Life always gets busy. That is one thing that you always hear about. I am definitely in that boat as well that things are getting busy. With this in mind, I have never felt better about my ability to learn new things in the field. I do a few things that I feel are probably unique that I should share.
The first opportunity that has never been more capable of doing is to listen to podcasts. The commuting time to/from work is a tremendous opportunity. I leverage three podcasts as my primary learning mechanism these days.
The first go to podcast is Packet Pushers. They have several different channels available, and my preference is the Fat Pipe podcast feed. This gets you a few different shows, that includes The Network Break, Weekly Show, and Datanaughts. There are more shows being added all of the time based on a criteria.
There is a membership system available called Ignition at their site. They also have a paid opportunity to help contribute back to the hosts and other premium content. Ideally I will be budgeting for multiple memberships, this being one of them. I just have not done this quite yet. This comes in at $99/year
The Network Collective
Network Collective is a recent addition and I look forward to the podcasts when it shows up in the feed. So far there are a couple of shows available. The podcast has a several list of hosts including Jordan Martin, Russ White, and Eyvonne Sharp. They have quite the variety of topics that constantly peak my interest. The down side of this is the annual cost for the premium access IMO, sitting at $250/year.
History of Networking
Perhaps one of the premier shows of The Network Collective podcast network is the History of Networking series. The show brings on notable guests in the history of the development of the networking field as we know it today. This is a must check out regardless if there are other podcast series on this network.
Zigbits Network Design Podcast
This is a new one to me as of 2018. Quickly a favorite of mine as well. This podcast emphesis is on network design, and brings a whole differnet view than the Packet Pushers or The Network Collective. From episodes including CI/CD, Cisco ISE, or DevOps, this is a deeper podcast and much deeper topics, which is a must checkout.
This is one of my other favorites and perhaps the newest methodology. It is really a new take on an old format, IRC. Slack has created a place that using Markdown (sensing a theme) is prevelant to create a community of users. The first channel that I joined in the Network Automation spirit was that of NetworkToCode. You have to put a request to join, and once in you are welcomed kindly. If getting into using Slack, or any of the modern chat applications, I strongly recommend learning what Markdown can do.
The first two podcast networks that were mentioned of Packet Pushers and The Network Collective each have their own slack channels. Packet Pushers slack channel is free to join while The Network Collective has Slack as one of the membership benefits that is included in the $250 annual membership.
Social media is the thing that seems to be either very hot and very cold. A lot of good inspirational group of engineers in the field of Network Automation find themselves on Twitter. Yes, there is a negative stigma around social media, but I do recommed at least following a good group of people that are influential in Network Automation arena. I follow the hosts of the podcast networks listed above, a group of individuals putting out good work within Python and Ansible networking.
The last, and maybe the least of those mentioned, is a home lab. I have gone back and forth from having actual server hardware running, to removing the hardware. I’ve had network lab gear up and running as well, and that is for the most part retired. I am now looking at a home lab that is having virtualized platforms running on a desktop and a few Raspberry Pi pieces hanging around.
The next iteration of a lab for myself will likely include a cloud environment as well. I’m inspired by the podcasts that Nicholas Russo (https://twitter.com/nickrusso42518) has put together within the Zigbits Network Design Podcast. He recently talked about his home lab not being powered up for a couple of years as he moved to AWS for his development work. I’ll encourage you to listen to the podcast linked on the Podcasts and Links page.