Friday, June 24, 2011

Third world networkers views on over built networks driven by the clueless

*Overdone networks are hard to recover cash from, design wisely....

‘overbuild-at-all-cost’, We need more, we'll sell more, this is not enough! are terms I get to hear often. You build a network, someone decides the nodes look too 'small', you buy bigger for more money of course. No business driver at all. No plan on how to sell the capacity nothing!. well nothing that seems to make sense to me.....

I've read alot on economic decline, how a society doing so well slowly goes down, how it slowly atrophies and dies. It's rarely obvious or in your face, its like a cancer creeping up on you. Again so slowly.

Denial!, fight off competition, fight new technologies that you don't understand, get rid of people showing some initiative....die die die...

Lets do AMR (Automated Meter reading) - no, its too complex, oh actually no it's not I say, Hey I said no- says the boss. Oh how about wifi offload? No! it's a bad idea ; no actually It's not, its perfect...haha you're on thin ice. Well guess what, I foresee wi-fi taking over alot of data in the future - not very far off future....we'll see....

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Third world networkers view of the internet, security and war

So i'm on 'fire' today. Just got from a lengthy workshop where some security questions were raised. Back at my desk, I couldn't wipe security off my head. I had to commit something to paper this blog, just so I can read it in the future and reflect on this moment.

So what does the internet have to do with drugs,food,sex,water,a roof over my head? Well to put it simply; I just can't do without it. It's become a basic need. Infact I posit that any country above third world would hyperventilate and die immediately if the 'internet' were to go off. Internet here being relative. I am so sure there would be social unrest in Kenya if facebook, google and twitter were suddenly unreachable.

We'd have mass walkouts. The impact of those outages would be felt more on the Kenyan streets than on wall street. We are so dependent on the internet in everything we do, it's just unthinkable to imagine a life without it. Sort of like asking me what life was like without without a cellphone - I have absolutely no idea.

The wizardly that goes on to make this work would make gandalf wince. There must be another set of wizards working in the heads of people trusting their key data to some of these networks. If an airline for instance hosts their reservation system with a cloud solution provider without an audit, or some very detailed due dilligence, they deserve whats coming to them at some point in the future.

The internet is an asset. Soon we'll be controlling our homes, security, spouses over the 'net'. We use it to control infrastructure, we network our armies with it, our financial institutions, governments; everyone. Now we're willing to throw sensitive data to a 'cloud'. Im telling you this just couldn't be made up.

If Ugandan's encroach,camp and fish at Migingo, everybody yells and accuses the government of laxity for not going to our borders defence. What if a Kenyan hacks into the Ugandan central bank? is that an act of war or just a crime?  Imagine if a tanzanian obfusicated an attack on a kenyan network, a major attack like on KPLC's main power facilities took it down but made it look like a Ugandan? think thats hard? start the thought process over again. Now would that be an act of war? against who?

We have Lulz and Anonymous wrecking havoc on very key facilities/sites world wide. Imagine what would happen if they set their sights on us. RSA was compromised, HID (Do you have any idea how many users/organizations use HID, if you have a key card, just have a look at the back, 90% are from HID) has been exposed, how many Kenyan companies use them without even knowing of these exploits.

Security is hard, rarely userfriendly, annoying and often ignored. This stuff is real, I could make it up but my imagination can't scale. Plus to some extent the internet scares me. I for instance only know how much I'm worth through some electronic data; bits, ones and zeroes, what if my bank lost it? where do they even keep it?, Imagine if we all went to ATM's later today and can't withdraw money, or clear cheques? How would we treat our girlfriends?

It could be anywhere this threat I perceive. Users for example can be total idiots me included. Perimeter security is totally impotent in the face of a failure of endpoint security – if your attacker is indistinguishable from a legitimate user  maybe because they have access or compromised the real user’s computer and can impersonate them digitally), your goose is cooked.

There is no amount of education or training or cajoling that can defeat a well-executed con (e-mail from a trusted coworker containing an Office attachment, drive-by malware hosted on a major website or ad network, etc.).  Your users have to have access to the network, so in this case the key to the gates of heaven, is also the key to the gates of hell. go figure.

What we need  are solid systems operating securely and reliably. Crippling cyber attacks can be directed at economic,transport, military,key infrastructure. Protect them, don't connect them to the internet, if you must, ensure you have a solid plan for security.

Trust me, worry or don't worry - anyone can be taken out....literary

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Third world networkers guide to filling a blog with useless clips:-)

Make sure they make sense:-) I enjoyed the video on motivation......skip to minute 6 to see where it really gets me!...

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Third world networkers guide to an idle sunday

Im trying to figure out where to go for lunch. A friend is at Osteria (Karen) and its tempting, but a family event will probably get in the way.

So obviously since my brain refuses to rest, I kept asking whether my profession currently really makes a difference in the world. It's silly really considering what the networks we've build over time have done.

951 was a revolutionary service, people in extremely remote places didn't have to drive for miles and miles looking for a cyber. I design/ed networks that carry more than 50% of all voice traffic in Kenya, more than 70% of data.

My grandmother uses these things, I know a farm planning on using sms to trigger irrigation systems (Automation is too much and its hard to automate the rain), I have cycled to Mombasa for yes I feel pretty good about myself today and its a beautiful day...too beautiful to keep reading up on datacenter 3.0.....Im heading out...

Saturday, June 18, 2011

third world networker's guide to Defining Nightmares

Every single day I get up, go work come home, routinely in the past, I would take my bike out for a spin in the dark in the morning, on the weekends after long work weeks,and ccie study Jack and I would fortnightly head out for a hike and just marvel at nature.

I had huge 'fears' of losing my job. Didn't know why, still don't. Casual conversations with friends and relatives about how much I really hate/hated feeling that way always ended up with 'so what you gonna do?'. They still do. trying to tell them to stop projecting their fears on me does'nt work.

I have been jumping off cliffs, bungees, riding downhill (yeah if you look very very very closely on the attached video you get to see me)..and generally being very mavericky with my life a lot. had fun at it too.

trusty old bike
Well of late, I find myself dragging my feet to work. Probably need a lengthy holiday to recharge.

this year probably with wildfitness or if all goes well a destination far far away.

I'm not bored - i think, still love it, but arghhh....the farm is much more fun now, great stuff going on there, and I haven't gone for a single biking event this year. I have to wonder why I'm even working right? I mean thats the normal rational thing to ask yes? what is it all for?

oh well the pancakes today were awesome, and I'm taking the old bike out damn it....and tomorrow if weather permits, I hit longonot for a no not having a 'job' is not a major nightmare, not enjoying it is, not doing and enjoying things you used to sucks, feeling lethalgic, almost sick is a nightmare....go recharge....

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Third World Networkers musings on the future for IPv6

I like it love it when the chickens come home to roost.

I was looking over ripe (for those who don't know, RIPE used to be the African RIR before AFRINIC was formed, my first LIR training was with RIPE so I tend and like to follow their proceedings). Anyway so I was going through RIPE 62's IPv6 sessions (that is all they discussed it seems) and realized how some 'operators' might get a very interesting edge over other players just by showing a readiness and willingness to work with key stakeholders in their respective markets.

Remember if you have done nothing up to now about IPv6, you stand to lose out quite a bit. you miss out on getting cheap experience for your engineers, you miss out on working out the kinks in pricing, application modelling and a host of other issues. In my case I imagine DPI and billing will be a pain in a tender area. You will lose customers.

Also most of what is being done now is pure experimentation, which is fine. The entire internet model is an experiment, try this, do that, tweak here; it's constantly improving and morphing. I never expected, ever to deploy a site with 30Gbps of bandwidth in Kenya, ever. But it's been done.

The present value of IPv6 and associated technologies is very very discounted. It will cost you more in the future to train, to migrate, to work with IPv6. You'll also probably lose alot of staff if you don't give them an opportunity to participate, an outlet for the enthusiasm we feel when dealing with new technologies and toys. I we love toys.

So it was no wonder that transition mechanisms are at the top of the list of issues for content providers too. Will tunnels work? I doubt it, not for everything anyway. what about NAT? we all know what that does. Content providers obviously want end to end IPv6 (native IPv6). This clears a path for their content from the user to the content. It's perfect for them.

It was rightly pointed out to me at Afnog that waiting for user demand is really not a wise idea. Users don't care much how they get their content, why would they start now? because you have a new buzz word? for bragging rights? 'heyy duuuude, check out my IPv6!'...Ha!

Anyway, to break this loop; waiting for user demand by carriers/ISP's and waiting for ISP's/Telcos to deploy IPv6 by content providers before deploying IPv6 on their systems, we all need to jump together. We learn together. Content providers need to dual stack or at least start running audits. ISP's pretty much know they need to have IPv6 on their core network, they should be peering with IPv6. Most have done that. Most are working on the access side now.

If you are a content provider, you're probably right in fearing that ISP's and other carriers will hide their traffic, their users, your customers behind NAT's (NAT can break your billing for instance) and other content gateways when IPv4 is finally trully completely depleted. They'll create walls around their users.

It's a risky situation and ISP's can exploit it; If I introduce NAT and hide the users, you have to come to me and negotiate for some sort of 'cdr'/customer data to effectively bill, also forget any lawful intercepts or proper logging - hence the need for regulator intervention if IPv6 uptake is slow by all parties. I don't think this is a major risk in Kenya. We don't have that many content providers or neutral data centers - sad but true.

There is no excuse for an ISP to not have basic IPv6 set up. It on the same note is irresponsible for a content provider or datacenter owner to not start playing around with content provision over IPv6, and requesting for IPv6 connectivity upstream. Datacenter and other content owners need neutral networks to sell their services. To help things along, it is imperative that content owners turn on dual-stack at the content level.

Don't get me wrong, there will be issues. But isn't it better to deal with them with everyone? Isn't it better to train your noc now? you want a situation where if a customer calls in the future with IPv6 related issues, it's handled just like any other call because your staff are so 'with it'.

Note customers get connectivity from an ISP or ('insert favorite name for a guy offering connectivity services here'). Customers know them as 'internet providers'. They call them if they have a problem. No customer I know in Kenya calls facebook when that page is unreachable. Most call Safaricom, or whoever connects them. Nothing will necessarily change their thinking in a post IPv4 world.

Which means if content providers don't do their transition properly the service providers helpdesk gets congested with calls from angry consumers. That creates unnecessary tension. I hope you now begin to see why this effort has to be end to end.

It is a good time as disruptive times tend to be to try and exploit the opportunity and improve your relative position and control of the market. Kenya doesn't have many content providers, I hate that fact, looking at those statistics can be very disheartening and I hope in the future to get involved in content generation, or just fund or help build platforms.

There is a huge untapped potential. However if we move fast and show the world and ourselves that we can offer native IPv6 to a popular content provider and you are a network with many many users with native IPv6, then you stand a higher chance of nailing that business.

Look in the end customers want content. ISP's are unfortunately just pipes for now unless you are very creative. You can work now and partner with content providers or wait for your demise.

It's a good time for re-invention. As a guy that designs networks and sometimes applications to get by, and have done it for a while now. I know this will probably be one of the most interesting periods for me. I also know this transition can't be wished away. Soon there will be real market forces driving it.

Either way we have far bigger issues to deal with. Lets just get this IPv6 done. Its easy, its fun, life can get much much more complicated than a few extra bits.....

I am going back to more deployment like technical implementation scenarios and writing, the focus is on processes and documentation, IPv6, data center technologies and multicast.... so if you'd like something tested out - let me know.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Third World Networkers guide to a re-organization

If you know where I work then you know the entire company underwent massive reorganization. It just happened that at around the same time I was busy 'gaming' Cisco into giving me a CCIE. So sleepless nights. Being re-organized was not helping. I needed the CCIE as a credible 'credibility indicator'. Just in case shit hit the fan while facing me. Unlikely but not far fetched.

I imagined being in a box, one of many, with our new CEO moving them around not even knowing I'm inside. Would he hear me if I let out a scream, I wondered? Haha don't be silly Gitau, you've never even bumped into him on the corridor; Your sister that doesn't work here met him before you. Scream away! sigh...

What if he got tired before the game ended. I like his vision and plans.Our customers could use that kind of thinking. I didn't believe in the team entrusted with the change at the time. It can't be change if you don't change the people right? They had a lot to prove to me. My jury is still sitting.

Would whoever he'd trust with the final 'execution' move around the boxes in a manner that lets me work better. I am very trusting, but I doubted it. So first things first:

I updated my resume, and passed the CCIE. In this day and age, it is irresponsible to not take measures that ensure you are on top of things. I had two job offers within a week. I was on solid ground. I had a new bounce. Life was good.

I promised to give myself lots of time to work through things I decided on two whole months of 'no moves' just to take some time to think and plan. I plan a lot. Passing ended a two year journey so two months was nothing.

I also started touching base with old friends in the industry. I have good friends, they believe in me. I got a slot to speak at AFNOG (Africa Network Operators Group), and an offer to speak at ISOC (Internet Society), they would have paid for my trip - I did AFNOG, never did ISOC, i should have done both and saved some money. Stupid me!. I learnt something, moving on.

I also got asked by one other friend through another friend if I would teach at their school. I agreed to do one class,very short notice, lots of pressure, just my kind of fun and just to get some classroom experience. First class - IP/ethernet backhaul, it went very well. They even paid me. Awesome.

So now i knew I could at least teach over and above my current skills. I spoke to about 200 technical people about a technology I'm passionate about in Dar on the 7th June.

I intend to do alot of these presentation/teaching gigs. It is a very engaging process and I have learnt during this process very different things from those in my technical background. I imagine each speaking engagement will teach me something new, each set of trainees will bring new experience and I will take all the criticism and advice in my stride, I can see myself improving with each new opportunity.

I recognized there were some lessons here that other third world networkers' could use.

First of all each reorg brings forth a disequilibrium, complexities and confusion. For a while it was hard to get things done. I actually took two weeks off because I couldn't stand wasting my time waiting, and i could use it for other things, thats all it seemed we were doing; waiting for the process to end. Imagine if someone came to your house and rearranged your socks, every day for two weeks. Your morning routine would definitely change.

If you are in charge of change, please do it swiftly, communicate clearly.

Secondly realize there will be new characters to deal with. Probably a new boss in your work life. Brush up on interpersonal skills in case you had forgotten.

Thirdly reorganizations create great opportunities to grow. If you design networks or software, then you are already accustomed to change. Take it in your stride. Keep walking.

Its also a great time to make changes you always wanted. For instance a lot of projects tended to be driven by time. 'do this fast, we need it now', it promoted a lot of shoddy work in the past. Careful design, tests and all the other best practices be damned. change that now. I was very impressed with the opportunity to steer processes and ensure best practices get followed.

If you can't and it still pisses you of, quit, or start making plans to quit gracefully before your job kills you.

4'thly please please note it's not your fathers company. On the same note you don't work as a charity, expect to be paid for your work.

5'thly Optimize your life for change. Find your peak efficiency point, operate at it, deliver. I assume you are getting paid to work.

Save some cash. Try and clear all your bad debts, marry wisely. If your wife or husband or girlfriend or boyfriend is the sort that walks the moment you hit bad times. Walk on, seriously, sneak away tonight, come to my place:-).

other notes:
Then you  have to figure out how to be successful in this new structure. The executive goal in our case was laid out very clearly, very publicly. All I needed was to know where I fit in so I could get on with it.

The take home lesson here is; even if you don't 'feel' the structure right now, unless you become part of the process, you might end up becoming just that guy on the sidelines. In our case I actually got a chance to change a number of things I felt had not been working out for me. I still can't stand others. But such is life.

There will be cracks, steer your issues away from them. Escalate fast, there's a high chance everyone is going through the same thing. Don't even bother talking or reasoning with negative guys. Change is hard enough as it is. Be politely blunt - to a fault. Trust me every one is afraid during a reorg including your boss, his boss, everyone, just do your thing.

The critical things that lead to success don't change. Teamwork and collaboration are still necessary. Pursue them. Keep the teams small, hope it stays that way for a bit longer together this time. Team culture is important. don't be a 'caffeine grasping egomaniac I can do it all hero'. that sort of praise doesn't scale. I've had very successful projects working, learning and mentoring teams. It helps.

lastly: follow through on objectives. Clarify your exact role as an individual and for the team. If you hold a leadership position, work with the team on this. I can't emphasize how important this is. To me. It really is time to quit if you can't tell what your role and objectives are. It might just be your manager acting up too. Dump him/her. There's a lot of life going on out there.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Happy world IPv6 day

The desired effect after today for me is:

- Wider recognition that IPv4 whether we like it or not will not work for the next 'internet'. Can't scale, won't scale for the future.
- Massive large scale complaints from customers to jolt executives awake on IPv6. this is unlikely if you the network guy has done his job well. (see how you are your own bottleneck for progress)?
- Mobile network Operators need to realize that IPv6 affects them more than most. IPv6 will be heavilly used on mobile devices. (home automation devices, sensors, handsets, POS,atm's etc etc).
- if you are a cio/cto/ceo don't assume your guys have not been doing anything about IPv6. Just ask nicely. we hate it when you sound clueless. we're supposed to look up to you. Just ask something like; 'hey gitau, how far are along are we with ipv6? can we offer something to customers? maybe invite a few for trials?' can we put something together for the media? yes and yes and yes...probably not the answer you expected. Remember you probably heard about it the other day, gitau has been quietly working on this for +5 years.
- AFRINIC while holding a lot of addressing resources for us can't guarantee business continuity for your network should some killer apps be hosted and implemented only for IPv6.
- Laziness will get us nowhere. Ignorance is not an excuse either.
- IPv6 is a cliff we third world networkers should jump with the rest of the world. If we get left behind, we'll miss out on experience and the opportunity to be 'with it' as its happening. jump with the rest of the world.
- At lunch yesterday, someone suggested we (AFRINIC) just goes ahead and sells/auctions off all IPv4 addresses remaining to stop the illusion that we can survive with IPv4.

- IPv6 education needs to be taken seriously.
- Organizations can expect some IPv6 brain drain.
- Widespread collaboration has to be enforced. We need in organization, in country, in region forums discussing this issues. Policy has to embed futuristic thinking.
- Corporates need to embrace and promote IPv6. Sponsored events should be encouraged.
- Don't accept any design without IPv6 considerations. don't.
- Don't host with guys without IPv6. Even 'clouds' should be ipv6 aware.
- Install and run an IPv6 DMZ. start with DNS.
- Apply for your IPv6 addresses today. Make sure its provider independent. If you'd like to know how and why you need this, leave a comment. I can cover how to go about getting IPv6 space.
- Start peering with IPv6. Ask your service provider for IPv6. It should be free. I really hope no one charges to connect, peer or give customers IPv6 addresses. I know most have no policy on this. Just demand for it the same way you do for other services.
- Ensure your infrastructure is v6 ready. do an audit. maybe I can help. throw me a comment.
- Talk about IPv6 in your next meeting. just add it as an FYI.
- call safaricom, they have some really clueful guys when it comes to these things and i'm not just saying it.

In the end the fact is there will be change. plan for it and deal with it. Otherwise IPv6 will be the gift that keeps giving to consultants from your pocket.

Third world networkers inflight diary - Nairobi --> Dar

So I'm aboard a  Fly540 to Dar for a techies meet. They had the best fly back/return trip time for me. I also discover they are cheap. My trip budget is about 500USD, life will be extremely difficult if i go over that budget.

Its a boring, 1 hr flight, clouds fly by beneath me, that calms me; there's a lady in orange that keeps walking around. She seems to be offering on board maid service. She's friendly, I'm in a sour mood. I decide to not ruin her day. I fake a smile.

Directly opposite me is a couple, i think the guy is nigerian and lady's from Dar. I know because he sounds a bit like a nigerian colleague at work. The lady has that melody like swahili. It just rolls off her tongue. 'ukifika dar jameni usije enda ulevini!'. Boy are they loud. Do nigerians know swahili?

There's a mother holding a baby, a she? a he? who knows, but it's hungry. Mother's probably not comfortable breast feeding at high altitude. He/She cries.

I power up my notebook and listen to a guy called Vast begging a girl not to take her love away. I know abit about lost love, so I feel for the guy. I should learn to play this on the guitar, for when i start dating.

I count about 27 people on this flight. It's a canadair cl-600-2b19 regional jet. They apparently have 3 of these twin engines with a 50 passenger capacity. I hope they are not making a loss on the trip. I make a point to invest in an airline in the future. Farms and clinics are great. short haul cheap airlines might just have a future.

They; fly540 were the cheapest flight I could find. I take a pause, this trip was self sponsored due to some very last minute changes. I am versatile. I hate feeling disorganized. I am organized, i tend to plan things alot. I come from the just fucking do it fast and don't be stupid school of thought. It's my school so agree to disagree and move on. I plan, i collect facts, i put them together. Its my thing. I love it. I'll be happy sharing something with AFNOG. I owe some guys there alot.

Almost everyone on this third world flight has a laptop or Ipad. I have a smallish notebook. It's an Acer got from Indonesia. The perfect companion. I hate Ipads. For no reason. I might love them in the morning. I stare at the baby. He starts crying. I must have sent him a bolt of bits, or an over stuffed IPv6 packet. Maybe at his age he can only digest IPv4. Who knows.

Its a weird flight this one, before I got on, There's a guy called Noah that just asked for my Bio. He must be on the program committee, at afnog, I'll find out soon enough. He felt like a likeable fellow. I saw the request at the airport just before boarding. He wants my title, what I do, where I do it, maybe why I do it? etc.

I have held many titles in the last two years. principal data engineer, technical lead, network architect; last one I saw was 'network architect', I suspect because of all my design work, a functional network and superior intellect, the official letter said manager - network architecture and design. In case you're wondering, I like the network architect title. Depending on where I am, and who I'm talking to , I drop the 'manager'. Both work for me. It doesn't matter. My skills, leadership or otherwise speak for me.

It's a sweet role, the toys are lovely, the fruit of lots of labor very visible. I'm just not comfortable financially to be well focused. That and a CCIE means you get the occasional odd offer. Motivation is something personal to all of us and I clearly have different things that get me all fired up and committed.It would be nice to sit in a panel and discuss 'what drives us'.

Afnog has come a long way. 11years! I'll just explain what I do to the guys, I sent the network architect line for bio info. I hope we fill a hall. Should kill a good 5 minutes on the podium. I think of a joke to accompany it. I smile at my own funniness. Hilarious. Haahaha! I make a point to dilute the joke. Don't kill them before you deliver your message. We need to critically think about IPv6, our collective role in it's success, we need to finally stand up and be counted. I send a hex bolt towards the baby. No tears. hmm.... maybe he's ready for IPv6 after all.

Fly540 have an inflight magazine. Its full of Ads. Maybe they should write stories about their passengers. Heck they should make passengers submit stories while on the flight. Maybe I should write for them. Oh shoot they should write about flight diaries?

Vast is done crooning. Next up, Anjunabeats in Ibiza 2010, right after Keane.  I plan on going to Ibiza later for this years holiday. Anjunabeats sort of wins the musical contest. Everybody's changing by Keane does inspire me a bit. I play it again, I compose a resignation letter and another one re-applying for the same job, then wonder if they would hire me back. I wonder if I would hire me back. Ahh the joys of being idle. I trash the letter. Chicken!

The clouds look beautiful,they fire up my neurons. Spatial temporal reasoning at its best. It's just abstract. Like suspended cotton they look, or floating rice, or coagulated milk. I stare at the patterns, marvel at nature. For some weird reason I think about peeing pouring hot coffee through them, and wonder if it's hot and misty when it lands. If I ever have an alternate me or an avatar he'll be weird, people will kick him vomit on him just for kicks....I slap myself back to reality...

My reality is interesting: IPv6,NGN,evolved packet core, mpls, pseudowire, otv,inter provider QOS, NNI,PPI, cloud ahh cloud, I look down the window again, I hear people store data in the clouds nowadays.

I'm disappointed, it's nothing but white down there, I thought bits were black? I must be looking at the wrong cloud, or all data is stored in the US clouds? maybe it's a cloud quality issue? maybe third-world clouds don't work...maybe its my pee coffee? who knows...I just don't see any data, I look out again and realize it might be there, just encapsulated in cloud...bummer!

I arrest my imagination. Too much. Ding! the fasten seat belts light up, time to stop typing....I blame the altitude for anything you find weird today....I wonder who reads this stuff, if you've read this far, let me know why! something could be wrong with you....unless you're en route to Dar:-)

Monday, June 6, 2011

IPv6 - Third world networkers catching up

So for the last couple of months I've been thinking hard and working out what I think are major issues with IPv6 adoption within EA.

First of all the regulators in the industry are a major barrier to driving some technologies forward. This is especially so for 'new' stuff that doesn't seem to be making money directly. (*this happens everywhere,  justifying network spend is not easy in an organization, but governments and policy makers are there not for profit so I expect more from them).

The competitive environment among the major players eg Safaricom and Airtel makes it quite difficult for collaboration. Without collaboration what might once have been an easy task suddenly becomes a major issue. I don't mind the politics, but a line has to be drawn somewhere.

If there's one thing I miss about working in a pure ISP environment, it was the easy time we had just being able to chat with our 'rivals' technical people about technology. In telco's, even localized within organization collaboration is really difficult.

What might help:
An open membership forum/working group along the likes of go6 in slovania, for a small country <3M, thay have done quite alot with IPv6.

The membership would be open to ISP's, telcoms, regulators, big corporations, an expert council - to steer things, universities and tertiary colleges and individuals within the region. I say region because the challenges are different and we need to learn from our own experiences while borrowing from others who have done this before.

The main goal would probably be to publicize IPv6, arrange for more training along different lines eg applications, networking, System administration etc. They would host local ipv6 deployment labs, an ipv6 academy etc.

They would ensure that people are talking about IPv6. Help with deployments, put together the information for everyone to access, bring the competitors together, bring government to the table, help universities update their offerings etc etc.

Why do East Africans need IPv6 - well because we are part of the world. Guys are doing alot in this area. I know we are doing quite a bit, but the 'alot' we are doing needs to start being deployed with executive blessings - not some enthusiastic techies working alone during their 'free' time.

I keep insisting that if you are an operator with more than 500K subscribers (Safaricom,Airtel,Zuku), offering multiplay services then you need IPv6. It's clean, ensures end to end connectivity for your services, and its cheaper in the long run , you definately need it more urgently than everyone else. How do you think you'll sell connectivity to all those sensors, set top boxes, home automation stuff,handsets,pos's, atm's etc etc that will mainly ride on wireless networks?

Thinking about it, one of them should come out and sponsor monthly IPv6 meetups.

If you are a network designer/sysadmin/programmer, make sure whatever you design is IPv6 ready. Do not for instance buy from a vendor with no support (not roadmap) for IPv6. Do not build a new data center without an IPv6 plan (believe me I saw one very recently).

Go to afnog, so far it offers the best forum for expression. Unfortunately it happens once a year hence the need for something a little bit different. See you there on Tuesday.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Musings on career progression

Well woo hoo...2 months since the ccie....its been fun. We're now done with hey congrats and pats on the back to silenced whispers that go 'why the heck are you still here'?....seriously! Im shocked at the number of people that expected me to leave my current role/job. I hope its not a vibe I put out because from a technical point of view, It's one of the best jobs. I command the respect of everyone that I care for, and as far as networking and my line of work is concerned, I really am well on my way to the top of the pack.

Last week I helped a 'friend' deliver an IP/ethernet backhaul class' that went really well. Next week I'll be speaking at afnog, one more long life dream to be accomplished and definately the beginning of something great.

So what next....?ehh i'll do a separate post for that.......