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DevCentral’s Featured Member for July – Vosko Networking’s Niels van Sluis

NielsFor almost two years Niels van Sluis has worked as a Security Engineer for Vosko Networking. Vosko’s security team focuses on supporting security solutions from various vendors like F5, Check Point, Cisco and RSA. Niels focuses is on F5 BIG-IP and Check Point. He started his professional career about 20 years ago in the ISP industry as an Unix Administrator, and switched to the public healthcare sector around 2001. In more recent years, he’s moved more towards working on network security and design. Apparently, having a Unix background helps a lot when working with modern security devices, since most of them are running on some flavor of Unix. When not working or spending time on DevCentral, he likes to travel, visit historic places and enjoy nature. And Niels is DevCentral’s Featured Member for July!

DevCentral: Tell us a little about the areas of BIG-IP expertise you have.

Niles: My first encounter with BIG-IP was during my previous job. A colleague had been working with BIG-IP before and introduced it as a replacement for the KEMP load balancer that was currently in use. So, I had to attend the ‘Administering and Configure BIG-IP’ course. It was then – when I learned about iRules – I saw the full potential of this nifty device. But during my days there I didn’t do much with the BIG-IP as in terms to administration. I would only touch the box, if my colleague was on leave. This however changed when I started working for Vosko Networking. Within about a year’s time I’ve gone through the BIG-IP certification program, spend a lot of time on DevCentral and got my hands dirty in the field. The BIG-IP areas I’m most experienced in are LTM and APM. The most fun part for me are iRules (LX).

DC: You are a Security System Engineer at Vosko Networking BV. Can you describe your typical workday?

NS: My typical workday depends whether I’m working on a project or not. When working on projects I often visit customers throughout the country to help them deploy new equipment or configure new services. Recently I’ve migrated quite a few Cisco ACE and Microsoft Forefront TMG deployments to the F5 BIG-IP platform. Other times I help customers upgrading their BIG-IPs or setting up more advanced APM configurations including SAML and SSO. When I’m not working on projects I work on support cases or trying out new stuff in our lab.

DC: You have a number of F5 Certifications including most of the Technology Specialist (LTM, GTM, APM, ASM) certifications. Why are these important to you and how have they helped with your career?

vosko1NS: First of all, they are required for Vosko Networking to participate in the F5 Support Partner program. But more important to myself is that the F5 certification program helps to get deeper knowledge in to how the various BIG-IP modules work, how they relate (interact) to each other and what part the BIG-IP plays in modern network infrastructures. The certification program is also very practical; you can directly apply what you have been learning. It helped me to get more comfortable and confident in my day to day job.

DC: Describe one of your biggest BIG-IP challenges and how did DevCentral helped in that situation.

NS: In my experience, there are BIG-IP challenges every day. I think this is the result of the BIG-IP being some kind of network-magic-box, that can do about everything. With most other security devices, one is limited to the functionality and settings the box is shipped with. But with BIG-IP, you can really be creative and think outside the box. If the required functionality is missing, you can build it yourself with iRules. And customers know this. I often go out to customers with a specific need, but when starting out it isn’t always clear if this is something the BIG-IP can do by default. In these situations, access to the DevCentral community is crucial. Even though BIG-IP isn’t an open source project, it’s amazing to see how members share their time, code and knowledge to help each other. For example, some code that really helped me out are Yann Desmarest’s APM Full Step Up Authentication and Stanislas Piron’s APM SharePoint authentication. Besides code, I think the Lightboard Lessons are awesome; very helpful!

DC: Lastly, if you weren’t an IT admin – what would be your dream job? Or better, when you were a kid – what did you want to be when you grew up?

I think I wanted to be an electrician when I was young, but I’m pretty sure that isn’t my dream job. As long as I’m able to learn new things and have new challenges, I’m happy how things are. I think I’m useless for any other job that doesn’t require a keyboard. Thanks for the privilege for being a featured member and thanks for the Lightboard Lessons as well. I really enjoy them.

Thanks Niels! Check out all of Niels’ DevCentral contributions, connect with him on LinkedIn and follow Vosko: @vosko.


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More Stories By Peter Silva

Peter is an F5 evangelist for security, IoT, mobile and core. His background in theatre brings the slightly theatrical and fairly technical together to cover training, writing, speaking, along with overall product evangelism for F5. He's also produced over 350 videos and recorded over 50 audio whitepapers. After working in Professional Theatre for 10 years, Peter decided to change careers. Starting out with a small VAR selling Netopia routers and the Instant Internet box, he soon became one of the first six Internet Specialists for AT&T managing customers on the original ATT WorldNet network.

Now having his Telco background he moved to Verio to focus on access, IP security along with web hosting. After losing a deal to Exodus Communications (now Savvis) for technical reasons, the customer still wanted Peter as their local SE contact so Exodus made him an offer he couldn’t refuse. As only the third person hired in the Midwest, he helped Exodus grow from an executive suite to two enormous datacenters in the Chicago land area working with such customers as Ticketmaster, Rolling Stone, uBid, Orbitz, Best Buy and others.

Writer, speaker and Video Host, he's also been in such plays as The Glass Menagerie, All’s Well That Ends Well, Cinderella and others.

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