Flying Blind is Fun!

flying-blindWell maybe for some, but for a vast majority of people (pilots included), flying blind is not desirable. I am a private pilot and there is nothing quite like flying an airplane of a beautiful clear day when you have greater than 10 miles visibility and clear skies. You can see forever and most importantly you can see other airplanes, the landing field and all the beautiful sights as you fly along to your intended destination.

Poor Visibility

When the weather isn’t ideal, which happens often, you need special tools to help you fly safely and reach your destination. Since I wanted to be able to fly even under less than ideal conditions, I signed up to learn how to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR), meaning that I would be able to fly without being able to see any visual references outside the airplane. IFR means that you rely solely on the instruments in your airplane and communication with Air Traffic Control (ATC) to navigate. Most of the time, I would take off under IFR conditions, then break out of the clouds a few thousand feet above ground level and I could see clearly once again. When making a decision whether or not to fly on a particularly dreary day, I would check the conditions along my route and most importably at the destination. The more information I was could gather prior to flight the better decision I was able to make on whether or not the flight could be safely made. I always preferred to fly under visual flight rules, but when a flight had to be made in order to make an appointment or a family event on time, it was nice to know that my airplane was certified for IFR flight, meaning it was equipped with working instruments and equipment that would provide visibility about where I was going when my eyes were not able to make contact with reference points outside the aircraft, I also had to be proficient in my ability to fly with the aid of only my instruments, which meant recent experience.

The Analogy

I really loved learning to fly, especially the instrument part. When I completed my instruction and achieved my instrument rating, I was a 10x better pilot. Even when I was flying VFR, my IFR skills were used, I was more confident in my flying abilities and more comfortable talking with ATC. In my professional career, I see quite a few similarities between network administration and aviation. In network design, we begin by flying under visual flight rules, we physically configure the network components, run ping tests and trace routes to ensure that data is flowing where it should and ask users to test their connections to critical resources on the network like their email server or access to various sites on the Internet. We planned out our deployment, had our network design reviewed by our peers and we carried out the implementation and test plan and everything passed and we accomplished our goal, just like when I got my private pilot’s license flying under VFR. I was a good pilot, but didn’t have great visibility, only visual reference points. Like obtaining an IFR rating, we can take our network to the next level, we can add all the instruments and radios necessary to gain better visibility into our network during the times when the fog is thick (like during a DDoS attack or a broadcast storm). And this increased visibility will make us better network admins during the clear times also. We will be able to fine tune our networks and adjust our heading to achieve a perfect course towards our destination of 100% uptime, rock solid security and outstanding performance. The Visibility Network (which is composed of Network Packet Broker products) is a conduit to collection points around our networks, collecting vital information about the network landscape and funneling that data to the tools that can analyze that data and provide visibility into the health, security and performance of one of the most critical components of our workplace environment. I wouldn’t fly without visibility, because you just never know what type of weather is on the other side of the mountain or the other side of the firewall.


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