I attended the Certified Wireless Network Professional (CWNP) Wi-Fi Trek September 24-26 in San Francisco and can really sum it up in one word, inspired. You see I’m no newbie to the Wi-Fi industry. I have been doing Wi-Fi and nothing but Wi-Fi for about 8 years since joining Bluesocket, a Boston based startup back in 2007. You may have known Bluesocket for their kick a*% guest access, the first enterprise MIMO access points or even the first virtualized Wi-Fi management and control solution to run on a hypervisor. I hear Lee Badman over at wirednot.wordpress.com is still looking for a suitable replacement for the kick a*% guest access that was provided by the now legacy BlueSecure Controllers (BSCs)!
I joined Bluesocket as a Principle Support Engineer with a routing and switching background and limited wireless experience. In those days Wi-Fi Engineers were few and far between and given knowing wireless often meant knowing how to integrate with routers, vlans and authentication servers, the routing and switching background was and still is a great starting point for the fledging Wi-Fi Engineer. I have come a long way since those early days having held several increasingly responsible positions within Bluesocket such as Senior Systems Engineer for Major Accounts and Director of Worldwide Customer Support. ADTRAN has since acquired Bluesocket and I remain the Product Manager responsible for the Wi-Fi product lines within ADTRAN. All along the way, the CWNP curriculum has been by my side, paramount to my success.
I have been fortunate enough to experience firsthand several Wi-Fi architectures. From stand-alone access points to wireless gateways and centralized management systems, to controller-based access points, to controller-based access points with split MAC/tunnel. Finally circa 2010 along came virtualized, controller-less or cloud-based access points which serve as the foundation of what we know as cloud-managed Wi-Fi today.
It was about this time that I became what one might call a social media lurker, hiding in the shadows of cyberspace, reading and learning from the social media conversations, but rarely participating in them. I even created the framework for this blog and a twitter account, but I never blogged anything, never tweeted anything! Devin Akin now over at divdyn.net/blog was transitioning from CNWP vendor agnostic to the dark side working for a vendor. I sat back and watched and learned while Devin preached the gospel of controller-less, coordinated-control, the distributed architecture, no more evil feature licenses and of course WORLD DOMINATION. I think I might have even seen an old school pic of him breakdancing or something. I watched Devin since move from Aerohive to Airtight and start the same type of buzz for Airtight that he did with Aerohive. That quickly fizzled away of course as he moved on to pursue his own thing. You can find Devin these days preaching that 2.4 GHz is dead! I saw other professionals like Keith Parsons over at wlanpros.com teach the importance of proper Wi-Fi design and site surveys. Keith is now known for his wildly successful WLAN Professionals Conferences that sell out in like 3 minutes. Don’t mention 1 AP per classroom to him! Others like Andrew Von Nagy of revolutionwifi.net followed suite blogging and tweeting about topics such Cisco H-Reap, the move to smart APs and Wi-Fi roaming. I even saw Andrew follow Devin on that journey through the dark side of Aerohive and Airtight. You can’t google “Wi-Fi” today without it coming back with a plethora of Andrew’s content. Have you seen his capacity planner! I even recall a pic of Andrew Flavor Flav style with an AP around his neck (instead of clock) throwing out a west coast sign. East coast baby! There are so many other folks that I have followed and learned from over the years like Lee Badman over at wirednot.wordpress.com , Jennifer Hubor over at jenniferhuber.blogspot.com, etc. and even relatively new comers like Eddie Forero over at bad-fi.com. It is difficult to give them all credit but credit is certainly due.
At the CWNP Wi-Fi Trek I was fortunate enough to meet many of these folks like Devin, Keith, and Andrew that I have followed and learned from over the years, and even relatively new comers like Eddie. I was able to participate first hand in this vibrant Wi-Fi community. These folks are as passionate about Wi-Fi as I am, my kind of folks. Some folks binge on Netflix over the weekend, I binge on CWNP Wi-Fi Trek and Wireless Tech Field Day videos! Unfortunately I didn’t get to meet Jennifer but Andrew gave me one of her “I Heart Wi-Fi buttons” and I somehow now feel connected!
So how has the CWNP Wi-Fi Trek inspired me? Well sorry CWNP it hasn’t inspired me to go off and get a bunch of certs, I typically reserve that for when I’m looking for a new position and I’m quite happy where I am right now. Like I said above though, the CWNP curriculum has been by my side, every step of the way, paramount to my success. The CWNP Wi-Fi Trek has inspired me to participate in these social media conversations. Who knows if I’ll go from being a lurker to a peacock, maybe a ranter or even an informer, but it all starts here with this first blog post.