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Interview with Top NetPros - Collin Clark

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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.”


BACKGROUND

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.

CHALLENGE

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.

NETPRO

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.”

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