Have you ever felt like you've known someone your entire life, though you haven’t? Sometimes young age and rich experience do not contradict each other. That’s certainly not the case with Ronald van der Werf – our Extreme Hero from Conscia Nederland!
Hello Ronald, how are you doing these days? How have you managed the pandemic – both professionally and personally?
I am handling the pandemic quite good, Conscia is following the Dutch government regulations since day one, so we have been working from home ever since. I think we were all surprised to find out how easy it has been for us to be able to do our job, leaving only the most necessary activities for the onsite work.
As for the private life, I am happy to say that last January we welcomed our youngest, so I guess being stuck at home is not the worst thing that can happen 😉 It was rather beneficial that we were able to spend more time together with my girlfriend and two sons.
Congratulations on your Black Belt #193! You have successfully passed the ECS exams for both Campus EXOS and Campus Fabric Switching & Routing, Access Wireless Core, Wireless Cloud, Extreme Management Center, and ExtremeControl. Whew, that’s quite a list! Got any new goals set already? 🙂
Thank you! Yes, I did set myself a goal to become a Black Belt and I am really proud to achieve that. Although I had already touched most of the Extreme Networks portfolio before the introduction of Dojo, the platform enabled me to get certified and maintain the certificates through the recertification trainings. But still, Dojo has a lot of content for me to be discovered. So I am not done yet!
I like the way Extreme Dojo is delivering on-demand content for deep dives into certain products and solutions since it’s easier to fit into my agenda. Personally, I am very much interested in learning more about XMC moving to the Cloud and becoming the ExtremeCloud IQ Site Engine and I definitely want to keep tabs on this project.
You could say that Extreme has been in your professional life practically from the very beginning. Can you recall your first experience with the purple equipment? Or perhaps your first project done together with Roland Ivens, our Senior Systems Engineer in the Netherlands?
I got to know Extreme Networks and EXOS back in the days when the telephony was moving to VoIP. It was during that time that Avaya did partner up with Extreme Networks for some joint development. Later on Avaya acquired Nortel, but we stuck with Extreme EXOS. I also did work with the wireless product from Extreme in that time which was OEM Motorola WiNG. Since the very beginning of my journey with Extreme, I have always thought that the company had some very reliable hardware and software. I guess some of the equipment I have worked with back in those days could still be running today.
Around that time I also got to know Roland, who helped us design those VoIP-capable enterprise networks. After we started working together, I immediately liked his mentality of finding the best fitting solution rather than just selling a product. By the way, looking at both Roland’s an John Rutgers’ years of service at Extreme, you could say that the equipment is not the only sustainable asset of the company! 😉
Do tell us: what Extreme solutions have most resonated with your customers?
That would be the EXOS switches. I really love them as well, it is such a powerful platform.
You’ve worked with Extreme for quite some time, but a year and half ago you became member of an award winning partner after joining the Conscia team. What has changed? What can you tell us about the experience so far?
The reason I wanted to work for Conscia is because of the high level of knowledge of people in the company. I can tell now that the ‘network of knowledge’ tagline is there for a reason, you know. There is so much knowledge on the Extreme SPB Fabric, which was quite new to me, so I am learning from the best!
On the other hand, since I had already done some projects involving Extreme Management Center and ExtremeControl in my previous job, this is something I am able to contribute and share my knowledge with my colleagues. Looking back, moving to Conscia was the right step for me.
At Conscia you build and service some of Europe’s most complex IT infrastructures. The company sports an extensive Network Operations Center (NOC) where qualified specialists, such as yourself, monitor large networks. Which Extreme product or technology makes your life particularly easier?
That is what we do, indeed. Nowadays automation is the key, especially when managing large networks. Conscia invests in their employees to enable them to automate more, for example by facilitating network-oriented Python courses. With the Extreme products like XMC, or let me say ExtremeCloud IQ Site Engine, we can use these skills to automate processes and take advantage of the open approach of the software.
Ronald loves football - both watching and playing.
Management and 24/7 monitoring of your customers’ networks is quite a responsible task. So what do you do to wind down?
As a father of two fantastic boys, I enjoy every minute I can spend with my family and friends. I also do like to exercise and follow my favorite football club, Ajax Amsterdam. You can imagine that I am very pleased with the fact that step by step, we are allowed to do all that, as we are slowly coming back to normal.
In the winter season I like to head to the mountains and go skiing. This is something I have been doing for almost 15 years now and I am especially well-trained in the Après-ski part 😉 I am very happy that my parents took me and my brothers for skiing for their 25th anniversary so I could get addicted to the sport.
Say, you’re independently wealthy and don’t have to work anymore. What would you do with your time?
Well, I would probably be doing a lot more of the stuff I just mentioned! I don’t suppose getting extreme wealthy would make much of a difference in my life, I would probably still be busy with technology since I have always seen it more as a passion than a job.
Do you feel like a hero sometimes? 🙂
In this line of work, you have to put up with the challenges on a regular basis. But that is exactly what keeps me going and what I love about the job. Being able to fix problems and overcome the challenges actually do make me feel like I’m a hero!