Networking & Kubernetes: Book Review and Interview with Author James Strong | Hacker Noon

James Strong is the co-author of Networking and Kubernetes, a text published by O’Reilly Media, which he wrote with Vallery Lancey and published in September 2021. The book is intended to be helpful to all levels of computer technologists.


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Amy Shah

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James Strong is the co-author of Networking and Kubernetes, a text published by O’Reilly Media, which he wrote with Vallery Lancey and published in September 2021. 

Who is James Strong?

Strong is a Cloud Native Director with Contino. In his current role, he is responsible for evangelizing Contino’s work in DevOps and Cloud transformations. Partnering with clients, conference organizers, and others to bring their message to their communities, he helps accelerate the adoption of new platforms and presents on topics such as Kubernetes, Cloud Native Architecture, and Application Modernization. He aids in all facets of the project life cycle, beginning with the project proposal and closing statements of work with the sales team through helping technical teams deliver value to the client. 

James Strong regularly attends professional conferences, and in fact, the impetus for the book came from networking at a conference he attended in 2019. He said that he has been active with the Cloud Native Computing Foundation, most recently helping maintain the Ingress-nginx project. He enjoys giving professional talks, though he admits he is an introvert. In fact, during the writing of this book, he and his co-author never met face to face! 

“We communicated via text or emails. With occasional video sync,” said Strong. 

Strong describes himself as a customer-oriented problem solver with an ability to adapt to new situations. He is a quick learner with a desire for continuous personal and technical growth. Also, he is an effective communicator with the ability to create technical materials that convey value for both clients and end-users. His core competencies include Amazon Web Services, Network Administration, Virtualization, Cloud Native, Linux, VMware, and Web Services. 

Strong speaks confidently and clearly. During our interview, I grasped how easy it was for Strong to simply explain difficult and complex concepts, even to a layperson. His verbal and written communication skills are superb. Strong has ten years of experience working in the computer technology industry. While his experiences vary widely from development to project management and now consulting, it is clear that he has substantial technical know-how. He was excited to try a challenge like writing this book. Strong jumped into the process with energy!  

Excerpt From Networking & Kubernetes

“Since the first two computers were joined together over a cable, networking has been a crucial part of our infrastructure. Networks now have layers and layers of complexity to support a multitude of use cases, and the advent of containers and projects like Mesosphere and Kubernetes has not changed that. While the contributors of Kubernetes have attempted to abstract away this networking complexity for developers, computer science is just that, abstraction upon abstraction. Kubernetes, and its networking API, are another abstraction that makes it easier and faster to deploy applications for consumption. What about the administrator who has to manage Kubernetes? This book intends to dispel the mysticism around the abstractions Kubernetes puts in place, guide administrators through the layers of complexity, and help you realize Kubernetes is not just another packet.” 
– James Strong and Vallery Lancey 

Who is the book for?

“It is for people who have little experience…Pick and choose your own adventure. I wanted to help people with their careers,” said Strong. 

“This book is intended to be read from beginning to end by the new network, Linux, or cluster administrators, and more experienced DevOps engineers can use it to jump to specific topics for which they find themselves needing to upskill. Network, Linux, and cluster administrators need to be familiar with how to operate Kubernetes at scale. In this book, readers will find the information required to navigate the layers of complexity that come with running a Kubernetes network.”

“This book will peel back the abstractions that Kubernetes puts in place so that developers have a similar experience across deployments on-premises, in the cloud, and with managed services. Engineers responsible for production cluster operations and network uptime can use this book to bridge the gap in their knowledge of those abstractions.”

What will you learn?

  • The Kubernetes networking model
  • The Container Network Interface (CNI) project and how to choose a CNI project for their clusters
  • Networking and Linux primitives that power Kubernetes
  • The relationship between the abstractions powering the Kubernetes network
  • Deploy and manage a production-scale network for Kubernetes clusters
  • Troubleshoot underlying network-related application issues inside a Kubernetes cluster

Why this Book Is Unique

“We took one piece of code and told what happened at each layer [of the process]…. Honestly, I liked the layered approach. I wanted to take a single piece of code to use in all the chapters.  [The book] needed to have some consistency.” explains Strong.

The book details how an HTTP server responds to a web request at the Application layer, then details what is going on at the Linux networking layer. Next, using the same, simple API, the book demonstrates each of the Kubernetes networking abstractions. Then ends with running that code in each of the three major Cloud providers, GCP, AWS, and Azure. 

On a More Personal Level

Strong has dedicated this book to three excellent teachers that helped inspire him as a teenager. He recalls one teacher encouraged him to take a computer networking class which led to a beautiful adventure as a computer technologist and evangelist.  Also, it led to this book! 

Strong also appreciates all the teachers who shaped his life and made it possible for him to grow into the person he is today.  

Strong said, “My teachers had such a huge impact on me…not only my education but my life and career.” 

Strong’s Future Directions

When asked what it was like to have a book published, Strong says, “[It was] terrifying to put it out there…When I got the book in my hands, it was fascinating!” He likens writing the book to a marathon he had run in the past. The book is available anywhere books are sold: on Amazon, O’Reilly Media, even at Target! Strong is interested in speaking at venues and attending conferences soon. He welcomes the chance to talk with readers of his book via Twitter @strongjz. 

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