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Interview with Top NetPros - Rajagopal Sivaramakrishnan
sachinraja - Rajagopal Sivaramakrishnan, India
During his networking career Rajagopal Sivaramakrishnan has worked
for an Internet service provider (ISP), an outsourcing firm, and
now with Wipro, a Cisco Gold Partner in India. "As a technical
consultant with Wipro, I meet with the customer before
implementation to fully understand their needs for switching,
security, IP telephony, wireless, and routing, and make
recommendations," he says. "It's a pre-sales function."
Q. How long have you been in the networking industry and why
did you get involved in it? A. I've been in the networking industry for nearly six
years. It's funny, but I had no intentions of working in networking
when I graduated college. At that time, software was the hot
industry. Fortunately, after college I got an offer from Sify
Limited (Chennai), the largest Indian ISP, to work as a network
engineer. Accepting the job was the best decision I ever made. If
I'd stayed in software, right now I would be doing coding, which is
not nearly as exciting.
I worked with Sify for two-and-one-half years. I was fortunate to
begin my career working with one of the most complicated, largest
networks in India because it gave me such good experience and
exposure to such a variety of technologies: WANs, LANs, firewalls,
IP telephony, wireless, and caching, to name a few. SIFY was the
first company in India to implement MPLS, and I was part of that
While at Sify I studied for my CCIE® in Routing and Switching. I
didn't pass the first time but never gave up. The happiest moment
of my life came when I completed my CCIE in February 2004. I have
to thank NetPro, because the answers in the forum helped me
Due to personal reasons I had to leave Sify, and so I looked for a
job that would give me more technical exposure. Just four days
after I passed my CCIE exam I got an offer from Kuwaiti Danish
Computer Company (KDCC), a Cisco Certified Silver Partner. A few
days after that I landed in Kuwait to manage a project for the
Central Bank of Kuwait. Working for a bank network gives you great
experience in routing, switching, and security. My favorite project
with KDCC was a security consulting and implementation project
involving SSL VPN, which was new at the time, as well as intrusion
detection and intrusion prevention systems.
Around six months ago I joined Wipro, and am currently providing
consulting services for large companies in southern India. If
you're an Indian company interested in expanding your network,
identifying and correcting flaws, or expanding to a new facility,
you come to Wipro. I talk to the customer's technical people and
advise them on the design from both technical and business points
Q. What were the specific business problems and challenges
facing your work that influenced you to use NetPro? A. I first used NetPro around four years ago, at Sify, when
I was experiencing major problems with ISDN and didn't have a clue
as to the answer. Normally, when I have a problem, I call my
friends to see if they have encountered it. One of those friends
recommended NetPro and gave me guidance on how to use it. I logged
on, queried "ISDN problem," and it immediately rewarded me with a
huge list of practical answers. I found my solution in five minutes
and wondered how I had missed the site for so long.
What I like about NetPro is that it doesn't talk about theory, or
how E1 or T1 works. Instead it focuses on practical advice, such as
If this doesn't work, follow steps 1-4." NetPro is one of the best
resources that Cisco offers.
Of course Cisco also offers documentation and the technical
assistance center (TAC) for troubleshooting, but with TAC you can
expect a time lag of 30 to 60 minutes. My analogy is that NetPro is
like a first-aid kit, providing immediate relief. It that treatment
doesn't work, then you go to TAC, which is more like the
Q. What other tools do you use in order to get answers to
your networking questions? A. NetPro is the first place I look, and then I might call
friends who have worked with the technology. Before I found NetPro
I would have called my friends first.
Q. What is the most useful or inspiring conversation you have
found on NetPro to date? A. For the first two years I didn't have the confidence to
answer questions because I worried that my answer might be wrong.
But when someone asked a question about ISDN technology, I was
confident that I knew the answer, which got me my first five
points! It was particularly nice that the question had to do with
ISDN, because that was the topic of my first query on NetPro. I
felt like I gave back.
Q. What was your toughest issue you had resolved on
NetPro? A. The toughest issue that I resolved for another forum
member had to do with WebVPN, an SSL VPN service module. I had
implemented it for the Kuwaiti bank customer and shared my
experiences. I got a lot of thanks.
The toughest issue that someone resolved for me was just three days
ago when I had a problem with a crucial network, having to do with
a parameter in the Cisco Catalyst 4500 Supervisor Engine. I
immediately logged into NetPro, and within one-and-one-half hours
had the solution, from Cisco's Krishnan.
Q. How often do you come to NetPro? A. My home page is cisco.com. I check NetPro every day even
before I check e-mail, which shows the level of bonding I have with
Cisco. I log on to NetPro as soon as I come into the office every
morning and check it throughout the day to see if there are any
queries I can answer, especially about security. I use it from
home, as well. Basically, I check in whenever I have an Internet
Q. Which features do you find the most helpful? A. I like the way NetPro is organized according to broad
technology categories, such as routing, switching, security, and
wireless. If you have a question about firewalls, it's easy to see
where to go for answers, which is not the case in most forums. The
NetPro search engine is great, as well. You don't have to waste any
time looking for information.
Q. Overall, do you have any suggestions for possible changes
or modifications to the site? A. Cisco's thought process in forming a community group is
fantastic. The flaw is that many people don't know about NetPro.
Most people find out about it only through their friends. And
getting into the site is difficult to NetPro because the link is so
small it's easy to overlook. Why not add a banner to cisco.com that
says something like, Problems? Visit NetPro."
Q. Do you have a message for your fellow NetPro
users? A. I have a request that people who post with a problem let
us know how our suggestions work out. Only ten percent of problems
are closed; people put in a query and vanish. We're anxious to know
the result, and if I don't get an answer I'll never know if my
suggestion was right or wrong. It's good to close the issue.
I thank everyone for the time they're willing to spend resolving
problems by e-mailing and chatting. I especially thank my fellow
NetPro experts Shanky, Rick, Kevin, Patrick Iseli, Georg Pauwen,
and othersfor their contributions. I hope they continue sharing
their expertise forever!