Direct Connect as a distraction?

Today is my checkride at AWS. Essentially I will stand in-front of a panel of my peers and present the AWS 101 deck and be asked questions in a real world customer scenario. I wouldn’t say I am nervous but I am anxious to see if I am as far along as I need\hope to be. One of the things I expect to be covered in depth is direct connect (DX), so while I am prepping I figured I would write up a quick post on what DX is and how it works.

Direct Connect is a dedicated connection from customers on-prem or CoLo facilities into AWS. Seems simple enough right? You can get DX connections in 1Gbps or 10Gbps ports and can aggregate multiple ports together. DX is ordered via your AWS console, when you order the connections you will have a couple of things you need to do. First you will have to present the IP space that you will be associating with the DX. You will also need to work with your ISP to create a connection to an AWS peering point with an Amazon Partner Network partner such as Equinix.

AWS will validate that you own your IP addresses and that you have a connection at the peering point. Then an authorization to connect will be issued to the APN partner and the connection will be made. Direct connect requires that you have established 802.1q VLANs and a BGP capable router. AWS will advertise all public Autonomous System Numbers (ASNs) you will want to limit the scope to the regions in which you want to share IP space with for your VPC. Private or public ASNs are allowed.

VLANs extended from your on-prem environment to AWS will travers the DX connection along the VLAN that they are assigned to a designated VPC with the correlating VLAN space. However you will not be able to connect directly across multiple VPC’s unless you have established VPC peering points in AWS, or if you use lollipop networking where your on-prem router acts as the core for VPC to VPC communications. The DX connection is not an internet connection, VPC’s will still require a designated Internet Gateway connection with an elastic IP or can use the on-prem internet connection for internet ingress and egress. Think of it this way, you can use the same security perimeter and monitoring solution with a DX so you don’t have to change the way your business or organization runs their security today.

This is a complex topic and I have only just scratched the surface. For more information check out the AWS Direct Connect FAQ.

Top 5 Things to consider changing jobs

Again it’s the weekend and no one is reading these posts anyway so I figured I would try my
hand at a bait click type post. I have changed jobs, a lot through out my career. So while I could talk about putting together the perfect resume, or coping with interview questions I thought man there are some really basic things to consider when even thinking about making a career change.

Before we get into what these top 5 things are, it’s important to note that this is going to be different for everyone you need to first do some introspection and decide what is important to you. Also know that it’s dependent on where you are in your career I will try and address that a little here.

#1: Find something challenging This may sound like a no brainer but often time we get bored with our current job and really are looking for more of a challenge. So when you go looking for a new job be sure you aren’t just making a lateral move to do more of the same, otherwise you will be stuck in the same situation a year later and not have gained any new skills to market. I’ve done this before and really kicked myself for it. For those of you just starting out challenging is just getting your foot in the door, if you are fresh out of school or just trying to break into the job market the last thing you want to be is picky take the leap because for you the challenge will be starting to build your career and any job is the first step. Don’t confuse this with finding a gig that brings you passion, you need to find that passion in yourself for whatever you are doing. To me that’s more about the career path than just the job, I don’t need a company to inspire my passion I find it in what I am working on or trying to learn.

#2: Have a goal in mind – It’s easy to go looking for a new job but along with looking for a challenge you should have a career goal in mind. I actually have two sets of goals for my career a financial goal which has milestones of where I want to be earnings wise, this list rarely changes or fluctuates but I have taken steps backwards to take steps forward later.  I also have a skills goal list which changes sometimes weekly, this is where I keep up to date on industry trends and try and make determinations of where I see the industry I work in going and what technologies are going to win out. Everyone should have these lists and keep them written or digitally around you and review them often.

#3: Benefits The package you will be offered from an employer is negotiable on many fronts. Understanding that upfront is important because you can ask for more leave, or ask for signing bonuses etc. But you need to take into account the full cost of benefits before accepting or turning down a job. Account for the 401k vestment cycle and the corporate contributions, if there isn’t a 401K ask the HR rep what the retirement plan options available to you are, I don’t want to be paying for your old butts because you didn’t take advantage of what is essentially free money. Health, dental, vision are all common as well but knowing what you can expect to pay monthly and how much the company pays needs to be known so you can compare to your existing job. For you newbies the comparison doesn’t matter as much as knowing that you will have coverage. A lot of companies now have additional discount or employee programs that you can take part in all of that needs to be calculated to help you make your up or down vote on whether or not to accept. My wife and I used to have an agreement she would work for benefits and I would work for pay, but with the rise in premiums at her company we started looking far more closely at the packages I was receiving when I moved around, and now I carry insurance for the whole family.

#4: Work/Life Struggle – It’s not a balance it’s a struggle at the end of the day. If you are just starting off and don’t have a wife or kids you are good to go with putting in 60hr work weeks no problem. But as you get settled down it becomes more and more difficult with school activities, sports, date nights, family time it really is robbing Peter to pay Paul some days. Where I will go run a soccer practice from 6-7:30pm and then come home eat dinner and then sit down in the office for a few hours to catch up on work. When you are interviewing ask the question of what the expectations are for your work schedule. Ask what the social atmosphere of the office is and ask if they have programs for your kids.

#5: Don’t rush –  Honestly the worst thing you can do is rush to leave a company because you think you are done there. Take your time, look internally ask around if there are other opportunities for you or new challenges to take on. The one thing that I regret about moving around so much was that I never built up tenure at a single company or got to see the advantages that it grants you. My wife has been at the same company for 15 years and has more leave than she knows what to do with. If you rush you may end up in the same situation you are trying to leave or miss a marker that the place you are going isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.

Remember that every job has it’s own stinky, dirty, awful messes to go with it. Changing jobs often isn’t for the faint of heart so what worked for me may not work for everyone. But if you find a challenge you want to take on that meets your goals and inspires passion in you than go for it.


It’s Saturday so let’s talk soccer

The issue with VDM30in30 is you really have to plan out what you are going to blog about for 30 days. Then you have to assume that someone is going to read it and need to make sense of it.

I watched my stats for last year and my weekday posts had significant uptick in viewership but the weekend posts went largely ignored. So this time around I wanted to try something different and post about a non-technology subject on the weekends. This year I am not doing a large number of posts upfront and scheduling them instead I am writing them each the night or day before they need to go live. This adds some stress to be sure but hopefully not too much.

Saturdays for me are about time with my wife and kids and mostly about soccer during 3 out of 4 seasons of the year. As some of you know I coach 2 soccer teams a U13 and a U8 team for my daughter and son. I have played soccer my entire life and love the game. As the sport has grown in popularity I see more and more in the IT world talking about it and asking for drills for their kids.

So I figured this weekend we could take some time to talk soccer coaching! Today’s topic Offense:

It’s important when teaching young players to explain how a field is laid out. I start by describing how we divide a soccer field or pitch into 3rds horizontally. The defensive, midfield, and attacking 3rds.

The Defensive 3rd is where we want to clear the ball away from our goal, the midfield 3rd is the toughest area of the field and is important to win the ball and use controlled passing, the attacking third is all about playing the ball into the box and centering for shots on goal.

For young kids they all want to chase a ball around the field especially at U6-U9. To get them away from the herd mentality it’s good to explain the soccer field with the 3rds and then carve it up again for them vertically. With each wing zone being a 3rd and then a center 3rd for the striker.

Kids understand zones or bases from playing tag so reinforcing that message is easy when using fun drills like wall passing or just cross and shoot with 3 offensive players. Here are some of my favorites.

Something that coaches always ask and parents as well is how to work on aggressiveness. “My kid just doesn’t want to get after the ball”, or “they aren’t attacking enough”. Believe me if I had a cure for that I would be the greatest youth coach of all time. The answer is it comes to each kid in their own time. Sometimes it never comes because they are super sweet kids and overly kind (aka my daughter most games). But if you are coaching and need to get the kids to attack on offense more and challenge the ball. I love the 50/50 challenge there is a link below but essentially it’s two lines on either side of the goal 3 ft off the end line. The coach tosses the ball over the goal out onto the field the first two players in line charge out win the ball and each tries to score, an steal the ball from the other player. Play ends with a goal or out of bounds ball is played.

Finally a drill I run a lot is the run and cross. I believe firmly that youth soccer should play inside out to outside in. That means you never play a ball into the middle of your own goal always play out to the sidelines, and take the open sidelines to the corner in the attacking 3rd to play the ball into the box where the striker and far wing are waiting. I do this drill until players hate it but honestly its one of the best to teach soccer the way it’s meant to be played on the attack.

So let me know what you think about a non-tech post and if you have some favorite drills for your kids I am all ears.