E9 - Rick Donato at Packet Coders

James Dean
Rick Donato

By James Dean & Rick Donato

On this week’s episode on The Route to Networking, James Dean, the Director at Hamilton Barnes, sits down with Rick Donato, the owner of Packet Coders, an automation training platform.

Rick started his career in the network security world simply because he always loved networking and had a passion for it from a young age. Taking him back a few years, he was interested in the security aspect, such as hacking etc and it was at that point he was mainly dealing with firewalls and blogging. He started up his blog whilst doing his CCNA as he thought that it was the best place to dump all his text and notes while studying and found it to be useful and helped him a lot during the time he was taking on his certs.

Back in 2011, he started up a new job for a big web hosting company and he says that they were left with many targets, and he ended up being pulled to one side and was told he wasn’t meeting these targets. So, this was a lightbulb moment for him, as he knew this was going to be the perfect opportunity for him to learn network automation and Python where he thought “Right, I’m going to build a tool that’s going to do my job for me”.

He was advised if he started writing this tool every morning, every day for a year, just for an hour, then he would learn a lot, so he went down the path of building this tool out, to check the ports and by surprise… it worked! From there, he and his team hit the targets and the customers were happy and from there built his passion for network automation.

From building all these tools to progressing through his career, he tells James what it was that got him into networking. Rick always had a love for programming, even when he was young but what got him into the position, he’s in today, was that he started looking at what you can do with CCNA and CompTIA Networking+ and it truly fascinated him. How the whole world was interconnected, and you can send a pulse from a laptop to any single point in the world… so it was all by a pure fascination of wanting to know and learn more.

Coming back to his blog… he tells us how that helped and how it interlinked with his work. Blogging helped Rick keep all his information in one place and was a great tool to keep going back to if he needed any references. It also helped with his writing skills and web development in general.

Shortly after creating his blog, Rick did a week-long boot camp course on NFV and by the end of it wanted to write a white paper to see if he could test himself and complete the course. It ended up becoming very beneficial to him and worked well in helping him build knowledge on learning a topic in general. He mentions the downfalls of that though, being it became very academic… and as he previously spoke about, he loved a hands-on type of approach.

With all the advanced tech coming into the world now, Rick tells us what technologies are going to affect the industry he’s in…

There was no hesitation when Rick says Kubernetes… and for those who don’t know what Kubernetes they are an orchestration system for containers. “It’s a bit like a jukebox, normally we have our CDs, and we play our CDs but sometimes you want to shuffle them around and play them in a certain order… Kubernetes is the jukebox”.

Rick gives out his best piece of advice for the younger generation who are coming up into the industry… Don’t miss out on what he has to say, listen to the podcast here: