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  • tomterlouw

2020 - A year never to forget

2020 started for me with a new assignment in a world wide company, based in the US. With an intake in 5 minutes over the phone and no, Covid was not active yet! Worked from the Netherlands and started the first day at home. Brief online call after reading the HLD (High Level Network Design) with my teamlead/direct colleague about how the network was setup and the vision behind this network. Started with exploring this network by verifying and checking what was described in the HLD. As soon as I told that I was ready to start building things, I immediately saw the amount of work and not to speak about the difficulty for these specific tasks and the belonging deadlines which gave me the idea that there wasn't much time left. I just realized that this wasn't an ordinary network assignment but the most complex and challenging so far.

After returning from skiing with my family and dear friends, COVID was active in Europe and resulted in working from home at the beginning of March. Started directly with building a world wide Client VPN solution in AWS. A flexible and scalable solution should be created and with meetings in teams, a lot of design sessions from home, building along the way and spend a lot of hours, we managed to built this solution with the 3 of us in a short amount of time. It was a steep learning curve and embraced a lot new technologies but yes, we made it. And not the steep learning curve and the pressure from the business made it difficult, but also design sessions within teams, with different colleagues, different personalities and with colleagues who were able to create technical designs in their head and walk them trough while others prefer to have a drawing to create a more touch and feel about the plan. It asked a lot from all of us but with perseverance, open communication and respect for each others personality , we managed to work together on this task.

Once SD-WAN was only something I've heard about and I really didn't see how SD-WAN should fit in companies, the next project we were facing was implement & design a SD-WAN solution for a new company. And now I know, from experience, how SD-WAN could fit other companies, not all of them but only when the IT environment meets the given solution.

VPN Posture with CISCO ISE was also something which should be implemented world wide, over different operating companies with each operating company having their own different toolsets. VPN Posturing is able to scan VPN Endpoints which are connecting to the network and allow access based on their compliancy.

When I'm looking back on this year, worked from home starting early March, then I'm really grateful. Grateful because I learned a lot this year, not only from technical perspective but also personally. It required everyone to communicate without body language. And with technical solutions which are more difficult, it's very important that everyone understood each other correctly. And to understand each other clearly, it's really important to ask questions, a lot of questions until everyone is comfortable with the situation.

I'm also very very grateful that despite the fact that Covid didn't bring us the most optimal social situation with friends and other social activities, we were allowed to spend a lot of time with our loved ones, my wife, my 3 children and family. I really enjoyed it and 2020 was for me a year never to forget. I'm also thankful to my teamlead Daan, which always believed in me and stood after me in this year.

But hopefully Covid is coming to an end very quickly and everything will be starting being normal again, then hopefully this good mix with working from home and in the office will stay for most companies where this wasn't appreciated that much. This year gave us a lot of tools to embrace for this new way of working. I really support this new way of working but in the end it's always important that an employee is having a good feeling in the balance between work and life and with the way of working.

I really want to thank all of the people I worked with in this year. We believed in each other, trust each other and with perseverance and open communication, it's possible to bring each situation to a good end.

2021 will start for me with a new assignment for a company based in the US. If COVID is coming to an end, I might end up working from home because there's no office based in the Netherlands and all my colleagues are from different countries. It will be challenging but that's the way how it goes ;-)

Enjoy the last days of 2020 with your loved ones!

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