Welcome to Networkcareer!
Where do you work and what’s your role?
I have a training and consultancy business. I am the founder of www.orhanergun.net. Most of my business opportunities and the training engagements come through this website.
What kind of roles and work did you do before starting your own business?
I worked mainly in the Operator domain. I worked in Tier 2 Service Provider in Turkey, then moved to vendor and started mainly doing consulting to Operators and the enterprises while I was in Turkey.
That vendor was IBM and likely we used to receive many big size projects from varies of Operators such as Access Provider, Mobile Operator, Satellite Provider and so on. Also we had Multinational Enterprise Customers.
I moved to Saudi Arabia after 8 years working in Turkey market. For a couple of years I worked in a Tier 1 Incumbent Service Provider there.
Residential, Enterprise and Wholesale Business, Fixed and Mobile all services were provided that company. It is still incumbent and Transit ISP for many Tier 2 and Tier 3 Provider in the country and the region.
What have you learned in your career so far that you would like to tell the younger you?
I am still young , guys! 🙂 I am under 40 but if you still want my advice, It will not be technical.
I learned from the hard way that there is no fairness in life.
Many network engineers know me today, I am so lucky for that and it was really hard for me.
I knew that opportunities wouldn’t knock, so I built my own door.
Writing a book, creating courses, videos, at the same time trying to support many of my customers, updating my website with the blog posts and I have been doing this without proper English.
Of course I have been receiving many criticisms but I took many of them as positive and tried to improve my weak areas. But you shouldn’t’ care much about those who don’t want your success. And not everyone want you to become successful, trust me!
If you care about what other people think, you will always be their prisoner, said a wise man!
Those who would like to be known, get respect from the industry, or work in better company or country, don’t forget, as soon as you get more successful, there will be people who tell you that you can’t do it.
Start where you are, use what you have and do what you can!
Also, we consume everything fast anymore. There are tons of resource out there and people don’t spend much time on reading , they like to have pictures , better , to watch the technical documents.
Did you know that most of the bloggers don’t write a post with more than 500-600 words. If it is longer, people don’t read.
What are the most important skills you have picked up in your career so far?
I learned asking more, asking correct questions. I talk much, many people know this.
I listen and ask questions more than I talk.
People always ask me questions. Before start answering, I ask many questions, in order to give them the most optimal answer.
Analyzing the situation very well, is the key. Your solution then will not be modified by others easily since it will be the most optimal for the given case.
Key is being curious!
There is a saying “You can teach a student a lesson for a day; but if you can teach him to learn by creating curiosity, he will continue the learning process as long as he lives”.
What’s your opinion on degrees? Are they useful for someone in the networking industry?
I don’t think so. If you will do networking job, in most of the Universities, there is no dedicated 4 years education for us.
So probably going to University is even waste of time.
What about certifications? Are they losing their value?
Yes of course. CCIE already lost, mainly couple of companies, which are known widely by the Industry.
CCDE is protected. Hope they stay away from it.
Many companies have the benefits of SDN, NFV, IOT, and Cloud. Having certificate from these areas will be valuable.
People think that when they have CCIE or CCDE certificate they won’t attend an Interview and will be hired immediately. Of course not!
They will just fail when they choose to use dumps!
Is the skillset of network engineers changing? What skills are important to have in the coming years?
No its not changing. But technology is moving fast of course.
You are expecting to hear SDN and the other buzzwords I know, but in order to understand SDN and its benefits, you need to understand the environments without SDN. Are you already an expert on those?
And of course not every company will get the same benefits from SDN, NFV, IOT, and Cloud. Depends on their business, services and the current environments.
What skills are important for Network Architects?
Analyzing the design is most important skills.
Then understanding the design requirements such as Availability, Scalability, Security, Stability, Flexibility and many others. You can’t have them all. You need to understand how to have correct balance of these design attributes on any network.
Then of course, understand the technologies.
Many technical requirements can be achieved by set of different tools. But which tool you will choose? So, here, comparison skill comes into the picture.
Will the need for networking experts go away? Is it better to be a generalist than an expert?
You should be an expert on one topic , go to person I mean. You can do anything, but you can’t do everything.
Definitely you need to understand at least a little from the other domains which are related to your domain.
For example if you are an expert on IP/MPLS networks, you should understand the Transport networking, Fix and Mobile Wireless, Layer 2 technologies etc.
What do you think of soft skills? Do we need them in the networking industry? If so, which ones are the most important?
Yes but not everyone. Not everyone needs the same set of soft skills.
For example, as a public speaker, for me , handling the stress was important. Also presentation skill was critical. I am good at handling the stress 🙂 but still I am learning how to present better.
Some soft skills can be outsourced though.
For example, I write books, which have so much grammar mistakes etc. If I would have perfect English, I couldn’t do those mistakes in the first place. But I hire someone who does the proofreading for me.
For the network engineers, probably in their work environment, troubleshooting is one of the most important soft skill.
It is a soft skill because require analytical thinking.
Can you ask correct questions? Do you know the technology very well to reduce Mean time to Repair? Knowing the technology itself is not enough to be good troubleshooter. Asking the correct questions is key. What was the last change? Do we have any Log, which we can trace? And so on.
With SDN, orchestration etc. can we throw the “traditional” networking knowledge out the window? Why or why not?
You are joking I guess 🙂 Did we throw out IPv4 even we have had IPv6 for more than 20 years?
Because “Habit is stronger than reason”
Should someone in the networking industry learn to code? Why or why not? What is your language of choice?
No. Different businesses require different skills.
Coding is different skill than network engineering. As I said above, it would be nice to have a little bit knowledge from the areas, which are related to your work, and perhaps coding is one of them.
But the job is requiring an expert on coding, don’t try to be a one!
What’s your best advice for staying updated in the networking industry? How do you stop the sipping from the firehose?
There are many good networking blogs which network engineers should follow. I shared the some of my recommended networking blogs on my website.
Also, as I said above, find your idols and follow their each and every word. On the same subject, learn from all of them, and come up with your own final result.
I recently created for the Operator Engineers a Slack Group for example. You can join and discuss with the others. They share the deployed technologies on their network, lesson learned and many other things. Nice place to stay updated.
There are good conferences such as NANOG , RIPE, IETF. I recommend you to attend those if it is possible. Or any operator meeting ,in your region, check the agenda before you attend.
Before we close out. What would you want to give as a final piece of advice to the NC readers?
Don’t study because you need to. Don’t study because you want to have the certificate. Study because knowledge is power.
Study, because no one can never take it away the knowledge from you. Study, because you want to know more. Stay humble and work hard. If you struggle today, you develop the strength you need for tomorrow.