20 Questions With Vince Schuele Of IP ArchiTechs
We had an opportunity to ask Vince Schuele of IP ArchiTechs 20 questions for our blog this week. As Director of Engineering and Senior Network Architect for IP ArchiTechs, Mr. Schuele has been on the front line of many cutting-edge network implementations in open networking, and is an expert in real-world use cases for advanced distributed networking. Suffice it to say, it doesn’t get much more “real world” than servicing the networking needs of the US Army.
Mr. Schuele is active on social media, and can be reached @schuele22 on Twitter.
1. Can you give our readers a quick backgrounder of yourself?
I grew up in the Northeast United States and went to college at the United States Military Academy at West Point where I graduated with a bachelor’s in electrical engineering with honors. After that I spent four years in Europe as a Signal Officer before transferring to become a network systems engineer. I spent time as a platoon leader and executive officer prior to moving into networking. I started in networking by managing the satellite communication nodes for US Army Europe. Then I moved into large scale MPLS deployments, secure data center deployments, coalition networking, and finally rounded out my time in service advising on and deploying security strategy for United States European Command. I spent eight years in the Army before joining IP ArchiTechs as a consulting network architect.
2. How long have you been with IP ArchiTechs, and in what capacity?
I started with IP ArchiTechs part time in early 2020 and became a full-time employee in mid-2021. I started out as a network architect and moved up to senior network architect/director of engineering.
3. How has 2022 been for IP ArchiTechs?
2022 has been a banner year for us. We’ve seen a ton of growth in rural broadband especially with all the grant money for builds. This has translated into more FTTx (fiber to the X) builds in addition to our expertise in fixed wireless access. We’ve also seen rapid growth in IPv6 and CGNAT deployments due to the price of IPv4 addressing.
4. What’s been the biggest surprise in the networking industry this year for you?
The rise and fall of the distributed disaggregated chassis. I keep seeing news around it and am not sure we’re any closer. It seemed liked promising technology and companies have been trying for years but I still don’t see any widespread demand or public success stories.
5. You’re active on social media, and we know you recently participated in the Tech Field Day seminar series. Are there any new vendors or products (tech in general, not necessarily just networking) we should be keeping an eye on?
Since MikroTik went with the Marvell Prestera chips it really changed the barrier to entry for multi 100g support. IP Infusion recently announced a partnership with Marvell as well. This could really change the way regional ISPs are built with features like segment routing and EVPN coming down in cost to fit this market.
6. What area of networking is most exciting to you (market segment, or specific products)?
It’s probably no shock that I am most excited about disaggregated open networking. I’ve worked with every big box vendor you can think of during my time in the Army and they certainly have their place. However, a lot of businesses don’t need what they’re offering to meet their goals. There are other options, such as IP Infusion, MikroTik, Pica8, and Fiber Store that offer solutions to most problems.
7. What has been disappointing to you this past year (networking, or tech in general)?
The lack of widespread IPv6 adoption. I still see people posting on social media how you need to disable IPv6 for security/performance/etc. It really doesn’t make a lot of sense with the cost of IPv4 and ease of getting IPv6 there aren’t a lot of downsides. However, some organizations/enterprises continue to develop software that isn’t designed for IPv6 and extend the life of IPv4 through NAT which brings operational cost and complexity.
8. You and IP ArchiTechs are industry experts in open networking. Is there any emerging trend in open networking that has caught your attention that might currently be overlooked by the general public?
There traditionally weren’t a lot of options in open networking for peering and transit. With IP Infusion, for example, the new support for Qumran2C has really closed the gap on capability. There is less disparity between what a traditional vendor can do and a disaggregated solution.
If a global transit provider chose to build their BGP edge with open networking gear, today’s support system is robust and available.
Most conversations start around what does support look like or how to buy the product. It’s largely unknown to most but there are communities of support and organizations that know how to help navigate. Resellers like EPS Global know their way around how to buy the hardware/software while the vendors normally have a traditional TAC and integrators like IP ArchiTechs know how to navigate the entire system. There are plenty of resources, success stories, and organizational structures to assist in deployment.
9. Do we still have a supply chain problem in networking?
Yes, it might show some signs of easing but largely it is still a year plus to get any equipment in. Longer lead times have even moved into some commodity gear although weeks not a year plus.
10. Who are some vendors in open networking we should be paying attention to, and why?
It probably comes as no surprise but I’m a big fan of IP Infusion and what they’re doing in the service provider space. They have a full featured solution that meets most requirements. There is even potential for border routing with some of the newer products on their support matrix.
Pica8 comes to mind in the enterprise space and NetElastic for broadband network gateways.
A lot of people want to point to SONiC but not everyone has Microsoft level problems and from what I understand it is very difficult to even get loaded. This makes the barrier to entry extremely costly and high.
11. In your direct experience working in the field with open networking, what are the biggest obstacles, or biggest pitfall for open networking projects and deployments?
People trying to deploy it in the same manner as a large chassis with custom silicon. You need to put the right architecture in place to realize success. This might mean having a few extra boxes/different vendors/etc… to realize the same objectives that you might get in a singular large chassis with custom ASICs.
12. In your opinion, do you think the market demand for open networking is growing, slowing, or remaining steady?
If the projects I’m working on are any indication, it’s safe to say it’s growing. Between the supply chain crunch, improved stability, and feature growth in disaggregated networking it’s hard to ignore. If I can achieve the same objectives for a fraction of the cost and quicker what’s not to like? Just look at what we did with MetaLink in the EPS Global podcast; we’d still be waiting for gear if we didn’t pursue whitebox.
You can find the EPS Global Podcast with Mr. Schuele, where he and representatives from EPS Global and MetaLink discuss the use case here: Beating the Supply Chain Crunch – A Case Study for Open Networking – EPSGlobal
13. Where do you think the growth opportunity in open networking is?
There is a ton of room to work in rural broadband. There is a large market here inclusive of fiber and fixed wireless access. The cost/feature is hard to beat especially with support for segment routing and EVPN.
14. What do you think software vendors in open networking, such as IP Infusion, need to do to be successful in this industry?
Focus on stability. Not everyone needs or wants a Swiss Army knife. Customers, I’ve found, generally want a stable/predictable deployment. If that means an additional box or change in architecture to get the desired resiliency and stability that’s okay. Be open about validated use cases and transparent if someone is trying something new that might have unintended consequences.
15. What podcasts do you listen to, besides Packet Pushers?
I’m probably a little biased here but I enjoy the On-Premise IT podcast by Gestalt IT and the MODEM podcast hosted by Nick Buraglio and Chris Cummings. I think this was born out of the Software Gone Wild podcast, which I listened to frequently until it ended.
16. What do you do to keep yourself mentally sharp?
I surround myself with people smarter than me and make sure to always have an open mind when talking with them. Everyone has something to offer, and you can learn from every interaction large or small.
17. Favorite hobby?
Skiing by far. If I could have figured out a way to support my family by skiing I’d probably be doing that right now instead of networking.
18. If you had a time machine, where/when would you go and why?
I’d probably go back to the ice age. My son is a huge fan of Mammoths and would love to see one. It’d be a dream come true for him to see them in real life.
19. What can we expect from IP ArchiTechs in 2023?
We’re planning on continuing to provide expert design and implementation services that focus on business goals and not pushing a specific hardware platform/solution. We will continue to work with WISPs/FISPs (wireless and fiber service providers) globally and are growing our presence with electrical co-ops. We also plan to cement our standing as the leaders in deploying IPv6 and open networking gear.
20. If we had to know the most important thing about Vince Schuele, what would it be?
I try to broaden my horizons as much as possible. This has led me to live in several countries outside the United States. I met and married my wife, Jasmin, and started my family in Germany. We plan to move back there one day. Learning other cultures, values, and ways of life helps appreciate the things you have that much more.