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Top Contributor Interview: Meet John Blakley, Cisco Designated VIP 2013-2015
John Blakley is the senior network security engineer for a beverage sales, marketing, and distributing company. He says, “I like puzzles, and solving someone’s problem in the forums is like doing a puzzle!”
How did your networking career evolve?
I started out in phone support, and became a Microsoft Certified Systems Engineer (MCSE) in 1998. My first networking job involved setting up VPNs for clients. In 2001, I decided to change my specialty from Microsoft to Cisco. At that time people were not very familiar with Cisco, and I realized I had an opportunity to develop expertise with a growing brand. When I received my CCNA in 2003, doors started opening up. I went to work for a nationwide roofing distributor, where I managed all Cisco equipment and earned my CCSP at the same time. My next move was to become the director of IT for a data center that offered managed services—everything from server management to VoIP.
What do you do now?
I joined Glazer’s in 2008 and am currently the senior network security engineer. My primary responsibilities include firewall management and forensics. From time to time I still help out with routing, switching, and wireless. While at Glazer’s I received my B.S. in Computer and Digital Forensics and my CISSP designation.
How did you get involved with Cisco Support Community?
The community came up in search results when I was researching a routing issue we ran into back in 2008. I followed the forums for a while and saw that I could help people who had issues similar to ones I had encountered and solved. At the time, I was studying for my CCNP and I realized that answering questions would help solidify my knowledge. If I saw an interesting question, I’d try to recreate the issue in a lab to come up with a solution. These interactions made participating in the community addictive! I checked the forums from my phone, before and after work, and during lunch.
Where do you spend your time in the community?
I’m most active in the WAN, LAN, Security, and Firewalls communities. Sometimes I also peek into the Wireless and EEM (Embedded Event Manager) communities.
You’re very generous with your time. Why do you do it?
First, I like puzzles, and solving someone’s problem in the forums is like doing a puzzle! I use GNS3 Labs to replicate the user’s problem. Finding a solution that helps someone is personally satisfying. It’s always a pleasant surprise when I log in to discover someone has rated an answer I gave a year or two earlier. Second, getting exposed to new things helps me expand my knowledge. And finally, I like being part of a community. I’ve met a lot of great people on the forums, and it amazes me how much knowledge and experience other members have.
Any memorable experiences?
Once I worked with another community member to help someone with an EIGRP issue. It ended up being a 3-page conversation. Eventually I wrote a Python script to solve the problem, which had to do with monitoring peering relationships.
Any suggestions to fellow members to make the community even better?
Yes, please rate responses that help you. Those of us who answer volunteer our time, often during lunch or at home before or after work. Your rating acknowledges the time we’ve spent. It also helps the next person who may be experiencing the same issue because they can quickly see which solution worked.