Monthly Archives: September 2013

Spirent Avalanche NEXT – Making Network Testing Approachable

During the week of Network Field Day 6, Spirent announced the Avalanche NEXT product line. Our first NFD6 session was at Spirent’s office in Sunnyvale.

Last time I used Spirent products (admittedly about 10 years ago), the interface was a complex, clunky Windows application. You had to hand-craft frames that would have (at best) a very predictable value iteration in various packet fields (increase a payload field by “1” or “2” per packet). Frankly, this didn’t work well. TCP sessions didn’t work at all, and simulating more than a couple flows simultaneously was so time-consuming that it had no value. You could test raw throughput, but nothing (helpful) above layer 3.

While I realize that Spirent’s products have evolved in the interceding decade, the introduction of the Avalanche NEXT brings a lot of changes.

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My Networking Field Day 6 Experience

Wow, what a wild ride I’ve been on the past couple of years! Back in 2011, just after passing my CCIE written exam and after listening to many of the early episodes of the Packet Pushers Podcast, I decided it was time for me to get more engaged with the greater networking community. I started interjecting myself into conversations on Twitter, commenting on blogs, and otherwise trying to meet folks and get my name out there a bit. In 2011 and 2012, I attended Cisco Live and got to rub elbows with some true industry legends. I got to know celebrity engineers, top-tier trainers, and networking Twitterati. Early this year, I passed my CCIE lab and started this blog. I was graciously offered the opportunity to be a guest on that same podcast that got me interested in community engagement. At Cisco Live this year I got to see many of those industry greats who now knew me by first name, were reading my blog, and listening to what I had to say online. I had my first taste of the Tech Field Day experience in a roundtable format and continued to participate in more podcasts and community events.

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The Confluence of Experience and Expertise

Recently I was called out to one of my customers, a local college, which had been fighting a variety of disruptive network issues for several days following a campus-wide power-down. After a short phone call, we agreed that I’d better get out there and take a look first-hand at what was going on. Remote work is almost always an option, but I always feel that getting my eyes directly on a problem helps. Sometimes I feel like “The Network Whisperer” when I get out to a customer in trouble — something just speaks to me and points me in the right direction.

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