Javier Solis

1 minute read

The Why

For those of you who are new to the site, welcome! I wanted to start with “Why Networking,” and maybe it will help you find your “Why.” My first post dates back to 2013 when I was just a Network Administrator. Before that, I remember reading technical blogs and books at the infancy of my IT journey. There’s so much fantastic content out there.

No longer is learning bound to written format, so I decided to create a YouTube channel that revolves around Networking and other related technical topics as complementary content for my blog. I enjoy sharing what I’ve learned and continue to learn, and that’s what you’ll find here. Enjoy!

YouTube
Why networking or more specifically computer networking?

YouTube Video

@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

2 minute read

Too much clutter

I’ve been trying to reduce the clutter in my home office, and part of that clutter are two of my custom built computer rigs. One is a mid-sized ATX Windows gaming rig, and the other is just collecting dust.

My gaming rig consists of a nearly nine-year-old processor, an Intel i5-2400. The Sandy Bridge CPU is paired with a newer Radeon RX 5600XT GPU, which believe it or not allows me to play some modern-day video games. So to make more space, I’ve been thinking of building a small form factor gaming rig to replace my two mid-sized ATX towers. Most of the SFF cases I’ve ran across require a Mini-ITX motherboard, along with a matching CPU, and SFX PSU. However, I really want to reuse the parts I already have, or salvage the usable parts. That’s when I ran across a used NCASE M1 V3 on eBay. 

The NCASE M1 Build

After some more research, I found that I could reuse all of my existing parts with the NCASE M1. The only thing I’d have to figure out is how to fit my ATX power supply in the NCASE M1.

Here’s the salvaged parts list that will make it into the NCASE M1:

  • Corsair CX650M ATX PSU
  • Mini-DTX MSI H61M-E33/W8
  • Intel i5-2400 CPU
  • Radeon RX 5600XT
  • Two SSD Drives
The build is extremely tight, but everything fit. So now I can finally clear out some clutter. I recorded a YouTube video describing the build and also how to get the ATX PSU mounted in the NCASE M1. As always, feel free to leave comments or ask questions on YouTube or Twitter:

YouTube
NCASE M1 Build - ATX PSU (Old CPU + New GPU)

YouTube NCASE M1 with ATX PSU Video

Enjoy,
@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

2 minute read

Something New

My day job continues to revolve around IT-related networking work, and I tend to spend quite a bit of time on other techie projects. So I decided it was time to get away from the keyboard and embark on a non-IT-related side project.

My wife and I were driving to the grocery store when I spotted a Datsun 280ZX for sale. It was difficult to hide my excitement as I previously owned a U.S. Nissan 240sx (a.k.a S13) fastback in college around the time I meet my wife. You could say that it was a “project” car, but it became my daily driver. A few years later, I had to get rid of the 240 and have since loved the Datsun/Nissan hatchback style. My wife said if I didn’t call the number on the Datsun 280ZX, I would regret it. So now we own a 1981 Datsun 280ZX “project” car.

We couldn’t get the car to start, so I had the Datsun towed home. The body isn’t in too bad of shape, and the interior needs some TLC.

The dash is cracked, the window seals, seats, and the carpet will need to be replaced. But my first task is to find out if the engine has any life left. The engine is an inline 6 (L28ET) and equipped with a turbo. I spent a few hours researching the possible non-starting issues and uploaded some of the initial work onto YouTube.

YouTube
Datsun 280ZX Restoration Side Project - Will it start?

YouTube Video Datsun 280ZX will it start

Enjoy,
@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

1 minute read

In this video I discuss transforming an Odroid-H2 into a home network attached storage device using FreeNAS. FreeNAS is a purpose built operating system that can turn any extra PC hardware into a NAS. I needed a place to store a backup of my newly created Youtube video content so FreeNAS was the perfect fit for my Odroid-H2 . The build consists of an Odriod-H2, an NVMe drive, 2 SATA SSD drives, and an emmc storage card. I also created a link aggregation between the two gigabit interfaces on the Odroid-H2 back to an Extreme Networks x440g2 12 port switch. I also provide details on the build and some instructions on how to get FreeNAS configured in the video.

YouTube
FreeNAS ODROID H2 Home Build

YouTube FreeNAS ODROID H2 Home Build Video

Enjoy building your own home FreeNAS Network Attached Storage device,
@javi_isolis

Javier Solis

4 minute read

Which Vendor?

In my previous role, I had the opportunity to wear many hats, including Network Administrator. Our go-to networking vendor before I moved on was Extreme Networks. When I initially started my position, the campus was a Cabletron customer, then Enterasys, and lastly, Extreme Networks (Believe it or not, there’s more than one way when it comes to Network Vendor selection). Now the transitions did come upon company acquisitions. And after each acquisition, we did our due diligence and reviewed the existing solutions against rival offerings.

Extreme Networks filled all of our checkboxes. The first on the list was policy profiles. Our policies consisted of layer 2 through layer 4 rules dynamically applied to end systems on our switches, which provided host security and reduced VLAN/ACL sprawling. We also heavily used the Enterasys NMS solution, now called Extreme Management Center, for daily operational tasks, monitoring, and provisioning dynamic user access control across our wired and wireless infrastructure. Another feature we used on our switches was node alias. Node alias discovered additional details about end systems such as assigned IP address, correlating MAC address, and VLAN assignment from our layer 2 switches. This information forwarded to Extreme Management Center’s database, which could be searched upon. This process reduced the time it took to identify device location, troubleshoot networking issues, and review VLAN assignment. The Extreme Networks NAC solution also provided further details about each end system connected to the network.

We didn’t focus on just Networking speeds and feeds or harp on having the most popular network operating system CLI known to man. Other solutions at the time didn’t have the same integrated offerings. Don’t get me wrong, Cisco and other software vendors did and still do make some great products. However, we were able to solve a specific set of problems with an Extreme Networks solution. From time to time, I still got flak for not choosing a different vendor.

Bake off

So I’ve been pondering if we should make such huge networking infrastructure investments solely based on feature bakeoffs? Feature bakeoffs still seem to be the most common way we test different vendors. Sometimes the reality is we use less than a fraction of any networking product features. Yet we make a decision based on another fraction of that. Then we throw more money at an over-engineered solution just because it has one more feature that we can’t live without, or we refuse to learn something new. At the end of the day what differentiates Cisco, Juniper, Arista, HP, or even Extreme Networks???

One vendor may be what most people feel comfortable with; another may have better support. Or maybe a particular vendor provides an all-in-one security appliance that can be supported by the same vendor. One or two additional software features added without enough quality assurance may be the chink in the armor. And don’t get me started on the “one throat to choke” concept. However, if we look a bit closer, there’s always a trade-off. Something you know quite well may not align with your overall business strategy. Or you have one networking technician, and they don’t have enough time to learn or build something new. Then there’s an “us” problem. We don’t want to automate, or we’ll lose our jobs. We don’t want the best of breed solution because it’s too much to know. Heaven forbid we have to choke more than one throat.

What Should You Do?

So what’s one to do? The difficulty is that vendors crave “lock in”. They want all the market share. I get it; businesses need to show increased revenue and continue to provide value to stakeholders. But at what trade-off? Customers are the one’s who end up suffering. We need to challenge ourselves and our networking vendors to disaggregate and interoperate. Take a look at the new Cisco certification requirements. The CCNA now covers topics such as automation and programmability, highlighting non-Cisco software such as Puppet, Chef, and Ansible. Can you believe that? Maybe collaborative innovation is on the horizon. Once networking vendors unanimously accept interoperability by removing lock in, things may start to get interesting. Who knows, maybe we’ll finally get a unified interoperable vendor fabric. Only one could wish.

Until next time,

@javi_isolis