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Lisa Phifer: SearchNetworking's 'Expert of the Month'

Lisa Phifer, vice president of Core Competence, is SearchNetworking's Expert of the Month for April. April is also VPN Month on the site. Phifer will be the featured speaker at the upcoming SearchNetworking live event: Using VPNs to Secure Wireless Networks, on April 30, at 2 p.m. In an interview with News Editor Jack Pickell, Phifer talks about her involvement with the site, and the major issues facing networking professionals today.

Lisa Phifer, vice president of Core Competence, is SearchNetworking's Expert of the Month for April. April is also VPN Month on the site. Phifer will be the featured speaker at the upcoming SearchNetworking live event: Using VPNs to Secure Wireless Networks, on April 30, at 2 p.m. In an interview with News Editor Jack Pickell, Phifer talks about her involvement with the site, and the major issues facing networking professionals today.

Lisa, can you tell our readers where you're coming from, in terms of you own personal experience?
Lisa Phifer: I've been doing this for 20 years, working on network protocol since the early days of the Internet. My first job, with Burroughs, was connecting mainframes and desktops. Later I worked for Bellcore, the research arm of the old Bell operating companies, managing telecommunications networks. Then, in 1995, a colleague and I formed Core Competence, a network security and network management company. We test and evaluate networking products, provide services and write white papers for the enterprise as well as service providers. We also deliver training on VPN and WLAN security.

What do you think you bring to the table, as a searchNetworking expert?
Phifer: Primarily, I bring hands-on experience with a wide range of networking technologies, like remote access, 802.11, VPN, firewalls, etc. I understand the protocols and configurations, and can help with how products should be deployed. My goal is to help the site's users to understand new network and security technology. And I hope to provide practical advice on getting around some of the problems our users typically encounter. Additionally, I can offer insight into where the technologies are going, since I'm always test-driving new products.

What's one of the hottest new technologies?
Phifer: I'm really excited about the 802.11 wireless space, because it has come on so fast -- with a lot of grass roots deployment. It reminds me of the early days of Internet. And that makes me think it's going to be successful. It will help expand the edge of internet, making the Net more accessible. There were some weakness in the early attempts at security in WLANs, and, as they grow, interference issues will grow as well, since it is unlicensed spectrum. New standards are on the horizon, but those standards must not impact on interoperability.

I'm really excited about the 802.11 wireless space, because it has come on so fast -- with a lot of grass roots deployment. It reminds me of the early days of Internet. And that makes me think it's going to be successful.

 

And what are you looking for in terms of the interaction with the folks on the site?
Phifer: I've already received e-mails from folks who read my first couple of columns. Those were really interesting, with feedback on what I wrote. But I've also found the users are eager to share their own observances and insights -- and I appreciate that. I like hearing from people who have ideas of what they'd like to see written about -- problems they have that others may also be experiencing. I hope users will feel free to e-mail me, or post questions on the sites' discussion forums. I monitor those forums, and I chime in when I think I can help. And of course, the online chat events are a great place to get questions answered.

Finally, what would you say is the most pressing issue networking professionals are currently facing?
Phifer: Everybody is being forced to find ways to do more with less -- and there are many different ways to do that in networking -- by optimizing bandwidth usage and using public networks to replace private networks. That's what is driving wireless LANS -- low cost of entry with no recurring charge. While wireless cellular efforts are primarily usage-based -- with WLAN, once you spend $200 on an access point, that's it -- no incremental charges.

MORE INFORMATION:

How secure is the WLAN today? Tomorrow?

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