Saturday, November 16, 2013

I don’t have time for…

In today’s IT world we are under extreme deadlines.  The companies we work for never slow down or stop growing.  In IT we are under constant pressure to learn the next thing or be left behind never being able to catch up.  We often put off things we want to do with family / friends because we need that next certification or we have to finish up work / on-call. 

There are many books / articles that can help you with this but to be blunt we are in IT and often times that “soft” stuff does not apply to us.  Well, it’s often said that we don’t see the brick wall until it’s right in front of us…well I think we (IT) have already hit the wall and we just don’t know it yet.

Some folks will argue as professionals of course we know when we hit the wall so let me get back and just finish this last thing.  Well at that point they have already hit the wall and are starting to push against it.  I am sure everyone has heard someone say “I don’t have time for…”  Yes we blame time for us not having enough time for everything. 

This may come as a shock but we all have the same 24 hours in a day.  Just because we are in IT doesn’t mean we get any more or less than others.  Now how we choose to use those hours is up to us, we can use them for work, education, family or friends.  That is where balance comes in…we already spend 8 hours a day at work and 8 hours sleeping, where do we put the other 8 hours? 

For me three years ago I lost my mother to heart disease, it was at that time I realized I was not in balance with work, education, family and friends.  They say it normally takes a life changing event such as a death or divorce to change people…as we are pretty smart in IT I hope that is not the case and we can find that balance before it’s too late…

Thursday, October 24, 2013


Often many people refer to themselves as leaders.  They are leaders in technology pioneering new advancements or project deployments but are they truly leaders?  Often the term leader is confused with manager or supervisor.  Being granted the right to manage people is not the same as people allowing you to lead them.  Yes as a manager you can force people to follow you but only people can allow you to lead them.

Leadership is not about you or how many certificates / degrees you might have, the number of people underneath you.  It is about what you enable others to do.  To lead is to enable others to succeed…that is true leadership.

Monday, September 2, 2013

VMware VCA and why you should care about it…

At VMworld 2013 VMware introduced a new level of certification, the VMware Certified Associate (VCA).  This is an entry level certification based on free online training from VMware.   In talking with some of the folks at VMworld this level of certification is targeted at students and people beginning their careers in IT.  VMware released four tracks based on general virtualization, cloud, networking and desktop.   Now will you see people with existing VCP / VCAP / vExperts taking these exams, maybe to show some knowledge in another silo or maybe not.  I went through two of them this weekend and found both to be a good framework of information for each of the respective topics.  Is this enough knowledge to get a job, well no but it’s not meant to be.  It’s designed to show that you know the fundamentals of each topic. 

While many folks deep in the virtualization trenches wouldn’t give this a second thought I would suggest taking a look at it not for yourselves but your co-workers.  While we believe that the world revolves around virtualization (and it does) there are many other technology disciplines that exist.  Exchange Admins, DBA’s, Server Admins, Storage, networking & programmers - just to name a few.  Sure we can explain virtualization to them but let’s face facts, how many of us are professional teachers?

With the VCA courses / certification VMware is giving the virtual administrator a chance to bring more of the IT folks into the virtual fold.  One of the theme’s at VMworld was “VMware Loves Apps”.  Let’s take this opportunity to extend the virtual handshake to these other groups by encouraging them to take the free training and maybe even get a few additional letters on their business cards.  The more they feel they have a part of ownership in the virtual world the easier it will be on us to continue the virtual journey.

Saturday, August 31, 2013

Defy Convention...

This years theme of "Defy Convention" is more about a life long company theme rather than just a single show theme.  VMware over the years has shown the ability to take what many in IT would call cornerstones and turn them upside down.  Of course change is not always easy and this next journey of network virtualization threatens to shake one of the biggest cornerstones in the technical industry - Cisco.  Many folks noted that Cisco was not one of the partners that was initially shown supporting NSX when it was displayed during the keynote.

Some may see this as the next conflict in the IT world, I am not one of them.  The technology and vision of the software defined data center is not a far off dream but a reality and we just have to choose when to accept it.  Virtualization initially shook Dell and HP to the core with reducing the volume of servers they sold.  Yes people say the servers got larger but the reality is it was less hardware sales.  Each responded in different ways, Dell purchased Wyss and Quest to build additional value to the offering for virtualization solutions they could bring.  HP was going to sell of the desktop unit...I never said they each made the best decisions.

While Cisco may not be one of the initial supporters of NSX they are preparing for the change.  Two of the fastest growing segments in Cisco are the Cisco IP Telecom solutions and the Cisco UCS servers.  Cisco is changing slowly but it will be painful.  They may fight this initial release but the recent focuses on telecom and UCS tell me they know the winds of change are blowing...

Friday, June 21, 2013

Hyper-V – It’s good enough…right?

Microsoft’s Hyper-V is continuing to make a splash in the virtual pool.  The 2012 release is leaps ahead of the 2008 release in function, stability and lets face it - cost.  We all know that VMware is the king today; it provides us with that five 9’s when deployed with recommended hardware configurations.  The downside is those five 9’s come with expensive software licensing.  Now using Hyper-V is as simple as turning on a role inside the server, even a junior admin can do that and have a virtual environment.

Of course the environment might not be five 9’s, more like two or three 9’s but that is good enough for most companies right?  Some managers or accounting folks would think so.  When you look at number such as 98% or 99% does it really need to be better than that?  Besides your accountants and managers are excited with all the money save going away from VMware’s expensive licensing. 

What is often forgotten with this is the math, how long of an outage is that 1.0% or 2%?  Well respectively that is 3.65 days and 7.3 days of unplanned outages in a year.   When the percentages are put into that context is that really an outage that a company can handle?  Even at 99.9% the outage is still over eight hours.  Of course these outages could occur at different times in the year and “if” they occur on a weekend or during a light work day maybe it’s okay...but how often do unexpected outages follow our work / personal schedule?  Are you more likely to have an outage on the busiest day of the year…don’t answer that. 

So the question is with 99% uptime you have 3.65 days of unexpected downtime verses VMware with 99.999% or 5.2 minutes of unexpected downtime.  Yes it costs more but maybe these are the number to share with the people that make the financial decisions before someone says, “it’s good enough…”

Saturday, April 6, 2013

My visit to VMware HQ & Balance…

Recently I had the opportunity to visit VMware HQ and engage with multiple people including Pat Gelsinger (CEO).  The experience was incredible and I cannot thank VMware enough for giving me the opportunity to visit.  One piece that I really wanted to share was the VMware campus / lifestyle.  I often talk to my students about balance between life, work and technology.  The proper balance gives us personal and professional success, healthy lifestyles and true happiness.  This is a tough skill to master from an individual perspective and even harder from a corporate standard.

VMware is not simply a “green” company it is a corporate culture.    VMware is based on 100 acres of plush land that is alive.  It is very evident as soon as you arrive that this is not VMware’s buildings with a little bit of nature added.  Looking at the overhead pictures there is more nature on campus than VMware.  As you move through the campus you see and feel the openness and nature (even with a little rain).  We visited a small river that flows in the middle of the campus and contains ducks and the VMware turtles (we were told they all have “names” / the conference rooms were actually named after them, they have profiles on the internal SocialCast site, but no Twitter accounts - yet). 

When you visit any of the buildings you look around you will find recycled material for everything from the carpet and floors to the ceiling tiles and woodwork.  The atmosphere is open and inviting and encourages you to look beyond the traditional limitations.  The walls are not walls but windows allowing nature and ideas to come in.   Of course onsite there are multiple gyms and other amenities for staff but as was told to us by our guide outdoor walking meetings tend to be very popular. 

VMware corporate has a balance with nature and they have been able to ensure this balance extends to the staff there.  They have provided an environment where staff is encouraged to take that deep breath / walk your dog (yes dogs are allowed on campus) and innovate.  VMware is one of the leaders in technology, not because they have armies of people in cubicles coding but because they have balance.  From that comes the innovations that have changed the world of IT.