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Interview with Top Contributor - Mohammed Mahmoud
Mohammed Mahmoud is a senior network engineer at Noor Advanced Technology in Egypt. "The Cisco Support Community provides access to practical experience that cannot be found in books," he says.
Q: How long have you been in the networking industry and why did you get involved in it?
A: I actually began my networking career while I was in college. I started my MSCE (Microsoft Systems Certified Engineer) track in 2000 and accomplished it in 2003, the same year I earned a B.Sc. in communication systems. By the time I graduated I realized I was more interested in networking, especially routing and switching. I earned my CCNA certification and jumped between a couple of jobs until I joined Noor Advanced Technology. At Noor, I worked with two of the most experienced CCIEs I've ever met - both of whom later joined Cisco. One of them, my direct manager, became my mentor and steered me in the right directions professionally. I earned both my CCNP and CCIP and was promoted to a team leader. Most recently, both I and my colleague (also a regular contributor) earned our CCIE in Routing and Switching and I was promoted to a team manager. We are currently pursuing our CCIE SP.
Q: Tell us about Noor Advanced Technology.
A: Noor Advanced Technology is a leading service provider in the Middle East. We maintain high standards in the networking business and were the first company in Egypt to offer an MPLS VPN service. We primarily provide Internet services, VPN, and Web hosting for business customers.
Q: How did you find out about the Support Community?
A: I was searching for information about MPLS VPNs on Cisco.com and found the Support Community forum. For the first year I just followed the discussions but did not interact. I began answering questions so that other members could benefit from my experience, just as I had benefited from theirs. Having people like Rick, Paolo, Jon, Narayan, Mounir, Edison, and all the other well-respected members encourages you to have a professional discussion. After that I became a regular participant.
Q: How do you use the Support Community to find solutions to everyday networking issues?
A: Mostly I use the search tool to look for information in the community in parallel with Cisco.com, to learn from others' practical experience. I also follow Ask the Expert when the topic is of interest to me. The Support Community provides access to practical experience that cannot be found in books. Once I had a question about bridging logic (mainly IRB and CRB), and Rick discussed the confusing parts with me in deep detail until I was completely satisfied. This is the beauty of it.
Q: How does the Cisco Support Community differ from other communities you belong to?
A: I also participate in Group Study. The difference is that the members are focused on solving real-life problems as compared to getting certified. The level of interaction on the Cisco Support Community is unique compared to other communities because of the variety of topics covered and the number of the experts discussing each topic.
Q: What is the most useful or inspiring conversation you have found on the Support Community?
A: I followed an ongoing discussion about Inter-AS MPLS VPN in the MPLS forum. It was especially helpful to me because I was just about to implement a similar scenario at Noor.
Q: What is your overall impression of the Support Community?
A: NetPro is by far the richest forum for networking professionals in terms of depth of expertise and breadth of topics. Part of that has to do with the sheer number of experts who participate and the fact that they work all over the world.
Q: How often do you come to the Support Community?
A: I visit at least a couple of times a day. It has become part of my daily work routine.
Q: Do you have any suggestions for possible changes to the site?
A: Ask the Expert could become even better if it were conducted more frequently, and on more topics. Also, I think Cisco should publicize it more and encourage more Cisco engineers to become involved. Finally, I suggest adding a moderated FAQ because some questions are asked multiple times daily. The FAQ would help make the forum more organized.
Q: Do you have a message for your fellow Community users?
A: Please use the search tool before posting, to see if your question has already been answered. If you don't find what you're looking for, then describe your problem in detail, take care to post in the appropriate forum, and choose a subject title that reflects the issue. When your question is answered, kindly follow up with the members who helped you, and don't forget to rate the post. All of these steps help to make the Cisco Support Community more useful and comprehensive for all of us.