Getting to Know Russ White
January 27, 2017
LinkedIn wouldn't be the company it is today without the engineers who built it. We have no shortage of talented individuals in technical roles across the company. They are the ones who create, build, and maintain our platform, tools, and features—as well as write posts for this blog. In this series, we feature some of the people and personalities that make LinkedIn great.
Russ White is on LinkedIn’s Infrastructure Engineering team, working on next-generation network design and architecture. He has worked in networking since the late 1980s, and has a long history contributing knowledge back to the networking community. A short list of his contributions to the field include being a published author, having published several papers in the Internet Protocol Journal, and serving in the past as a an organizational council co-chair for the Internet Society. He is also a member of the IETF Routing Area Directorate.
Before joining LinkedIn in August 2015, Russ worked in networking at several major technology companies, including Ericsson, Verisign, and Cisco. He holds a master’s in information technology and network design, a master’s in biblical literature and theology, and is currently completing a doctorate in philosophy (apologetics and culture). He also maintains a personal blog, 'net Work.
What are some of the coolest projects that you and your team have been working on?
Right now, we’re working on building a control plane for Project Falco. It’s exciting to think about how to build a control plane that interacts with LinkedIn’s business specifically, rather than simply buying vendor-driven architectures and trying to shape them to fit our needs. At some point, it would be great to be able to give part of the control plane we’re building to the community so that it could have a positive impact on the way companies build their networks.
A second project I’m working on is improving our edge security. Edge security is always fun because of the community aspect, and the blend of security and routing.
What other projects are you involved in outside of working on LinkedIn’s network?
I’ve been involved with the Internet Engineering Task Force (IETF) for about 20 years now. My involvement in the IETF currently includes serving on the Routing Area Directorate, where I review drafts and act as a general “helping hand” for the Routing Area Directors wherever it is needed. I have, in the past, served as a co-chair for working groups in the area of routing protocols security, and participated in the writing and editing of a number of internet standards. Right now I’m also co-chairing two working groups, one for a routing protocol called BABEL, and another for I2RS, the Interface to the Routing Systems. I also serve as a liaison between LinkedIn and the Internet Society (ISOC), which is the governing body for IETF and and the Internet Research Task Force (IRTF), and on the technical advisory board at SDxE, a technical show focused on the software-defined enterprise. I am also active, where possible, in a number of user groups, such as NANOG and LACNOG.
In addition, I’m currently working on a book with Pearson about networking basics. Not another book on network basics, right? The idea here is completely unique in the introductory networking space, and deeply technical. This will be my eleventh book on technology published by Pearson, and will be targeted at the collegiate market.
Compared to other places you've worked, how do you like working at LinkedIn?
I’ve worked on a lot of enterprise networks, even at a large scale, and at a number of large vendors. What’s interesting to me about working at LinkedIn is the focus on hyperscale and moving towards engineering our own network solutions rather than only considering vendor options. We’re not just going out and buying a vendor solution; we’re thinking about what we need specifically and then building something that fits our environment.
What are your favorite things to do when you’re not at the office?
I’m currently pursuing a doctorate in apologetics and culture at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary. This degree falls under the philosophy department, so I’m reading a lot of works on ontology, epistemology, and the mind/body problem. My specific area of work is around technology and the human person, particularly in the areas of privacy and various forms of social engineering. I’m right at the intersection of philosophy, culture, technology, and Christian belief. I also teach classes for local homeschoolers, in addition to writing the technical books mentioned above. It can be tough to balance everything, but it helps that I don’t watch television, nor am I a heavy user of social media. I don’t really consider LinkedIn to be social media so much as professional media, so LinkedIn is the one exception.