Career, Uncategorized

What would you say you do here?


When people ask me what I do it always puts me on defense trying to figure out how much knowledge you could handle and then speaking within a few seconds.  I heard a colleague, John Willis, speak and he discussed the standard response of “computers” which is a solid answer to avoid a long discussion.  Even better, a former colleague, who was an amazing saleswoman at EMC, used to say “I sell bananas!” when it was clear there was nothing happening.

I’ve thought about this a lot and kept thinking back to Officespace with the Bobs asking Tom Smykowski the question above.  Tom responds with a painfully obvious “nothing useful” that he seems to realize as he says it.  Basically he brings the specs to the engineers from the customers so the engineers don’t have to. When the Bobs ask why can’t the engineers bring them to the customers themselves, Tom shouts that he is a people person, gets flustered and exhorts, “What is wrong with you people!”.

While I don’t think my job or most others falls into this, it’s important to be able to describe what you do.  There is a saying that if you truly understand a subject, you can explain it to anyone, even a child.  I believe this to be true and I think it’s important that those in IT be able to understand their job and be able to explain it.

If you’re wondering, I have tried explaining what I do to my kids and wife with varying degrees of success.  I’d also encourage you to do the same.  If you get flustered or worried, I think you have every right to circle back to your manager or senior level company person and get some answers.  If they don’t know, take advantage of that open-door policy the CIO or CEO always brags about.

In DevOps, I always stress Value Stream Mapping.  This is a process where we take a workflow that involves our business (like a customer ordering a product and us making it) and we break it up into boxes, visually, and look at cycle times, delays and where we are in the process.  It’s important to do this visually because we don’t always see the big picture clearly when we are on the floor or entrenched in work.  It’s also invaluable because it shows where you add value (or where you don’t) and gives you the opportunity to change that.  You can see that when I do this, I do not add any value to the overall goal, or you may find that you are adding tremendous value and not realizing it.  In any case, the goal is to understand how your company works, how it makes money and where you are in the process.  If you take this and apply it to IT, you should find that your role is a part of the business and does add value.  If not, or if no one knows how your company works, you should start asking questions and looking for better opportunities.

Today I work at Red Hat. Red Hat takes community projects and turns them into enterprise products.  If that’s hard to grasp we take free software and add support and stability for companies to use and be able to trust.  I get paid based on the sales made from the 2 salesmen I support.  Our products help businesses focus more on their business and less on IT.

Next time you want to say computers, try to explain it.  If you fail, you’ll get another shot.  However I think in time, you’ll either learn to explain what you do to anyone or realize you can do something a lot more worthwhile.


Career, Red Hat, Uncategorized

First week at Red Hat

I recently joined Red Hat on May 16th and spent a few days in Raleigh at orientation.  I can’t think of a time before that I felt as good a fit as at Red Hat.  Don’t get me wrong, this isn’t a job to sit on your ass, however, if you work hard, you are rewarded.  The company culture seeps out of people and as best I can describe it, it is basically one of common sense.  Nothing overly crazy, but a lot of thought put into decisions, then once made, they are implemented quickly.

For any of you wondering why I made this move, I had spent the last year at Ericsson working on a very large OpenStack rollout with AT&T.  What we did was great but, my heart lies with presales and I couldn’t pass this opportunity up.  I’ve always tinkered and been a hobbyist with Linux and love the thought of having a career with it.

I have no idea how much I can weld my past technologies with what I am doing today but time will tell and you have to make changes in life.  Nevertheless, I am at Citrix Synergy next week in Vegas, so if you’re out there let me know and we can meet.

Career, Citrix

CTP 2016!


I’m honored to be chosen as a CTP for the class of 2016!

It is exciting obviously for me, but also Champion Solutions to be able to speak on Citrix solutions for our customers! If you’re in Atlanta, feel free to reach out!

If you’re not sure what a CTP is, they are the top 50 Citrix experts or champions that are recognized for their contributions and technical expertise. There are only 50 people and this year included 6 new members. CTPs get to interact with the Citrix product team, provide input and also speak to the community. The other perk is they give you some discounts on Citrix Synergy which is in Las Vegas this year!

Thanks to all the current CTPs and congrats to all the new ones!

If you’d like to read more about the CTPs,  click here to read the current bios.

There is also a twitter list here.

Career, OpenStack

2016 – Champion Solutions Group

As you may have noticed, this blog hasn’t been updated in a while. To be honest, last year afforded me little time to update, post or even be allowed to describe what I was doing (to some extent).  Most of the content came from my employment at Presidio, a great company to work for.  At the beginning of 2015, I took up a new challenge, wanting to do something new, something with cloud, something with DevOps.

January of last year was when I accepted a role at Ericsson as a Consulting Manager.  If you’re not familiar with the term, it’s used for enterprise consulting (think Accenture-like companies) and I worked for the consulting services at Ericsson.  In fact, we competed with Accenture and I met a few of the people who stuck around at one of my projects, where we won the bid for a large contract project.  Ericsson is also involved in the telco world, working with companies such at AT&T, Verizon, Sprint, T-Mobile, etc.

Initially at Ericsson, I worked from home and was constantly trying to get involved. It seemed this is normal in consulting, but not for me. I honestly felt that if I wasn’t doing something that my job would be in jeopardy so I run presentations on virtualization, containers and devops and reached out to others in the company to learn more.  This paid off and I developed an opportunity in Europe which seemed perfect.  However, at the same time, Ericsson closed a large project with AT&T that I was called in to help.  The project teamed up with Mirantis (Ericsson holds an interest in them) to push OpenStack through automation and involved everything from the code management, CI/CD, automation to the tools, practices and integration.  We would be running with an agile development process utilizing SCRUM.  In any case, this involved me travelling to St Louis repeatedly and not spending a lot of time with the family.  I also seemed to be dealing more with people than the technology (not because that was what I was told to do, but because that’s what most projects are about, people working together).  In any case, I’ll likely share a lot of that later on.  I met some awesome people on the project that I hope to stay in contact with.

So why Champion?  Champion needed a pre-sales person in Atlanta and has not had the best of luck with the role in past years.  I would love to go back to Presidio, but honestly, they have enough people and they are really good. I needed a challenge.  Champion is much smaller than presidio, roughly 150 employees, and based out of Boca Raton, FL.  The culture mattered a lot to me and often at smaller companies, it is vital that people like you and you like them (less important at bigger companies but not irrelevant).  The interviews went well and I had to chose between them and another offer that was actually more senior but involved some travel.  Ultimately I chose Champion and made my arrangement as close to sales as I could (so my pay is aligned with the sales side as much as possible).  I love the idea of sales, you get paid on what you do, instant gratification and you’re in front of people.  Champion is also very interested in leveraging cloud, containers, and new technology and breaking out of the traditional VAR practice of “slinging boxes”.  I love problem solving and the variety of customer issues in my role keeps me excited and on my toes.  So my decision to work at Champion was based on a number of items, but mostly it was based on a good “fit”.

Hopefully I will be posting more content that is interesting this year so please follow the blog if you’re interested and use the tags if you like certain things but not others on my blog.