Hard Work, Motivation and Studying

Whenever i set myself to do something, i have a “honeymoon” phase with the idea or subject i’m approaching, followed by long strides of feeling demotivated and having a hard time going on with a project.

It’s a battle that i decided to lose for most of my youth and the first chunk of adult life.

The first time i felt truly committed to something was when i got my CCNA R&S.

I’m now tackling CCNA Security. I’m doing it as a stepping stone for CCNP. I got my CCNA in 2012 and in the mean time i focused on Work, getting better at what i do and learning as much as possible “in the field”.

Taking a look at the blueprint, the year i got left of CCNA would not be enough to properly prepare for one of the CCNP exams. Rather than risking it, i decided to go for a “Tier 1.5″ certification, and CCNA Security fits the bill nicely.

Now the time is right to get back to actual studying.

I already failed the test once, i went unprepared because i was in a hurry. I came 30 points short of the objective.

IINS Feedback - Need more hard work!

First attempt at 640-554

I tanked two subjects and did so-so on others. I still feel grossly unprepared.

Main issues i meet while trying to study are:

  • Work is often draining, long hours and important issues that needs to be thought through. It does not leave much mental energy to study.
  • Personal life is already paper thin and it suffers from studying. Family sees studying as a concession that’s been made to me.
  • My attention span is extremely short. I think i have an above average natural focus, but it comes in short bursts and i need to be alone. Also, i never trained it. I have never been a hard worker, but i’ve been trying to fix that these past few years.

One perspective-changing realization i had since i got CCNA though, is that working hard *really* gets you to where you want, or close enough that you will not live in regret.

To me, this means that by stubborness and constant failure, i eventually get where i want. It already happened and each time just strenghtens my resolve that bit more. There is no natural gift (although liking the work helps), there is no trick to it. Just crushing into the wall over and over again until it crumbles and you can go further down the road to the next one.

I only have this weekend and the next to study for the exam. I’m ready to postpone it if necessary but i’d really like being done with this.

We’ll see.


Cisco Licensing is really hard.

I work for a Cisco Partner.

Collaboration Licensing is hard. I recently had to provide a BoM for a BE6000 Solution.

In one configuration, to get modern functionality (eg: Voice Mail and VoIP on Smartphones) i had to attach *four different SKUs* to each user in order to be correctly licensed, plus one service and one subscription. That’s 6 SKUs for each user.

If you want to save an inordinate amount of money, you have to know the deep end of the UCL licensing Model.

You will also need to be certain of what you’re gonna need and thus the SKUs will multiply because A users will need 3 SKUs but B users will need 1 then again C users will need 3 but not the same of A.


It feels like several people are watching the same blue print from different orientations and each adding a piece to it from their perspective and they’re expecting it to work properly. This is borderline split personality disorder.

To process a BE6000 Order, you need to read a 30 pages long Ordering Guide!.

There is also an “easier” licensing model, UWL. With it, you only need 1 SKU + 1 Service + 1 Subscription (still 3 SKUs.) The premium for the convenience of a simpler licensing model means a 2x increase in license cost over UCL Enhanced.

That is without considering that for most users, a cheaper UCL license would be enough.

That’s how much of a difference there is between the flexible model and the unified one.

Cisco Live 2014 is currently on in San Francisco and in an interview, an exec was talking about “Smart Licensing”, an expansion on the CallHome feature already present in a lot of Cisco Gear.

It will supposedly allow customers to (purchase and) activate licensing options directly from the devices, right at the moment when that feature is being configured for the first time.

This is not a solution. This will only open the door for even more atomization of feature licenses, hidden behind this supposedly automatic licensing scheme.

This means that each time an engineer needs something, he will have to trust the algorithm to pick the correct license and actually figuring out if they really need it will be even harder.

Once it’s automatic, what stops the vendor from just adding obscure SKUs after obscure SKUs? no customer will *really* need to know them because the system will acquire the license for them!

I don’t have a solution, but this is a big problem from my perspective

Networking between professionals

One year into my career i discovered Packet Pushers. It’s a community of people working in my field. They changed my way or perceiving my job and my career.

I didn’t know any professional network engineers in my local social circles and getting to know them was very educational. I’ve made a few friends and i learned the importance of “networking” with people: making bonds on a professional and human level, with peers in your profession and people you respect.

I still have to solve this puzzle in my area. I don’t know any network engineer in Italy and i have very limited contact with people in IT, mostly among developers (one of which, i am not).

One of my aim for the next couple of years is trying to build some kind of connection with italian professionals, because most of what i learned about careers in networking apply mainly to the U.S. market, where rules are profoundly different from Italy.

Part of the struggle is due to a couple of factors:

  • I am not a CS major. I studied Contemporary History and none of my former university colleagues work in IT.
  • Not many people like Networking. This is something that came as a slow realization to me. People dealing with Networks full-time are rare enough here, but among them, those that are willing to *engage* on the topic, and not just drone through each working day are even less.

Despite this, i have examples nearby of people that do take part in the international networking community (and a prominent one at that) while living in countries with much of the same difficulties as mine.

Ivan Pepelnjak is admittedly one of the most accomplished networking professionals out there with a public profile. He lives in Slovenija, but that doesn’t stop him from being a protagonist in the social media scene for our industry.

I’d love to move to an english speaking country but for the time being, i will have to make an effort into networking with peers in my city (Rome) and in my job market.

We’ll see.