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Interview with Top Contributor - Adam Comiskey
Adam Comiskey is a network engineer with Compass Network Services, a Cisco Select Certified Partner. He says, "I mostly use the community as a learning tool. By browsing the forums, I learn about issues that I might not hear about otherwise, which helps me provide better service to my customers."
Q: How long have you been in the networking industry and why did you get involved in it?
A: I've worked in the networking industry since 2003. A job with Lucent Technologies inspired me to pursue a career in networking. I earned an associate degree in computer information management and then began working for a wireless startup. Today I'm a network engineer with Compass Network Services of Wexford, Pennsylvania.
Q: Tell me about your business.
A: We're a Cisco Select Certified Partner, specializing in security, wireless, routing, and switching. We're also starting to provide unified communications solutions. Most of our customers are small and medium-sized businesses in western Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Ohio. When I started, I was the only other employee besides the owner. In the last few years we've more than doubled in size, to five employees. The owner is very knowledgeable about Cisco equipment and taught me most of what I know.
Q: How do you use the Cisco Support Community?
A: I mostly use it as a learning tool. By browsing the forums, I learn about issues that I might not hear about otherwise, which helps me provide better service to my customers. I usually visit the Security, Firewall, and VPN forums, both to learn and to answer any posts that look interesting. Lately I've been also visiting the Unified Communications forum, where I've learned useful information for implementing the Cisco Unified Communications 500 Series for Small Business.
Q: How do you use the community to find solutions to everyday networking issues?
A: I use the search feature when I have a specific question that is not addressed in Cisco's standard documentation, such as certain Cisco IOS error messages. The answer has usually been posted already. If not, I'll post the question myself. Even if I don't get the full answer, the other NetPros lead me in the right direction.
Q: What is your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A: I'm proud of the fact that I've become a trusted advisor to a client that is in the energy services industry and has 200 employees. During the three years I've worked with this client, I've designed and maintained a reliable enterprise WAN with strong security policies and disaster recovery mechanisms.
Q: What is the most useful or inspiring conversation you have found on the forums to date?
A: The client in the energy services business needed a disaster recovery site so that it could continue to deliver services during outages. I started a conversation about load balancing for DNS-based global servers. The feedback from other members helped me to succeed with the project. The conversation lasted for a week or two.
Q. What is your overall impression of the Cisco Support Community?
A: Community members do not seem to have the big egos you find on many online forums. The members are very professional and their main motivation is to help other members. This typically leads to interesting conversions involving multiple members, which makes the thread all the more useful.
Q. How often do you come to the community?
A: I visit daily.
Q. Which features do you find the most helpful?
A: Organizing the forums by topic is very helpful because I like to browse, both to increase my own knowledge and answer questions. I also think the rating system is useful. It creates a fun, competitive environment and gives us site-users the satisfaction of knowing that our hard work has helped other people resolve their issues.
Q. Do you have any suggestions for possible changes to the site?
A: Mostly I like it the way it is! One suggestion is an integrated IM feature so that you can have a private conversation instead of posting to the thread.
Q. Do you have a message for your fellow Support Community users?
A: The more information you provide in your post, the more helpful the response will be. Include configurations when possible. Often, people will ask a one-sentence question that doesn't even mention the device. It can take four or five posts just to get enough information to start solving the problem. You'll save time for yourself and the people who answer your questions by posting a thorough description of your situation.