You know back when I worked in retail, I thought it was the most amazing thing that my friend Amber worked in IT with me! That was because at the time she was the only woman I had ever worked in the industry with! Now were more women in IT? Possibly I never knew because I never really thought about it & I was still growing & finding my way during that time. But women thriving in industries normally male dominated as been rapidly evolving over the last few years and has reached such incredible heights!
From CEOS & COO’s at the executive level to carpenters, contractors & more. Without question one of those industries that has seen the most tremendous growth has been technology, and I’m so fortunate to say that I got an opportunity to talk with someone who I consider one of the top titans in the industry today, one of my good friends & now fellow Cisco Champions also! She’s without question one of the most iconic, driven & talented Senior Network Engineers of her time. Deirra J. Footman is someone who has taken the IT industry by storm over the last few years through her tireless & committed dedication to not only advocating for those established or looking to get into IT & guiding them on their career paths. But also focused on other missions essential in her journey to helping others thieve & be successful from better-quality Tech Education for children in communities it may not be accessible to even spanning an entire movement driven by her cause to continuously inspire & encourage other women to pursue rewarding careers in the IT industry. It goes without saying she’s a rockstar and when laser focused there’s nothing she can’t accomplish!
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve utilized her work, tools, & talents in key topics not only pertaining to routing, switching & data center technologies. But also, one of my favorite topics ISE! While back she created the 100 Days of ISE! A way to really dive into such an incredible topic & also create a detailed guide utilizing the exam blueprint to truly understand each area so it was no question I wanted to not only talk more about it & some of its key fundamentals & features. But also, some tips she’s learned along the way on her journey so let’s see what she had to say!
Deirra: A few years ago during a demanding and complex Network Segmentation project, Cisco met with my team and I to demo a newish security product called ISE. I was immediately impressed with the product’s capabilities and while we weren’t able to make the purchase at that time, I quietly spent time reading about the tool on Cisco’s website. Within a few months, I was at a new job where I got hands-on experience with the ISE platform and it became one of my favorite products.
What is Cisco ISE?
Deirra: Cisco ISE or the Identity Services Engine is a security policy management platform designed to provide secure access to network resources. ISE provides key security features such as AAA authentication, Policy enforcement for 802.1x (wired and wireless), Profiling, posturing and policy enforcement for endpoints and VPN environments. The solution is highly scalable from small office deployments to enterprise and integrates with a number of Cisco products such as ACI and DNA Center.
ISE can be a massive beast to try to wrap your head around especially if you’re new to the concepts and problems ISE works to solve. Many engineers I’ve worked with avoid it unless absolutely necessary. Here are my top 3 tips for learning ISE and why it’s an invaluable skill set for Network Security professionals to have.
Take it one feature at a time
Deirra: One mistake I’ve seen people make is that they try to learn the entire product at once which leads to them getting frustrated and overwhelmed. Instead try to break down and learn the functionalities individually. Additionality there will be a switch and router configurations that you will need to understand and navigate.Take your time labbing through each component. While ISE is a GUI based product, there are a lot of menus to navigate through so take good notes for yourself.
I’ve been working with ISE for about 5 years now and while I am strong in some areas, I still have much to learn about other functions. It’s a journey. Read the Logs
The best thing about ISE is that when there’s an error the logs are overly detailed. ISE gives you a step by step breakdown of the process and where the failure happened.
Get familiar with the various error codes and correlate them with what logs you’re seeing on your device (router, Switch or end device). I also encourage you to research the errors and processes behind them. As you get more comfortable with ISE, you’ll find that this makes troubleshooting a bit easier.
Keep An Open Mind & Ask Questions
Deirra: Lastly, no matter how many times I’ve deployed something with ISE, I always learn something new. Sometimes this is an error I need to do additional research on or sometimes it’s on a call with TAC. My point here is don’t get to the point where you think you know it all. There’s a community of ISE engineers producing content about the product. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. This is why I started #100DaysofISE (picking up again next year). While I do plan to end with my ISE certification, I want to focus on building my skills and help others along the way.
If ISE is something you’re interested in learning more about, be sure to follow my blog, CCIE BY 30 where I will be sharing more content related to projects and what I’m learning about ISE.
I can’t tell you what an asset to the community Deirra has continuously been, so much more than an engineer, tech influencer, mentor & countless other titles. She’s a pioneer to so many women & others in this industry and someone not just myself but countless others will forever be grateful to have in our community for years to come. Always an honor & a privilege I’m thankful to get to sit down with you & If you haven’t be sure to follow her journey! Until next time everyone stay safe!