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Level 3
Level 3

Kevin Dorrell

Kevin.Dorrell - Kevin Dorrell, Luxembourg

Kevin Dorrell first began working in the field of data communications in Italy in 1980, developing embedded firmware for BSC2 based terminals. He then moved on to work in network product development until 1993, when he relocated from the United Kingdom to Luxembourg. Currently, Kevin works as a consultant Network Administrator for the European Commission in Luxembourg.

Kevin earned his CCNP in December 2000, and re-certified in October 2003. He says his "ambition is to qualify as CCIE, but it is a tough certificate to win, and requires a very broad and detailed experience." That said, he passed the written test in June 2005 and expects to sit for the lab exam in the not-too-distant future.

Kevin is also a regular, and valued participant in the Cisco NetPro forum, and says one of his principal reasons for participating is "to exchange ideas and experience" with other network engineers. "I see it as a great training tool, and as a way of assessing my technical skills."

We spoke with Kevin from his home in Luxembourg about his professional experiences, and his participation on NetPro.

Q: Can you tell us a little about what you do, and the organization you are working with currently?
A: I don't really go much on titles, I think it's something like "network experienced engineer". Basically, I work for a consultancy who then sells the services of my team to a client. As of today, I have been working on the same contract for three years, but it happens to be for the same client I was working for previously.

Q: Who is the client?
A: I'm currently working with the Office of Publications of the European Union. The office is responsible for publishing all the legal framework and statistics that come out of the European Commission. Because these are European-wide publications, we publish in at least, twenty languages. All EU legal framework has to be published in all the official languages of the European Union. For example, if there is a government contract for any country in the Union, it has to be open to all country members. A call for tender has to be published in all the languages.

Q: What kind of services do you provide?
A: I manage a team of five people who run the data, the telephones and the e-mail services. We provide network services according to a service level agreement that guarantees the network will stay up 99.9% of the time. It also covers our response times and times to repair.

Q: I understand you bring quite a bit of experience to this contract.
A: Yes. I first became involved with this client some 13 years ago, when they were installing a 10 Mbps, shared-segment network from Cabletron. Since then, we have kept abreast of the technology, and are now running Cisco Catalyst® switches and routers. Today, we have something like 700 users, and three different sites in Luxembourg that link back to the Commission network in Brussels.

Q: Can you tell us about how you first became interested in networking?
A: I was always interested in communications technology. I am a radio ham-amateur radio, not CB. I started when I was 15. At that time, I had to build my own radio, but now you can buy them in shops.

My first professional involvement in telecommunications and data transmission was in 1980, so we're going back a long way. At that time, I went to Italy to work on a project for Olivetti, who was designing a terminal based on the BSC (bi-synchronous) protocols. I designed the firmware that went into these terminals.

When I'd finished with Olivetti, after a period of designing embedded firmware for printers, I moved back to England and joined a company that had been set up to explore the possibilities of this new "networking" thing that was going around. This was in 1985.

This whole notion of networking turned out to have a much greater impact than I ever imagined. I didn't anticipate how much it would involve everyone. Because, of course, the Internet didn't exist then. Networks were just a business tool, connections were dedicated. I don't think I could have foreseen what this would look like today, how pervasive and integrated networking would become in business.

Q: How did you hear about NetPro?
A: I was looking for technical resources on the Cisco Web site when I ran across the NetPro forum, and I thought this would be a useful thing to get involved in it. I really became heavily involved when I decided to study for CCIE.

Q: How do you use NetPro?
A: These days, I use it very much as a training tool, to get information that I don't necessarily have access to daily.. In my team, I don't really have many peers to talk to about networking. We have an e-mail specialist, a couple of telephony specialists, but for the most part I work on my own. So when I need to know something, if I want to find out if I have the right ideas or if I've understood a particular networking concept, I log on to NetPro for feedback. I ask questions and answer them as well, with the hope that if I haven't got the concept right, someone will tell me so.

Q: So you've used NetPro to find solutions to everyday networking issues?
A: I have. When I encounter a problem in my daily work, I find it very helpful to get a variety of perspectives, and I can get that on NetPro. By contrast, if I call TAC, I'll probably talk to one person, maybe two. But I won't have the wide variety of ideas that I get from NetPro.

Q: Are you a member of other networking communities?
A: I haven't really been involved in other communities to the extent of my involvement with NetPro. There are a few Usenet groups that I belong to, but my involvement on these groups is nowhere near as intensive. I appreciate the friendly atmosphere one finds in the NetPro community, as well as the knowledge base it can provide. You get to speak to the same people several times, and get an idea of who is more knowledgeable about what.

Q: What's the toughest problem you've ever solved with help from NetPro?
A: Oh, that's easy. The latest problem is always the toughest! But I'll give you an example. Right now I'm having a problem installing CiscoWorks, and I'm getting help with that. Previously, it was with a Catalyst deployment. I don't think I would have gotten a handle on that particular problem if it weren't for NetPro, because it allowed me to tap into the in-field experience of other network administrators, which enabled me to ask TAC the right questions.

Q: What is your greatest accomplishment to date in your networking career?
A: I'm torn between two things for what I'm most proud of. One is a custom, turnkey system I designed for a large government customer in England, who wanted to migrate all its applications from one mainframe system to another. I built a network system that allowed them to migrate the applications one at a time. The network itself made decisions about which applications were running on which machine on that particular day. I wrote the code that enabled the network to do that.

I suppose the other would be winning the contract I'm working on at the moment. I designed the SLA, put forward the proposal and won against some stiff competition. There was a huge call for tender, and companies came from all over Europe to compete for the contract. I assembled the team and put the proposal together, and we got it.

Level 1
Level 1

i really adore Network Admins...

i appreciate your interest in networking.

my wishes to your networking journey . . .

Happy to see you Mr Kevin

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