For the month of June, we chose to recognize @Bandwiches . Since joining the Meraki Community earlier this year, Bandwiches has been an active participant in many of the community contests we’ve run. He has also engaged with many members here. We’ll dive into his background in depth with the questions below, but you can also check out his intro post in the Introduce Yourself board here for a quick read!
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’ve been in IT for over 10 years, I somehow stumbled into networking on day one, and I’ve been here ever since. I worked in the education sector for about 3 to 4 years while I finished up my bachelor’s, and this is all networking. I was network admin. Then I ended up moving to Kansas City and started working for Cerner, which is a big health medical record company. I did a whole bunch of networking there, connecting hospitals to our data centers and all that great stuff. I did a lot of project work in automation when that was first starting. I think this would have been about the time with DevOps and SRE stuff. Now it’s huge, but back then it wasn’t so big. After that, I think I worked there for about 5 or 6 years, then I left there and I worked for an insurance company. So I have been in education, insurance, medical, all of it. When I was working at Cerner I had some secret access with government contracts and stuff like that, so I’ve had a lot of experience I guess.
What do you like most about networking and why did you end up staying with it?
I think probably the moment subnetting clicked in my head, I thought, “oh okay, I could do this for real,” you know? It's so hard to learn. Everybody says it’s so hard, but I’ve always been a fan of math. I’ve been on computers since I was probably about 7 years old. It’s always been around. I started getting into programming when I was doing school at the university. I still love programming, but it’s not really my job. I’m not a very quiet guy, I like to meet people and hear their stories. My wife will tell you I’m very extroverted.
What motivated you to join the Meraki Community and what has kept you sticking around?
I don’t remember when I joined exactly, but I do know we had our first–honestly, Meraki’s great. You just plug it in and it works, other than the licensing thing which everything is moving to anyway. I mean everything’s just right there in the dashboard. You don’t really have to do anything, you just set a profile and it works. There was one day, though, where we actually had an issue, and I opened up a ticket and posted to the community. It was actually that support guy [who responded], and he knew what he was talking about. You don’t see that at other companies. So it was like, okay, I guess I should join this and see what’s going on. Then there was a contest, I think, and that was probably what really sealed the deal. I was like, “I wanna win that bag!” Not a lot of other communities do that, you know. We wear every hat here. There are only 2 or 3 of us who support this entire company. It’s like 7,000 people. We’re global so we’ve got stuff in EU, Sweden, Canada, US–everywhere. We’re a part of the Palo community, this community, the Cisco community–all the big name brands, and nobody seems to do that except for Meraki. That’s pretty cool. I like that.
Any Meraki product / feature that you’re particularly fond of or couldn’t live without?
I like the Wi-Fi to be honest. When I was at Vo Tech, we were doing a lot of autonomous APs and controllers, everything was working together, but it’s like “click this, click that” you’re doing everything else. With Meraki, it’s click, click, done. It’s there. Everything is so automated, and I think that’s where the future is going. Meraki does it right. I don’t have a lot of problems with it. Meraki Wireless for sure is the favorite.
What’s your advice to folks looking to move to the next level in their Meraki / networking knowledge?
I don’t know, because I’m actually trying to move to the cloud. With Meraki, start with wireless because it’s super easy to implement. The best thing I can say is that everybody kind of gets to the point where they plateau. At that point, you can find new features and start researching new things, and that will lead you into so many other areas. I think that goes for any technology really. One great thing I love is education. I’m always constantly want to learn new things. I’m obviously learning the cloud now. I started with an associate’s [degree], got a job in networking, and then finished my bachelor’s, moved, got a different job in networking, and ended up with my master’s. I’m constantly going. Now I’m researching cloud, getting certified. You just can’t stop. The moment you stop, that’s when you messed up. It’s too hard to get back on.
I would also recommend, too, a partner, like a learning partner. In the last 6 to 7 years, I have one guy that I worked with originally. We finished our bachelor’s together, and we went back and finished our master’s together, and now we study the same cloud cert together. It’s a lot easier when you have somebody else to bounce things off of. I come from a small town, so everybody knew each other growing up. There just happened to be a guy, an acquaintance of mine who I met through a friend wrestling. I wrestled from 6 years old to 18. I had a friend there, and one of his friends was a guy named Mike. When I was going to the Votech for my associate’s, he was actually the IT administrator or whatever, the big IT guy there. It was a small shop. I think there were two guys, and they needed a network guy. I applied, and we knew of each other but we never really hung out until about 22 years old. After that, it was just kinda go, go, go. We both had the same mindset of “I don’t want to stop, we’ve gotta just keep going.” We’ve both been in technology for so long, we’ve seen it every couple of months. It just changes and changes. He leads me more on the education side, and I think I lead him more on the cert side.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
We just had our first son on October 31st. Halloween! That’s awesome. Honestly, now my days are just watching him. What’s the next thing he’s going to do? Outside of that, we have four dogs, we have one cat. We travel a lot, just exploring the US. We want to get out of the US once we hit all of the national parks. We like to go to the national parks and do a lot of hiking. Once we’ve kind of had our fill here, we’re going to start going overseas. We’ve done Costa Rica and Mexico as well. So yeah, traveling. I like to play drums, so music. I like stock market stuff, a lot of stuff. Probably too much! I haven’t played drums in a long time. but I just got an electric set two days ago, so I’m really ready to get back into it. With music though, I like everything. If it sounds good, if it’s got a good beat, if it’s unique. I really like singers that have a very unique sound. I like albums that have a story to it from start to finish that just go from chapter to chapter as you listen.
What national parks do you recommend? Any favorites?
We’ve probably done Estes the most. We used to go to Colorado every couple of months, so that was a great place. In Colorado itself, we really like Green Estates. It’s kind of a touristy area, but everywhere you pull off, there’s a whole other trail, like a hiking trail, and once you get about a mile out on the trail, there’s a whole series of other bigger, longer trails. It’s pretty cool, but I can’t remember what city that is. We’re getting ready to go to Olympia. We’ve been to Tuttle State Park in Kansas, Tybee Beach which isn’t in the park, but we like to do the beaches too. We’ve been to Carlifornia, Georgia, North Carolina… everything on the East Coast except for the North side. Just kind of making our way around.