Monday, October 17, 2011

Linked > Monster

I'm actually working on a social media class for our employees on LinkedIn. We've already done classes on Chatter, and Twitter so LinkedIn is next.

Facebook is on the list as well but frankly I haven't figured out what to talk about with Facebook yet, and am still of the mindset that Facebook is more personal than professional. I think that's me being old fashioned, but hey, if someone else wants to do the Facebook class, they are more than welcome to. The last think I really need is the whole company to see my prom picture from 1985. For those that have seen it I'm sticking to my story that it was a cool look back then.

OK but back to LinkedIn. When I mentioned I was thinking about doing the class, someone said "Why? Do you want people to find other jobs?". Which of course made me realize that the impression about LinkedIn is that's where you post when you are looking for a new job.

Now LinkedIn is a great place to network, and if you are looking for a new job networking is a great way to help with that. Networking though is only a  piece of the puzzle when job hunting and since I'm not writing this post to help people find jobs I'll leave it alone, maybe another post later.

The reality though is LinkedIn is way more than a job board. It has a whole section on company, including what products they sell, recommendations from your connections, research on employees - like which schools people went to, what type of degrees they received, and how much experience they have as shown below.

Pretty cool right. Does it matter that 52% of our employees have 15+ years experience? Yeah, it does. There is a big difference between getting someone with 15 years experience helping you troubleshoot a network issue when you first call in for assistance, and getting someone with 6 months experience who will gladly take your contract info and have someone call you back.

You can also see News headlines that you care about. Search for new connections (great if you are in sales),  I can give recommendations to people I know (which I really need to do more of) and keep in touch as people move around.

My favorite section though is groups. There are groups on practically everything. Some groups are very good, some not so good. I have found them to be incredibly useful though when looking for new technology or even just new ways of working, like Agile programming or Scrum project management. Generally if you are struggling with an issue, there is probably a group that can help solve it. If not solve it, they can at least sympathize with you.

There are a host of other interesting applications, like or twitter integration. You can link to amazon so people can see what you are reading, or and I just found this, you can link blogs right into your LinkedIn profile and see what your connections are blogging about. Not sure how cool this will be, but it sounds cool and based on the 90 second analysis I just did, it is pretty cool.

The summary though is this LinkedIn is way more than a tool to find your next job. Who knows,it may even help you keep the one you already have.

Monday, October 10, 2011

When long tenure is bad..

I'm pretty lucky, most of my staff has worked with me for 10+ years. There are some great benefits to that, like the wealth of institutional knowledge in the group, and the fact that we can eliminate a lot of bureaucracy and that frankly we work well together.

There is a dark side to though. We are pretty spoiled with our network management toolset and don't even realize how lucky we are. Two examples came up the last week when we we're talking to customers. They were really excited to see these features and frankly we were shocked that other vendors don't have them. In some cases we have had this ability for almost 20 years

If you are a long term Enterasys customer you have probably used these features a lot too and you may also be surprised that not everyone has these.

The first one is "compass". At it's simplest it lets you find a device on the network. You can locate them by MAC or IP address or if you use authentication you can find them by name. Now this is very helpful if you have a device behaving badly. You can simply type in the address and find out which switch and port it is plugged into.

Or if you have a user that calls in with an issue, you can simply search by their username. Most people know their username, very few actually know what a MAC address is and even less have memorized theirs. I know mine has an 8 in it, but that's as far as I remember. Being able to search on username just makes it that much easier and quicker to resolve a users issue.

History lesson on Compass: Many years ago it would list all of the ports, including uplinks, that the device was seen on, but over time it's gotten pretty good about just showing the one port that it is physically connected to.  The early prototype was a unix shell script that required the user to manually convert the MAC address to decimal and enter it that way. It's way better now.

Third Party devices
The second "feature" is the ability to manage third party devices in our network management software. I sort of thought everyone did this but several people told me the product they are using (I didn't ask whose it was) only supported their products. To me that seems odd since SNMP has been around for a long time.

Now the fact that we can manage the entire network as one entity, whether it is wired or wireless, I can see that being unique, but being able to add something like a printer or UPS, seems pretty basic to me.

I'm glad I have these two things but honestly I've gotten so used to having them I can't imagine trying to run a network without them. I almost want to go run a competitors network for a few weeks so I can appreicate how lucky I am.