Thursday, December 26, 2013

Not Another CCDE Study Group

The world needs more network design experts.

That's what I believe. That's what I see.
I will not call myself as a design expert. But I've been traveling intensively the past 6 months, meeting different customers in different countries, to conduct design workshops in multiple projects. I may not be the best but it seems like not many people can do what I do. Or willing to do what I do. Or combination of both.

No certification program can make you a design expert. Not even CCDE. You need all of the following three instead:
1. Network
2. Skills
3. Experience

Network or strong connection to many subject matter experts is crucial because I don't know anyone who is an expert in all the technologies and in different vertical industries. You need to know whom to ask. An expert is not the one who knows all the answers, but the one who knows how to find the answers.

Experience doing various design work can't be replaced with any certification. Experience to lead design workshop can't be tested in the exam. Experience to capture customer requirement, to present the proposed solution, and to defend it, is very difficult to be simulated in any classroom training.

Technical skills that relevant are still required. The skills must be broad and into not only deep understanding of how the technology works, but as well as why, when and where to apply it in different situation and scenarios.

In short: you may start with building the technical skills. Then you get experience by doing real design work. You gain more experience by doing more design work. At the same time you build your network, your connection. You build reputation. And someday, your customers and peers may reward you by calling you a Design Expert.

Last week I launched Project DEW to help with the technical skills part. During DEW workshop expect to see heavy discussion on design options for each technology covered. There will be exercise using CCDE-like design scenarios to gain the required skills: ability to analyze design requirements, develop network designs, implement, validate and optimize network design. And it's a weekend workshop program to help those who can't be off from work just to attend classroom training. The program is created to help network engineers to gain real network design skills. You may not do design work in daily basis, this workshop is for you. You may not have chance to meet another guys who design the network at your current work, well this is your chance. You may not want to take any certification bootcamp that focuses only to pass the exam, DEW is definitely for you.

But even DEW can provide some level of experience with exercise to analyze requirement until proposing design to answer it, you still need more. You need to be surrounded by design experts. You need to start building your connection. You need to hear and learn from others' experiences.

So other than Project DEW, I'm also launching Design Expert Warriors - DEW Community. It's a group filled up with design experts and those who want to be one. You can join if you are a CCDE, or you have taken any of DEW workshop, or you have the real design skill and extensive experience in network design, and willing to share it.

This is not another CCDE study group. This is a global community consists of those with real design expertise who are willing to share their experiences, and those who want to get the connection, who want to acquire design skills, who want to learn from others' experiences. It's a collaborative effort to become successful together.

I can help you with CCDE preparation but I want to do more. I don't want to see more design certified people. I want to see more Design Expert Warriors.

Who's with me?


And please contact info@jawdat.com if you want to join DEW workshop.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Design Expert Weekend - 5W1H

This post is related to my new initiative called Design Expert Weekend.
The pilot workshop for DEW: IPv4/IPv6 Routing Design, will be held in Olaya, Riyadh, on Friday-Saturday 3-4 January 2014.

What:
Design Expert Weekend in Riyadh on 3-4 January will focus on IPv4/IPv6 Routing Design. Agenda will cover:

- IGP IPv4 and IPv6 Design (OSPF, ISIS, EIGRP)
- BGP Design
- Routing scalability and Inter-AS
- Traffic Engineering
- Routing Fast Convergence and High Availability
- Multicast Routing Design
- CCDE exam tips and tricks
- CCDE sample questions and scenario to practice ability to analyze design requirements, develop network designs, implement network design, validate and optimize network design

The other two DEW will be held in separate session:
DEW:Tunneling Design (MPLS-based L3VPN/L2VPN, tunnel protection/MPLS TE, other tunnelling include IPv6 transition)
DEW:SP Design (Physical, L2, IGP/BGP/MPLS/PIM as transport, MPLS-based services, Internet, IPTV, HA, QoS, security, management)

Why:
To help network engineers to gain real design skills. DEW can help with CCDE exam preparation, and beyond.
Our main goal is not to make you certified. But to give the real knowledge. The real skills. Then to be certified or not it's your decision not ours.

Who:
Any network engineers/architects who want to learn design skills can join the workshop, even we prefer you to have several years of experience working with network devices.
Himawan Nugroho will be the mentor for this DEW. He holds three CCIE#8171 in R&S, Security, SP track and CCDE#20130018. Himawan has total 14 years experience in network design, with the last 7 years working for Cisco Advanced Services as Solutions Architect. He has worked in many design projects for Cisco important customers in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa.

Where:
Holel meeting room in Olaya, Riyadh, KSA.

When:
Friday-Saturday, 3-4 January 2014 from 8 am to 5 pm.

How:
2-day workshop to discuss design aspect of IPv4/IPv6 routing in detail. The class will be small (4-6 max) to ensure lots of interaction. Expect to see heavy discussion on design options for each technology covered. There will be discussion of CCDE exam tips and tricks, sample questions and scenario. Materials used for this workshop will be public material (non-NDA). Anyone who joins the workshop will be part of DEW community that will be formed as follow up after the workshop.

There is fee to attend each DEW that will be used to cover the expenses such as renting the meeting room for 2-day workshop, wireless Internet, lunch, coffee break, my accommodation, effort to build workshop material and so on. And after all the expenses, the remaining will be used to fund my organization back home.

The reservation is first come, first serve.
And your seat will be guaranteed only after you have completed the payment.
Please send email to info@jawdat.com to get more detail information.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Project DEW

I don't want to claim myself as Global Consultant anymore. It seems like many people have problem with that. Some called me showing off, some said I'm too proud with that title. Others even said I spent so much time marketing myself. Blah blah. Ok, ok, I get it.

But here is the fact: since I joined Cisco in 2006 I've traveled to many countries to do consulting projects. Below you can see some Cisco customers in Asia, Europe, Middle East and Africa that I worked with in the past. And most of the time my role in the project is to lead the design work: to capture customer requirements and provide technical solution to address them. In many projects I also lead the implementation and migration. For some projects I'm responsible to lead the whole engagement from project scheduling, managing resources as well as quality assurance for deliverables. So call me anything you want, even Janitor, but it seems like I have some experiences working on design consultancy project, globally.


And actually before I joined Cisco I had already done many design project as well with many customers. I invented my own methodology and workflow for design work. I call the methodology as - I bet you are going to like the name - CISCO way. Yes, I'm not joking. You heard it here first. And I'm sharing it here now.

My CISCO way is actually an abbreviation of the following:

C - Capture customer requirements, current network design, today's challenges and future requirements

I - Identify what customer wants vs. what customer needs, identify the root cause of today's challenges

S - Solve today's challenges, address current and future requirements with the proposed solution design

C - Communicate the proposed design to customer to get feedback and discuss more design options

O - Optimize the design to achieve the best solution for the customer

I have been involved in many design workshop with customers. I have spent countless hours discussing design options for different technologies and customer industries, and writing both high level and low level design documents. I won't call myself as a Design Expert even with total 14 years experience in the field as network consultant and solutions architect. I also happen to have CCDE certification. And from my observation, as well from many emails I received, I understand there is a need for many network engineers to get design skill and get certified in CCDE if possible.

So today I want to launch my personal initiative to the world that I call Project DEW.
DEW stands for Design Expert Weekend.

It's a 2-day onsite workshop during the weekend to discuss various design technologies just as what CCDE covers. There will be discussion about multiple design options. There will be discussion about tips and tricks and my personal experience taking the exam several times (without violating the NDA). There will be discussion about CCDE-like scenarios. The workshop will be inline with skills expected from a CCDE: ability to analyze design requirements, develop network designs, implement network design, validate and optimize network design. The workshop can help you to pass CCDE. And even beyond.

In my previous post, I mentioned you need the following to pass CCDE practical exam: 

1. Technical Skills, in L2 Control plane, L3 Control plane, Tunneling/Virtualization, QoS, Network Management and Security
2. Design Experiences, in multiple technologies as well as from vertical and different industries like SP, Enterprise, Financial, Retail and so on
3. Customer skills, such as ability to capture and analyze requirement, to propose design, to explain and justify the design, and to plan for implementation

DEW will try to cover all three points above as much as possible. Obviously nothing can replace the real design experience with the real customers, to achieve point 2 and 3. But the workshop will cover the technical skills in depth from the design perspective. DEW will not only explain What the technology is, but also Why it is required, How it works, Where to implement the technology, and When to use the technology compare to the alternatives. I will also share my view when looking at technology based on my design experience. And there will be discussion using CCDE-like design scenarios, so hopefully it can provide some level of experience in designing as well as some exercise to analyze requirement until proposing design to answer the requirements.

There are different types of DEW and each takes 2-day during the weekend:

DEW:Routing Design (IGP IPv4/IPv6, BGP, scaling, inter-AS, HA, and include PIM, ASM, SSM Multicast)
DEW:Tunneling Design (MPLS-based L3VPN/L2VPN, tunnel protection/MPLS TE, other tunnelling include IPv6 transition)
DEW:SP Design (Physical, L2, IGP/BGP/MPLS/PIM as transport, MPLS-based services, Internet, IPTV, HA, QoS, security, management)

The pilot for DEW:Routing will be held in Riyadh in two weeks. The class size will be small and limited to ensure lots of interaction. There is fee to attend that will be used to cover the expenses to conduct the workshop such as renting the meeting room, projector, accommodation and so on. And after all the expenses, the remaining will be used to fund my organization back home.

My main goal is not to make you certified. But to give the real knowledge. The real skills. Then to be certified or not it's your decision not mine.

If you are interested to join the first DEW:Routing in Riyadh, KSA, on 3-4 January 2014, please send email to info@jawdat.com to get more detail information.
See you at the first DEW!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Superman, Immortal, Janitor

"What's the difference between Solutions Architect and Technical Leader?"

Someone asked me that question last week. We all know the answer: none. It's just a damn title. Title doesn't matter. It never does. Batman once said: it's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.


In my current organization, that focuses on consulting services, there is a distinction between Solutions Architect and Technical Leader role in career path for technical person. (Himawan, but you said there is no such thing as career path? Well, let's save the debate for some other time).

As seen in below figure, Network Consulting Engineers (NCE) make progress from level I to level IV, and this is the point where he/she can make decision: either to stick as NCE then becomes Technical Leader someday, or to move to become Solutions Architect. He/she can actually move to any other position across the organization like pre-sales consultant or project manager or business development manager or even accountant! But let's keep the discussion between the path of Technical Leader and Solutions Architect.


So what's the difference between the two then?

Both must have excellent soft skills: communicate effectively, above average presentation skills, team player and so on. Both must have superb technical skills. Both must face customer in various projects from time to time so it is expected to have customer oriented mindset.

Perhaps the difference is in the focus: a Technical Leader should be a Subject Matter Expert in one or more technologies. A Solutions Architect, as the name implies, should be focusing on end-to-end solutions architecture. Technical Leader should put more focus on deep down technical stuff, while Solutions Architect even must still required to be a techie but the focus is on providing the complete solutions. Technical Leader produces white paper. Solutions Architect considers business architecture.

In reality it's really hard to find the distinction when both roles are in the field. I have worked with so many Technical Leaders and Solutions Architects and even Network Consulting Engineers, and they all pretty much do similar things. They all have the soft skills, technical skills, and customer oriented mindset. Throw away more responsibilities to these individuals: lead the project execution, manage team resources, build project schedule. Ask the individual to perform pre-sales: define the scope of work and calculate mandays. Let him or her integrate the whole solutions with another vendor. And the result is the Superman in networking.

But even Superman gets weak by kryptonite. Or fall to his colleague reporter. Is there anyone stronger that Superman?

Meet the Distinguished Engineers. They are way above both. They are the gatekeeper of computer networking industry. They work in leading edge technology from time to time. They are usually part of the expert community who write Internet standard. They were the first in my organization who talked about IPv6 or SDN. They involve first-hand then spread the knowledge to others. When people start talking about it they have already moved on to the next topic like Internet of Everything. They shape the future of the technology. They are the kungfu masters. They are the Immortals.

How about myself? Even my official title is Solutions Architect, I usually do all what I explained above: lead project, provide technical solution and design, talk business, do pre-sales, manage resource and so on. But I'm not the Superman. Most of the time somebody make a mess and I get called to clean it up. I won't discuss it in more detail here but let's just say I'm needed the most where it's required to connect the broken pieces. To wipe the floor. So I prefer to call myself the Janitor.

Superman, Immortal, Janitor. Which one do you want to be?

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

About Promotion

There is no such thing as career path.

I wrote this several years ago. And I believe it's still true. For those who don't understand why I wrote such thing, please spend few minutes to read that blog post before leaving nasty comment. (This means: you still can leave nasty comment after reading that post :))

Allow me to share my secret: patience is not my virtue.

Every time I want to change to new position, or to new job title, I move to new company. Some of my previous employers offered me promotion the moment I gave them my resignation letter. Some of them simply didn't care and just let me go. For those who offered me promotion, I never accepted the offer. I thought they should have offered that while I was still with them, not at my last moment in the company when I usually had decided to leave.

There was a time I even worked as independent contractor. Had to deal with the customer directly, defined the scope by myself, set the performance index, and delivered end-to-end solution to customer. No job title. No career. Hmm, good old days. Even it was only for several months before I got back into corporate job.

Eventually I managed to get promotion in one company. And the truth is, when I was given the new job title I didn't feel like it was a promotion. Because I've been doing the scope of work and assuming the responsibility of that new title for years, long before the company really made it happen.

So here is the complete statement: there is no such thing as career path for technical people, who still believe the only way to go up is by working hard in their current position. Most techies believe if they work hard and be good on what they do, somebody will eventually notice and give the reward.

I don't believe such thing exists anymore.

You may disagree as the experience is different for each individual. But based on my own experience, I can suggest you the following to get the promotion or target position you always dream of:

1. Define the target position you want to be
2. Assume responsibility and work with the scope of that target position, regardless of your current position or job title
3. Get the right attention from the right people

What is my next target position, you may ask?
I want to be able to put the title in my business card just as Mark's.












How about you?

Thursday, October 24, 2013

With SDN, Do We Still Need CCIEs?

"With SDN, we don't need CCIEs anymore. Anyone can run the network with a simple click-and-drag GUI." Really.

"SDN makes the knowledge of traditional networking is not relevant anymore. We need more people who can write code instead." Wow.

"SDN with Openflow removes all the current routing protocols. So why wasting your time to study CCIE?" Speechless.

Let's start with definition.

According to Wikipedia, SDN is "...an approach to building computer networks that separates and abstracts elements of these systems..." There are two important keywords there: separate, and abstraction. Separate means decouple Control Plane and Data/Forwarding Plane function. If in 'traditional networking' both Contol and Data functions are contained within a single device, SDN makes the separation so the Control plane can be moved to a device or system that is located at the central of the network. More intelligent control function that can see the whole network end-to-end.

And the Control plane can be customized, manipulated, re-programmed and so on, regardless the state of the Data plane. This is the first level of the abstraction.

Why is abstraction important? Because we want to separate the complexity. Think about building multiple layers that separate the function of whole networking components from Data Plane, Control Plane, and even beyond. Imagine if user only needs to deal with a GUI-based tool to manage and operate the network. He doesn't need to know about the complexity of how the GUI-based tool interprets his request and push it to the layer below. Imagine if programmer can build this network management tool without any need of knowledge how her code can connect to the network device to push the instruction. Imagine if researcher can develop new control function and create new rule what to do with the packet at Control Plane, without having to worry about how the device really forwards the packet at Data Plane. You get the idea.

And is Openflow really the Holy Grail for SDN?

Using the same Wikipedia, OpenFlow is "...a communications protocol that gives access to the forwarding plane of a network switch or router over the network..." So it's just the communication protocol between one system, that most likely has the control plane function, with a switch or router over the network.

Hey, I thought we were talking about abstraction, how user can deal with only one layer, programmer deals with another layer, other programer deals with another layer, researcher deals with another layer, and so on. How OpenFlow can help with that?

Exactly.
Because OpenFlow is only one piece of the puzzle.


The above figure shows the big picture of something that we call Full Network Programmability. Beyond SDN. And definitely beyond OpenFlow, since OpenFlow is only one part that connect us to the network devices that do the actual forwarding of the packet. And OpenFlow is not the only protocol to do that.

And is that true we will completely remove the intelligence part from network device? Is that true we can use central Control function to manage those cheap dumb switches that only do the forwarding?

If you believe this separation of Control Plane and Data Plane is the only way. Some of us believe we still need to leave some control plane function in the device, even we have already had more intelligent control function at the central location of the network. A model we call 'Hybrid' SDN.


Why? So this 'distributed' control plane in network device can run basic function that doesn't require consultation to the central control plane. Because today's distributed control plane in network device has reached the stage of "self healing". It means if there is any failure with the link or neighbor device, it can find alternative way automatically. And these days it can find that alternative way in even much faster (Fast Convergence). Or it can pre-compute the alternative way and prepare the forwarding plane before the failure happens (Fast Re-route). Today's network with distributed control plane has become so resilient, closing the milisecond time gap between the start of the failure until the traffic forwarding is normal again.

The distributed control plane model has also reached a very high performance in a very high scale. It has intelligent security function and other features. In fact, it has a very rich feature-set. Those are the results of more than 25 years research by networking industry. And I personally won't believe all will be thrown away overnight.

So preserve what's working, and program the network when required.
That's what some people, including myself, believe.

This means we still need the CCIEs then.
Because they understand how traditional networking technologies work in detail.

But CCIE can't write code! And we need programmers to run the new network!



We need programmer to build network application indeed. But we need CCIEs to handle the complexity in lower layer. To handle how the application can interact with the network devices. To tell the programmer how they can leverage the current networking protocols to achieve the objective.

And what is the objective, by the way?
To solve customer's business problem.

What's the point to have a very sophisticated network infrastructure, with either traditional networking technologies or the new emerging SDN, if it doesn't help the customers with their business?
It's all about solving customer's business problem.
Always has, always will.

The problem can be: how to simplify the operation? That's why we develop tools for orchestration, to manage and monitor the whole systems. The problem can be: how to be more agile, much faster in deploying services? That's why we integrate tools in many layers so user can have a very simple and easy tool to use in upper layer, programmer build the system in another layer, and another programmer use the communication protocol to push the instruction to the devices. The problem can be: how to use the SDN to open up new business opportunities? That's why we look at virtualization to partition the network, so we can offer new business model to customer, and so on.

So someone, with extensive networking knowledge, still needs to talk to customer to understand the problem and figure out the way to solve it. And that has to happen prior to writing the code. So we still need CCIEs to capture customer requirements. We still need CCIEs to tell the customer that the traditional networking technology won't be able to meet the requirements. We still need CCIEs to tell programmer what to build in the first place.

Cisco Learning Network has defined the "workforce of the future" with job roles evolution and certifications, to prepare the engineers who currently work in networking industry to adapt to this new paradigm in networking.


Network Programmability Engineer: The network programmability engineer will be responsible for deploying the network applications into the programmable environment and making them operational. The engineer will receive the network application and the infrastructure design from the network programmability designer to deploy, install, and troubleshoot.

Network Programmability Designer: In an architect role, this individual will collect the customer requirements, be knowledgeable about the applications that leverage the infrastructure, and translate the customer requirements into a recommended open infrastructure. This individual will provide the functional specifications of the network applications to the network programmability developer.

Network Programmability Developer: The network programmability developer will be responsible for developing network applications in the programmable environment such as Cisco Open Network Environment (ONE). This is a new role focused on the development of the network applications layer, which can live in any of the Cisco provided programmable components, and will enable service provider, campus, and data center use cases. This individual is a software programmer able to program in Python, C, or other languages in an open networking environment.

Business Application Developer: This individual develops business applications such as for SAP and Oracle, leveraging the programmability capability of the new open network environment. This individual will also leverage API capabilities in order to collect information from the network.

Prerequisite for Supporting Cisco Network Programmability course (for Engineer)?
CCNP. With hands on Operating System experience, understanding of debug and troubleshooting tools specific to a virtualized, software and programmable environment.

Prerequisite for Developing Cisco Network Programmability course (for Developer)?
CCNA. Obviously with knowledge of Java, Python, C programming language and good understanding of virtualized environment.

Prerequisite for Designing Cisco Network Programmability course (for Designer)?
CCIE, with knowledge of programming environment, and Operating systems.

So CLN say we need CCIEs to become Network Programmability Designer.

And I personally believe the knowledge learned from CCIE/CCDE is crucial to support SDN, especially to become the architect who can translate customer requirements into functional specifications of the network applications to the developer:

CCIE Routing & Switching is the fundamental knowledge.
CCIE Service Provider teaches how to build "self healing" network.
CCIE Data Center becomes more interesting since many SDN use cases are currently focusing on Data Center, especially the Massively Scaled ones.
And CCDE put all the pieces together, making sure we know the reason behind when and why to use the technology. Go beyond the configuration level.

To summarize, we still need CCIE.
But those who have the quality as above.
And the most important: we need CCIEs who can adapt.

So to all CCIEs out there: prepare yourself.
Use Protect, Grow and Transform strategy to develop your skillset.

Protect, by making sure you understand the traditional networking technology in detail. Beyond CLI.
Grow, by learning the end to end solution. To understand the big picture of networking.
Transform, by understanding the application layer. To learn how to write code.

It's almost 4 am here in Dubai. Time to go back to my Python course.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Protect, Grow, Transform

It's been a while since I wrote something in this blog. Long holiday season, moving house, multiple projects in neighbor country, were really occupying my time the past several months.

Yesterday I flew 16 hours from Dubai to San Francisco, had to queue 2 hours, and drove about 1 hour to San Jose for some company meeting in Cisco Head Quarter office. Now it's early morning here and I can't really sleep due to 11 hours time zone difference with Dubai, so I guess it's the right time to post new blog.

Last month I was moved to Architecture group for the new Intelligent Infrastructure Center of Excellence team for EMEAR region, focusing on IP NGN and Network Programmability. My current role as Solution Architect is not only to lead complex NGN projects, something that I've been doing for many years, but as well as to grow Cisco Advanced Services business in those focused technologies within the region.

One strategy that we just came up recently is to define the objectives of this new team. We classify the objectives using Protect, Grow, Transform terminology. For example, Protect by focusing on renewal business and ensuring the quality of project delivery, Grow by moving into architecture based solution and enabling field engineers for any new technology, Transform by opening new business opportunity with Software Defined Network and Internet of Everything.

From technical perspective, Protect means to ensure our NGN design skills and extensive experiences with current platform such as Cisco CRS, ASR9K etc are maintained and well documented hence can be re-used by field engineers to optimize the project delivery, Grow means to go to Cross Architecture collaboration and solution like FMC, unified access, IPv6, IP Optical, and new platform such as NCS family, and Transform means to enable ourselves with the comprehensive Cisco ONE solution.

While creating this strategy, I could see the same Protect, Grow, Transform can be applied for technical skill development plan for individuals. For example, for someone who works in Service Provider market he can "Protect" his relevancy with the market by keep improving his technical skills. If we relate this with Cisco certification it's almost mandatory for this individual to take CCIE SP and perhaps CCDE. He can "Grow" skills in Data Center to expand his horizon and to have end-to-end solution based knowledge, and he may even take CCIE DC certification. And to "Transform" himself for the upcoming Network Programmability, he should start getting adequate programming skills with Python or Java, and start looking at leading edge SDN solution such as Cisco OnePK and XNC.

Just like any organization, the only way to be successful as individual in this industry is by having a clear strategy to continuously developing the skill, by executing the strategy, and by preparing for any upcoming changes in the industry. 

How about you? What will be your Protect, Grow, Transform?

Monday, July 08, 2013

How to Prepare for CCDE Practical Exam

I was a bit harsh when I wrote: you have to be CCIE to pass CCDE. Couple of friends of mine, who are not CCIEs, came to me after reading that post and said I had demolished their hope to pass the exam.

I won't lie. It's easier to become CCDE if you have already had a CCIE. But fear not, there is still chance for non-CCIE to pass CCDE exam as well. And several guys who are not CCIE but able to put their name in this Hall of Fame is the proof.

The next CCDE practical exam date is on August 27. So there is still time for both groups of CCIE and non-CCIE to pass it, and here is another version of "how to prepare for CCDE exam" that may help to do so:

1. You still need a good reason to do it
You need a good reason as your main motivation to keep continue pursuing this certification, after you fail the exam. Or after you fail the exam several times.
So find your reason.

2. You still need the experience
You can't skip experience. I'm not kidding.
From CCDE Techtorial it says "CCDE Practical is multidimensional, each question or problem must map to all three blueprints"
And the three blueprints are:
- Task Domain
- Job Tasks
- Technology

Scope of Job Tasks:
- Analyze design requirements
- Develop network designs
- Implement network design
- Validate and optimize network design

You can try to learn those from case study, you can try to practice using sample scenarios from books or from training material, but the best resource to learn the above is always the experience.

It's recommended to have 7+ years related experience, as shown in table from Cisco Learning below, with multiple technologies covering from Routing and switching, Security to Data Center.


It's easier to get opportunity to work with the design of those various technologies if you are a CCIE. Ok, nevermind, I will stop pushing it.

3. Learn the technology 
First, you have to do "self assessment" by checking your current knowledge against the technologies listed in CCDE Written blueprint. From CCDE Techtorial, the technologies include but not limited to:

- Layer 2 control plane (STP, Fabric, Down detection, Failure domain, multicast, FHRP etc)
- Layer 3 control plane (OSPF, ISIS, EIGRP, BGP, PIM, Modularity, Hierarchy, FC/Resiliency, Core topology etc)
- Network virtualization (802.1q, MPLS L3VPN, L2VPN, L2TPv3, IPsec, GRE, routing, scaling, inter-AS, traffic engineering etc)
- Quality of Services (classification, CBWFQ, WRED, shaping, policing, QoS model, hierarchy, QoS inside tunnel etc)
- Network Management (FCAPS, SNMP, Syslog, Netflow, RMON, In band, OOB, baseline etc)
- Security (DDoS, GTSM, RPF, IPsec, Infrastructure security, QoS as security tool, RTBH etc)

Assess yourself to identify the technology that you are already familiar with, the one that you heard about it before but need more time to study, and the technology that is completely alien to you.
Once you have the result you will know where you should put your focus on.

4. Read or watch
Well, August 27 is near so I guess there is no time to read all the books in CCDE Practical Reading Booklist. But at least you should read Russ White's CCDE Quick Reference, for written exam, and Optimal Routing Design book. And you can skim the scenarios in Definitive MPLS Network Design book. Those three books are the only ones I read during my study.


And nowadays if I want to learn something new, or to re-fresh my mind, I prefer to watch Cisco Live 365 recorded session instead of reading books. I actually watched more than 40 videos during my preparation, and some of them are not relevant to CCDE exam.

So even if you have to watch 40+ Cisco Live sessions like me, you still have more than 40 days to do that until the next exam date.
Watch one video per day, at least.
And focus on why and when to use the technology.
If you have spare time, spend at least another hour per day to read CVDs/Design Zone.
Remember, stay away from CLI but you still need to understand on which device to enable the features.

I use iPhone as my daily phone, but to watch Cisco Live sessions I use HTC One black edition. No, you don't have to buy one to become CCDE. And I have no affiliation with HTC. I'm just happy to use it to watch any videos while on the move.


5. Remember Task Domain during your study
The third blueprint is Task Domain blueprint:
- Merge/Divest
- Add Technology
- Replace Technology
- Scaling

Try to consider the third blueprint when learning about the technologies, for example:

- Merge/Divest
How to merge two L3 control plane? What is the implication? What are the steps required to implement?

- Add Technology
What will be impact to QoS if customer adds new technology like Telepresence? Any security concern when adding new services?

- Replace Technology
What is the best network virtualization technology to replace the current physical technology e.g. TDM? Which one is better to the other, on which type of scenario?

- Scaling
How to scale each IGP? How to scale virtualization technology like GRE or L2VPN?

6. Master the skill of skimming
Make sure you are used to read many information within short time, skimming rather than reading completely, and find the information that's important.

I think that's all.

And below are some of Cisco Live sessions that I watched during my study:

To refresh the IGP, Tunneling, and WAN Concept design:
- BRKRST-2310 Deploying OSPF in a Large Scale Network
- BRKIPM-3010 Which Routing Protocol? IPv4 and IPv6
- BRKIPM-2444 EIGRP – An in depth look at the Protocol
- BRKMPL-2101 Deploying L2 Based MPLS VPN
- BRKCCIE-3345 CCIE Candidate Introduction to MPLS L3VPN
- BRKCRS-2041 Enterprise WAN Architectures and Design Principles
- BRKMPL-2109 MPLS Solutions for Cloud Networking
- BRKRST-2042 Highly Available Wide Area Network Design

To refresh Campus design and QoS:
- BRKCRS-2661 Designing Layer 2 Networks - Avoiding Loops, Drops, Flooding
- BRKCRS-2031 Multilayer Campus Architectures and Design Principles
- BRKRST-2501 Enterprise QoS or BRKCRS-2500 Campus QoS

I did "speed watching" the following:
- BRKSEC-4054 DMVPN Deployment Model
- BRKRST-2301 Enterprise IPv6 Deployment
- BRKSEC-2000 Secure Enterprise Design
- BRKMPL-1261 IP Multicast Concept Design and Troubleshooting

Some Cisco Live sessions that were not recorded, but I went through the slides:
- BRKRST-2335 IS-IS Network Design and Deployment -
- BRKIPM-2261 Deploying IP Multicast
- BRKMPL-2105 Inter-AS MPLS Solutions
- TECSEC-2011 IPSec and SSL VPNs

Good luck and let me know when you get your number!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Last 24

1. Went to Dubai International airport at 1 am local time
2. Stayed in Emirates business lounge, blogging to write about the recent Indonesian Networkers 17-19 June 2013 aka 100NGN Workshop in Jakarta
3. Got info there was delay for about an hour from the original 2.55 am local time
4. Continued blogging
5. At 3.30 am there was announcement the new schedule for the flight now is 6 am
6. Didn't want to sleep to avoid missing the flight, randomly browsing the Internet
7. Close to 6 am, no announcement about the boarding
8. Felt very sleepy so decided just to go to boarding gate around 6 am
9. Got into airplane around 6.30, flight finally took off at 7 am
10. Couldn't sleep during the 13.5 hours flight to JFK New York, watched lots of movies
11. Arrived 1.5 hours before my connecting flight
12. There was announcement from pilot, due to medical condition of one passenger all others must stayed inside airplane until the situation is cleared
13. Came out from airplane with only about an hour before the next flight to Orlando
14. Run to border security with Quick Connect paper from Emirates, reached the counter through priority line but got rejected since the counter was designated only for US Citizen. Watched the argument between border officer with Emirates official who issued the priority paper
15. Finally cleared border security, run through the custom check to exit the International terminal. Good thing I always travel light so no checked-in luggage for 1-2 weeks trip
16. Got boarding pass for the next flight from the transit counter, went to long TSA queue at domestic flight terminal
17. Cleared TSA check 30 minutes before the flight, just to found out it was the wrong Terminal 4! Must exit Terminal 4 and take AirTrain to Terminal 5
18. Finally reached Terminal 5. Thank God TSA officer gave priority since my flight was less than 15 minutes
19. Reached the gate and entered the airplane 5 minutes before the flight!
20. Slept like a baby during the 3 hours flight
21. Welcome to Orlando! Reached the hotel at 6 pm local time or 2 am Dubai time
22. Corporate credit card didn't work. It turned out to be expired last month!
23. Cleared the credit card issue, but couldn't get my room card since the hotel system was down. Managed to get into the room with the escort from hotel security
24. Walked to Conference Center to register as speaker. Finally, after more than 24 hours since I started, I got the speaker pass and the speaker shirt!


Welcome to Cisco Live US 2013!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Indonesian Networkers 2013 aka 100NGN

I’m currently sitting at Dubai airport, waiting for my flight to New York, then Orlando for Cisco Live US 2013. It’s going to be epic with so many breakout sessions, keynote speech by Cisco CEO, customer appreciation and CCIE party and many other great stuff for those who want to get the latest update and new innovation in computer networking from the market leader. Last year, Cisco Live US 2012 in San Diego set a record breaking of 17,000 in-person attendees!



Earlier this week I took 5 days off from work to conduct 3 days workshop for 100 Indonesian professionals and 100 students, discussing the “next generation of computer networking”. We called it Indonesian Networkers 2013 aka 100NGN workshop that was held between 17-19 June.


With 100NGN workshop we want to prepare Indonesian professionals and students with best practices, soft skills and new direction in computer networking technology. And it’s been my personal obsession to bring world class event to Indonesia, just as Cisco Live.


Day 1 was started with keynote speech about building Network, Skill and Experience in order to become globally competitive professionals. Continued with Network Design lesson, MPLS VPN tutorial, and non-technical session like Killer CV.


Cisco Elastic Core, QoS Implementation in Mobile Network, next generation Data Center and Service Provider Wifi.

 

At the end of every session there was quiz with multiple choice questions. We used online polling system Textello to find the attendee with the highest score. The top scorer of Day 1 was rewarded with Google Nexus 7 tablet.


Day 2 agenda was CCIE and CCDE experience, WAN Architecture and Design, IP RAN 2G and 3G Implementation.


There was a session on Interview process in Silicon Valley, directly from an Indonesian who currently works in Silicon Valley, who was willing to come all the way for this event! 


Evolution of Mobile Technology, E-Commerce Perimeter Security, IPv6 Implementation, Software Defined Network, OnePK and Internet of Everything.


The top scorer of Day 2 got Apple iPad Mini with “Indonesian Networkers 2013” written at the back.


Day 3 was designated for students. We want them to get the updates on Mobile technology, router architecture, SDN, IPv6 and Internet of Everything.


We event brought a speaker from one of the best universities in Indonesia to explain his research in SDN with GIST Korea to implement OpenFlow at TEIN research network.


Day 3 was closed with provocative session about communication skill to win in global competition by Dwi Chandra from DCT Enterprise. We gave away three Raspberry Pi to the students who became the top scorers of the day.


"Some people want it to happen, some wish it would happen, others make it happen" – Michael Jordan.

Thank you to our silver sponsor Cisco Advanced Services APAC. Thank you Gulfware for Textello, DCT, Cisco Academy and CCIE Club Indonesia.


I learned from David Novak, CEO of Yum! Brands, that the only way to make big things happen is by taking people with you. Thank you to all the speakers who were willing to come in between their busy schedule. Some speakers even came from outside the country or must travel from different city!



I'm very proud as young organization GEM Foundation and Jawdat are able to conduct an event like 100NGN.To all my team members, You make it happen! And once again, thank you to all speakers, sponsors and attendees! 

  
3 days. 14 speakers. Total 199 participants. Network Design, MPLS VPN, Killer CV, Elastic Core, Mobile, QoS, DCN, SP Wifi, CCIE/CCDE, WAN Design, IP RAN 2G/3G, Interview, LTE, Security, IPv6 Implementation, Next Generation Router, SDN/OnePK, SDN Research, Communication skill, Internet of Everything!

My week-off couldn’t have been better.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

20130018

It's official, finally. CCDE 20130018


The question is, as always: what's next?

Friday, May 31, 2013

How to Become CCDE

Wow. I still can't believe it.

The moment I clicked Next at the end of the CCDE practical exam today in London, and it showed Congratulations word, I was literally jumping out my chair. It was a bad move, I admit, because it was really distracting and it made many other candidates in the room to look at me furiously since we still had more than an hour to complete this 352-011 exam. But I couldn't help it. I passed!

I'm a CCDE now. Part of the group consists around 100 people only, in the world. Wow. Thank God.
(I haven't received my number yet. So I hope CCDE team don't change their mind)


How did I prepare for CCDE exam?

Well, it's been a long journey. I passed my first CCDE written exam four years ago. I have taken the practical exam when it was version v1.0. And now I passed with v2.0.

Before I took the exam today I thought I would have lots of things to write about my preparation for CCDE exam. But I'm typing this while having my "CCDE dinner" at Hard Rock Cafe in London, and I can only came up with these 10 points on How to Become CCDE. It might be completely useless, but hey, you must be desperate looking around for anything that may help with CCDE preparation, then end up reading this post. And desperate time calls for desperate measure.

1 - Get your CCIE first
I don't care if you shout "Himawan, don't talk rubbish! You don't need CCIE to become CCDE!" I have already had CCIE (three!) before going for CCDE. Most people who passed so far have CCIEs too. The folks who created the exams are CCIEs.

To pass CCDE yes, indeed you need to know more than "what, how" and focus on "why, when, where" to use the technology to answer business and design requirements. CCIE can help you with the what and how, so once you have it you just need to focus on why, when and where.

And trust me, during CCDE journey it's more fun if you are already a CCIE. It will even give you more chance to do point number 2 below. So get CCIE first, at least one.

2 - Get real experience with network design

You can't skip experience to become CCDE. Period.

And I suggest to have network design experience for at least several industries. For example, I used to work with Enterprise, Education and Government customers before I joined Cisco. With Cisco I've been involved in many design projects, mainly with Service Providers as well as large Enterprise.

CCDE covers various technology from IP/MPLS to Data Center to Campus Network to Remote Access and so on. The best way to learn about the solution, architecture, the design and all technologies around it is through the experience.

3 - Ask yourself if you really want to become CCDE
If you are a CCIE and you have extensive design experience as point number 2 above, why do you need to become CCDE?
Design skill is shaped with experience working with real customer. You will be known as design expert due to the reputation and real design you built in the past. Not from passing an exam.

If you ask me, I've been chasing CCDE because I'm a big fan of Cisco certification program. I call myself CCIE evangelist. I support the program with all my heart. But I do network design everyday, and I have solid 14 years experience, I don't really think my design skill needs to be 'certified'.

It doesn't mean the CCDE program is no good. I took CCDE practical exam v1.0 and yes, I have to admit it was terrible. The current version v2.0 is much better. It won't be able to simulate the real design project, but it's getting closer. It forces the candidate to think about why, when, and where to use which technology to answer business and design requirements. That's the essential skill every network designer must have.

So I'm doing it just because. Now it's time for you to think about the reason why you want to do CCDE.

4 - Pass the written exam and book the seat
I don't need to tell you how. If you are a CCIE, and you have extensive experience, it should be easy for you to pass the written exam.

If you still need to read book to refresh, take the CCDE Quick Reference and Optimal Routing Design book. Google them, I'm too lazy to create the link to amazon or Ciscopress website.

Once you pass the written exam, book the seat for practical exam. CCDE practical is not available every day, so you must check the schedule and the exam location nearby. This is the reason why you should pass written exam at the beginning of the journey and just book the practice exam, since you may not even get a seat and must wait for several months. And having a target date is always good to force us to prepare. Deadline always pushes to unleash the best of us.

5 - Understand the exam from those who created it
Russ White is the main man behind the exam.
Listen to his explanation of what CCDE is all about.
Google his interview on youtube.
Read his CCDE slides on Cisco Live 365.
It's better if you can take CCDE Techtorial at Cisco Live.
And btw, Russ wrote the two books I mentioned in point number 4 above.

This step is very important because in order to pass you don't design the network just like the real world. You design the network, or answer the design related questions in the exam, based on the scope and expectation from the author of the exam.
How to answer the question in the exam? Understand the author's mindset first.

6 - Read design guide, best practice and design case study
You can learn what and how from CCIE and real world deployment project. If you are lucky, you can learn why, when and where to use technology from experience too.

But it's always good to read someone's experience, especially the ones from Cisco stated as design guide, or best practice, or deployment case study.
One good resource is Cisco Validated Design. As well as Solution Architecture.
Google them.
And read many Cisco Live presentations with "Design", "Deploy", "Practice" and "Architecture" keyword for different technologies.
One good book with sample design case study is Definitive MPLS Network Design.

Well, if you have lots of time you can read all the books listed in CCDE Practical Exam Reading List.
I didn't have time. And I had read some of the books when I did my CCIE. So I spent most of my time with Cisco Live and design material available on Cisco website.

7 - Take the practical exam
This is it. As Sir Richard Branson said: screw it, just do it.
Go and take your first attempt. Heck you never know, you may even pass!

8 - If you pass, stop here. If you fail, at least you know what to expect next
Let's say you fail. So what? Many have failed. Only 100 have passed.
What matters is now you have seen the real exam. Once you see the way the exam is delivered, different type of questions, the flow of the scenario in the exam, you will understand more what Russ meant in point number 5 above.
And this is a very important piece to pass the exam.

Analyze why you fail. If there is technology you still don't understand, read them. If you are still confused to choose one technology to the other, study them and make the comparison. Once you are done, book another seat.

Keep taking it until you pass.
Same like CCIE, if you persist you will eventually pass.

9 - By now you should know how to pass

Or not? Or perhaps, you don't want to follow point number 1 to number 8? Or you need help to guide you through?

I just bought ccde33.com domain name, so you can guess what I'm coming up next. Watch this space.

And did I say 10 points? I was lying. Or probably I'm just too full since the nice lady at Hard Rock keep feeding me with lots of nice dessert.

 

You may as well want to read the post I wrote 4 years ago: CCIE vs. CCDE

Good luck.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

When Tech Meets Business

"I have had the pleasure of having Himawan as part of my team for a total  of 3 years, first two years in the Carrier Ethernet practice as an NCE,  and later on as part of my Advanced Services Africa team where Himawan worked as a Solutions Architect.

Himawan is unique in the way that he not only contributes with extremely  good technical knowledge (for which his triple CCIE is a proof), but he also provides the combination of very good consultancy and business skills, which makes him extremely valuable not only in meetings with customer engineers, but also in meetings with customer senior management.

What I value most with Himawan is his never give up attitude, it doesn't matter how complicated problem, how challenging business environment, or how short timelines, he always jumps into the challenge and finds a way to resolve the issue.

I can strongly recommend Himawan for any position where the combination of technical and business skills is required, and if I had a position open requiring these skills I would see Himawan as the perfect hire."

- Ulf Vinneras
Director Services Strategy and Business Development at Cisco Systems

Tack så mycket, Ulf!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

The Last Question

Please find my complete interview with IT Certification Master: Why Network, Skill, Experience Matters Most. Thank you to Mirek Burnejko for the opportunity.

And below is the last question from the interview:

MB: You are also a co-founder of several organizations: GEM Foundation, Jawdat Teknologi Indonesia and CCIE93. Can you describe us these new ventures?

HN: This is my problem: there are 250 million people in Indonesia, and there are only less than 200 CCIEs. I’m planning to solve that problem. And it doesn’t mean I will make everyone from my country as CCIE. Nor I will teach CCIE class. I want to do more. I want to help Indonesian students and young professionals to become globally competitive professionals. So they can compete in global market like me, or stay in Indonesia to work on challenging project currently being done by professionals from outside the country (expats). And the solution must be scalable. That’s why I founded a not-for-profit organization GEM Foundation (GEMFo) early last year with several other Indonesian professionals who work outside the country. I spent my personal time to visit schools and universities to share global view from my own experience working abroad for more than 10 years. Six months ago I founded Jawdat Teknologi Indonesia as the engine to generate revenue to support GEMFo activities. We want to create cafe incubator, scholarship program, community lab and library, and so much more.

I created CCIE93 to help CCIE candidates to prepare and pass CCIE lab (currently only for R&S track) in 93 days. Using mobile learning platform that my team developed, candidates can learn “anytime, anywhere”, “learn at your own pace”, “video oriented”, “learn one thing a day” with group of CCIEs as mentors. Basically there are 93 modules to learn in 93 days, and if the candidate can finish the tasks on that module/day then he can move on to the next module/day.

Currently it’s only for Indonesian, but I’m thinking to release it for international audience soon. The objective is to generate more fund so I can build IOS XR and Nexus lab in Indonesia for the community. Watch this space.


Are you ready?

Sunday, April 14, 2013

My Problem

Do you know what my problem is?
250 million people in Indonesia, and there are only about 160 CCIEs.

I'm not saying the whole population must become CCIE or must learn about computer networking. But think about how many networks are there in Indonesia:
We have 7 mobile operators.
We have more than 100 Internet Service Providers.
We have one mobile operator with more than 100 million subscribers.
And there are only less than 200 individuals who have reached the expert skill level in IP network technology.

There are many expatriates who currently work in my country. We don't need to replace them all with Indonesian professionals. But at least we need to make sure Indonesians have the same level of skill set, and they are given the same opportunity to compete.

I'm thinking that the solution is not to make every network engineer to become CCIE. It has to go beyond that. The solution must transform Indonesia's next generations, young professionals and students, to become globally competitive professionals. To become professionals who possess the complete package from social network, technical skill and soft skill, and extensive experiences.

So they can compete in global market. So they can move around the world, or stay to develop the country from inside. So they can fill up the jobs in many Indonesian technology companies. Or as many like to say: to become the host in our own country.

That's my problem.
And I'm planning to solve it, one professional at a time.


Wednesday, February 20, 2013

What I've Been Doing Lately

Beside Cisco and my MBA, I work as managing director for a non-profit organization GEM Foundation that I founded last year along with other Indonesian professionals.

 
Our focus is to help preparing Indonesian students and young professionals, as the next generation leaders for my country, to be prepared for the global competition.


Our activity includes regular biweekly Webex session by experienced professionals and entrepreneurs, mostly live outside the country, to share their knowledge, wisdom, experience, tips and tricks in finding a job, getting a job, or creating a job.
In average 70-80 students and young professionals attended our session.


We always try to meet the students in person in order to provide inspiration and opportunity to have face-to-face and open discussion. Last year I met more than 400 students and professionals during my visit to 4 universities in Indonesia.


My activity won me spot in national news. But I didn't bother.


Early this month I went to one technical high school and couple of universities in one Indonesian city called Malang, to do something similar like last year. I was given honor to give keynote speech in the annual event arranged by the alumni of the high school.


I used the opportunity to share my view of how to prepare Indonesian next generations for global competition.


My foundation also conducted competition for students and we provided Raspberry Pi as well as scholarship for the winners.


I had a chance to become guest speaker for one university, with more than 300 students attending the lecture, even thought it was holiday season for them!


Then I conducted 5-day NGN technical workshop in Jakarta with a group of professionals. It's an opportunity to share my knowledge and experience, at the same time we used the event as fund raiser for my organization.


I also arrange a dinner with the members of CCIE93, world's first community based mentoring program to prepare its members to become CCIE in 93 days.

 
This time, my activity got me an interview with national TV news. But I didn't even bother to check when it would be broadcasted :)


Because I don't do all this for fame. Nor I do this for award.

Only want to show that one must always try to make a difference, no matter small.

Btw, I'm also the president of CCIE Club Indonesia. I built the portal, created the hall of fame of Indonesian CCIEs, and I arrange monthly technical talk over Webex to let the CCIE to share his knowledge and experience.


It's time to get back to work.
Life has never been so exciting.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Tablets, Tablets Everywhere

It seems like everyday some company releases new tablets to the market. Many options are good, but sometimes it can be confusing too for consumers. Which tablet is the best? Should I get Android or iOS or Windows 8 based tablet?



My answer is: it depends on what you are going to use the tablet for.

I don't think there is "the best" tablet. There is only the best tablet to answer your specific requirements for specific time frame.

If you like to customize your tablet, go with Android. If you have already used and invested some apps with Apple ecosystem you may want to go with iPad. If you want new UI you can try Surface or Windows 8 based tablets. And just to remind everyone, Windows 8 based tablets are the only ones right now that can run native Microsoft Office suite which is (unfortunately) a must in today's business.

There is only one iPad from Apple but there are so many Android tablets out there. Which one to choose? It depends on which brand that you trust. Or what features you are looking for specifically. Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1 offers the true stylus experience. Sony has just released the thinnest tablet in the world. Samsung products use plastic material. Some comes with a bit better Megapixel. Some comes with a bit better something that sometimes it's not really worth it. So I still believe the reason to pick between many Android based tablets material out there is for specific functionality like: whether you like stylus or not.

If there is no specific function needed, you may want to look at Google Nexus just due to the fact it comes from Google. You can be sure they have done some optimization to the Android software better than anyone, for their own hardware.

Similar case with Windows 8 based tablets, there are so many brands beside the Surface from Microsoft. Which one to choose? I'd personally prefer Surface due to the same reason like Google Nexus for Android: Microsoft made the OS, and they must have done some optimization for their own hardware.

How about the 7 inch tablets? I believe they are good as on-the-go tablets, to be used anytime, anywhere due to their size. Apple has iPad mini, while Android has many options. But again, if you don't like to use stylus (Samsung Galaxy Note 8 inch is coming soon) I'd prefer Google Nexus 7 since it's from Google.

Can we use tablet completely instead of PC? I think yes, if you don't need specific software that currently only available on PC. But even with Surface that has Office suite, I still need my Macbook Air to run specific software like Visio and Webex client.

Should we buy now or wait until the next best tablet gets released? There will be always something new. So just buy a tablet when you need it, to answer your specific requirements. Most likely the tablet you buy will last only for specific time frame anyway.

What are the tablets I currently use for myself and family?

1. For younger kids = iPad 1

Simply because it's probably the most robust tablet out there. My 3-year and 4-year old kids have done the worst to this tablet and until today it's still alive. Drop the ipad? Done. Splash water on it? Yup. Step on the tablet with both feet? Couple of times :)

So the tablet is very tough even it has been tortured to the limit. The battery is still very good, it can stay more than 8 hours. And my kids don't even need the latest software so iPad 1 with old iOS is fine. But it requires some work to really make it really "the tablet for kids". I need to install appropriate apps for my kids. I need to think how to limit the Internet access for them. I need to find more education apps.

I'm currently thinking to replace it with a new tablet built really for kids, like this Nabi2 from Fuhu. It has good hardware design, interesting UI for kids, and many pre-loaded education apps. I may go for it.

2. For older kid = Galaxy Note 10.1

My 14-year old kid is a future artist. She likes to paint and you can check some samples of her works here. I bought her the Galaxy Note 10.1 to let her practice drawing or sketching on this tablet.

Unfortunately after coupe of months she told me she doesn't really like to sketch or draw with Samsung S Pen :( It just feels different with doing it on paper, she said. Well, for time being I'm going to keep the tablet since it's cheaper than the iPad, and at least my family can use it for content consumption

3. For business = Surface RT

Yes indeed, it has the MS Office suite. It has expansion slot, USB and mini HDMI port. I can make and edit the document, build slides, and I did customer presentation lately with it. Windows 8, even the RT version, offers a fresh and interesting UI compare to iOS or Android.

But it just lacks of many important apps. For example, there is no Webex client for Win 8 until now. For someone like me who uses Webex in daily basis, it's just unacceptable. It means I still need another device like my macbook. And since my macbook air is quite light, and it has all the software I need, why would I need the tablet then?

So I may give this Surface to my assistant who will use it only for email, social media and MS Office.

4. For on-the-go tablet = Google Nexus 7 or iPad Mini

I like Google Nexus 7. I bought one. The price is right. I used to bring it everywhere. It's lightweight. It's really good to play games and watch movies while on the road. My only issue is to browse the Internet with it. I was not comfortable to read from the browser. So after several months I sold it to my friend who needs it for his kid, and now I'm thinking to get the iPad Mini that has a bit larger screen.

I don't know if Mini is the right tablet for my purpose. I tried it couple of times and I like the way it feels in my hand. But only time will tell, only after I use it heavily I can say yes or no. And even if the Mini is worst than Nexus 7, it's considered a hot product so I can always sell it again easily.

Since there is no real tablet for my business needs, it seems like I'm going to stick around with my macbook air. Plus either iPad Mini or Google Nexus 7 for content consumption whenever I need to entertain myself.

Perhaps you should check your requirement before buying any tablet too. You should ask yourself what the purpose of the new tablet is, before making any decision.

Because new tablets get released to the market everyday, and it's really easy to buy one because you think you need it, only to find later that you have no real use of it.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

What's In a Job Title?

Are you proud with your job title? Do you think it still matters?

According to wikipedia, a job title should reflect the job description that is defined as a list that a person might use for general tasks, or functions, and responsibilities of a position. It may often include to whom the position reports, specifications such as the qualifications or skills needed by the person in the job.


During my work in Cisco I've been introduced to customers with different job titles, depending on the situation. One time I was introduced as Technical Adviser, other time as Solutions Architect. There were couple of times when I have to put Project Leader in my opening slides, and few times as Technical Project Manager. When I don't lead the project, I could be the Design Engineer or Consulting Engineer. For migration projects, some project manager introduced me as Migration Expert. In some other situation, I could be Technical Lead or Senior Consultant.

If I was asked by other parents at my kid's schools about my job title, what should I reply? Should I select one of the above? Or use all of them? I guess not.

So I made a new terminology called Global Consultant. I think the title is self explanatory. And it is not coincidence I made a training program with the same name.

For the second part of my life, I can be even more creative. I call myself 50preneur, even I don't use it as job title. In GEM Foundation I've been managing and directing the team. What job title should I use? Obviously I pick Managing Director. In Jawdat, a company that generates profit to power GEM Foundation activities, my job can be described as the rain maker. Together with my team, we set the vision and execute it. But I personally run the marketing campaign and bring the sales, as well as to develop the training programs, and supervise the learning platform developers. What should I call myself? I don't manage the daily operation, so no Managing Director for me. Then I thought a "chairman" would be nice.


Am I proud with all those titles? I think I'm not.
They are just titles. Collection of words.
If I keep mentioning about Global Consultant lately, especially in this blog, that could be a part of the campaign strategy to market this terminology on the Internet. So it would be easier for me to sell the training program for it.

Are you happy with your current job title?
If yes, that's good for you.
If not, I guess you can always invent a new one :)

Listen to what our friend, who like to wear the bat mask, said: It's not who you are underneath, it's what you do that defines you.


So forget the job title.
Just deliver the work.
Or create something.
Or do something.