Posts tagged: cisco

Changes

I can’t really say they are good changes or bad changes. I guess things are never really black and white.

The part of the big project my team was working in will be over soon, for various reasons. That in itself is not good or bad, it had to end sometime I guess, it was just rather unexpected. One of the good things is that because my background in network security, I’ve been able to switch to another project (unlike my team mates so far). The project is for the same customer which is good because I know the place, the people, etc. Which leads to the next good thing, the Rheinbach days are over!

The bad thing is, the project is in München and still not somewhere closer. But I guess it could’ve been worse and I think things could change for the better soon. Good things come to those who wait, eh ? Or so they say.

At least there will be new challenges which is a good thing. I am involved now in firewall administration and deployment which is refreshing, it’s kinda what I was doing before I joined this company but this is on a whole different level. I am working with all the good things I learned while I was doing my Cisco CCSP certification: ASA firewalls, IDS/IPS Sensors, MARS (the monitoring and analysis tool from Cisco), etc. So, we’ll see how it goes.

Travels

Last week I’ve been on the road a lot. We’re doing performance tests for  Cisco TelePresence systems in different locations and I had to do them in Berlin and Fritzlar (yeah, I never really heard about that one before either).

My tour took me from home to Berlin, then 2 days later to Fritzlar and then back home, almost 2000 km in 4 days. It’ a alot but it was not that bad I guess. It’s my first time on the A9 section of the autobahn from Nürnberg to Berlin and I have to say driving was a pleasure (except for the non-stop rain, that is): 3 lanes, no traffic jams, no roadworks. And only “130 km/h recommended speed limit”, which basically means you can go as fast as you can but you better not cause any accidents or you are in trouble. If you survive, that is.

Which is more than I can say for the biker I saw  in an accident on the other side of the autobahn. First I saw a banged up car, then half of motorcycle, then the other half and then the biker. He was dead, covered by the police with something but you could clearly see that the shape of his body was slightly unnatural. I don’t know whos fault was it but why people drive at high-speed on a motorcycle while it rains heavily outside, it’s beyond me.

Anyway, I also got to drive on the A2 autobahn, the last major autobahn in Germany I have not been on. Same as A9: 3 lanes, no traffic jams, no road works, no speed limits. I think that when people talk about the no-speed limit on some of the autobahns, they assume everyone drives with 250km/h but that is not true. Yes, you do see people driving fast, which you can actually do since normally nobody stays on the high-speed left lane. But most of the cars don’t even if they could. I would say most drive at a cruising speed of around 150-170km/h.

Unlike Stuttgart with its 600.000 or so inhabitants, Berlin is big in comparison: 3.5 millions inhabitants and almost 5 millions in the metro area. I didn’t have time to see much, first day it rained continuously and the second day I only had a little bit of time in my lunch break. But it reminded me of Bucharest in a way, to be honest: long streets and avenues, high building density, many small shops and stores along the streets, etc. It’s a lot cleaner though, the buildings look better and the streets are really wide, not just the avenues.

Another notable thing is the one of Berlin’s airport, Tegel. It’s basically inside the city and since my hotel was really close to it, I could see the planes flying really low above the buildings while they were landing.  Took some time to get used to it. They don’t fly at night though (or I didn’t hear any) so I could sleep without problems.

Lots of streets with 30km/h speed limits, I most likely got flashed by a radar car I think on one of them. Like I said, I didn’t have time to see much of the city, only been to Alexanderplatz and walked a bit around that area but that is only a tiny part of the whole city. Maybe next time, whenever that may be.



Holidays

First of all, song of the year as chosen in the “A State of Trance” weekly show by Armin van Buuren. I can imagine trance is not everyone’s cup of tea but it’s a nice catchy tune: “Gaia – Tuvan” (click the Play icon to listen).

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As most people this time of the year, I am in vacation but not much relaxation so far. First week we had a little special somebody visiting and among other things we visited “Sensapolis” and I got the do a bit of ice skating.

Sensapolis” is an interior entertainment park in a huge building somewhere near Stuttgart. It’s a lot of fun for kids of all ages and it features things like a giant spaceship, climbing wall, science center, a Fairytale castle, a pirate ship, tree house and many more. The picture gallery shows you a bit of the place.

During this time we are also working (again) at the house, doing remodeling and other things in the kitchen and bathroom. Freya’s brother is visiting and since he knows a lot more than us at this kind of job (he does this for a living) we kinda “abuse” the poor guy. The kitchen is one of the things we inherited from the creatures who lived here before and it was in dire need of renovation. When it’s done, the ugly brown will be gone and it will look “really pretty”, as Freya puts it. And I completely agree, will post some “before/after” pictures once it’s done.

And of course I am still studying for my Cisco CCIP certification. I am supposed to take one of the exams on the 31st of December, I just hope I will be done by then.

In the meantime, Merry Christmas everyone and a Happy New Year! ;-)

Cisco CRS-1

This week, as a result of a software upgrade operation across the backbone routers, I had to do the procedure on one of the CRS-1 routers in Stuttgart, since I kinda live in the neighborhood. I have worked, configured and troubleshooted them since 2 years now but physically I only saw one a little in one of our labs. This time  I had the opportunity to work a bit more closely with it.

The Cisco CRS-1 Carrier Router System is, as the name suggests, a carrier-grade backbone router which is usually found in big ISP’s. In it’s full 16-slot configuration it can push data up to 92 Tbps (yes, that’s Tera) and the price of such a configuration can make lesser people faint. The CRS routers we’re using are the medium 8-slot version, which is slightly cheaper and it’s not completely packed with line-cards. Of course, this is not the “cheaper” definition we know, it’s still there in the stratosphere. It’s a monster of a router as well, just the chassis with the fans has about 150kg. The full configuration for the 8-slot version, together with the power shelves and line-cards can weight up to 250kg.

The CRS has a highly redundant design, it’s extremely scalable and it’s designed for an “always-on” operation. As software, it runs the IOS-XR which while it has the same look-and-feel as the normal IOS we know,  it’s based on Linux. The CRS routers we use form the core of our MPLS network, based on 10GB Ethernet.

The software upgrade was an interesting experience. The new version comes on two 4GB PCMCIA flash cards (one for each router processor) which you have to use to replace the existent flash cards. The procedure is quite different than the one for a normal router and it’s quite lengthy. It involves first rebooting the router which loads the new software on the route processors and then each individual line-card has to be upgraded as well. All-in-all I was in that data-center for two and a half hours.

This particular data-center belongs to KPN and, like almost all their sites in Germany, they are completely unmanned. You need to call first and they open the door for you all the way from Netherlands. Same when you get out, you’re stuck in there until they open the door for you.

It was nice experience. And even though it took a long time, at least I could kill time by reading a SciFi ebook (“Consider Phlebas” by Iain M. Banks) on my N85 and listening to music. Good book too, I like it so far.