When you start at a new company you can tell pretty quickly who is taking a deep investment in their career and future versus who is just riding the creek of stagnation waiting for that gust of wind to get them to pay-day. The signs are clear from the outside looking in, But when you are the one who is stagnant do you know?
One of the biggest mistakes an IT lady/gentleman can make is not knowing when they are stagnant. We all got into IT for the love of learning and the constant challenge, stagnation is usually looked over and not addressed when it should be. Which can really harm your career and performance at any company. No one is immune to stagnation. The best IT people i know have had a few lulls in their career from time to time. But the question is do they notice it and re mediate?
So how do we find/treat/cure stagnation? Well it’s not easy but we can certainly give it a go.
So how do we know the signs of stagnation?
Don’t want to go to work?
Dreading work is not only caused by stagnation but also by an unhealthy work environment. If you wake up in the morning and would rather take a 2 hour shower and cry. Chances are you are in an extremely unhealthy work environment. This can be caused by a bad manager or a shitty employee maybe you been changing out printer ink for 5 years and want to move up in the world and aren’t getting that opportunity, either way this is a sign you need to leave that job and fast.
Einstein made a pretty simple equation back when he was making up science things, take heed.
UHWE x LIIJ=DICAM
In case you didn’t learn that in high school physics full read out is below.
(Unhealthy work environment x Lack of interest in job = disaster in career and mind)
Need more energy?
More coffee! Do you find yourself needing 4 or more coffee’s a day? Are you single and don’t have kids? Didn’t go out partying last night with the guy/girls? Just a normal working day? Chances are you are stagnant… or at least getting there. That doesn’t make sense Frank you must be crazy?!? Well when was the last time you needed to drink a coffee before you go to an amusement park or had a party? Not very often. It tends to be the more excited you are about a particular task the less artificial energy you need.
If you don’t get genuinely excited about changing printer ink or building a new ESXi host then you will need a little push to get up and do it. That is a sign of stagnation. Not really getting excited about the challenges that you are presented with. Regardless of how minute or honestly how uninteresting they may be shows that you are looking for a bigger more interesting challenge, and only you can find that new challenge and exploit it.
Practice makes a perfect stagnate environment
Repetition is the path to stagnation. Would you take a job for $120,000 a year sharpening pencils all day? Probably at first you would, hell I would too how hard can it be right? Well physically not very hard, But mentally I am sure it is torture. Waking up at the same time every day, making the same commute every day, doing the same task every day can get tiring really fast. Repetition is nice for learning code and such but what happens if you are not a coder? or what happens when you need to expand your mind beyond that handful of task’s? Don’t stand for a company that wants you to do one task all day. Your career is worth more than creating distribution lists all day.
More to come on this topic in the next couple of days!
As most of you already know VMworld 2017 was at Las Vegas and Barcelona this year. i had the privilege to be selected as a featured blogger this year for the Vegas conference. The Conference was huge, the booze was expensive and the memories where plentiful!
The Community presence this year was truly off the hook. You can feel that the conference while still being technology driven *Obviously* was alot more community driven. You had a big difference this year in the layout of the floor. last year the VM village ( The hang space ) was located on the second floor, Where it was really out of sight out of mind. This year it was in the same space as the Solution exchange, This led way to massive amounts of people not only participating in the community area of VMworld but also attending the fantastic community sessions at the VbrownBag Techtalk community.
That being said i also had the great privilege of being selected to speak at the VbrownBag Techtalks! If you want to check that out it is on YouTube below.
The Solutions Exchange
The solutions exchange was pretty standard this year. with a couple of great exceptions. First off the elephants in the room, Most of the well-known vendors came out in force, you had the Dell/EMC booth’s and the IBM of the world, but the real bread and butter for me was the new innovator booths. There was a lot of great small vendors this year accompanied with some really awesome tech.
Most of the smaller vendors i managed to get video interviews with that i am currently still working on and should have up within the week.
As always there was some fantastic Entertainers this year at the booth. Being in Las Vegas you have a lot of magicians and most of these guys are pro’s they are funny and truly amazing at what they do.
My personal favorite is Rob Strong @RobertStrong from the Lenovo booth. The guy is funny as hell and his tricks no matter how many times you see them really are top-notch and hard to catch onto. If you haven’t seen him go on twitter and give him a follow he is great.
And then probably the most surprising performer i saw this year was at the NetApp booth, they had an amazing violinist that was doing some crazy synth while drawing in huge crowds. I didn’t have the chance to catch her name but i did get a video of her performing Not a very good one but a video none the less.
The day one keynote was pretty good there was a couple of huge announcements made some we expected but confirmed. But first there was a crazy cello rock duo and a VR street painter fellow that did a pretty cool intro.
First off VMware on AWS was probably the biggest announcement of the Las Vegas show IMHO. I think it is just another way VMware is adapting to stay relevant. Working with AWS will ensure that VMware is relevant in the next era tech. It is a smart move on their part. But that was just one announcement.
There was also an announcement about App-Defense a cool feature that allows the hyper-visor Layer to look into the guest VM and establish a pattern of behavior for the guest applications. https://appdefense.vmware.com/
They were really pushing hard the NSX agenda VMware has been working hard on. which they should, IMHO if you do not run NSX you are behind on networking.
I attended three parties this year.
The VMUG party was pretty cool they had Michael Dell come out on stage and address the crowd which was cool for him to show his community love. I go to the VMUG party to put the faces to the names i see on twitter and touch base with some awesome networking opportunity.
The Zerto Party was off the hook they had a band called Voyage (A journey cover band) Which if i was a little more drunk i probably would have thought was actually Journey, that was an awesome party it was hosted at the house of blues at The Mandalay bay. I will try to get the video posted tonight or tomorrow.
This was my first Year as a VExpert and i had the opportunity to go to the VExpert party. It was by far my favorite party. Not only did i get to meet the titans of the VExpert community but it was a good time to just sit there and have a real chat with some true innovators and real community warriors. It was at the Pinball museum in Vegas which was awesome. they had over 100 different pinball machines from vintage to new. and also some very creepy dancing clown and Zoltar Machine. All in all the best party this year hands down.
In Conclusion thanks for an awesome VMworld this year. Hope to see everyone there again next year in Las Vegas.
This post is in NO WAY insinuating I am a great engineer. I believe that no matter how much you know or think you know, there is always room for improvement and development. That being said these are some things I believe makes a system engineer truly a bad ass.
Knowledge is power
This is a no brainer…. well not really
Knowledge is power. The more you know the more you can help and explore the areas of technology. A great system engineer can learn from their failure (See above) and learn from others. Getting knowledge from different perspectives is invaluable. People do things different ways, doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but having 3 or 4 different perspectives for one task can really open your eyes on the underlying technology, and maybe even make you question your own perspective.
Learn! Learn from home labs! Learn from books! Learn from other people! Learn from VbrownBag! Learn from anywhere and everywhere! Always ask why!
Learn different perspectives.
Learn all the time.
We have a problem
Who would have thought technology would have consistent problems? Troubleshooting is why we all have jobs. and lets face it, we all love it. Finding the right solution and presenting it to the tech is a great feeling. But not everyone knows how to properly troubleshoot and dissect a situation.
Google is your friend, your friends are your friends, and KB articles are your friends, and the support line is your life boat on the titanic. I have a hard time putting down the problem and passing it off to VMware or EMC support, it kills a little bit of my pride. But it is a must when troubleshooting has hit a wall.
A great engineer knows the resources they can use to find an answer pretty quickly. They know how to look through logs and run esxtop.
Knowing the resources and exploiting them
Knowing the Tech
Knowing when to call support and when to keep chugging away
Owning the failure
Failures suck, they make you feel like a novice, and sometimes if they are really big failures sometimes they make you feel like you picked the wrong field. No one in history has experienced a failure, and not felt something.
But the trick is to take the failures like an uppercut, blame yourself for not blocking the punch and learn how to dodge.
Failure is where we learn in the tech field, it’s better than any classroom or any book. Living through the pain and the mental anguish really brings you down to earth.
So how do we learn from a failure?
Figured out what failed.
Do a solid and honest post-mortem
Look for advice
Find the solution
Honesty and Confidence
We have all been on those calls with someone from a vendor or MSP and they think so highly of themselves they blow smoke the whole time. There is nothing more brutal and spine shivering when they get called out and don’t talk for the rest of the meeting.
But on the other hand, having a engineer on the call that knows the answer with pinpoint accuracy and tells the truth when he/she knows or doesn’t know a particular question is pure beauty.
Honesty might not be the easiest option in the middle of a meeting or issue but it is vital.
Confidence shows, you know when someone is a good engineer by there mixture of confidence and honest.
Knowing your skill level (Like really knowing your skill level)
It is OK not to know something, regardless of the outcome
1. Networking – This is a huge one every year close to 10,000 VMware geeks gather in one place for a 4-day extravaganza! They opportunity for networking is the best it will ever be, walking around talking to random people can be a little daunting but the best way to network is to sit at a random table during lunch. Everyone will welcome you and you just potentially made 8 new friends. If you only had one mission at VMworld I think this should be it. But there is a close second a VERY VERY close second.
2. Breakout session – These bad boys are the bread and butter of VMworld. If you are an introvert and hate talking to people but love technical content. This is where you will spend most of your days. The breakout sessions are sorted in a way from novice skill level to expert. If you want the most up to date information on the current technology of VMware and beyond the breakouts are the thing for you. Depending on the skill level selected you will get instructors that most of the time helped create the product the session is based on, and can tell you first-hand how it runs because they designed it. A lot of these breakout sessions are based on community speakers also. So, if you are looking for some career advice, or maybe just feeling a little stuck in your growth as a professional this is the place to be.
3. Hands on Labs – if the above is not an interest to you then the HOL section will surely do the trick. These bad boys are also available online. But at the HOL Section of VMworld they will have all the labs available and if needed they will have someone walk through them with you. I always love the HOL from VMware and an added bonus is they are nearly identical to some of the advanced professional level tests.
4. vBrownBag – vBrownBag sets up at every technology convention it seems like. But that by no means is a bad thing. If you haven’t heard of vBrownBag then I would look it up. It is a community driven project that is focused on technology, not just from VMware but a smorgasbord of companies. They will let anyone talk about any technology related subject (i.e. Certifications, Technology, Career, design) they are a pinnacle of the VMware community and you will get to see them in action the whole week.
5. Technology – Some people may be wondering why this isn’t higher on the list. I mean VMworld at its core is a technology conference, right? We’ll all the technology keynotes and announcement will be readily available across the world almost instantly. BUT that doesn’t mean it isn’t cool as hell when you hear the CEO of VMware announce something in the moment. And Most of the time there is an exclusive VMworld HOL or some sort of session that goes more in-depth about the product being announced. But even if we step back from the VMware products for a Second. There is A LOT of vendors at VMworld, some are big like EMC NETAPP and HP. But a vast majority of them are small vendors most still in ABC funding period. This is where the innovation is coming from, that is the future of technology in my opinion. So, going to VMworld to hear the keynote is great. But the real win is seeing the small vendors and vetting out the future technology we will be seeing.
6. Keynotes – The keynotes are great you get the announcement the moment it leaves the speakers mouth. And that is pretty cool. Being a newbie blogger I love getting that first tweet out about the new product someone announces or the awesome catchphrase someone used in a slide.
7. IT’S VEGAS BABY! – Going to VMworld is not an ordinary week. You will be talking, screaming, laughing and depending on how much you drink potentially crying. The whole climate of Vegas is just different. From the moment, you touch down at McCarran you see the big Historical “Welcome to Vegas” sign and from that point on where ever you came from will forgotten until the flight back. The lights are bright, the people are rude and the slots are noisy in Vegas. So, getting a chance to see a city that truly never sleeps is an awesome experience.
8. Discounts – This point might seem strange. Why travel to Vegas for discounts on VMware course material? Well that is because the course discounts and certification discounts are notable. There are discounts on VMware training, VMware certifications, Books, Potential Vendors products and much more. All vary in size. If I recall last year there was 50% off Exams and 20% off all books in the VMware store. Also, that isn’t even going into the savings from vendors if you meet with them and have a meaningful conversation. How much can you potentially save on that SolarWinds license if you have a 30-minute conversation with the engineer who made it?
9. The Parties – Out of all the tech conferences I have been to VMworld has the best parties by far. And it’s not just VMworld ran also. There is a lot of vendor and community parties available the whole week. The best vendor party by far and one that must be attended is the Veeam party. It is off the hook. About 1000 people good music awesome food and a river of alcoholic beverages. If you are a VMUG member there is a VMUG party also It is smaller but still awesome. There are people from all over the VMUG nation attending and usually have some special guests show up also. The big shabang is the VMworld Party. Last year it was at Las Vegas speedway and they had Fallout Boy headlining which was OK but the place was cool. In the vender of the speed way they had 2 DJ’s and people were allowed to go on the track in some underpowered track cars.
10. Tax Deduction – If your employer wont front the cost of going to Vmworld that is OK because it is all tax-deductible. So you may get a portion of that expense back. Just make sure you save your receipts! Obviously, I am not a tax professional so check with them. But in Massachusetts it is a tax deduction.
Last chance to get the Early bird discount for Vmworld Ends Monday 6/12/17 Register below!
The day is here Boston UserCon. This time around they are focused on EUC (End User Computing) these conferences are key in my opinion to networking and learning about the newest technology. If you cant make it to VMworld the UserCons are the next best shot to getting up to date information on VMWare and beyond. An extreme amount of effort is put into these conferences and you can really notice it. And although this is a naive statement, it almost seems like nothing is going wrong.
The vendor selection is turning out to be about what you would expect from a technical conference but obviously focusing more on the VDI side. Most of the well-known vendors are here this year. Dell/EMC, Zerto, Rubriks, NetApp/SolidFire , Green Pages (Big VAR in the New England area), and of course VMware.
Mostly I come to these conferences for the community sessions and the networking opportunity they present which is unmatched in my opinion. Getting to see some of the VMware communities top dogs giving their take on careers and community is awesome.
One session I attended was by @RebeccaFitzhugh focused on leadership. a pretty strong topic but she delivered it in a solid fashion.
The crowd was pretty big at the lunch Keynote and the speaker was fantastic. Talking about the trends of EUC and the future. Unfortunately I couldn’t stay for the entire session but the first half was good.
But ultimately I had to leave before the after party because my oldest graduated from Pre-K that same day!
A new design startup wants to get a basic infrastructure running. They are expecting to grow over the next 5 years and want to have space to expand 20% year over year. Since they are a design firm they will be using a lot of storage, we will plan for 1TB of raw data a year. The new office only has room for 1 rack in the IDF and the company wants to cut down on power consumption and equipment costs. Backup is important and the client would like to utilize a service that they can recover their VM’s from the cloud.
Business requirements are simple but important
Must fit in a single rack
Must have cloud backup and recovery method.
Can fit 20 VM’s and have growth for 20% year over year