Download free whitepapers and ebooks written by the Packet Pushers and guest writers. This library includes content originally created for our Ignition professional development site, which shut down at the end of 2021. Rather than let all the content we created for Ignition go to waste, we’ve decided to make it public. You’ll find Ignition whitepapers and ebooks here, courses and videos on YouTube, and blogs and article series in our community blog.
*Note* To download a document, just hover over the image of the PDF to see the “Download” icon.
Enterprise IT Career Advice Part 1 – Surviving A Changing World
This ebook series condenses eight years of podcasts and discussions around careers, jobs, and employment into a multipart e-book series. The series is written for engineers in a technical style that shares facts and possible solutions to the problems of planning your career.
The series gets you thinking about the changes happening in Enterprise IT. How are these changes impacting your future? How has recruitment changed? How do you get a pay rise?
Each book is short, targeting a specific topic. Read one during your lunch break.
Topics in the first installment include:
- Buyer’s market – why employers have the upper hand today
- Why getting pay rises is harder then ever
- How the best can be the worst
- Why share options are a bad choice
- How convergence and cloud are changing engineering jobs
Enterprise IT Career Advice Part 2 – Understanding Modern Recruitment
This installment looks at modern hiring practices using recruiters, online tools and testing, and how to approach this. Many people have not experienced this emotionless dehumanization.
- Understanding recruiters, the role they play in getting hired, and how they make money
- How to handle automated recruiting
- Building a portfolio to improve your profile and resume
- Using social media to land a job offer
Enterprise IT Career Advice Part 3 – Common Career Mistakes
Part three explores career issues including:
- Tips on common mistakes people make about their career and life plans
- Improving your interview performance
- Why loyalty isn’t worthwhile
- The impact of automation–do you know your job is going away?
- Human resources isn’t your friend
- Risk of the early mover
- Choosing hard or soft skills
- Career breaks
Enterprise IT Career Advice Part 4 – Evaluating Yourself
Part four covers self-evaluation, including:
- Judge yourself in a different way
- Understanding your real value, and who is in control
- Commitment vs. talent
- Certifications vs. experience
- Talent delusion–are you really as good as you think you are?
Hasty Guide To Technical Blogging And Writing
The “Hasty Guide To Technical Blogging And Writing” e-book offers tips, insights, and guidance for people who want write a technical blog but aren’t sure how to start, or don’t know how to sustain the effort.
This e-book draws on ten years of my experience producing blogs, newsletters, white papers, presentations and other written material at a fairly regular cadence–over 1,350 blog posts to date, if you want a number.
The book includes:
- Basic writing tactics for blogging, including reasons & motivations
- How to write a post, including structure and why the way you were taught in school is wrong
- Things not to do
- Tips on software, hosting, and author platforms
- Writing tools and mindmaps
The ebook is available in three formats: epub, mobi, and pdf. Click the appropriate link below to choose the version you want.
Hasty Guide to Technical Blogging and Writing 2018 (.epub version)
Hasty Guide to Technical Blogging and Writing 2018 (.mobi version)
Hasty Guide To Technical Blogging and Writing 2018 (.pdf version)
5G And Enterprise IT
5G technology will drive the next generation of mobile networking. Telcos, service providers, and equipment vendors are gearing up for a massive rollout of new technologies and products to bring 5G services to market. This whitepaper considers 5G’s impact on enterprise networking and on service providers.
Summary of key points:
- 5G improves mobile network speed, latency, and capacity.
- Multiple layers of technology are changing to a software-defined operational model.
- The market for 5G is enormous, measuring hundreds of billions of dollars over 5 – 10 years. This creates hype as marketing dollars are spent to influence buyers.
- There are plans to offer private WAN services, called ‘network slicing’, but it’s unclear that buyers will pay for this MPLS-like private service in an era of SD-WAN.
In terms of the impact to Enterprise IT, 5G’s influence is likely to be felt in a variety of areas. For example:
- SD-WAN may consume bandwidth from 5G broadband
- IoT deployments will be enabled by increased density and improved performance. Low-power services will enable 10-year battery life.
- Remote working will become more feasible.
This paper provides background and insights into 5G so that an enterprise IT professional can speak knowledgeably when needed. This is an overview of the technology and its potential impacts, and may spur the reader to further investigate the topic.
A Service Mesh Buyer’s Guide
A service mesh is a software package that proxies connections between microservices and allows the user to configure a variety of traffic management features. This paper looks at key features and capabilities of a service mesh, and provides tables to help you identify which features are available among the different service mesh options.
The goal of this paper is to help you identify a short list of service mesh options for your developers and operations teams to test. Open source and commercially supported service meshes are available.
We focus mainly on using a service mesh in the context of Kubernetes, but you can also run a mesh outside of Kubernetes if you wish to.
- 17 pages of analysis
- Descriptions of key service mesh features and functions
- Evaluations of five major service meshes
- Feature comparison tables
An Introduction To Intent-Based Networking
Intent-Based Networking (IBN) extends the automation principles of SDN by putting business intent at the heart of network service delivery, while also enabling cloud-like automation and software-driven operations in the data center.
SDN moved network operations away from hand-curated, device-by-device configuration and towards automation.
IBN moves up the value chain by starting with business intent – that is, the outcome the network should deliver – and then programs the requisite devices to achieve that outcome. To do so, IBN incorporates automation, orchestration, monitoring, analytics, and validation.
The result is a new way to operate the network so that it can flexibly change to meet business requirements and adjust to new design demands.
If you need to get up to speed on IBN (or bring others up to speed), this introduction is a great place to start.
Intent-Based Networking Part 2: A Deep Dive Into Network Abstraction And Continuous Validation
IBN uses a continuous integration/continuous delivery model that automates tasks and continuously validates the network. Using this model, a network can be discovered, compared to benchmarks of desired outcomes, and corrected manually or via automation if discrepancies exist. This approach differs markedly from typical network operations; that is, device-by-device management with a focus on micro configurations and physical devices, without seeing the entire infrastructure as a whole.
This paper explores three key areas of IBN: network abstraction, continuous validation, and autonomous remediation.
- 19 pages
- Explores in greater technical detail how Intent-Based Networking (IBN) systems work
- Explains how IBN systems abstract network devices & configurations to build working models
- Discusses the pros and cons of different approaches to abstraction
- Reviews the closed-loop model that drives the value of IBN systems
- Provides key takeaways
SD-WAN: Building The Business Case & Understanding Your ROI
Software Defined WAN (SD-WAN) is quickly becoming the de facto standard for modern WAN connectivity. This paper aims to help potential buyers map SD-WAN features and functions to business requirements, calculate an ROI, outline options from a broad (though not exhaustive) list of SD-WAN vendors, and help you build your own shortlist for further investigation and testing.
This paper then walks through three theoretical SD-WAN deployments based on large, medium, and small organizations to show how IT and business teams weigh their requirements to find the right solution.
Finally, an appendix compares 21 features and functions from 10 vendors.
- 23 pages
- 6 comparative cost model tables
- 3 SD-WAN deployment profiles
- Compare 21 features and functions from 10 vendors
- Learn how to map SD-WAN capabilities to operational requirements
- Understand key considerations for calculating ROI
DNS over HTTPS (DoH) is an IETF standard that aims to enhance the DNS protocol to improve the integrity of name resolution queries and increase security by preventing man-in-the-middle attacks. In addition, queries are obfuscated in HTTPS traffic, requiring additional effort for an attacker to detect. DoH should also improve user privacy. DoH will use HTTPS with TCP/IP rather than UDP.
DoH is likely to get significant uptake among the most popular browsers in North America. Enterprises and vendors who rely on DNS information to shape Web access, security, and content filtering must understand DoH and its potential impacts, and anticipate how this standard might affect operations.
- A detailed overview of the DNS over HTTPS (DoH) standard
- Industry and business drivers of DoH
- Technical, security, and operational implications for enterprises
- Dozens of links to additional resources
- 17 pages
Perspective: How ML And AI Work With Networking
This whitepaper offers a high-level perspective on how machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) might be used in networking over the next decade. Customers should understand what they are buying and have some insight into how ML and AI can impact a product. This understanding should improve your strategy and design planning skills.
Overly enthusiastic vendor employees persistently overstate the capabilities of their products, particularly when it comes to ML and AI. This paper should assist you in detecting hype and exaggeration. We also provide a starting point to evaluate when or if SDN platforms should be using ML or AI technology and why statistical methods are more likely to be useful.
- Analysis and perspective on the current state of AI and ML in networking
- A five-stage taxonomy of network automation
- How statistical analysis differs from ML
- Why AI and ML will augment, not replace, human operators
- 13 pages
- Links to additional resources
Dynamic Path Networking: SDWAN’s Better Way To Choose The “Best Path”
This report looks at the business value of Dynamic Path Networking and the opportunity to transform the nature of the WAN.
The report compares the technical underpinnings of traditional IP routing protocols with Dynamic Path Networking and its key elements. These elements include APIs, network controllers, and overlays. Dynamic Path Routing is an essential part of today’s SDWAN technologies.
With the WAN consuming such a large part of the IT telecom budget, it’s vital to manage this cost and extract value from WAN assets. At the same time, applications are increasing their network consumption and require additional bandwidth. Some applications, like IP telephony and trading, must be specially managed to ensure their latency requirements are met.
The demand for network connectivity and bandwidth creates new challenges. The modern network is no longer about simple connectivity; it’s about delivering network services such as reliability, application performance, and security.
The corporate network is built from the networks of multiple carriers using different transmission technologies with different performance characteristics. Service Provider networks use a variety of MPLS technologies to present Ethernet or IP connectivity, or even older TDM technology. The performance of the network depends on the path, but that performance varies by technology, network, and carrier performance.
WAN networks are critical to the business, which increases the need for redundancy and resiliency. The current method is to have carrier diversity and path redundancy, but this creates complexity that increasingly delivers unreliable networks and often results in bandwidth that goes unused.
Dynamic Path Networking has emerged alongside the arrival of programmable network devices with APIs to enable smarter use of WAN bandwidth that can better meet application performance requirements.
This whitepaper includes:
- 32 pages
- 17 illustrations and technical diagrams
- A detailed comparison of traditional IP routing best path mechanisms and SDWAN’s Dynamic Path method
- 5 key takeaways
SDWAN: Get A Managed Service Or Do It Yourself? (Your Incompetence Is My Opportunity)
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos once remarked ‘Your margin is my opportunity’. The context of the quotation is that retail competitors with high margins are vulnerable to a more efficient competitor who can reduce the cost of sales. In October of 2019, I was watching several MSP panels at the London WAN Summit. The providers talked up their dreams of building new businesses by managing SDWANs to replace the rapid decline in MPLS sales.
Here are the most common talking points I heard:
- Customers don’t have the expertise to design or operate an SDWAN network
- Customers don’t want to own their WAN because they aren’t technology experts
- Customers don’t have the skills to operate their WAN
The subtext from the MSPs seemed to echo Jeff Bezos: ‘Your incompetence is my opportunity.’
In short, MSPs are selling products that target customers who are incompetent at IT infrastructure. The MSPs claim they have the competency to address your lack of management and technology expertise. In this paper, I make the case for why this isn’t true, and why most organizations will be best served by operating an SDWAN in-house.
A Unified Theory Of SDWAN Futures Part 1
This paper analyzes SDWAN technology and predicts how the market will evolve.
The current state of the art—path dynamics, visibility, analytics and software operations—is just the first wave in a larger transition that will encompass more features and capabilities. SDWAN features will expand to embrace any device, including endpoints and smartphones, and will extend overlays to any destination, based on a zero-trust security design. Over time, SDWAN will expand to absorb campus networking.
Four phases of SDWAN development are predictable based on current information. In this paper, I describe those phases, and then propose a longer-term vision of WAN and campus networking. I also provide analysis to inform readers’ technology strategies.
The four phases are:
Phase 1 – Path Dynamics, Visibility, Device Management
Phase 2 – Integrated Edge Security Services
Phase 3 – Endpoint and Identity Management
Phase 4 – One Overlay for WAN, Wired, and Wireless Campus.
All of these phases are characterized by a consistent bundling behavior. That is, stand-alone products today become features in a bundle tomorrow.
This whitepaper includes:
- 28 pages
- 5 illustrations
- A review of the current state of SDWAN, and an analysis of how this product category will evolve
- Strategic recommendations for current and long-term SDWAN purchases
2018 SD-WAN Survey Report
The Packet Pushers surveyed our audience about their deployment or planned deployment of SD-WAN products and services in the spring of 2017. This whitepaper includes:
- Full survey responses from 272 IT pros
- 13 full-color charts
- Commentary and analysis
The report is divided into two sections. Section 1 examines the results from seven survey questions that cover enterprise interest in SD-WAN, WAN pain points, essential SD-WAN features, and solution deployment options.
Each survey result in Section 1 includes Context and Commentary. Context discusses the market drivers and technology issues that prompted us to ask the question. Commentary provides a brief analysis of the results.
Section 2 covers the demographic responses from the survey, including details such as company size and industry, geographic location, WAN budgets, and spending authority.
Of the 272 respondents, 31% are senior network engineers, and another 28% are network designers or architects. A plurality of respondents, 48%, work in the enterprise and another 10% are employed by service providers.