Alex Houlton

CCNP Certified Network Engineer and web developer

Hi, I'm Alex Houlton


I'm a CCNP certified network engineer and web developer based in London, England. I have a professional background in Computer Networking, and have a First Class Honours degree in Computer Networks from Sheffield Hallam University.

Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions.

Experience

I specialise in computer networking and web development.


Network Support Engineer

June 2017 - Present

At Cisco Meraki, my role focuses on providing quality support to our largest customers.

This requires me to:

  • Analyse packet captures to quickly diagnose the root cause of problems.
  • Effectively manage cases from start to finish, seeing every issue through to resolution.
  • Familiarise oneself with the entire product line, including the hardware and software feature sets. This allows questions to be answered without delay and establish expected behaviour.
  • Maintain deep knowledge of all Layer 1 through 4 protocols, including 802.11, Ethernet, IPv4/6, OSPF and TCP/UDP, in addition to application layer protocols.
  • Contribute towards public facing documentation, ensuring that it is up to date and as clear as possible.
  • Communicate professionally and precisely with customers and internal teams to ensure clear next steps are formed, which lead to a rapid resolution of the problem.

As part of my role, I am part of a small team responsible for management of our internal lab space.

Solution Validation Services (SVS) Intern

July 2015 - June 2017

In my position as an SVS Intern at Cisco, I have two main roles:

Programmer, Next Generation Tooling (Lions NG)

  • Ensure HA through the use of load balancing (nginx, haproxy) and geographically diverse database and web servers.
  • Effectively use version control solutions (Git) to track code changes, issues, branch code and develop efficiently within a team.
  • Familiarity with both server side technologies (PHP, MySQL and Nginx in a Linux environment) and client side technologies (jQuery, DataTables, Bootstrap).
  • Hardware control (Smart PDUs, networking equipment) through SNMP get, set and walk, allows us to power schedule projects, averaging a 70% power saving.
  • Design, Implement, Test and Deploy new features to enhance the tools used on a daily basis by Lab Administrators and Engineers.
  • Maintain and refactor the existing codebase as issues arise and workflows change.

Lab Administrator, Advanced Services

  • Monitor case queues for new requests, acting upon these in line with SLAs. This could involve troubleshooting a faulty link or provisioning a new device into a topology.
  • Asset Management, including assignment of devices to projects, e-wasting of old equipment.
  • Work with Engineers to deploy a topology into the lab, including sourcing hardware, racking + stacking, configuring management and console access.
  • Establishing layer 1 through 3 connectivity between devices as per provided topology diagram.
  • Provision of traffic generation capability (Ixia) to a test topology.
  • Maintenance of VMware/UCS-based virtual machine infrastucture for test purposes. Experience with Cisco UCSM, FI and vCenter.

IT Support Analyst

November 2013 - June 2015

In my position as an IT Support Analyst, my duties included:

  • Handle and take ownership of calls and support tickets that arrive from users which include 800+ retail branches, warehouses and Head Office personnel.
  • Support a broad range of hardware, from Point of Sale, handhelds, PC and Macintosh desktops/laptops to Cisco Routers, Switches and Access Points.
  • Systems software such as Windows Server 2008/2012 (inc. AD, DNS, DHCP), VMware vSphere, Citrix Xenapp, XenDesktop and SCSM 2012 for incident management.
  • End user software support includes Windows XP/7/8, Mac OS X, Office and Adobe CS6.
  • Microsoft SQL Server and Oracle Databases play a heavy role in a retail business, from transaction data to customer details. This requires me to understand how they work and be able to maintain them effectively.
  • Complex issues such as a network problem or a corrupt database have taught me teamwork skills.
I escalate the problem, working with others to resolve the issue quickly, ensuring minimal downtime.
  • Liaising with other companies, a courier for example, to ensure that a 4G/3G backup router is configured and shipped to a store whose MPLS link is down. Contact with the ISP is then made to fix the main link.

Projects

A few projects I have worked on recently:


Moves History

A quick and easy to use web-app designed to show you historical information from your Moves data, such as last 7 or 31 day totals and weekly performance graphs.

Tube Map Challenge

No more paper! Digitally check off all the stations as you visit them! Integrates with Swarm and TFL data to make magic happen.
This project is open source. You can view and contribute over on Gitlab.

Education

I have a First Class BSc (Hons) degree in Network Management & Design.


BSc (Hons) Network Management & Design

September 2013 - June 2017

As part of my degree at Sheffield Hallam, I have studied a wide range of topics in addition to the core networking area, giving me a broad range of knowledge on many aspects of the industry.

Second Year Modules include:

  • LAN Switching + WANs (follows Cisco CCNA 5 curriculum) - 94%
  • Web Application Development - 89%
  • Database Administration + Security - 98%
  • Network Server Management + Administration - 86%

First Year Modules include:

  • Networking Fundamentals (follows Cisco CCNA 5 curriculum) - 89%
  • C# Programming - 82%
  • Computer Architecture - 93%
  • Information Security - 88%

Certifications