Harry Green 0:04
Hello, everyone, welcome to the Networking Podcast. I’m Harry Green, the Head of Enterprise USA here at Hamilton Barnes. Today I’d like to introduce a very special guest Ian Strimback. Ian has been in the industry for many years now with an impressive number of certifications behind him. So I’m looking forward to get to know more about the history and the space and find out about what he does at Presidio Federal. How are you, sir?
Ian Strimback 0:30
I’m doing well how you doing this morning Harry?
Harry Green 0:32
dYeah, not too bad I just met one of the candidates that I placed at High Point, believe it or not, one of the free CCIEs that they have over there. So that was really nice. It’s very rare to get to put a an like in not only face to the name, but actually get to spend some time with someone so that was actually really nice. I cannot complain. Just so everybody understands. I’ve introduced you there as Presidio Federal. Could you tell us a little bit more about who you work for and the situation please?
Ian Strimback 1:05
Yeah, absolutely. So I’m a Network Solutions Architect Team Lead at Presidio Federal. I’ve been with the company since May of 2021. And it’s an interesting story of how Presidio Federal came to be. And, you know, my job role there. We primarily focus on federal customers. We are our own separate company. And we’ve got a we’ve got a team of bright minds and I lead a team of bright solutions architects, and I have the pleasure of working with them picking their brains every single day. You know, you mentioned CCIEs, we hold some team members that are at that caliber level, and they’re a different breed. They’re really sharp and it’s fun to bounce ideas off of them, and the way they think I’m an aspiring CCIE. I hope that that certification coming up here within the next year or two, it’s definitely a goal. You know, I’m going to go for the route switch and then probably go into data center and get you know, hold two CCIEs. Yeah, looking forward to that.
Harry Green 2:04
Wow, right, now that is impressive. You’re a team lead that still stays technical. Good, man.
Ian Strimback 2:10
Yeah, absolutely. If they got to come to me as a leader to guide him, I want to make sure that I got the knowledge and know how to back it up. So absolutely. Yeah, it definitely. You know, it allows you to posture that chest out a little bit more when you hold those certs. So yeah,
Harry Green 2:24
just before we jump into the podcast, could you explain to the audience what the difference between Presidio and Presidio Federal is?
Ian Strimback 2:31
Yeah, sure. So Presidio Federal is a subsidiary of Presidio Network Solutions. So what we’ve done is we’ve separated as a separate company and now we have we cherry picked all the federal account managers, SAs, delivery team, and we have a separate company that’s Presidio federal and so now we cover and support federal customers only in their missions. So we have you know a team that’s mature in the federal business you know, we know what we’re doing we know how to how to work with our federal customers, the relationships are established and we have you know, all the all the best of breeds cherry picked into Presidio Federal. So it’s been it’s been an awesome job, it’s sort of a startup vibe for us, you know, as far as you know, everybody on the team and so I’ve been with the company for about a year and a half now and I love it, it’s you know, I’m able to to build the practice and hire who you know who I would like to bring onto the team since I’m the team lead, I kind of go into all the personnel and interviewing them so it’s been an awesome experience and I really love it.
Harry Green 3:40
Nice. And it sounds like you’ve got all the perks that come from being a part of the powerhouse and having that backing behind you have an established firm but you’ve got even more than that where you’ve got the startup feel everyone’s really excited and involved and you get a big say on on what happens and who comes in the door so it’s almost like a perfect situation for you at Presidio Federal.
Ian Strimback 4:02
Oh yeah, absolutely like the I’ve worked for startup companies in the past and it doesn’t have that that chicken with the head cut off vibe. The account managers are established they’ve been in the federal business for many many many years. As well as the BD capture team all those folks you know that create the proposals and write the responses. They all know what they’re doing and you know, I’ve had experience on the federal side and so have my SAs. So it’s it’s you know, we’re able to cherry pick what we didn’t like for my other companies and bring the best of breed to Presidio Federal so it’s, it’s really been super rewarding so far. Again, I really liked the team and, and the vibe and now everybody clicks. So it’s a good it’s a good company to work for.
Harry Green 4:44
Sounds amazing. I’m jealous. I was going to ask you how do you had the right time, but you’ve answered that for me, so I appreciate it before we get too carried away because I could talk about Presidio Federal or Presidio all day long. I find it so interesting. How did you To start your career, and how did that start progressing to present day, a year and a half ago joining Presidio?
Ian Strimback 5:07
Yeah, so that’s a really good question, we could probably stay on that topic for a long time. So I’ll keep it, you know, sort of high level. So the seed as far as getting into IT was planted. You know, probably when I was in my early, early, late early mid teens, I had been into PC gaming, and I came up with a, I was playing a game called HalfLife, back in the day, and my computer couldn’t keep up with with the different levels. And so my dad was in IT. And he was like, we’re going to add some RAM, and speed speed your graphics up and speed the computer response up. And I had no idea what he was talking about that was a foreign language to me. And all of a sudden, he brought in two sticks, put them in the DIMMs. And I think it was like a half a gig is what it totaled out to 256 sticks. And, and it was a night and day performance increase. So I was blown away by it. And to see that tangible increase of putting that hardware in, kind of planted that seed. And so that was where I got interested into it. And then fast forward, I joined the US Navy. And my last year in I was I was realizing that my job that I was conducting while I was serving on the USS Enterprise didn’t transition well into civilian. So as an aircraft handler, so I wanted to try to cross right into it. And so while I was serving, they, they pretty much said, Look, you’re already designated, we paid money for training, we can’t do that. And so I prepared to get out. And so as my dad how, how he got in and what he did, and he said, Look, if you read your basic eight plus books, learn some troubleshooting concepts and how to how to work your way around a PC, I can get you a job at my company and the stars aligned, right. So I read the book, I got, like, tackled it, I got some experience and followed the IT department around, they let me do some on the job training while I was in the Navy, which was awesome. And so when I got out, and my dad, you know, lived up to, to his recommendation and word and got me got me into his office, and I was working on PCs as a PC tech. And so the career took off from there, I really loved it progressed into helping out, you know, small businesses, he worked for a managed services company. So, you know, I got exposure to the client server network, and how all that tied in, and then my career, you know, kept catapulting and progressing from there, I went into a, you know, a financial institution, worked there for about a year, and got exposure to the ins and outs of compliance and things like that. And, you know, I was a sponge, right, I went and asked a lot of questions I wasn’t afraid to, to dig in and to take, you know, you know, really add value to, to troubleshooting tickets, that maybe the higher ups were doing, you know, like the senior engineers and, and just, you know, jumping in and helping out, and it really helped, you know, get that that hands on experience where I can start speaking to it on a resume. And then I stayed in the managed services for quite a while. And the managed services is really a grind because, you know, not, you’re gonna go into a situation where not two networks are the same, right? You know, you’re gonna go into one that might be a small mom and pop Small Business Server, you know, super basic, all the way up nto a full blown WAM where they’ve got multiple sites, and you’ve got routing and switching and, you know, virtualization, you know, and centralized resources. So, you know, it was it was a sink or swim environment, and it really catapulted me and progressed me into an engineering role. And then, in 2014, I had my first taste of professional services. And that’s where I started working for a company that did both private sector commercial support, and then federal support. So I had a secret clearance and I was kind of hopping on, on both sides of the fence, and I got exposure to, you know, what an enterprise was, you know, fortune 100 500 company where, you know, you’re doing more project based work now, versus the grind of managed services. And I felt like being in managed services and being exposed to that sink or swim, you know, you’re you’re the top dog in that in that situation where, you know, there is no escalation point really prepared me for professional services later on, because, you know, I had exposure to all kinds of different problems and, and different issues that came along with managed services. So I felt like it really prepared me for that professional services. And so I did, I did delivery for quite a while. I did that all the way up until May of 2020. When our, May of 2021 rather and that’s when I hopped over to Presidio Federal over to pre sales and you know, it’s funny because I had been told all the while ago that pre sales is the way to go, it’s they, you know, it really pays dividends when when you know you can get in front of the customer and really sell that project. But I never jumped the fence because I’m a little bit of an introvert and so I don’t like being that pushy sales guy that’s out there trying to sell somebody something that they don’t necessarily need. It’s just never been in my, in my DNA, but it’s not like that at all, you know, I get to get in front of the customer whiteboard sessions really go through a solution and and tell the customer what it’s all about really validating what the account manager has brought to the table. And it’s really, it’s really rewarding to be able to, you know, show the customer the new technology and then drive that sale home. So I love you know, working working here and doing what I do.
Harry Green 10:49
Sounds amazing. And I can’t believe that, not necessarily took you so long. But I’m so I’m very surprised that you made that move so late considering how confident even though you said you’re an introvert, how confident you are how well you speak the fact you’re standing up, you have presence, you to me, if I had seen you as a candidate, three, four years ago, and you were acting this way, I would have been one of those people saying you should go down the pre sales route, because you’ve had so many years experience that if you add experience plus personality relationship building, you’re gonna be you know, halfway there to a successful SA, in my opinion, what I want to know is who or what convinced you to make that jump last year or two years ago?
Ian Strimback 11:33
Yeah, so it was it was sort of a natural progression. So at my last job, probably the last year and a half. So during the height of the pandemic, when pandemic was fully raging in 2019, I started to really get into that hybrid role where, you know, I was doing delivery, but on the backend, I was really gathering the level of effort requirements, you know, working with the pre sales architect to build that bomb, going through the proposal responses help helping, you know, polish up the response here in there. So I was kind of already doing it. And so at that company, though, I was very much still in that hands on the keyboard grind doing you know, I’m at one point I was working two data centers at the same time. One was an Arista EVPN solution, and one was a Cisco ACI two very different technologies, right. So, you know, hopping that fence and trying to make sure that I didn’t fat finger a key, you know, gotta be, you know, super stressful as a hard. It was a hard grind. And so my buddy that was working for Presidio Federal at the time said, Look, you know, we’re rocking and rolling. Now we’ve got our team built, you really should take a look that work. And he started preaching work life balance, and that’s when my ears kind of perked up. And I was like, yeah, maybe I should really consider this now. Because I’m living in my office, my wife calls it my dungeon, right? Because I’m up here. I was up here 24/7. And seemed like I had just gotten back from two customer sites, she was kind of worried about COVID because of you know, it may become an auto immune issue. You know, so lot, lots of outside circumstances sort of sort of built this up. But before I made the jump, and when he started again, when he started preaching work life balance, that was it and I ended up pulling the trigger, and he wasn’t lying. It’s it’s been great.
Harry Green 13:27
Yeah, I can imagine and considering the autoimmune situation, the wife of a half, you know, you’ve got to start considering these things. And as much as you spent the last 1015 years, really in the nerdy books, in the details, getting nitty gritty, there does come a point where you have to start considering these things. And I’m glad you brought it up, because that is a very hot topic at the moment, where, you know, I know I’m really getting involved in my career, but also you need to be able to look after yourself, avoid these words like burnout, and all that sort of thing and look after yourself. So that is, you know, I’m very happy you brought that up, because a lot of people do truly worry about that. What I want to ask you is do you think that really hard working mentality in the nitty gritty, two datacenters at once 24/7 in the dungeon, that delivery side on the MSP world? Do you think that experience helped you as an essay?
Ian Strimback 14:30
Absolutely, yeah, absolutely. Because, you know, whereas before I kind of had that, that it’s always failure, not an option. I mean, you know, with with my customers, I have to design bulletproof solutions. They can’t be hacked, they can’t be exposed. You know, it’s embarrassing for them to get on CNN and, you know, to talk about that stuff publicly. So, you know, I think that’s been a culmination, you know, whereas I was able to juggle those super complex architectures at the same time from a configuration perspective where, you know, if I, if I, you know, move the wrong endpoint into the wrong group, you know, it really, it really allowed me to, you know, make sure that I that my attention to detail was super focused and, and very, very accurate at all times. And so with architecture, that’s no different work versus before, you know, I was juggling both of those at the same time. And now I have to make sure that I don’t miss anything, right. Because if I got a customer that that wants, you know, architecture X, you know, I gotta make sure that I account for all the endpoints. So I know how many MAC addresses are going to be in that datacenter? You know, I gotta make sure I capacity plan appropriately. Also, incoming future future scope, right future cast, right to make sure that when they grow, that their architecture isn’t dead in a year, you know, because then it’s my butt, right? Yeah. The thing is, is once they buy it, once it gets on site, and they crack that tamper seal, they own it. So if it’s wrong, that’s on me. So it’s, it can be a little bit daunting. I try not to focus on on what it’s what’s on me, per se, and focus more on getting it right the first time, because then that eliminates it. Right. So, you know, it’s it’s daunting, yes. But I don’t focus on stuff like that.
Harry Green 16:19
Yeah, for sure. I picked up on there is, it’s a really good personality trait of being where you were thrown in the deep end, you learn that I can not fail what I am the escalation point. So I will solve this. As much as that is stressful. Do you think that upbringing or that pressure in your earlier days led to you being so successful in the federal market, specifically
Ian Strimback 16:45
100%. And it just happens to cover the federal market. So when you’re in that failure is not an option, right? Especially in that smaller business, you’ve got the entire business looking at you. They want to know why they’re down, when they’re going to come up. And what what the outcome of this whole, this whole issue is so so being able to first of all, number one, fix the problem quickly. Number two, fix it right. So it’s not a bandaid. And then explaining to the customer what happen, especially in smaller business right there. The chef or the you know, the financial CPA doesn’t care about a firewall outage, they don’t want to know the nerd talk, you got to be able to use analogies, you got to be able to not that they’re dumb, right. But to bring it down to a a common language level and articulate what the problem is well, so that they understand it, and then they know how to move forward. You know, so I think I think being able to bring that bring that that problem to common sense and reacting under pressure in a smart way. And not just, you know, squirrel and going and fix and all these other things that don’t matter. Being able to focus on what happened has really led me to not only propose architectures but but speak to and overcome parts that my customer doesn’t understand. I’m I’m very well at reading the room. So presenting an architecture. And that’s what’s great about being in front of a right because during COVID, it was really hard to read the room. You can’t you can’t really see anybody a lot of people don’t turn the cameras on. Yeah, for reasons. Yeah. So it’s been a breath of fresh air getting back in front of the customer, being able to whiteboard that and then if I get to a certain point, looking at all the faces, and if I see confusion, or the glossy over the eyes, I can go back and re explain it and then watch the light bulbs tick. You know what I mean? So it Yeah, it’s
Harry Green 18:43
I like that. And what I want to ask you is someone that was so you know, in the delivery, such a perfectionist such a, this must be perfect person. How have you found transitioning to the point where the long and short of it is people don’t actually care, they just want to see it done. So you’re then going from you know, you’re in the weeds 24/7 In your dungeon to explain them what you’re going to do, but leaving out all the details that you probably loved and cherished for so many years.
Ian Strimback 19:13
Yeah, you’ve got to understand you got to find what so as far as like tangible, rewarding different concepts around that it there’s there’s a lot of stuff done behind the curtain, right? Because, you know, you don’t want to see that, that you’ve there’s a certain part of that architecture that you’re not quite sure how it’s going to respond to that IBM computer that’s 30 years old on the backend, right. So you’ve got to you’ve got to figure out a way to lab that up and down and make sure that when it when it goes live that that it actually is is kind of Port channel with those with those NICs that are on that old computer that might be half duplex, by the way it depends, you know, I’ve seen it all, you know so So doing that research talking to your your vendors and really establishing that that trust relationship on, you know, certain bugs that might be exposed or certain issues that might come up, you know, all that stuff’s done behind the curtain, you don’t want to show the customer that you want to show the customer that when they start the, the, they put in the keys to that Ferrari and it starts up, they hear that that engine come up, and it’s when they hit the gas pedal, it moves, right. You know, they don’t want to know how the spark plugs and the engine goes. Well, some do some want to see underneath the hood, you know, and that’s cool. And we, we usually allocate training costs and training time to, you know, to show them underneath that hood and how it all works. But some of them don’t, they don’t want to see those, those nitty gritty details. So the rewarding factor is, you know, you take it, you stop, you pause, you look at everything you’ve done, the culmination of this crazy project and how you came out clean on the other side.
Harry Green 20:55
Got it? Okay, so it’s about understanding that even though you’ve got Ferrari for the Federal client, whoever it may be, some people want to know what’s under the hood. Some people just want a Ferrari and they want it to be red and make loads of noise, you can do both,. And you don’t mind which way it goes. Okay. Okay. I want to make just quickly explain to people that because you are at Presidio Federal, you are SC cleared, you can’t go into too many details. So do forgive Ian, if any of his answers aren’t as specific as you’d probably like, or want to hear. Soon as you realize he worked for the federal side, but being as you know, PG and SC clear as you can be, what are the projects you’re currently involved in? And the main mandates that that covers?
Ian Strimback 21:41
Yeah, so great question. So there’s a lot of mandates that have come out over the years, and the recent ones that we’re focusing on sort of low hanging fruit, that’s, that’s front and center for all of our customers. Number one is zero trust, right, the federal government released a zero trust mandate. And so they have to have all of their all of their existing architecture, architecture, zero trust, trust approved, adhere to the compliance, so we’re helping our customers work on that. So I can go into like Cisco solutions are briefly and as far as how they’re doing it from an enterprise perspective, you know, because it really depends on the flavor of, you know, what the customer is using today, the how they’re going to overcome that zero trust mandate. So, you know, some customers are our Cisco shop, they want to maintain that, that Cisco, you know, vendor relationship, and what Cisco has done in the enterprise and data center for over the years that tried and true architecture. And so, you know, we’re looking at SD access with DNA and those those cases, you know, and pushing, pushing more towards that. And then, you know, ACI in the data center, most of them already have ACI, it’s just more of that, that SD access, conversion, you know, into into the enterprise architecture, that’s more of the change is going to happen for zero trust. But the number one thing we tell our customers is zero trust isn’t a light switch, right? It’s it’s a complete overhaul of the of the environment, it’s a marathon, not a sprint, it’s a collective capability that touches all facets of technology, you know, from from compute storage, to the enterprise networking, and then also, you know, obviously, cybersecurity, right? That’s the main, the main, the main show there. So, yeah, it’s, it’s pretty cool. You know, we’ve got various different solutions. I mentioned the Cisco one, Aruba has their flavor, you know, where they leverage a lot of ClearPass integration. And then Arista is doing their thing with their ecosystem with their various partners with Palo Alto, and whoever, you know, you pick your flavor with firewalls when it comes to that. So yeah, it’s really exciting from that mandate. That’s, that’s one where we’re constantly leaned on. And it’s, it’s a good one to talk about when it comes to how to do it and what to do it especially with cloud and everything else that’s going on there. So the second mandate that we’re bringing to light helping out is the cybersecurity event logging mandate. So that kind of coincides with with zero trust, it’s sort of baked in, a lot of companies are doing that automatically as far as vendor strategies. And so what that is, is anytime a boundary is crossed, or there’s a cybersecurity event, all of those notifications and events have to be logged now, it’s Yeah, so it’s a new mandate that’s out. And so we’re helping customers meet that compliance and coming up with with not only the architecture to support it with our vendor partnerships, but also services to integrate that so. So, you know, a lot of government are working with limited employees and contractors that are focused on other things. And so we’re able to go in and not only meet that mandate, but deliver it and make sure that it’s, it’s right the first time. And then finally, this one’s pretty exciting as the ipv6 mandate. So this is a recent announcement that came out. But it came out a couple of months ago, where the government is now mandating that ipv6 is throughout their entire network, not just an ipv6, you know, coexistence, but actually full blown ipv6. So we’re coming up with service offerings around that as well, which is really exciting. We’re researching, you know, what, how that’s going to be done with the transition looks like and, and ways to explain it to our customers moving forward. Because obviously, that’s going to be another culture shift, right, because new way of addressing Nadeem and things like that, so,
Harry Green 25:43
So you, you now have, from, from what I’m seeing it, I’m obviously not in the weeds of it. I’m a I’m a recruiter, not a techie. But what I’m seeing is not only are you ensuring and guaranteeing that you as Presidio Federal can look after the government or the federal, whoever it might be from a cybersecurity perspective. But you can also do the logs, you can do the ipv6 across the whole company, you can be the person to rely on, you can show them all the vendors that you mentioned in the first mandate, which is pretty much the whole of networking in general, how do you deal with all of that at once? How can you possibly cope with that? Yeah,
Ian Strimback 26:27
No, it’s certainly a lot. We, we pride ourselves on white glove service. So what that means is, it’s not just, it’s a relationship, right, we go in from the present so that we have a process so that, you know, we go into the account manager talks about, you know, what our claim to fame is, or what we can do the pre sales backhand lot, get a little bit more technical, and talk about the overall architecture, how it’s gonna, how it’s going to fit in how we can make sure that, you know, our customer doesn’t end up on CNN or whatever news you’re watching at the time, you know, and then that goes into our delivery team. And so our delivery team is where the magic happens. That’s the secret sauce, right? So we go through a low level design workshop, we start talking about, you know, all the different facets that go into the project and make sure we gather every requirement that that that it’s going to go in, and we’re going to have to check, check the box and make sure we adhere to. And so once that project is done, right, we get it deployed, we have we have day one support that we go in and ensure that it’s working right. And then we we usually try to bake in time where we sit with that team for X amount of months, whether it’s six months a year. And so yeah, we really make sure that all of those all of those different changes we’ve made are working correctly, we’re training the team on the new technology, because if you go from, from a traditional data center to let’s say, ACI, that’s a complete shift in how you do things. Now the network fundamentals are there but you’re you’re talking a different way that traffic’s flowing in and out of your data center now and you’re not just tagging a trunk or untagging a VLAN anymore, you know, you’re working with bridge domains and EPG. So it’s, it’s a lot different. And so we don’t expect the customer to here’s the keys to your car, good luck, we’re gonna show you how to start it. We’re gonna walk you through running it. You know, we even have options for staff augmentation where we stick behind even longer. You know, I mean, I’ve seen projects where we stuck behind not at Presidio Federal, but other ones for for, you know, a few years, you know, to make sure that the customers comfortable with, with what we’ve what we put in. So we really, we really practice what we preach, and we make sure that we don’t leave them the customer behind, we make sure we get white glove service, front and center
Like it. And it’s quite cool that you explained how the white glove service isn’t just a fancy word that you throw out that you’ve kind of explained to people what that looks like and how you slowly do that transition. What I’m really curious of is, you probably don’t even realize because you do it every day. But all you’ve done is talk about cutting edge technologies, the latest and greatest technologies. How do you keep up to date with all this technology that’s coming out? Weekly? Almost,
I don’t know. I’m just you know what, what really helps me keep up on it is is my foundation is solid. Okay, so what I mean by that is when I was coming up and I started to troubleshoot problems in it, right, I found the network the most fascinating and that’s kind of what, what really geared me towards choosing the path to go network engineer and stay the course right those problems fascinated me most rewarding, you know, they were that I was just interested in that. And so learning the standards and knowing how everything works at a basic level has helped me to pivot on a newer technology like I never got married to Cisco, I worked in Juniper, I worked in Aruba I worked cross vendors. So, when their latest technology changed, I was able to pick up on that and when you learn the standards, yes Juniper stanza and the way they code is different from Cisco, but the standards are still there, you know, untag is a is a VLAN tag is a trunk and, and how all that how all those packets move from one place to another as an Ethernet standard. And so, if you learn that the pivot or the change of that technology is easier to pick up on it, you know, where you come in from, you know, it’s just been, it’s been a more gradual, subtle change at that point versus, you know, fire hydrant, if you will.
Harry Green 30:48
Yeah, so when you were saying you didn’t get married to Cisco was you kind of a Swiss Army knife of, of network engineer or PT tech, from start almost really,
Ian Strimback 30:58
Sort of, so the first multi or managed services company that I worked for was a Juniper partner. And so, you know, I knew Cisco before that, you know, I’ve heard of them. They’re obviously the powerhouse in networking, right. So, you know, I studied Cisco, but they, because they deployed more Juniper, I got to know a lot more juniper. So I started learning the different Juniper platforms when it came to the enterprise and such, and so, you know, picking up on those on the coding, and then going back over and studying for my CCNA, I was able to cross reference Oh, so they did that in Juniper? Well, that’s sort of the same in Cisco and, and being able to understand the difference between a virtual chassis and a stack, you know, and getting getting how those control planes and data planes work, you know, was was super beneficial in coming up and learning the different technologies.
Harry Green 31:54
Okay, cool. And to marry off that Swiss Army knife of technology? Did you sit in any certifications to prove and improve your multi vendor tech?
Ian Strimback 32:05
Yeah, absolutely. So certifications are invaluable. In my opinion, they really show that you you put in the time to not only study something, whether it’s Cisco or Juniper, but But you, you’ve had some sort of hands on experience. And I say that because, you know, you can study all you want when it comes to a certification, but when you get into Cisco and the higher level ones, in order to pass it, in my opinion, effectively, hands on, it’s super beneficial, whether it’s a lab and Packet Tracer, Cisco lab, or E, ENG or, you know, whatever you’re using labs are super beneficial. So when you’re going that certification path, it shows that, you know, you’ve had you understand the theory of it, right, and that, but you also understand the way it works and the way that connects.
Harry Green 32:55
Amazing and our might be coming to you with some exclusive news here. I don’t know if people notice, the CCNA. And the CCMP are going to be changed to a lab found out today.
Ian Strimback 33:07
Oh, that’s interesting. I did not know that.
Harry Green 33:10
Yes. So this is this is ahead of time news is announced pretty soon. I won’t share where that come from. But it seems that not just you, but Cisco and the people behind the certification track. also agree that Yes, call you you know the theory and you understand what the book says, But show me how that looks in a real environment. Let’s see what how you lab that. And it seems that that’s becoming important, not just at the expert level. So there’s some insight for you.
Ian Strimback 33:41
Yeah, no. And then there’s certainly a dark side to certification. You know, the elephant in the room is a lot of people go out and use dumps, which I disagree with, you know, that they’re, they’ll get weeded out in my interviews, we get pretty technical. And if we could tell pretty quickly if they’re, if they’re, if they’ve done what they’ve said, and they pass what they pass because, yeah, we’re going to find out, you can’t come into our environments, you know, being a dump worthy certification holder, and not know how to explain, you know, Closs and spanning tree and, you know, subnetting, and cider and SD Wan and how it all connects from a routing perspective and redistribution. I can go on and on, but, you know, they get weeded out very quickly. I’ll just say that.
Harry Green 34:30
And I can see why. If you’re dealing with the federal side, which is so important. You need to be a Swiss army knife. Yes, that narrows your pool down, but that is the skill set that you need. Obviously, you weed people down on their technical skills and you know, you have to be almost at the top of your game to be able to do this, but even yourself now. You’re a Swiss army knife. You have the certs to back it you have the experience to back it. You understand the delivery and the architecture side. What are the precautions that you take to assure that things work. And that you deliver successfully.
Ian Strimback 35:07
Yeah, no, that’s a great question. So whereas before it was lab lab lab, I still do labs from a certain degree, but, but now I read a lot more white papers and make sure that, that I’ve really listened to the customer, and got all the requirements upfront that they need, you know, if they’re, if they’re replacing a legacy architecture, okay, well, we can replace it. But what are you looking to do, because now is the time to really go in and write what you’ve grown. Because if we’re just changing, you know, an old school brocade, topology to a Cisco catalyst topology, you know, we go into the 9Ks, you know, what were the limitations before, because maybe we want to upgrade the speed, maybe we want to change the design from a three tier to you know, a clause, you know, and get in some DNA or SD access, you know, what, so we don’t want to just bandaid the solution, we really want to go in there and hear, you know, what the customer wants. So it’s a lot more requirements gathering, I read a lot more white papers, and I really focus on take a pessimistic approach from from the sense of what are the limitations? What are the what are the blog saying about this, this router that’s coming out? You know, who’s who’s trying it? Because I definitely don’t want to be the beta, right, you know, chill. Put something in that doesn’t that marketing did a fantastic job explaining but falls flat on its face when it comes when the rubber hits the road. So yeah, so it’s a lot more white, white paper reading, making sure that I’m that I’m looking at all the requirements the customer gave me, and checking all those boxes and making sure that, you know, I can practice what I preach, and I’m confident with what I put in there.
Harry Green 36:53
Yeah. So would you say that it’s very important that your customers are having cutting edge technology, and they’re getting the newest, latest, greatest stuff, but because of who your customers are in the same breath, it can’t be you. That takes the risk.
Ian Strimback 37:09
Yeah. So so my situation? Yeah. So my situation
Harry Green 37:13
to navigate that is well, yeah,
Ian Strimback 37:16
yeah, no, no, certainly. So I’ve gotten so not only am I doing delivery, now architecture, doing that front end requirements gathering and that back end research right now. Now I’ve got another weak link in the chain as far as what could really throw everything off. And I’ve got to adhere to compliance. And so one of the ones that really kicks me in the gut is one that’s called FedRAMP. So the government has FedRAMP. And they have low, medium, and high, right, which really complicates things because some customers require FedRAMP High and you can’t beat FedRAMP Medium. And so what it means is basically, if you’re going to operate in the cloud, which everybody’s talking about cloud, right? Whether it’s now it used to be stick our toes in the cloud. Now, not only are they both feet in, but oh, by the way, they want multi clouds, they want Azure, yeah, as your Gov cloud and AWS Gov cloud, and they want to be able to orchestrate between them so. So now the architectures that we put in place has to meet FedRAMP requirements, right? Because we can’t just put them in the cloud and not have a seamless transition from from their data center premise edge to to the cloud. So we’ve got to make sure that not only we’re meeting all the requirements from a capacity, throughput, you know, anything else that we’ve gathered along the way, now that solution has to be FedRAMP certified, if it’s going to go to the cloud. So it’s it’s a, it’s, it’s challenging. It’s a good challenge, you know, I tackle it, I face it head on, but it’s it’s definitely one that that can that can kick you back, you know, because you find out that it’s not better after or whatever the case may be.
Harry Green 38:51
Yeah. So because you’re dealing with federal clients, and everything, you know, even you, you have to be SC cleared, they have to be SC cleared, if not DV and top secret clearance. How did you find or how do you find convincing a company like that, to put their information into the cloud, which to them probably feels like something that isn’t real?
Ian Strimback 39:18
Yeah, that’s a really good question. And I thought about that a lot before I came on, but what we’re finding is, as the population of the US grows and different demands and, you know, we see on CNN that for example, the IRS has taken, you know, many, many months on backfill taxes and things like that, the government has figured out that that the demand is there and that they need to meet it meet it head on, just like the private sector, right. So, so now they’re coming to up to companies like mine and saying, how do we get there? And so that conversation is now more organically, you know, we’ve got really good talented account managers that are that are taught can do the customer head on about things like that, and the mandates we were talking about earlier. So it’s sort of organically happening now. You know, the government, like I said, it’s figuring out that they’ve got to meet the demand of the people from from a speed and user experience perspective, just like the private sector.
Harry Green 40:16
Okay, so the key to dealing with the technology developments for the federal government or whoever it may be, seems to be, let the masses make the mistakes. And then when they realize that it’s so important, and that’s where the demand is, you can come in and educate them how to do it, rather than you trying to be like, This is what you should be doing.
Ian Strimback 40:37
Yeah, yeah. And I mean, the government there, they’ve got really smart people working for them, they know what they’re doing from a security perspective. That’s why things are so slow to come out. The government, you know, knows how to secure their environment. So it’s really hard to let new technologies in, you’ve got to, you’ve got to meet their criteria. That’s why they have the mandates in place, they’re not just going to let some some vendor come in and say, Hey, we’re gonna make your network faster, the government’s gonna say, so what, how are you going to secure it? So we’ve got to, we’ve got to really juggle both of those security, convenience speed, you know, and make that environment just as bulletproof while making it fast. So it’s, it’s spinning plates, but we’re keeping them going.
Harry Green 41:19
Sounds really complex, but in like a really fascinating project way, rather than a typical VAR that just deals with, in comparison, pretty small, pretty basic security issues. So I’m impressed by it. What I want to ask you is, you’ve got the three mandates, and within each of those mandates is the best cutting edge technology that could possibly be on the market, then what you’ve got to do is give white glove service on top of that, and then slowly, you know, pull yourself away as the client becomes comfortable with the technology you’ve put in there. How can you see your role evolve and develop in the next 5-10 years from where we are? Now?
Ian Strimback 42:01
That’s a good question. I’m not a very good forecaster, because I thought the cloud was a fad, and that it was gonna go away. And everybody was gonna come back and configure stuff on premise. But here we are. Now everybody’s looking at 100% cloud, and you’ve got to tell them to slow your roll a little bit, let’s make sure that that old system that you want to virtualize it put up in the cloud is going to be able to do it. So you know, but I think I think it’s gonna be more automated AI, I think you’re gonna see, you know, a lot more self healing intelligence built in, it’s just going to become a more smarter network. You know, VX LAN is huge. Right now, I don’t think that’s going away. I think that’s gonna expand more capabilities, you know, incorporating that with with ipv6, and how that works out. I think the government is sort of going to set the stage for that. I mean, you’ve heard the Chicken Little sky is falling about us worrying about ipv4 addresses for years. Now. You know, I know, I’ve seen some companies pull the trigger, you know, but it’s usually more of a coexistence strategy between four and six, you know, versus blown 100%, blown six, that doesn’t mean it’s not out there. But that’s usually what I’ve seen. So with the government move into an IP6 100% mandate, I think that’s going to open the door for for more automation and more technologies to come, you know, a lot more infrastructure as code with with TerraForm. And, you know, different different coding vendors and different different capabilities are just going to continue to grow and meet the mandates. And you’re going to be able to do more with less, you know,
Harry Green 43:44
And that’s where everyone was in technology, but in life. Sure. Because we can with as little as we can, yeah, we are picked up on there is the you think that automation is going to be key, you know, earlier you the second mandate you brought up was all about logging things, make sure people understand what happened, why it happened, and making sure that it’s on record. I do think automation is going to play a big piece in this is the common theme. How can we automate reducing that almost like a monitoring tool, then using automation to overcome those issues?
Ian Strimback 44:20
Yeah, absolutely. So So with AI, what it’s going to do is the first the first step is logging your network and identifying predictable behavior, right, what, what, what problem is going on? And how was it resolved and what were the characteristics on the network and what took place overall, right? So so AI is not a not a fortune teller, it’s not going to be able to go in there and just start doing it has to have a source from somewhere. So certainly, logging is going to be a key component in that and understanding how the network works, establishing you know, states of the network, you know, how was it running before we put this new application on and how it’s versus how it’s running now, and then, you know, creating predictable behavior to where if if, if some Joe Schmo goes into a CLI and fat fingers a VLAN, the network’s gonna go uh, that’s a bad move, let’s put that back in self heal. So I think it’s going to be a lot more intelligent from that aspect. And a lot a lot faster, and a lot more predictable.
Harry Green 45:29
Okay, nice. So the automation is going to be used as much to self heal, as it is to speed things up. Sure. Nice. Very cool. Okay. So obviously, we’ve spent a good bit of time talking about the cutting edge technologies, the different mandates that you cover, what advice would you give to someone, someone outside of the federal world, if they wanted to pursue a career working for a company that deals with the federal world,
Ian Strimback 45:58
So if you if you want to go, if they’re coming into IT, it’s a really hard egg to crack because, you know, not just anybody is going to hand you the keys to their IT infrastructure. So you’ve got to, you’ve got to earn your respect. So, you know, go out there, there’s a lot of, there’s a lot of stuff on YouTube, I wish I had YouTube, when I was coming up there, there wasn’t back then there was a few things, YouTube was still pretty new. But you can learn a lot on YouTube for free, and really get a base, a base idea of what what you want to do, whether it’s networking, or computer, or storage, or even programming for that matter. You know, it’s it’s out there, if you want to learn and the topics of conversation are out there, there’s some really good content. So I’d start there, there’s there still IT shops out there that look for, you know, some sort of internship, whether it’s free or paid, you know, that the idea is to stay hungry. You know, don’t don’t, don’t go in there, thinking you know, at all, be humble, be a sponge, and, you know, listen to what what’s going on around you start, start writing things down that if there’s a term, you’re not quite understanding, write it down, go back home and research it that way. If it comes up again, and the people that you’re working for hear you talk about it, they might go oh, I can lean on him, because you got to figure that that doing less with more, is very much in our culture, right. So you’ve got people in our positions that are over tasked, that, in their opinion, might be underpaid, and overworked. And so if you’re going out there, and you’re hearing those conversations, and you’re picking up what they’re saying, and you’re able to help them, they’re gonna say, hey, here, take this, you take this off my plate, it’s a bowl, please help me out. And so you might, you know, be able to start getting that on the job training and doing stuff that might be outside of your paygrade. You know, so don’t be afraid to jump in. But if you’re going to be in the federal space, you know, as you’re going through your transition in life, make sure you keep your nose clean, you know, keep a good credit score, because we require background checks, you know, so you want to be an honest contributing member of society, pay your taxes, don’t don’t live outside your means. So you get bad credit. You know, that’s part of the gist, right? You want to make sure you have, you know, because that’s a disqualifying event for us, you got a bad background, you can’t work for the federal government in any sort of fashion. So, you know, make sure your life’s good to go. And you got to to check. And then depending on how you go, right, so if you want to go for the federal government, and this is where certification and college kind of kind of take their own paths and work their way into your career. So if you want to go for the federal government, they eat up college, they eat up those majors, you got to make sure they’re from an accredited university. And that usually checks the major box for HR when they’re hiring. So if you’re gonna go federal, whether it’s local date, or or overall federal government, you know, I would definitely recommend the college path. My my recommended for that for that path specifically would be go to like a two year community college and then transfer to a foreign university that’s a little bit cheaper, usually cuts the cost in half from from a bachelor’s, get it getting your bachelor’s degree, and then you know, get your certs along the way from, you know, if you’re going to pursue networking, obviously CCNA progress towards CCMP. And the coveted CCIE is definitely you know, you could posture your chest out when you get that cert working on that. But it’s it’s a difficult one to gather and then, you know, like I said, if you have that mentality as you’re going through, you’re learning the standards, you’re getting your education, you got your certs are keeping your nose clean, you’re doing what you want to do, the federal government and it’ll just happen. They’re looking for people all the time. Yeah, you can pick your poison, pick your way you want to go. And it’ll just happen just if you do the right thing. And you work hard and stay, stay focused, it’ll happen.
Harry Green 50:10
Yeah. What I observe there is in your role where the federal government are very on compliance very on white glove, things must be done properly, you must log things, it seems that your advice, then took you back. And you subconsciously was explaining people to go through the right paths of what the government would see is the right thing to do. So get yourself well educated, then specialize with your certifications, keep your nose clean, be the right sort of civilian pay your taxes. And it’s almost like they’re subconsciously marking you against will you follow the compliance and stuff that you need throughout your life? And then if you can, you’re probably the right person. Would you say that’s almost a fair observation?
Ian Strimback 50:57
Oh, absolutely. So let’s talk about FedRAMP for a second. So FedRAMP part of that compliance when they go in and vet you to make sure that you can operate in the cloud. Part of that is, is interviewing the personnel for that vendor to make sure that they have a clean lifestyle, that they’re, that they’re they’re working on what they say they’re working on, they’re not doing anything shady, things like that. So absolutely, that that, that coincides with working your way into the federal market, you never know how it’s going to affect you. So decisions up front are, can affect you for the rest of your life. And that goes without saying going to the federal government. So yeah,
Harry Green 51:35
Even more so the federal government. Thanks, and I, I’ve actually learned a lot about that. And so I really appreciate it. Thank you very much for your time. Just to finish things off, just wanted to ask you a few very light hearted quickfire questions. I’ll ask the question, let me know what comes to mind. When you think of success who springs to your mind straightaway.
Ian Strimback 51:58
So when I think of success, I don’t think of somebody that you know, inherited a lot of money and doesn’t have any any any bill problems or anything like that. I think of success as somebody who’s persevered, you know, made it through through life challenges and knows what it’s like to face adversity. And somebody that comes to mind would be Sara Blakely. She invented Spanx. She grinded through the top, she started out the very bottom failed many, many times. And now she’s she’s, she’s well off. And she’s super successful and creating the business of Spanx. And she’s thriving, you know, but the journey didn’t come easy. It was hard, and anything hard that becomes successful later on just tastes better, you know? And so you’re able to do that. It’s certainly certainly defined success.
Harry Green 52:51
Yeah. Yes. to success for you is is a lot of that mindset. Oh, absolutely. I like it. Okay. Favorite subject, when you’re in school.
Ian Strimback 53:03
So I like history. I like to know, the past of what we’ve done as humans and some of the things we’ve overcome. And, you know, as history has always been fascinating, it was one of those subjects I looked forward to probably even in high school, you know, I really look forward to my difference, history, you know, classes that I had, I took history in school, and it’s always been something I look forward to to learn. I’ve made a pretty good history teacher, if I think you want another life.
Harry Green 53:35
Sure. And that follows the same. You know, you learn about things and how that led to the next situation, which kind of explains the way your mind thinks because you’re always trying to like, think of what’s coming next or what that past experience led to. So it kind of does translate quite well to it in a mad sort of way. Sure. What is one thing you do that people think is either crazy or wacky?
Ian Strimback 54:03
So, I am a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu Black Belt. Yeah, I’ve been training Brazilian Jiu Jitsu since 2008. And when I tell people that I go on the mat and get wrapped up in a human pretzel, they think I’m crazy, but I love it. It’s it’s human chess, you know, I like thinking I like using leverage and technique over opponents that are stronger than me and submitting them and so yeah, I love it. And I tell people I do and I get these like, bug eyes like you do what? But yeah, it’s it’s something that keeps me healthy keeps me engaged. And it’s, it’s it’s, it’s definitely my other passion outside of technology.
Harry Green 54:48
Nice and I gave it a go whilst I was at university, and it is extremely difficult for people that don’t understand. Like jujitsu, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu. You is incredibly hard. And to get a black belt is like a CCIE. In my mind, maybe harder. I don’t want to, you know, split opinions, but it might even be harder, because it’s an insane sport.
Ian Strimback 55:13
Next to my kids. It’s my greatest accomplishment.
Harry Green 55:16
And you go, there you go. And you’re a man with a lot of certs and a great career. And the last one, just because you’re in the Federal Industry, I really want to know this free non negotiables. When you want to hire someone.
Ian Strimback 55:29
Yeah, so great question. Show up early. Camera on, you know, if we’re, if we’re doing a video interview, turn on a camera that’s written in blood, by the way, that’s some interviews where they don’t turn on the camera. And then the biggest pet peeve is if it’s on your resume, just because you’ve walked by a particular technology, don’t put it on there. Because I’m going to ask you about it. And if you if you fumble on on a switch that you’ve come across, it’s on your resume or, or troubleshooting firewall, that you come that you put on your resume as far as understanding how to how to fix VPN, and things like that, because you saw an ASA word to the wise, just don’t do it.
Harry Green 56:14
Lately, agree. So you’re a man have you think when you’re interviewing, be the person you say you are, show up, be punctual, and hit on the non technical, non negotiables. And then we will start talking tech and get into the nitty gritty pieces. Take the basics, then see where it goes.
Ian Strimback 56:36
Yeah, and here’s the thing, too, you can teach anybody you know, as far as like a new technology, you can’t teach character. So you know, just be true to yourself, and it’ll come through.
Harry Green 56:48
Amazing, right. Thank you very much for your time, sir. I really appreciate it. hope everything goes really, really well. And you continue to Swiss Army knife of technology that you have. Thank you very much.
Ian Strimback 57:00
Yeah, likewise, thanks for the time today. I really appreciate speaking to speaking with you. And yeah, thanks for having me on. It’s been a pleasure.