It’s time for our April Member Spotlight!
For the month of April, we chose to recognize @TheAlchemist. Since joining the Meraki Community last July, TheAlchemist has authored 56 posts with a total of 8 kudos by asking great questions and engaging members in discussions across the Security / SD WAN and Wireless LAN boards. His efforts earned him the Rising Star award in September. He continues to leave a lasting impact on our community.
Tell us a little bit about your background.
I’m from India originally, I’m a Canadian citizen now. I got my bachelor’s from a program in India in electronics and communication, and I moved to Toronto after where I did my EG diploma and masters in electrical engineering, and I started working for telecom. That was my main field, but with telecom I got more into IT with LTE communication, and that’s how I got into networks. I got a couple of Cisco Certifications, and then I moved into the field of broadcast. Right now I am working for a major broadcasting production house. It’s owned by two of the biggest telco carriers in Canada. I’m very happy to be here and using Meraki. A lot of media probably still is actually this way, but in media, a lot of broadcasting was all base scan. It was all analog STS signals before, even digital was FTN stamped signals, but now with more IP streaming of media content on YouTube, Twitch, a lot of IT workflow is used now in our broadcasting infrastructure, so I have added to that. I wouldn’t call myself an IT administrator. We’re a team, and I’m one of the guys who works with setting up the equipment and we deal with Meraki a lot.
At times, for media like forecast any small hiccups and it’s going over internet, so it becomes really really important for us, any latency spike or any small loss that affects us, so Meraki has been really good for us regarding all the Dashboard and visibility of metrics, the stats that are provided to us. Ease of use, too! That’s probably why a lot of people who are not more tech savvy with networking, even they are happy to use the platform. But yet we have our fair share of concerns, issues, which we always try to deal with or try to have access to the community.
What motivated you to join the Meraki Community, and what keeps you returning?
The Meraki Community is very helpful with all the issues that we have. We have a big organization with a lot of security advances, switches, and access points, so any question I have, even if I don't get the answer, I get something close or something related or somebody shares their experience. That's really helpful in not just finding the solution, but in the long run, setting up or changing the architecture all together. I keep coming back to the Meraki Community because I get answers, and I get a lot of good information out of it, so that does bring me back. I mostly ask questions, I haven’t actually replied to anybody else’s yet. I just hope with my asking questions and answering promptly, the community posts more with the same question, it does give people some sort of an insight into what’s going on and maybe they find that helpful.
Any Meraki product / feature that you’re particularly fond of or couldn’t live without?
I think the port information. I’d love to have that on all of the MX appliances as well, but for now I think it’s just MS. You can connect on a port and get all the stats, errors, if it’s up, which VLAN. There will be hundreds more, definitely, but that strikes my mind first right now. Instead of typing all the commands, just clicking on a port and getting all the information - You can see what’s going on, it’s up, which VLAN, how much traffic. That’s one feature which we use a lot, and we use VPN a lot actually in our business. The ease of setting up VPN with other Meraki appliances is something which is very helpful to us.
What’s your advice to folks looking to move to the next level in their Meraki / networking knowledge?
I don’t know if I’m credible enough to give any advice, but all I can say is just keep going, keep digging, nobody knows 100%. There’s so much information out there that there’s always something to learn. There’s a good quote, “The biggest room in the world is the room for improvement.” You can always try to improve yourself, improve on anything. You know, even if a stack is working, you see a stack and it’s okay, ask why it’s there. You can always ask why. That’s just who I am and that’s my way of doing things. That’s all I can say. I always say even for fiber networks, any kind of fiber cable we connect here or there, people have a Nobel prize for that for fiber optics. All we do here, this is done. We know it. There’s so much behind it, all you’re doing is doing your part, but there’s a lot to learn.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
My son keeps me busy nowadays, so less of those [hobbies]. I love watching movies. Avatar is my all time favorite. I remember seeing it like 12 years ago now. I was studying then. I saw it and the very next day, I went again. I thought it’s much better to live in the same world as Pandora rather than come back to a real one, so yeah I love that. I’m much excited to see the second one! But yeah, the times have changed now. I have a son to take care of. That’s my favorite movie of all time though.
Me and my wife love going outside and going to parks. I’m kind of a nerd in a way. The world kind of gives you a tag of what you do. So if you’re sitting more in front of a computer figuring out that makes you a nerd. What my go-to thing is and what I’ve always done, and in fact, my highest studies, my masters that helped me do more, dig deep, and try to get to know more of anything rather than giving into tradition. One of the projects that was given to us, I gave a very high level of information. I essentially said hey, these are the two networks, AB, and these are the two techniques, frequency and direct spectrum. So I said, “Professor, these are the two things I’m gonna do.” He said, “No, these are really high level, you have to pick one of the smallest things in one of the spectrum techniques and go in detail about that.” I was like this is A, this is B, these are the answers, and I have everything done. So at that moment, and for a lot of the projects I’ve done, and even in the recent past, I think there’s so much to learn. The more you kind of, know, the more you realize how much you don’t know. That’s what keeps me up and keeps me investing more time in studying. That’s why I think there will be a section of people who call me a nerd.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I enjoy studying, enjoy reading. With ChatGPT now, you can play around with that and try to help find some answers, improve it even. All you can do is just dig deep more, find answers, and on the way help others as well.
Thanks @TheAlchemist ! Want to be featured in your own Member Spotlight? Sign up for a time to talk to us.