Starting with a Degree in Computer Science, I've spent my career designing and building complex networks, using a multitude of technologies, protocols and platforms.
Along the way, I've been fortunate to be involved in many rewarding projects and worked with great people and interesting equipment. I've become adept at designing, costing, configuring, integrating, templating, scripting, troubleshooting and documenting networked systems.
A few highlights are described below; they represent roles or projects that included interesting technologies or technical challenges, where I was part of a great team, or where I felt my individual contribution made a tangible difference.
The Internet of Things (IoT)
IoT is an exciting development in the use of the Internet and one with the potential to enhance our lives and make better use of resources. I'm just starting my IoT journey. As well as some smart home systems, I'm working with LoRaWAN and The Things Network to develop solutions in areas such as the efficient use of water and improving air quality. The work draws on a mix of networked hardware, software elements and bespoke integrations, to provide insights into system and process state and to automate responses to sensor outputs.
Building the Internet
I spent 14 years working with AS5089 between 1996 and 2010. At the start, it supported a few dial-up customers and some business leased-lines (at 64 kbps). As the commercial Internet took off, it's services developed, both in scale and speed, reaching 3 million customers and multi-megabit broadband by the time I moved on. Routed IP networks, particularly at ISPs, are complex to setup, integrating Border Gateway Protocol (BGP), an Interior Gateway Protocol (IGP) and Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS) and having many connections to other ISP networks for peering and transit; I worked on these core components and I'm still an AS5089 customer.
More recently, I've spent time in the Alt-net arena, as the roll-out of Fibre to the Home (FTTH) gathers pace. At AS48294, the challenge has been to build the network, at fast pace, to multiple points-of-presence across Wales using dark fibre backhaul and GPON/XGSPON for customer access. In many ways the technical operation of the Internet is much the same as it was during the dot-com boom however, the exhaustion of IPv4 address space in 2011 and subsequent market for public addresses is driving the adoption of Carrier-Grade Network Address Translation (CG-NAT) and IPv6.
Building network and IS systems that can be deployed in remote and harsh environments presents unique challenges for power, packaging, network performance and service consistency across combinations of WAN technologies, sometimes with significant bandwidth constraints. I spent much of 2011 - 2019 working on the network elements for deployable IS projects. This work included network design, platform selection, cost modelling, address planning, network engineering, system delivery, integration, documentation and customer training.
Ethernet and Internet Protocol
Ethernet, in its many guises, and Internet Protocol are the current dominant technologies for network connectivity. However, in my early career there were many others, including ARCnet, Token Ring, Token Bus, FDDI, AppleTalk, IPX, DECnet, X.25 and ISO CONS/CLNS; I built multi-protocol inter-networks using many of these technologies and protocols. I was fortunate to work on a campus network project that included Ethernet 10BASE2, Fibre-Optic Inter-repeater Link (FOIRL) and pre-standard Ethernet over unshielded twisted-pair (UTP), subsequently 10BASE-T. The project also introduced UNIX workstations with IPv4. I've been working with Ethernet and IP ever since.