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    June 14, 2024

    Lessons From Our Fathers: On Network Operations Tools and Expertise

    “It’s the network again.” That is what most people think of when they experience degradation in their digital interactions. Whether it’s an app that won’t load, a 404 error, or garbled speech in a streaming conversation—the network’s reputation always seems to take a hit when things go wrong.

    Battling this perception with facts is essential. This requires knowing what’s up, what’s down, and what’s affected. Deriving truth from a sea of facts takes special understanding of the environment and the gauges, knobs, and levers that keep it humming.

    Author Malcolm Gladwell has written that 10,000 hours of time is needed to become a master of an art. As networks continue to grow more complex and feature more technologies, network operations are lucky to get a fraction of that time to establish expertise in a given domain.

    Capturing expert knowledge and making it easy to share is now what teams need to focus on. Sustaining knowledge transparency and fluency requires systems that accumulate intelligence and disseminate it in a way that doesn’t presuppose response teams have any deep contextual understanding of the domain. This isn’t meant to be a dig, it’s just the reality for today’s teams, an outcome of what I call the “micro-servicing” of networks and operations. To be effective, teams need targeted, relevant, and timely information.

    With father’s day approaching, this transfer of knowledge got me thinking about fathers and mentors in my life who’ve imparted a lot of wisdom. John Cordero is one such mentor.

    Leveraging his holistic understanding of the networking domain, John is one of the strongest network operations administrators I’ve worked with.

    John Cordero didn’t exactly start out delving into the symptoms of complex communications issues that prevent peak network performance. Raised in Louisiana, he was initially placed into a security role upon joining the Air Force in 1984. Relocating to Tampa, where he met his future wife, he dutifully completed his service to America, began building his family, and then resumed his technological advancement in earnest, initially in the automotive industry. Capitalizing on the boom in car computers, audio, and so on, he was well positioned to gain an understanding of consumer behavior and direction.

    After a stint with IBM, he landed a major role in the setup, configuration, and maintenance of the operations for a large Tampa area ISP. That’s when network configuration, architecture, and especially monitoring became his focus. He spent those following years rolling out and maintaining high performance systems. This experience made it possible for him to progress to the point at which he could effectively manage an entire organization’s modern network footprint.

    During his tenure with the ISP, leadership made the decision to migrate to DX NetOps Fault (formerly known as Spectrum), which is how John was introduced to the solution. John quickly learned how to use the solution and realized he had a special knack for working with this offering. Consequently, John decided to join CA, where he spent the next several years assisting customers in achieving their project goals.

    He continued with CA until Broadcom acquired the company, and then divested the CA services wing to HCL in 2018. At HCL, John wound up as the administrator for a healthcare organization that had network sites spanning from coast to coast and beyond.

    During this time, John’s two sons, Joshua and Jonathan, showed significant interest in their father’s career. Both were technically savvy and excited to learn from their father about what kinds of accomplishments could be made through managing critical infrastructure and services. These lessons were well illustrated when John and Joshua worked together to build a previously undocumented main location service (MLS) migration procedure, while ensuring fault tolerance. John was able to not only share that knowledge and experience with his son, but ultimately instill confidence and meaningful value to what’s become a vital role in modern society. Like John Cordero’s sons, I had the fortune of being able to learn volumes from my father.

    Growing up as the son of a quality control and nuclear engineer, I was able to gain a unique understanding of the way things had been historically and how they could be. I’ve been lucky enough to be there for the advent of many innovations, many of which we now take for granted. Over these years, it’s never ceased to amaze me how much we forget that, without networks, none of these digital interactions happen.

    For the most part, society benefits from technology. However, for those responsible for digital experience and content delivery, the tenuous nature of our technology interactions can be scary.

    At times, ensuring “users can get to their stuff” ages people nearly as fast as holding elected positions. However, this all becomes less stressful when you’re doing something you’ve watched being done your whole life. Like me, John’s sons got to watch greatness in action. My father absolutely made me feel worthy and confident. Spending time together creates bonds that transcend generational gaps.

    The small things add up: the comments, the trips, the things that make up the texture of a life. These elements all combine to form a viewpoint borne of patience and understanding, love and compassion, and paternal determination. This viewpoint can create a kid’s desire to follow in their father’s footsteps.

    Both of John’s sons decided to pursue careers in network operations. That kind of decision doesn’t come from a place of fear or apathy; it’s made because we as humans instinctively go with what we trust.

    Central to all of this discussion has been one theme: the gifts of knowledge a father can provide to his child. There’s another important aspect: the tool used for the battle. Employing DX NetOps Fault, Cordero and his sons have found success time and time again over countless “battle stories” and adventures. John told me about the time he was in a sub-level basement at a customer site in Baltimore, when everything began shaking. Nevertheless, they carried on and finished the task. Later, he found out the shaking was caused by an earthquake, which was followed a short time later by a hurrican/e.

    That kind of situation doesn’t happen often, but it reinforces the critical nature of network operations and how they must stay up, no matter what happens. To succeed, teams need tools that are tested, forged in data centers and hardened in the cloud. DX NetOps Fault delivers this proven nature, offering a constant source of truth in an ever-shifting digital world.

    John’s words of advice to his kids and to anyone looking to pursue a career in networking is straightforward: pay attention to what matters, stick to what you can affect, and avoid the pitfalls.

    Legacies are often sought, seldom achieved. Creating something for the next generation is always preferable than simply doing for yourself. Personally, I try to consider this in everything I do.

    Above all else, I never forget that the responsibility of “making sure it’s not the network” means so much more than sending packets down a wire. Ensuring network performance and availability ultimately means keeping this whole digital world going. Because without timely, reliable network connections, none of the new digital innovations we’re building succeed.

    Happy Father’s Day to all the dads out there—and big kudos to the ones who have their kids follow in their footsteps!

    Tag(s): NetOps , DX NetOps , AppNeta

    Justin Kaplan

    Justin is an operations-focused Solutions Expert for the North/South Central US & SLED regions. He has an AIOps anchored background, but serves customers' needs with solutions from across the Broadcom BizOps best-of-breed portfolio.

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