A Year and a Half with the Packet Pushers

Packet PushersRouters…switches…firewalls…WANs…Internet: I first discovered the Packet Pushers Podcast about a year and a half ago, and as of this past week, I have finally caught up on all of the episodes. I wanted to write about how grateful I am to Greg, Ethan, Drew, and all the other participants (both hosts and guests) for conceiving of the show six years ago and sticking with it. This show and the community around it have made a very large impact in my life.

At first, I listened to about 10 shows on the topics that interested me the most at the time. Then, I discovered who my favorites were among frequent guests, and I listened to several more episodes containing those particular guests. I realized how much amazing information I was getting with regards to industry experiences and anecdotes for many technologies that I had not yet worked with directly, but wanted to, so I started listening to every episode from the beginning.

I wasn’t very happy with where I was professionally when I started listening. In every job I had had through that point in my life, I did not have any peers or friends who were interested in network engineering. In addition, I was living in a comparatively rural area where there wasn’t a lot of demand for the type of work that I had been training myself for. Packet Pushers opened up a larger world for me where I could listen to people doing the things I wanted to eventually do. Hearing people’s experiences about working with various networking technologies, and comparing that to what I had learned from studying these technologies for several years, helped to give me the confidence I needed to seek new employment that would take me in the direction of what I wanted to do in the realm of network engineering.

I interviewed and got hired by the company I presently work for. The only problem was that I lived two hours away, but told them I would be relocating to the area ASAP. It took about two months to save up to move (it costs a lot more to live in the city), and during that time I would spend four hours every weekday driving back and forth, and it was during these two months that I was able to listen to a very large portion of the Packet Pushers back catalog.

Having listened to nearly every episode (and skipping only those very few that held less interest for me), it was very interesting to hear the podcast change over time. I believe the content has always been top-notch from the very beginning, but it was kind of funny to hear the various audio issues present during the first year or so. Eventually, the audio reached an extremely professional-level quality that sounds absolutely superb.

I thought it was excellent and very smart to branch out from the main show and start developing others under the Packet Pushers umbrella. What a great idea to start the Priority Queue as an avenue to discuss topics containing more specific, detailed, and sometimes niche content that are wonderful to listen to, but might not necessarily appeal to a more general audience. Healthy Paranoia was fun to listen to when it was in production. “The Coffee Break” developed into the Network Break, and eventually took over as my favorite of all the podcast series; it is definitely the show I look forward to the most each week.

Or maybe it’s Datanauts? What a superb series this is! While I am a network engineer at heart, I do have experience with Windows, Linux, VMware vSphere, and storage. In my current role, though I am a network engineer for my company, I feel like I often act as the bridge between all these various silos as people come to me for questions. Listening to this show and its attitude toward silo-busting has been wonderful, and has given me confidence to act as the occasional bridge for the various silos in the workplace.

Eventually I would like to take my career in the direction of network design and architecture. This requires knowledge of and interaction with the business side of things. For this, I have very much appreciated listening to The Next Level. I love how they discuss various topics that relate to IT, but are not necessarily directly about technology itself.

I also very much enjoy the topics discussed on the Infotrek series. This is the newest series as of this writing, and I feel like the topics they discuss very much round out the overall topic scope of the entire Packet Pushers umbrella of shows.

I think it is great that Greg and Ethan were able to take something small and stick with it until it grew to the size of being able to take over as full time employment for them. Episode 300 of the main show is only a couple weeks away, and I congratulate them on their success. Their dedication to the Packet Pushers is demonstrated in everything they do with regards to the community. Adding Drew to the lineup was also a great move because he does an excellent job of managing the site and interacting with the community. Plus, he is excellent at keeping the Network Break on-topic and moving along during the show.

And speaking of the community, how extremely generous of them to open up both their site and podcast to community content! This is another way in which Packet Pushers has impacted my life. At the end of last year, I wrote a post on my experiences with Cisco VIRL. Greg saw this post and told me it would be great to have on the Packet Pushers website. I felt extremely honored by this. I have since posted one other article, and will probably post again sometime in the future. Due to the popularity of the Packet Pushers and the exposure it gave me, someone from a major networking website discovered me, took interest in my writings, and offered to have me write a paid article for their site. This was all due to the enormous generosity of Greg, Ethan, and Drew encouraging openness and participation in the Packet Pushers community.

After listening for a year and a half straight, it feels kind of weird to be caught up finally. Now I’ll get to experience what many others have had for a while: waiting each week for the new episodes to be released. Until now, I’ve been able to see what was coming up next. Now, like everyone else, I will have to be patient and see what arrives, which has its own level of excitement.

I give my most sincere thanks to Greg, Ethan, Drew, and all other hosts, guests, and people who have otherwise participated in generating content for the Packet Pushers community. You truly do have an impact in people’s lives, and I am grateful for your part in helping to make me a better network engineer.