Welcome Chris Parker to the Juniper Ambassador Team
Jan 21, 2019
We are thrilled to introduce and welcome Chris Parker, a new Juniper Ambassador team member. He was nominated by the team for his passion about Juniper clearly stated through his networkfuntimes.com blog. We highly encourage you to take a look at his extremely entertaining and informative blog.
Read on to learn more about Chris and why he has a unique way of sharing his expertise with humor.
Welcome to the team Chris!
What did you want to be growing up; did you see yourself where you are now?
As a teenager I knew that I either wanted to work in IT or be a stand-up comedian. In other words, I knew that I wanted one of two jobs that couldn’t be more opposite to each other. Now when I think about it, that’s probably a fitting metaphor for my life!
I actually have a very unusual career history, because as well as working in the ISP sector since 2005 (which I fell into through a chance opportunity at a local provider), I also spent eight years doing comedy! I’m possibly the only network engineer who has also written and performed six solo stand-up comedy shows. I never combined the two trades, although maybe one day I’ll get around to writing “BGP: The Musical”.
So really, as a teenager I had no idea where I saw myself in 20 years’ time. But I’m very happy and grateful for the career I’ve had, and excited for the unique skills that this odd combination of passions has given me. I like to think my time as a comedian taught me how to communicate ideas, to frame information in a way that’s both understandable and fun, and how to get people excited about all this glorious tech we work with.
What was your first experience with Juniper? Do you have certifications?
I was introduced to Juniper over a decade ago through their pioneering Netscreen firewalls, which I configured and deployed in the hundreds. ScreenOS was a revelation. The ease with which you could configure policies, debug IPsec VPNs, and really get deep into what was actually happening on the wire, was transformative to me.
More recently, career changes a couple of years ago led to me working heavily with Junos, and I couldn’t be happier. Where has it been all my life?? Once again, Juniper transformed my expectation of what a network OS can do, and I’ve fallen in love with it.
I currently hold JNCIP-SP, 2xJNCIS (SP/ENT), and 3xJNCIA (Junos/Cloud/Design), as well as CCNA/CCNP. I’m aiming to have the mighty JNCIE-SP by the end of the year, which I suspect is too ambitious a timeframe – but I’ve always been a sucker for a challenge!
What advice would you give someone just getting started on Juniper products?
First, I’d say congratulations on making a fine choice. You clearly have exquisite taste!
One of the biggest tips I give to folks new to Junos is: take your time to understand the philosophy, the logic, the spirit of Junos. It’s distinctly and proudly different to other vendors, and that can be confusing when you’re expecting yet another IOS clone. But stick with it, because once you get it, I absolutely promise you, you’ll never look back.
For example, ask yourself: what tools are available to you to manage committing a config, and why are these tools useful? How does the configuration hierarchy work in practice, and in what ways does this benefit you? Once you understand that piece, everything else falls into place. I think everyone who uses Junos can attest to that “Eureka” moment, when it clicks, and you simultaneously feel delighted at how much easier and better you job has become, while also questioning why you ever did it any other way!
Tell us about a typical day at work. What are some of your daily routines?
I work in 3rdline support at a London-based internet and hosting provider. We have a large network comprised of multiple acquisitions, running hardware from multiple vendors, with what seems like an almost infinite array of protocols. One hour I’ll be troubleshooting IPsec, the next I’ll be making BGP policy changes, the next I’ll be setting up a new layer 2 VPN. It’s hugely varied, and very exciting.
In amongst all that, I write documentation, and pass knowledge down to the teams in the trenches, helping them in their quests for CCNA and JNCIA. Whenever I help someone in 1stline to up their skills and get promoted to 2ndline, that’s when I’m at my happiest in work.
What do you like to do when you’re not working, what do you look forward to doing on the weekend?
I have far too many hobbies! I try to read a novel a week – I’m currently halfway through Kazuo Ishiguro’s incredible Never Let Me Go. I love the gym just as much as I love eating my body weight in cake. Experimenting in the kitchen is always fun, I especially enjoy cooking Mexican and Chinese. I intermittently try (and fail) to learn Japanese. There’s hardly a genre of music I don’t like. Friends and family time is where the heart is. And of course, I still regularly go to live comedy, theatre and spoken word.
Oh, and did I mentioning studying for the JNCIE-SP?