The Complexities of Cloud Networking with William Collins

Episode Summary

Corey is joined by William Collins, Alkira's head cloud architect, to discuss the obstacles and possibilities of cloud networking. They discuss the evolution, challenges, and necessity of cloud networking, highlighting why this fundamental part of cloud design often goes unrecognized yet truly deserves attention. From William's early days of cloud skepticism to the incredible influence of services such as AWS Transit Gateway, William shares his experiences and insights into how network planning can make a big difference in cloud installations in this episode of Screaming in the Cloud.

Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Show Notes:

About William Collins:

William Collins is a principal cloud architect at Alkira, where he plays a pivotal role in evangelizing the company's vision, building customer relationships, and leading thought in the network, security, and automation spaces within the cloud ecosystem. With a rich background in enterprise technology across financial services and healthcare, including a significant tenure as Director of Cloud Architecture at Humana, William has made substantial contributions to cloud adoption and network modernization. Beyond his professional pursuits, William is passionate about content creation, hosting The Cloud Gambit Podcast, and teaching as a LinkedIn Learning Instructor. His expertise spans automation, cloud computing, and network engineering. An advocate for continuous learning and innovation, William's outside interests include woodworking, playing ice hockey, and guitar. While his insights are influential, they reflect his personal views and not those of his employer.

Show Highlights: 

(00:00) Introduction
(03:24) William Collins shares his initial skepticism towards cloud computing 
(07:28) The evolution of cloud networking
(13:50) The role of upfront planning in cloud network deployment to avoid scalability and complexity issues.
(21:10) The shift from complicated, manual network setups to simple, effective cloud systems .
(24:13) William uses Netflix's network design as an example of how cloud networking powers seamless user experiences 
(27:44) The future of cloud networking and the ongoing need for innovation
(30:23)  Closing remarks 



SITC-543-William Collins-001


William Collins: [00:00:00] You don't do any planning up front with the network. You can hit some weird stuff and you, you find yourself in a corner that's, you know, really hard to get out of.

Corey Quinn: Welcome to Screaming in the Cloud. I'm Corey Quinn. The cloud means an awful lot of things to an awful lot of people, but without networking, it's basically just a giant space heater. My guest today has some opinions with a capital O on the idea of networking in the cloud. William Collins is a principal cloud architect at Alkira.

Corey Quinn: William, thank you for joining

Corey Quinn: me.

William Collins: Thanks for having me. Excited to be here.

Corey Quinn: How's that going for you?

William Collins: It's going really well. Uh, by the way, thank you for coming on as a guest and, uh, you know, showing me some wisdom, giving me some tips as well, you know, so getting to learn from you, you know, a titan in the podcasting industry.

William Collins: Corey, Quinn.

Corey Quinn: Solicited to be clear, solicited showing up and like, well, this is crappy and that's awful, and that's just [00:01:00] ridiculous. Yeah. That's just called being a sparkling jerk. Yeah. That's not wisdom or anything like that. No. But everyone has their own style and other people's material fits about as well as other people's shoes.

Corey Quinn: Uh, honestly, I learned what I know about this space mostly from getting it wrong, but try something enough times you stumble into a formula that works for you. Roll into it.

William Collins: Yeah. Well, you made my life easier, which is a, a net positive. So, yeah. Thank you for that.

Corey Quinn: I'll, I'll take what I can get. So I talk to an awful lot of people who are doing weird things in cloud, focusing on different aspects of it.

Corey Quinn: It's not particularly common that I talk to people who have taken an interest. One might say bordering on obsession with the networking side of it. How do you get there?

William Collins: That's a good question. So I think understanding that a lot of the disciplines in technology had a, I don't wanna say the, the.

William Collins: Transition was seamless to cloud computing, but it was, it was much easier than the path [00:02:00] that networking took and the path that security's taken. So networking just historically has just been a harder problem to solve because if you think about it, there's a big blast radius, a big failure domain, a big uh, uh, attack surface, whatever it is that you want to call it, that all this stuff sits on top of.

William Collins: So more impact. You know, it's, it's really hard to move. So I took that interest a long time ago. I was in data centers. I was, you know, riding Pearl, I'm using expect automating load balancers and you know, racking and stacking things. And I remember two developers came to me and said, Hey, there's this cloud thing called AWS.

William Collins: And they started giving me this vision and I was like, you all are crazy. Nobody's gonna put their intellectual property up in someone else's data center. That's. Dead on arrival, and boy was I wrong. So I ended up,

Corey Quinn: what year was this? Give or take?

William Collins: It would've been back in 2000, I wanna say like 2000 later than 2010, but before [00:03:00] 2014, 15, somewhere in there.

Corey Quinn: So VPCs had come out by then, but it, so it wasn't just EC2 classic, but yeah, that was a very common refrain. Be like, oh, who in the world is gonna trust this? Well. Basically everyone

Corey Quinn: as it turns out. But it, that was not obvious at the time.

William Collins: Yeah, absolutely. And you know, that put me in a place to where once I did start seeing the value and then maybe this isn't a good thing, but a lot of times when you work for and, and to kind of back up, I.

William Collins: I work for a startup now, but I was grinding on the enterprise side of the house for like, you know, multinational professional services firms and, you know, healthcare organizations for like 15 years. So that's where like the vast majority of my experience is, is like down in the weeds, you know, figuring out how to bring in these new technologies to enterprise.

William Collins: Going through and like figuring out, you know, okay, you have this cloud thing, now we see the value. And as an organization, okay, we see other organizations doing this now too. And that's almost like a safety net. Like, oh, there's this new [00:04:00] thing, oh, this CIO summit happened and a lot of CIOs are talking about this popular thing.

William Collins: Okay. So we, we better look at it. We're gonna start prototyping it and, and see what we can do with it. And of course, that's kind of the, the way that I got into cloud. And then once I started using it. I started loving it for a lot of various reasons, uh, many of which meant that I didn't have to go in the data center and pull cables or do different things.

William Collins: It was just a new way of doing things. I. And there's trade-offs. Of course,

Corey Quinn: you have a control plane that takes an API. Suddenly you're not driving frantically across town because you forgot to set a cron or an AT job to revert a firewall change in five minutes if you didn't cancel it, because I'm about to make a change and I've locked myself out.

Corey Quinn: Yeah. The second time is really when it feels terrible, like you'd think I would've learned the first time.

William Collins: What have you been here before? You sound like you've been there

Corey Quinn: lots of times and, and I think that's like back when 2008, turning into 2009 was when the global financial crisis hit, and I was at a job [00:05:00] then that I was getting kind of bored with, but no one was hiring.

Corey Quinn: So, all right, sit tight. I got my CCNA that year. It was one of those adjacent areas where I felt that would make me a better systems person. Like, okay, what part, what do I touch a lot that I sort of hand wave over from a knowledge perspective? And I didn't know what the hell a subnet mask was. I just knew I had to type that one in, or things didn't work right, and let's figure out why.

Corey Quinn: And it made me a better systems person as a result. And increasingly I find that there's a lot of Hand-waving, going on over networking in the cloud and there have been for a while.

William Collins: There definitely is one big challenge. I would say like cloud networking like historically has had a pretty, I'd say like a troubled past.

William Collins: So like I like to think about cloud networking in a sense of floating abstractions that are just floating atop the, the real network that you interact with. And you have like a limited amount of ways that you can interact with and actually manipulate things, you know, by design. So. If you look, you know, towards the beginning of this [00:06:00] journey, you know, the first time I set up connectivity to AWS, it was a site to site VPN.

William Collins: It's like, okay, you know, we have these three VPCs out there. Our organization has to connect them back to on-premises. And at the time it was like, okay, we got routers in the data center. Let's terminate the VPNs there to these magic public endpoints in the cloud and these magical availability zones.

William Collins: Great. I remember doing this and thinking, you know, I'm an expert at cloud. I got this down. I've been doing this forever. What more is there to learn? And of course, you know, famous last words there. 'cause as you grow, you know that three or four VPCs turns into, you know, 34 VPCs and 80 VPCs, and you keep growing.

William Collins: So unless your aspirations are limited to wanting to be a tunnel admin for VPN tunnels for the rest of your life. And don't get me started on transitive routing. You know, that's not a good design approach right there. And then, you know, technology evolved and AWS tried to make it easier with transit VPC, [00:07:00] and I guess I could go on a rant there.

William Collins: I think Transit VPC hit in Twenty-sixteen. I. Can't remember off the top of my head. But with that design, like you Corey Quinn is the customer would actually have to go in. You gotta create the Transit VPC with public internet reachability. You need to, at a minimum have some appliances in there. Usually, a lot of times, you know, at the time it was two Cisco CSRs, you've gotta build IPsec tunnels everywhere between the spokes, between the Transit VPC, and then you gotta run BGP atop it.

William Collins: Good, good luck with that one. Uh, full stack developers. 'cause you know, that's even hard for network folks, you know, based on the cloud and how it worked at the time. And then not, you know, your, your cup of tea, the billing, you're paying Cisco for the licenses, right? You're, you're paying AWS to, to, to host the instances you're, you're paying for all the egress in all the different places.

William Collins: You, you have all these different, and then you're doing that [00:08:00] for a lot of value that isn't there, like your scale

Corey Quinn: and you're paying for the time your team is spending figuring all this out too, which is always more expensive.

William Collins: A lot of time, you know, a ton of time. But then, you know, transit Gateway rolled out and that was like a, you know, I gotta say it was magic when that was released.

William Collins: I can't think of a single product release that. Had an immediate fit, like Transit Gateway did, um, for scale, for usability, for, you know, Terraform provider integration for all these things that you would like to have with the networking. So there's not so much ad hoc and piecemeal, you know, Transit, Gateway, you know, kudos to AWS 'cause that it was a fantastic product.

Corey Quinn: My theory is that back when I started, if you didn't have the network. Working correctly. None of the stuff you're putting in your data center is going to work. So networking was a clear competency that your company needed to have. Contrast that with today we're [00:09:00] starting, uh, where you're building a startup, uh, not yours because to my understanding, Alkira does cloud networking.

Corey Quinn: You kind of need that skill set there too. But if I'm building Twitter for pets or whatnot, and I need to get the thing online, I can do that while knowing effectively nothing at all about networking past some very basic things, and that'll carry me through for a while. Until suddenly, it very much won't.

Corey Quinn: Whereas day one in a, in a data center, you have to understand the idea of VLANs, of having an out of band management network of figuring out about congestion at top of rack switches, trying to understand exactly how these things are going to scale. Huh, maybe I shouldn't give everything a slash-twenty-four and put them right next to each other.

Corey Quinn: Maybe I should space them out so I can grow and expand things. Heck, even here at home, I recently, uh, renumbered the network. I. I made the, the blunder though of, I started off with a 1 9 2 1 6 8 1 1. Well, I'm expanding it from a 24 to a 23. That because of the way network boundaries work is [00:10:00] now including

Corey Quinn: So my gateway is smack in the middle of the range. I've gotta move the gateway, which means, although I've already dropped the DHCP interval, um, significantly, not everything, like, you know, the Amazon Echo ahem, ahem respects new information when it comes in from DHCP. So I've gotta clear a couple of hours to go through the house and turn on and recycle everything that didn't obey the change after I make the switch.

Corey Quinn: Like, because you still make silly mistakes like this. It gets complicated in a bunch of different ways, but today to build a company you don't have to know anything about networking until suddenly you're gonna really wish that you had did.

William Collins: Yeah, a hundred percent. Like if you're a new company starting out today, of course the path to success is a lot easier, but you still gotta plan.

William Collins: But most, let's face it, most companies that have adopted cloud, most companies that you know you work with and that I work, that most people work with. They had something before AWS. It's funny. Yeah. That example you gave with IP addressing true story. True story here. [00:11:00] So I got brought in, you know, I, I had this job I got brought in to fix and help with this big AWS deployments.

William Collins: They built all these VPCs. And they were using synthetic data within the VPCs to do all the testing and everything. And then they needed to connect this stuff back to a series of data centers

Corey Quinn: IP collisions. ' cause everyone uses the same RFC-in-the-nineteen space.

William Collins: Well, you know what's funny about that?

William Collins: They took the example in the AWS documentation and they, they basically, they were like, look, we follow the documentation line by line. We use this cider. It was like a 10 point something 0.0 0.0 slash eight or slash 16, and they used the same slider for every single VPC. Oh no. Yeah. They were, you know, in the company it sort of had a short sighted, so they went out and they thought that hiring full-stack developers meant like one-hundred-percent experts at every single discipline.

William Collins: Which we, we all know is, is actually impossible

Corey Quinn: At that stage. Companies also are, [00:12:00] uh, tend to be very parsimonious and they tend to believe, uh, usually through the hiring narrative that they're hiring people who are the best in the world at this. In reality, they would do very well to pay someone a $5,000 consulting fee to come in for four hours and just look at what they're doing and say, fix this, fix that, fix this other thing.

Corey Quinn: Good. There you go. And then leave. But those small changes that are just lines on a whiteboard in the planning stages become year-long projects. Once you realize that you, you hit this to the limits and have to do something about it, I mean, AW S is now charging at, we're recording this in the middle of February.

Corey Quinn: They're now charging per public IPv-for address starting in the first of this month. So March 3rd is when people are gonna get their bills and freak out about this. I have customers who are, well, what do we do here? We are gonna spend hundreds of thousands of dollars a month on this. And AWS says, well, you can bring your own IP blocks.

Corey Quinn: We don't charge you for that. Yeah, but you've gotta then renumber everything. And these things aren't just sitting there for funsies. [00:13:00] Customers have white listed these things or allowed, listed these things in various firewalls at client sites around the world. It will take years, if ever, to get these things taken care of.

Corey Quinn: Who's gonna spend all that time and effort it? A lot of customers are taking it on the chin.

William Collins: Yeah, a hundred percent. And those are, those are all things that you have to keep, you know, keep in mind up front because networking, you know, especially in cloud, if I'm thinking like, let's say, you know, take route limits, for instance, you get 200 route tables, I think, per VPC.

William Collins: And each one of these has a default quota of like, like 50 routes. I'd have to look something like that. So it pays to know this, which limits are hard limits and which limits are soft limits,

Corey Quinn: and which are the third category. The limits that AWS support swears up and down don't exist until three escalations later when suddenly, oh wait, hang on.

Corey Quinn: And suddenly everything works. I may have some bitterness.

William Collins: Somebody's doing something on the back end, it would seem of course. So, and, and yes, you can increase these, these limits, these [00:14:00] quotas for a VPC, but you might, you know, want to increase the quota for subnets at the same time. I. Why you might ask?

William Collins: Well, you know, route tables can be shared with like numerous subnets, but those subnets can only be associated with a single route table.

Corey Quinn: You spin up a new account, you need to propagate some of those limits immediately. And if you wanna migrate something, you need to replicate those limits, but hope you remember all of them.

Corey Quinn: And Increasingly, the default limits for things get lowered with time. It used to be that you would be able to get, uh, like now new accounts, for example, get 10. Um, concurrent Lambda executions used to be a thousand so. Yeah, things that used to work in a new account you never realized existed or had a problem are going to cause problems now.

Corey Quinn: It's a, the world changes and you get to figure this stuff out all over again.

William Collins: Yeah, and I mean, this takes you back to design principles too. So like when, you know, when does a large organization decide, okay, when, what is the thing that causes us to create a new AWS account? And then, okay, this has a direct impact on when an organization decides it's time to create new VPCs.

William Collins: And [00:15:00] then. That feeds into, okay, well how many applications or services may live in a given VPC, which directly impacts, okay, how many subnets and route tables you might need within that VPC. So there's this cascading thing that happens and it's really easy if you don't do any planning upfront with the network, you can hit some weird stuff and you, you find yourself in a corner that's, you know, really hard to get out of.

Corey Quinn: What also astonishes me, and I mean you still see a lot of it in AWS, let's be clear, but there's a better option where in networking, for whatever reason it seems like configuration is code has been very slow to emerge. We still see sites having issues because someone forgot to copy run, start on their router config or switch config.

Corey Quinn: Power outage takes the thing out and now nothing works. It's a, or at least with an AWS environment, as long as you're not doing the click ops thing, cool. You can reapply everything wherever it needs to go. And you can reason about

Corey Quinn: that.

William Collins: Yeah. And one thing about AWS, one thing that I [00:16:00] valued, so when I was automating things, I.

William Collins: Doing like the screen scraping, using expect, using all this different stuff to automate network and firewall stuff in the past,

Corey Quinn: God, do you remember rancid?

William Collins: Oh, I ran rancid in production, my friend.

Corey Quinn: I had to patch rancid in production to teach it, to manage radware, load balancers. It was not fun. Like I should not have been doing any of that.

Corey Quinn: I was not qualified. Well, who would be? But yeah, I was not qualified to be doing any of that nonsense at the time, but it worked.

William Collins: It did, and it worked well, and it worked, it could, I mean, really at, at the end of the day, what are you automating? What you're automating doesn't have an API exposed to give you consistent data, a consistent payload.

William Collins: You don't have a consistent way to interact with things. And that's the beauty about when I started picking up cloud. The, the APIs are so much more robust. Like when you make a call, you're getting the same responses. Like, I I, I don't wanna make it sound like a, you know. Beautiful field of dreams. 'cause there's problems of course, but for the most part it's a [00:17:00] better world, you know, with an API driven world than you know, where we came from.

William Collins: And network venue, big network vendors are trying to catch up. Everybody has a Terraform provider just to say they have it now, you know, when they're really at the, in the back end. The, the core infrastructure wasn't meant to have any of those high level abstractions for interactions. So yeah, it's an interesting space.

Corey Quinn: It's always been weird seeing people cling to the old way of doing things when there's a. When learning the new thing is what thing, how it's happening, that is what the industry is doing. People feel like it's eroding at their sense of identity. I mean, we're having this at a opportune time. Uh, the reason I got into this stuff again, somewhat recently is I have a talk coming up next month.

Corey Quinn: I have spent the last month and a half or so building a Kubernetes locally, and it reminds me of all the things I'd forgotten about having to deal with in data centers, waiting for hardware to show up. Inconsistent hardware failures, uh, dodgy cables. Huh, the Switch says it's supposed to be able to do this, why [00:18:00] isn't it?

Corey Quinn: And so on and so forth. Whereas in cloud, it's super easy to, okay, I'm gonna spin up entire second stack of this in another account and see if the same thing happens. Oh, look it does. Cool. Turn it off again, and you're out, what, 20 cents for the experiment, whereas you, I'm gonna buy a whole second set of equipment.

Corey Quinn: Good luck.

William Collins: I just got rid of a 42 U rack in my basement when I was studying for CCIE like 10, you know, way long time ago, over 10 years ago. I've had this thing forever, and to get to disassemble this sucker and get all the stuff unracked and get all of it out, I mean, it took like probably like over 48 hours.

William Collins: It took forever.

Corey Quinn: How many times you end up bleeding from the rack nuts?

William Collins: I hate those things. I actually left a lot of 'em in, to be honest.

Corey Quinn: And they're in different sizes too. They're not compatible, but you can't tell easily by looking. Yeah. I, sorry, we sound like old men complaining about the advent of how hardware has got, has shaped out

William Collins: grinding through that actually shaped you. You really appreciate some of the conveniences of modern day infrastructure though, and if you did have to go through that, you know it's. [00:19:00] It's the, it's a different world. And I mean, there's some things with cloud that are not ideal, as you know. You know, and you talk about quite, quite a bit. But for the most part, you know, net positive, I think we're in a better place now than we were, you know, 15 years ago.

Corey Quinn: I agree. And I think some of it might. Lend itself to a partial explanation of the lack of widespread interest In networking. You take things that are of interest to folks. It's newfangled technology, serverless, Kubernetes, etc. Things that are perceived to deliver business value for better or worse, whether they do or not as a separate argument for another time, but networking is viewed as well.

Corey Quinn: That just should work, right? If it doesn't, you have a problem. It, it's dude, like electrical work or plumbing, whereas. If this breaks, we're definitely gonna call in an expert. We're gonna complain about the cost and the, and the time spent where the toilet is gushing water. 'cause we don't even know there's a shutoff valve behind it, but it's not considered high value.

Corey Quinn: It's commoditized and I think that people aren't falling all over themselves to go work in an [00:20:00] environment like that when there's new, exciting things that frankly get a lot more press.

William Collins: Yeah, I could, I could talk forever. I could go on a rant, which, I'll go on a mini rant here real quick. With these new technologies coming in and the new technologists that are coming in to, to work these new technologies in cloud, the first thing they see is the shiny and pretty things like serverless, you know, the AWS heroes, you know, and the community events promoting serverless containers.

William Collins: You know, networking, since I've been working in this space for a long time, has never. Made it the first class. We are always in the back of the plane and until

William Collins: something's broke,

Corey Quinn: everything runs on EC too. And that barely gets talked about these days

William Collins: a hundred percent.

Corey Quinn: It's not the exciting part. Of course, now everything has to sit in the back of a plane because it's gen ai.

Corey Quinn: You ever notice that AWS loves to talk about the things it feels insecure about slash is actively failing at it. They never talk about the things that they, that they truly excel at. And I think they're doing everyone a disservice

Corey Quinn: through that. [00:21:00]

William Collins: I agree. Yeah, I mean, it's the whole thing, like these new hype cycles come and it's like, okay, like one thing I've, you know, acknowledged and I've realized is like, especially when serverless came along, I love serverless.

William Collins: I've used it historically to solve many problems, but practitioners take this approach to where it's like the whole, everything has to be serverless. It can't just be like where it fits or everything has to be like, I was part of an organization that had a Kubernetes only strategy. Every app that we built from.

William Collins: You know, some date had to be built on Kubernetes clusters, and I'm thinking like, oh.

William Collins: that just doesn't make any sense

Corey Quinn: There are things for which it does not, it's not fit for purpose and it isn't helped at all by the ongoing bastardization of what serverless means. Originally, when it launched, it said on the AWS website that scaling to zero was a characteristic of serverless. The Wayback machine confirms this. Then they decided at some point to call a bunch of things serverless that scaled down to like 30 or [00:22:00] 70 bucks a month minimum.

Corey Quinn: It's still serverless. No, that's a managed service. If it doesn't scale to zero, it's not. Serverless is the old school purest definition of this. So congratulations, you've taken an exciting, promising technology and dev and devolved the term into effectively meaninglessness.

William Collins: Yeah, and the interest, I mean, I think part of it is the, is on the cloud providers.

William Collins: AWS is really good at getting the, the masses excited. Like if you look at the hero categories, they have the community, they have serverless data. Containers, machine learning, I think they have security now, but where's networking? Where's the focus on the bedrock that a, you know, runs underneath all this stuff?

William Collins: And you know, many environments that I've gone through and like redesigned over the years, it's really clear to me that application centric folks, historically, they might end up creating anti-patterns and ultimately a lot more work and complexity for themselves as a [00:23:00] result of not having a well-designed network in place.

William Collins: You know why? Why is that? I mean, I look at it so funny story. So my, my brother-in-law got hitched to a girl in Canada. So the next year my wife and I found ourselves in, when I say the middle of nowhere, I mean the middle of nowhere in Canada. Beautiful. But good luck finding a gas station. So the, the church that got married in was out in like these woods.

William Collins: There was no plumbing, no electricity, like it was out in the sticks. You know what worked really well for me, and I, I actually gave a talk about this at some community day a while back, but it was Netflix.

William Collins: The streaming, streaming video.

William Collins: And I thought, you know what, that is a testament to their ultimately, like there's a lot of networking under the hood.

William Collins: There's a lot of different stuff going on to make that available to me where I was at where I had like mediocre cell service and there was like nothing else and I thought, wow, that's a really well-designed network. I appreciate that. But again, a lot of people don't understand the the mechanics that go into that underneath the hood, and it's really [00:24:00] hard to build out a robust.

William Collins: Highly available distributed network architecture like that.

Corey Quinn: Even the fundamental economic building block of networking has been turned on its head by cloud. In the days of building out data centers, you pay for a port speed and then you would have a bandwidth commit. Uh, that was ninety-fifth percentile of use.

Corey Quinn: So you'd take every five minute span throughout the month, chop off the, the top 5%, and the next one up was the one that you got billed for. So whether you had. Data piling through this thing or nothing at all, you paid the same and suddenly metering everything by the gigabyte at, you know, 1993 prices leads to the impression that people have, which is that networking data is precious and it's really, really not, not anymore, but the clouds make us think that way and they, we act.

Corey Quinn: As rational economic actors, as if that were true. And that really, I think, shuts the door on a bunch of really interesting Networking based startups that could have existed, but in a time of [00:25:00] cloud and with those economics never would've been financially viable.

William Collins: Yeah, you hit the nail on the head. Such a good point.

William Collins: And even like, as it turns out, you know, like you said, so even like experimenting with things, of course tends to lead to new innovation. So a lot of products out there, if they have like a free. A free tier or hey, you can try this for, for 60 days kind of thing. Folks are inclined to go in there and try it and build things like I've done that with like every CICD platform out there.

William Collins: Like I, like CICD is one of my fun places I like to live. It's awesome 'cause I like automation and a lot of those products, you know, whether it's GitHub actions or you know, whatever else, you know, they have free tiers and you can just try and do things. And the more you do that, the more you experiment and you venture out of your direct discipline to the adjacent disciplines.

William Collins: That's how new things are made. That's how new innovation comes, you know? Well, it's so hard, you know, if you're gonna rack up some giant bill, you know, using [00:26:00] like a, uh, sorry to pick on Cloud WAN, but like a cloud WAN, or you know, one of the more expensive services like that. How are you gonna experiment and, and build things?

William Collins: You gotta do it on your company's dime while you're going in production.

Corey Quinn: Yeah. Looking at even the basic for a single core network on cloud when it was like four or 500 bucks and yeah, I, I have budget to experiment with a bunch of AWS stuff, but I. If you're gonna give me like a few thousand dollars that'll take me to do this, like I'm going to work on things that I find much more directly germane to what I'm working on that given week and not these, these things that are useful to a subset of folks, but far from all of them, it's the, the barrier to entry for a lot of these things is a little high.

Corey Quinn: The honest truth is people still learn a lot of this stuff, especially in networking by tinkering in home labs, and if you price yourselves out of it, don't offer free tiers that let people at least kick the tires on this. You're doing yourself a disservice. I mean, there were problems with it. Sure. But Cisco's packet tracer was incredible in that it let you, for effectively free or next to [00:27:00] it, be able to run emulated versions of all these things in a imaginary network and see what routing, configure and switching changes did and how traffic would flow through it.

Corey Quinn: Sure. It had its bugs, but it gave people the sense of wonder that, oh, that it can do that. That's fascinating. Just sit down and tinker with it.

William Collins: Yeah. And a lot of these things, honestly, a lot of these disciplines are kind of converging, like especially network and security. You know, if you look at a lot of these giant enterprises, the, the network security and network engineering teams or tiers are converging into the same team, same leader.

William Collins: You know, this is happening, especially within cloud. And you know, you know, as it turns out, like the more that it pays to. To, to learn, to go outside of your discipline, to, to figure out these technologies, to experiment and, you know, try to educate yourself. So that, and, and not to say that everybody has to be a network expert, but knowing the constructs, being able to put them in the right context [00:28:00] for a particular design, and knowing when and how to bring in, you know, whoever the network heavy hitters might be, whether they're in your org or whether they're like a consultant.

William Collins: That's gonna save you and your organization time

Corey Quinn: or even in your own network. I'm trying to deal this thing. I'm not seeing how it works. Can you help? Like I, I solved a problem with that, uh, gateway migration by talking to some PF sense folks on IRC of all places.

William Collins: That's awesome. IRC still going strong.

Corey Quinn: It's the, but that, like, there's always someone who knows this stuff. We don't have to solve it alone, but people forget if you don't even know that the, the issues are there. The only way they find out is by blundering into them.

William Collins: And you, you'll, you will definitely, if you take, if you do a little due diligence here, you will save your organization a ton of time, a ton of technical debt, and a ton of resource efforts.

William Collins: If you, you think about these things up front, like shift the network left a little bit, you know, if you will get it earlier on in the planning process. And that's my goal with the community and the outreach is trying to, you know, 'cause I've been, I've seen a lot of these environments. I've fixed a lot of these environments and [00:29:00] just save yourself the time, you know, bring in some of these core infrastructure pieces earlier.

Corey Quinn: If nothing else, what the hallway track is for. Like, I'm about to do this. What am I gonna regret the most in six months? Right? People will give you 32nd answers. It'll save you weeks. Uh, but outreach is important, um, to that end. If people wanna learn more about how you view these things, where's the best place for them to find you?

William Collins: So you can find me on LinkedIn William Hyphen Collins, Twitter W Collins 5 0 2. Then everywhere else it is the cloud gambit, including I, I have a podcast cloud related,

Corey Quinn: which I recommend. It's fun.

William Collins: Yeah, we've had a lot of good guests, A lot of good conversations. Yeah, and Corey's on there too. If you don't come for anything else, come for Corey.

William Collins: It was a great episode, and I thank you for coming on. Highly entertaining. Made me laugh.

Corey Quinn: Awesome. We'll, of course, put links to all of that in the show notes. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with me. I appreciate it.

William Collins: Absolutely. Thank you.

Corey Quinn: William Collins, principal [00:30:00] Cloud architect at Alkira.

Corey Quinn: I'm cloud economist, Corey Quinn, and this is Screaming in the Cloud. If you've enjoyed this podcast, please leave a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice. Whereas if you hated this podcast, please, we have a five-star review on your podcast platform of choice, along with an angry, insulting comment that won't be delivered successfully because that platform did not in fact understand how networks are supposed to work.

Corey Quinn: TCP now terminates on the floor.

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