connect senior professionals and entrepreneurs to share their experience, tips and trick, technical and soft skill, business and entrepreneurship to younger professionals and students. Some other activities include scholarship, annual road show, career coach and mentoring, cheap training academy and internship program.

For my first life I have to rely on my field experience, consulting and customer skills, project management, leadership as well as my technical skills especially in IP NGN, Carrier Ethernet, Mobile space and Data Center. I have to keep up with the technology by always renewing my CCIE status. And I may pursue another expert level certification like CCDE and CCIE Data Center. Just like what I've been doing since I started 13 years ago and during my 6 years time with Cisco.

For my second life I have to deal with something completely different. Yes it is not-for-profit organization but we still need to make money in order to maintain a sustainable business. We treat it just as a startup company. I personally use Lean Startup method, bootstrap like Maverick startup and use Guerrilla marketing system.

So far my second life has forced me to be involved heavily in product development, to make business plan, handle the organization structure and management, and practice marketing, selling and pitching the ideas. I'm really into this foundation I decided to go back to school to learn deeper about business and management.

The two lives may lead to one target life in the future.
What is it, you may ask?
Let's keep it as secret for now.

Friday, April 06, 2012

10 Things I Wish I Did

I don't like to claim myself as a busy person. But the past few weeks before I conducted the 3-day Indonesian Networkers 2012 event between 26-28 March, I had to split my time between Cisco Live Melbourne, the travel time, the jet lags and working on several design documents for 2 projects I'm currently working on concurrently. So frankly I didn't have much time to prepare for Indonesian Networkers 2012.

Eventually I managed to finalize the slides for 6 topics I was going to present; 2 for technical presentation, 2 for sharing project experiences, and the last 2 for career advices. Most of the slides I made during the long flight between Dubai - Singapore - Melbourne - Singapore - Jakarta. Some slides were created during the sleepless nights in Melbourne. And I remember I was awake until 3 am in the morning the night before the first meeting with university students to complete one slide deck.

I tried to come up with the best material, even though I was completely ignoring the copyright of the photos I used in the slides. I just used whatever I found using Google Images. What I had in mind was to deliver the best I could with the time constraint.

Fortunately, many students came to me after the session and said the session was useful. And there was one particular slide deck they like the best, the one I called 10 Things I Wish I Did in University.  I always brought up the slides at the end of every session with the students.

If you wonder why I put Cisco logo in the title slide, even I had the following disclaimer, is because I felt grateful the company let me take days off to stop by Indonesia so I had opportunity to create this event. Those who ever work for high pressure and demanding projects should know sometimes it's not easy to let a team member or the project leader to have such break in the middle of many activities.

On the air between Melbourne and Singapore, I imagined if I could go back to university and prepared myself to compete in global market. Based on my experience working as professional in multiple countries for more than 10 years, I put down the things I wish I did before graduate.

So here it is, the 10 Things I Wish I Did in University:

1. Make more mistakes. Take more risks

School is the best place to make mistakes. The worst thing can happen is to fail a subject and repeat it again in the following year. Make mistakes as professional has more implication and business impact. I wish I made many more mistakes and took more risks as a student.

2.  Find the one thing I love, earlier

After figure out that many people who change the world are the one who work on the thing they love, I wish I spent more time to find the one thing I love when I was a student or much earlier.

3. Work hard on things that matter

Once I knew the thing that I love doing, I would be focusing my self to start preparing and pursuing it as early as possible. I would work hard on things that matter that made me closer to achieve my desire.

4. Always finish everything I start

Good thing I finished my Mechanical Engineering degree, even in the middle I knew the subject was not something I would like to do to make a living. There were many more things I wish I finished. I wish I always delivered and made it as habit to finish everything I started.

5. Make more networks

Human networking is one main key to success in global competition. Some said, it's who you know not what you know. I wish I spent more time to make more networks, beyond my department, beyond my city, with all professionals across the globe who work on the field that I wanted to be, even when I was still in university.

6. Take more leader positions

Now I know global market seeks for leader not follower, I wish I took more leader positions as a student. I wish I joined many organization and be the leader. To learn that it's not easy to become one, to make hard decision, to assume responsibilities and to delegate works.

7. Do more communication. Do more presentation

I wish I did more presentation in English in university. I wish to be brave enough to stand up and voice my opinion if I believed it was right. It's better to be a laughing matter at school instead of as professional who faces difficulty to speak in public just because lack of practices.

8. Manage money wisely

Invest money as early as possible is always a good idea. And if I had managed my money from young, I would learn how to do budgeting, how to be more efficient, how to make decision in spending and many more that are essentials for global competition.

9. Contribute more to community

Most of us start working for profit, then for the one we are passionate about, and finally for a higher purpose. For me the higher purpose is to be useful for the community and people around me, no matter how small. I wish I contributed more to community, in any way, to make it as a habit and at the same time to have opportunity to make networks.

10. Travel the world

I wish I spent time to travel the world since I was very young. So I would get used to see differences. So I could work and be with others who have different mindset, who come from different background.

And as closure, I put up the new motivation words that I invented after watching The Three Musketeers movie using Emirates Airline in flight entertainment.

To all Indonesian students: it's your time.
Dream. Fight. Love. Live. Seize the day!

If you attended Indonesian Networkers 2012 last week, do you think this slide deck deserves to be called the best over the others?

Thursday, April 05, 2012

Students' Concern

During my meeting with the students from 4 universities in Indonesia last week, I didn't just go and start presenting the material I've prepared. Instead, I used online voting system Textello to see what topic the students would like me to present.

And majority of the students prefer career related material over technical.

Even during the 8-hour workshop with hundred IT professionals I used the same system to see what the main interest from the audience is. And the result is similar.

This is matched with my opening lines in every session last week:
"I graduated 13 years ago and realized I didn't know what I want to do. I didn't have competitive advantage compare to others who graduate at the same time. I didn't know what and how to start pursuing professional career."

The real question is: what can we do about it?

Btw, Textello is created by my friend from Gulfware, a start up company in Dubai that provides complete IT solution for EMEA region.

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Indonesian Networkers 2012 - What's Left Behind

Indonesian Networkers 2012 was a 3-day event between 26-28 March initiated by me, to connect students with professionals who are willing to share experience and knowledge.

The main idea from the initiative is to share my stories working as technical advisor for Cisco Systems Advanced Services and leading many projects in many countries, with hope the students can learn from my experiences and start preparing for the competition in global market.

Within 3 days I met hundreds of students of ITB and Itenas in Bandung on Day 1, students of UI and Binus in Jakarta on Day 2, then I conducted 8 hours workshop with IT professionals in central Jakarta on Day 3.

In front of all professionals I shared my idea to found non profit organization to manage all similar efforts like this 3 day event, to make it happens in regular basis and to reach wider audience. I sold my personal items using online auction system during the event as initial funding.

Indonesian Networkers Foundation is a non profit organization to organize all the efforts to connect worldwide professionals with the students. What Indonesian Networkers Foundation can do: experience and knowledge sharing, career coach, scholarship, onsite event, mentoring, technical courses, global internship and many more.

Beyond the event I met reporter who wrote 2 stories in national online news based on our conversation.

I also had dinner with many Indonesian CCIEs, digital media expert, photographer and book author. Unbelieveable experience.

In 3 days I met lots of students, professionals, CCIEs, reporter, book author, media expert. Couldn't ask for more.

Thank you, Indonesia!

(All photos were captured by Tedhi Achdiana, an Indonesian CCIE and close friend of mine, who took days off from work to spend time and help me running the event)

Indonesian Networkers 2012 - Closure

As presented during the last day of Indonesian Networkers 2012 event in front of hundred IT professionals in Plaza Bapindo, Jakarta, Indonesia.

Now is always the best time to do something.
Dream. Fight. Love. Live. Seize the day!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

10 Things I Wish I Did in University

As presented in front of students of ITB, Itenas, UI and Bina Nusantara university as part of Indonesian Networkers 2012 event 26-28 March in Bandung and Jakarta.

Dream. Fight. Love. Live. Seize the day!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Cisco Live, Indonesia and Beyond

Now I'm in Melbourne, Australia, for Cisco Live 2012. It's been very interesting so far, so many great breakout sessions, many great speakers, and so many professionals from different countries in one place.

Yesterday I delivered 8-hour technical seminar together with CCIE Program Manager and lots of Red Bull.

There is iphone apps (and android) for this event if you are interested.

It's been fun, but I'm also very excited because next week I will have chance to meet many Indonesian professionals and students. As planned from early this year, I will visit 4 universities in 2 different cities in Indonesia to share my experience working as 'Global Consultant'.

On Wednesday next week I will conduct free workshop for Indonesian professionals where I will talk freely about my project experiences, technology update, career as network professional, and many more.

I'm currently thinking seriously about the idea to create non-profit organization to organize all my efforts like regular WebEx session, social media and onsite meetings in order to help professionals and students in my country so they can be ready to work and to compete in global market.

Now is the best time to really do something.