A senior network engineer with Verizon Business, Sundar Palaniappan regards the Community as the best online community for solving real-world networking challenges. "The beauty of the Cisco Support Community is that you can get clear, accurate answers to your questions from top contributors who specialize in that topic--all at no cost," he says.
Q: How long have you been in the networking industry and why did you get involved in it?
A: I've been in the networking field for more than 10 years. I started when I was an MBA student at University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, where I maintained the business school's computer lab as a graduate assistant. That experience helped me realize that I had an aptitude for networking. After I graduated in 1998, I received the MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer) certification and passed the CCNA and a couple of CCNP exams. I then got a job as a networking consultant and worked on few projects before joining Verizon in 2000. I completed my CCIE in Routing & Switching in April 2005 and I am currently preparing for the CCIE Security Lab exam.
Q: Tell me about your current position and company.
A: Verizon Business delivers advanced IP, data, voice, and wireless solutions to large business and government customers. I'm a senior network engineer in the Managed Network Services group in Frazer, Pennsylvania. I handle technical escalations from second-level engineers in my group and also provide design and implementation support to Verizon engineers around the country.
Q: What were the specific business problems or challenges in your work that influenced you to use the community?
A: Networking technology changes constantly and I use the community to stay abreast.
Q: How did you hear about the Cisco Support Community?
A: My former manager asked me to investigate whether a redundant VPN solution would be feasible for a particular project. While searching on cisco.com I stumbled onto a Cisco Support Community link. I posted my question in the appropriate forum and almost instantly got an answer from a top contributor. This motivated me to help others and since then I have been a regular contributor.
Q: How do you use the community to find solutions to everyday networking issues?
A: I generally use the search feature. By entering the appropriate keywords you can quickly find solutions to even complex networking problems. I also read the discussions about unfamiliar technologies just to educate myself. Right now I'm following some discussions about security technologies as part of my preparation for the CCIE Security Lab exam. After I learn about a new concept in the community, I generally try it out in our lab to reinforce my understanding.
Q: What other tools do you use to get answers to your networking questions?
A: I primarily use cisco.com, Google, and groupstudy.com archives. I also subscribe to a groupstudy.com mailing list to help prepare for the CCIE Security Lab.
Q: Is there a major advantage of the Cisco Support forums over other communities?
A: Where groupstudy.com focuses on academic preparation, the Cisco Support Community excels at providing solutions to real-world networking problems. The beauty of the Community is that you can get clear, accurate answers to your questions from top experts who specialize in that topic-all at no cost.
Q: What is the most inspiring conversation you have had on the Cisco Support Community?
A: A while ago I responded to a member's question about a spanning tree problem. A senior engineer from the Cisco LAN Switching team joined our conversation and presented a slightly different perspective. We discussed the pros and cons of the different solutions in detail and gave the original poster several viable solutions for his problem. He chose one and reported that it worked. The conversation, which continued for 40 to 50 posts, was very interesting and gave me more insight on spanning tree behavior.
Q: What was your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A: I'll pick three. One is passing the CCIE Routing & Switching Lab in April 2005. Another is my continuing growth and accomplishments at Verizon during the last nine years. And I am also pleased that Cisco selected me as a top contributor.
Q. What is your overall impression of the Cisco Support Community?
A: The Cisco Support Community is a great tool to make our livelihoods as networking professionals much easier. People from around the world voluntarily provide input to help others succeed at their jobs.
Q. How often do you come to the Cisco Support Community and which features do you find most helpful?
A: I visit the Cisco Support Community at least once or twice a day. I find the search feature very useful for quickly finding answers on almost any Cisco networking topic. I also like Ask the Expert.
Q. Do you have a message for your fellow Community users?
A: Please search before posting your question because there's a good chance that the answer is already there. Also, you can save time-both for you and the person who helps you-by providing a clear description of the problem, including relevant captures from the equipment and a diagram, if you have one. Finally, please rate all useful posts. This does a huge favor to the whole community by encouraging participation.