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Interview with Top NetPros - Jason Young

Jason Young

jasyoung - Jason Young, Cincinnati, Ohio

Jason Young is a consultant with E-Velocity Technical Consulting, LLC - a Cincinnati, Ohio-based company that provides high-quality infrastructure installation and support of data, voice, and video networks to its customers at reasonable rates. Young is a frequent contributor on the NetPro site, and his responses to his colleagues' questions have earned him "high marks" and many thanks. Young's career in technology started even before he left high school, and his expertise and interests have only broadened with each professional challenge.

Q: How long have you been in the networking industry, and why did you get involved in it?
A: I've been working in networking for about ten years. My grandmother bought me my first computer when I was in grade school, an old Tandy, and I started doing some real basic programming. In my first job out of high school, I worked on the help desk of a small ISP, and then went on to work for three other ISPs, first just on help desk, but for the second, which was very small, I was kind of technically in charge and responsible for running things. For the third, I started out on the help desk and grew to be chief network engineer.

Q: Tell us about your company. What do you do? What kind of customers do you serve?
A: We are a small company based out of Cincinnati, and a Cisco channel partner, so we sell hardware. For the most part, we provide professional installation services in the field. Our clients are pretty varied - from very small to very large. As an organization, about two-thirds of our business is in IP telephony installations. We don't have a lot of visibility to the general public, though, because we deploy solutions that other people have sold, business to business, and often we aren't involved in the presale process.

Q: How is the Internet used to power your business?
A: First and foremost, we are extreme telecommuters. I am based out of St. Louis, Missouri, and our only actual office is in Cincinnati. I've probably been to the office for one week during this entire year. If I'm not on a customer site, I'm probably at home. I think half of our employees don't even live in the state of Ohio - one lives in Los Angeles, we have a few living in St. Louis, and one in Columbus. But we use telecommuting both for working with the office and with our customers, because we can work on the technologies we work with remotely. Telecommuting also allows us to work together more effectively. Let's say I'm in Atlanta, and I'm working on a problem and can't find a solution; I can call my buddy in Los Angeles and get him to take a look, to get a second opinion before we involve TAC. If one of our staff is having trouble during an installation, the problem can be escalated directly to our own technical assistance center, and one of the other e-Velocity teams can help remotely.

Q: How do you use NetPro to find solutions to everyday networking issues?
A: I use it in three ways: The first is the traditional way, where I come in as a user, and ask a question - I've done that on a couple different topics but not all that often. The second is to browse - I'll look at threads that look interesting, and learn by looking at discussions and problems that other people have had. I will remember if I run into the same problems. The third would be participating, and this is what I enjoy.

Q: What do you enjoy about answering questions on NetPro?
A: I like to help other people, and I also learn in that process. Like anyone, I hate to be wrong, so when I'm presented with a question I think I know the answer to, I always double check. In the process, I find I fill in some holes in my own understanding.

Q: Are you a member of other networking communities?
A: Only a couple of other IP telephony forums. I've found the quality of information is about the same, but volume of discussions makes NetPro more valuable. When you consider just IP telephony portions alone, NetPro has ten times the volume of any other discussion site. So searching for information is going to turn up more results, and the chances are good that if you have an issue, someone has had it before. Sheer volume has a lot of value, and it helps drive the value of the Cisco NetPro forum.

Q: Where do you find the most value in NetPro?
A: I would say I get the most value from the forums where people from the Cisco business units participate, such as Jeff Lindborg [a technical leader with the Cisco Enterprise Communications Software group]. Keith Chambers [NOTE: has participated, and addressed a lot of really complicated issues in the Cisco Unity software forum. These have been not just marketing answers, they've been really practical. It's like being able to cut through three layers of TAC and talk to someone who absolutely positively knows the answers and can tell you about the history, the bugs, with a real level of honesty and practicality.

Q: What do you consider your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A: I was one of the first people to pass the Voice CCIE® certification outside of Cisco, so that's something. Actually, the thing I'm most proud of is really a fairly minor accomplishment. I was involved in helping to creatively restore network service to a couple of business locations in Manhattan after September 11. Of course, all data service was out but the company still had phone lines, so we sent them a couple of modems so that they could call back to the main site in St. Louis. We sent them an 8-port modem module to their router, and had them call back using 4 to 5 phone lines bonded together. This held them over for a couple of weeks until T-1 Frame Relay could be restored. Technically, it was a small thing, but the environment in which it took place made it significant.