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Interview with Top NetPros - Collin Clark
Collin Clark is a senior network engineer in the United States. He says, “The best part of NetPro is that people not only explain how to fix issues, but also help you understand why.”
Q. How did you get involved in the networking industry?
A. I started my IT career as a server engineer at a lighting company. When the networking engineer left the company, I was asked if I’d be willing to also manage the network. I agreed immediately because I was excited to learn something new. Networking quickly became a passion. Today I am a senior network engineer for Wisconsin Physicians Service Insurance. Our company provides health insurance claims processing for Medicare and the U.S. Department of Defense. Having worked with workstations, servers, and networking, I can say that networking is my favorite. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
Q.What is your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A. I’m proud to have redesigned our core infrastructure and data center. At the end of 2009 I deployed GET (Group Encryption Transport) VPN, which is designed for use over an MPLS cloud and allows encryption between sites without tunneling. This was a very worthwhile project because our 12-plus sites can now talk directly to each other without my having to manage tunnels. I can also run multicast protocols over the GET VPN, which isn’t possible with traditional IPSec tunnels. Another accomplishment was building a government website that’s fully redundant, load balanced, and secure.
Q. How did you get started with NetPro?
A. I first began visiting NetPro in 2004. I visit a couple of times a day, depending on my workload. I started by answering basic questions, primarily in the Network Infrastructure and Security forums. As I grew as an engineer, I began answering more difficult questions. Usually I check all the forums to see which questions are open. I enjoy the challenge of answering the more difficult questions. I’m in IT, so helping people is my job!
Q. Do you ever use NetPro to get answers to your own questions?
A. Yes, I find that NetPro is a good research tool. When planning the GET VPN, for example, I researched how other companies had deployed it, the issues they encountered, and best practices. Ask the Expert gave me useful information when my company deployed voice over IP. Currently I’m reading the posts on application networking because we’re planning to deploy the Cisco ACE Application Control Engine on a much larger scale.
Q.What is your overall impression of NetPro?
A. It’s great to have a Cisco-centric forum where people can get help from other engineers without opening a Technical Assistance Center case or reading a configuration guide. The best part of NetPro is that people not only explain how to fix issues, but also help you understand why.
Q.Which NetPro features do you find the most helpful?
A. The search feature is very helpful. And the new wiki is fantastic, especially now that it’s been integrated with the forum. I really enjoy creating documents and sharing them with the hope that they will help other NetPros learn. It’s great that NetPro gives us a forum where we can share ideas and configurations.
Q. Do you have any suggestions for possible changes to the site?
A. I would have suggested integrating NetPro and the wiki, but NetPro just did that! I suggest including a prominent message that says, “If your issue is affecting IT services, contact Cisco TAC first.”
Q. Do you have a message for your fellow NetPro users?
A. I have a suggestion for people who respond to questions. That is, realize that the forum is not just about answers, but also about learning. If an issue is not time-sensitive, I’ll sometimes lead posters down a path to discover the answer on their own. The opportunity is lost if someone else interrupts the thread to say, “Just enter these two commands.”