Edwin Francis is a network consultant with Wipro in India, a major global outsourcing provider. He began using the Cisco Support Community for his own professional development and now contributes regularly. Commenting on the growth of the Cisco Support Community , he says, "Five years ago, the Cisco Support Community was a great way to get a solution in hours or maybe a few days. Now that the community is larger, the answers to many questions are already there."
Q: How long have you been in the networking industry, and why did you get involved in it?
A: I didn't have a formal plan to work in networking. I began working in 2000 as a systems service engineer with HCL Infosystems, a software development company. Within a few months I was moved to the ISP arm of HCL, launching my networking career. After working with two other ISPs, both owned by the Tata Group, I joined my current company, Wipro, which is a global services provider with headquarters in the southernmost part of India. At present I work as a network consultant. Most of my work has to do with network assessment, audit, and design. We work with all types of customers, including SMBs [small and medium-sized businesses], large enterprises, and service providers.
Q: What were the specific business problems you faced at work that influenced you to use the Cisco Support Community?
A: I entered the networking field without formal training, and I needed advice about network operations. My coworkers had their own tasks and did not always have the time to answer my questions. I started visiting the community to get answers to specific issues as well as to develop my networking knowledge in general. I remember that my first question had to do with ISDN.
Q: How did you hear about the Cisco Support Community?
A: In 2003 I was searching Cisco.com for answers to my ISDN question and came across a relevant Support Community discussion. The other members provided very useful responses, tips, and links. After a couple of years, when I had developed my own networking skills, I thought I'd try helping other members.
Q: What other tools do you use to get answers to your networking questions?
A: Wipro has several different user groups with expertise in different areas of networking. Often I'll call or e-mail group members to ask about a solution. If I don't find the answer, then I'll post on the community.
Q: What is the most useful or inspiring conversation you have found on the Cisco Support Community to date?
A: The most useful conversation was my very first, about ISDN. That gave me the confidence to continue participating in the Cisco Support Community. The most memorable experience I've had helping another member was when a network engineer in the U.K. contacted me about using ISDN PRI [Primary Rate Interface] for international connections between different locations. After our initial introduction through the community, we corresponded and spoke by phone for about a month until he resolved all of his issues.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A: I'm pleased that Cisco recognized my contribution to the community by asking for this interview! As a member of the planning and implementation team at Tata Communications (formerly VSNL), I helped build a one-of-a-kind, world-class Metro Ethernet and MPLS networkï¿½in a very short span of time. I consider it an accomplishment to be part of the team that built that network using the most advanced technologies and devices available at the time. I'll also consider it a big accomplishment when I receive my CCIE Service Provider, a goal towards which I am currently working.
Q: What is your overall impression of the Cisco Support Community?
A: The Cisco Support Community is growing very rapidly. Five years ago, it was a great way to get a solution in hours or maybe a few days. Now that the community is larger, the answers to many questions are already there, and if not, they are answered almost instantly.
Q: How often do you come to the Cisco Support Community?
A: Daily. If I don't post, then I at least read the queries and the responses, which helps to keep me my networking knowledge up to date.
Q: Which features do you find the most helpful?
A: It's helpful that the forum is organized by technology, such as routing, data center networking, wireless, security, and so on. You can go directly to the appropriate section to see if your query is already answered. If not, the people who visit that area have the expertise to answer.
Q: Do you have a message for your fellow Support Community users?
A: It's a good idea to first search to see if someone else already asked the same question. This will reduce duplicate posts and also give you a faster response than if you had to wait for another user to answer. Also, spread the word about the Cisco Support Community to other people so that the community becomes even more valuable.