Cisco Incubator Program – How to build a router

It’s been a while since my last post. I’ve been really busy with work (I’ll talk about this in another post ūüôā ), university stuff and I didn’t manage to find the time to write here, even if I have some pending articles to review and share soon.


 

Webinars

If you’re following my journey, you already know I’m now part of the Cisco Incubator Program. ¬†The program started few weeks ago with some interesting webinars about technical and non-technical topics. If you’re willing to learn new things and improve your skills thanks to the help of Cisco engineers, you can attend these webinars too, since they are public.

You can follow all the program updates and incoming/recorded sessions inside the Cisco Engineer Incubator page on Facebook.

There you can already find the following records:

Seminars

Seminars are the key part of this program.

Basically, once a month, you’re invited to the nearest Cisco office to attend a full-day (6 hours + 1 hour lunch) seminar with Cisco engineers. Being a project running on several European countries, every office will be connected to Krakow (the main office) via Telepresence, where engineers will deliver the seminar.

Last¬†thursday I attended the first one and now I’ll tell you how cool it’s been ūüôā

How to build a router

Since I live in Catania, the nearest Cisco office is the one in Rome. So I need to take a flight every time to reach it. Because of this, I decided to attend this first seminar via WebEx from home, to save on flight expenses. Anyway, I’ve already booked the tickets for December and January seminars ūüôā

The seminar was held by Wojciech Róg, a Customer Support Engineer working at Cisco TAC and the extended title was: How to build a router: the main principles or router architecture.

Anyway, the actual seminar was preceded by an introduction from Kamila¬†Wegrzyn, our Project Manager for this program. She¬†started introducing us all the people behind the program and their function inside it. Then she explained all the project benefits and expectation. I can only say that after her talk I was even more excited to start ūüôā

After this part, Wojciech introduced himself and asked every one of us (around 20+ people from all over the Europe) to introduce ourself to the rest of the group. It was nice to see some familiar faces from the Assessment Centre day.

Then, we went technical!

The seminars was divided in 3 main parts:

  • The beginning
  • The middle
  • The future

The beginning

This part was designed to review the key concepts of how IOS works and its architecture. Why is it designed in this way? What are the benefit? What is missing?

This broadly covered both hardware and software aspects. It was really interesting to understand how things work inside the box.

During this phase¬†Wojciech asked a lot of questions and gave us mini assignments, like “Ok, during the next 5 minutes you have to think about how we can improve our product and present it“. I think this was really useful to both involve us and make us think.

The middle

This part was designed to explain how Cisco improved IOS, switching from some paradigms to others and how it culminated developing IOS-XE and ASR1000.

This time we went really deep into the ASR1000 architecture: internal components communication, control plan/data plane separation,  modular designs etc.

We then focused on 3 key components: RP, ESP and SIP. We digged deep into both hardware and sofware sides.

The future

This last part was about Cisco vision for future applications.

But first, Wojciech asked again how we could move to the future and present it to the group.

He then exposed us to the Cisco vision and to the Cisco ISR 4000. Again, we went deep on this ūüôā¬†Here he explaned how the router treats an incoming packet, letting ut understand all the internal communications when such event occour.

I got really interested about the FIA (Feature Invocation Array): basically, when a packet is dropped, it happend at a certain point into the packet processing. The FIA is an array containing the sequence of all the features that a packet needs to be processed by in order to be delivered out of the router. This mean that if the packet is dropped, we can know exactly at what point it has been discarded if we know how the FIA looks like.

Conclusions

The seminars has been awesome. Topics were interesting and Wojciech ¬†managed to present them in the clearest way¬†possible. Also, the way he involved us has been great in order to keep us active (you’ll feel tired after several hours, but you’re keeped engaged).

Next seminar will be on December 17th with the title “Introduction to Cisco Collaboration through Voice and Video”, and I can’t wait to attend it at Cisco office in Rome ūüôā

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