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Interview with Top NetPros - Martin Heusinger

Martin Heusinger

mheusinger - Martin Heusinger

Martin Heusinger works as a senior technical instructor for Global Knowledge, the world's largest privately held provider of training and enterprise learning services for information technology (IT) and management professionals. About NetPro, he says, "It's impressive that so many people are willing to share their networking knowledge for the benefit of others."


Q. How long have you been in the networking industry and why did you get involved in it?

A. When I had nearly finished my Ph.D. in Physics, in 1997, a friend suggested I might want to investigate networking. My first thought was that networking had little to do with Physics. But I was a student with little spending money, and when I heard how much money I could earn per day as a freelancer, I was impressed. This friend taught me the basics of networking and I took some classes, and then I started as a freelancer. Networking was fun! My friend and I developed networking workshops, and later I was hired by a company that was bought out by Global Knowledge. I have since earned my CCIE certification in WAN switching.

Q. What does Global Knowledge do?

A. Global Knowledge offers a wide variety of skills training, including both standard and custom classes for Cisco as well as other companies. We have offices in 20 countries, and I'm based in Germany. In 2006, we received the Learning Solutions Partner of the Year award from Cisco. I teach classes at all levels, from beginner to CCIE.


Q. How did you hear about NetPro?

A. I visit frequently because my students constantly bombard me with good questions. I stumbled upon NetPro by chance when I used the search function and found a NetPro forum. After reading the posts for a couple of weeks I started to post, as well.

Q. What did you try to achieve by subscribing to NetPro?

A. Initially, I skimmed every topic in the forum to identify my strengths and weaknesses. As an instructor, I find it very useful to read about real-life experiences, from simple issues to very complex issues. An example of a simple issue on NetPro, suitable for students in my introductory class, is how to subnet an IP address range if you need a certain number of networks. A more complex issue, which I might integrate into my more advanced classes, is the difference between a route distinguisher and a route target in MPLS [multiprotocol label switching.]

Q. What other tools do you use in order to get answers to your networking questions?

A. First I look into the materials that Cisco provides for its training partners. Next I might ask a colleague. If someone comes to me with a question that I don't know, I search NetPro tends to have the answer even if all my other resources do not.

Q. What was your toughest issue you had resolved on NetPro?

A. I posted a question asking how to forward MPLS VPN traffic down a traffic engineering tunnel for a specific customer. Within a day or so, someone from Cisco Advanced Services team answered my question. His answer taught me what is possible, what is not, and why.


Q. What is your overall impression of NetPro?

A. NetPro is an impressive tool for people to gain knowledge about all aspects of networking. Some discussion topics pertain to specific Cisco technologies, while others relate to general networking technology, such as how BGP [Border Gateway Protocol] works. It's a great way to gain insight into solutions to problems that people have experienced in real life. If you provide enough detail when you ask a question, you receive good answers in a very short amount of time - often within an hour. Once I answered a simple question about subnetting that had just been posted and then saw that someone from Cisco had posted an answer just two minutes earlier. I joke that since he had two CCIE certifications, he was twice as fast as me.

Q. How often do you come to NetPro?

A. I visit a couple of times per week - whenever time allows.

Q. Which features do you find the most helpful?

A. The search function is very useful because typically you're not the first one who has experienced a particular problem, which makes it very likely that someone has already posted the answer you need. The rating of posts is also useful because you can begin with the answers that other people have rated as most helpful. I appreciate the Ask the Expert forums, in which experts from within Cisco answer nearly every question about products, features, and their recommendations. It is very clear that the person answering the questions is an expert in the field.

Q. Overall, do you have any suggestions for possible changes/modifications to the site?

A. Having a moderator reorganize the posts would be helpful. If posts on VPN and security appear in different forums, for example, people might not know the best place to post, which makes it take longer to find answers. Also, having a moderator remove duplicate posts with the same question might streamline the site. If NetPro users would use the search function before posting, they might save time by discovering that the answer is already there.

Q. Do you have a message for your fellow NetPro users?

A. Be sure to provide enough information to enable us to figure out the solution. If you don't, then we will need to ask for more information in order to understand the situation. If the question relates to a concrete problem, include the hardware involved, the configuration, topology, and how you concluded that something is wrong. Of course, do not post passwords and other security-related information. I also request that NetPro users rate posts. This saves time for everybody by letting them know which posts to read first. Sometimes very good answers are not rated.