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.


Citrix, Uncategorized

Citrix Synergy as CTP

Getting to attend Synergy 2016 is one of the perks that accompanies being a CTP.  You also have responsibilities that come with this but I’m finding the perks seem to outweigh them!

I joined Red Hat last week and I think I’m the only Red Hatter here (I get weird looks with my hat but that’s on purpose).  Citrix is heavily aligned with Microsoft, Microsoft announced Red Hat on Azure and there has always been interest in VDI with Linux.  That being said, I get to come to Synergy as more an outsider than ever before (instead of from the customer or partner side).

CTPs have quite a few meetings lined up when they come to Synergy that start 2 days earlier than the kickoff.  These meetings are no joke and I got plenty of warnings about pacing myself.  They started at 8am promptly and continued to about 7pm two days in a row with few breaks.  The topics are intense and interesting and it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

The meetings are generally with the Citrix product teams and we get to learn and give feedback to new releases, ideas, successes and failures.  Each team is different in terms of how they operate.  I can’t go into too much detail but Citrix is very interested in improving their feedback loops and ensuring that products developed have purpose instead of just throwing things over a wall and surprising people.  This is a good move as it allows a lot more trail and error, and a lot less of “what the f is this thing?” when something in announced.  This is definitely the primary interest I had with my CTP meetings, in addition to the awesome company!

This year I’m not speaking at a breakout but doing some other activities.  I’ll be at the Synergy Showdown #XAonAzure with my team, the Village Idiots, along with Esther, Jarian and Paul from the CTP team.  We will be taking on the wily dutch team but our secret weapon hails from the Netherlands (Esther) so we are a lock in to win 😉 !  I will also have a few match.geek sessions if you want to hear me blather on about whatever you want and I’m hosting the education tech chat tables (except for today, Tobias will be doing Tuesday’s due to the showdown).

Today was fun, I got to sit at the bloggers table and get super secret early access the the keynote.  Esther even got me a front row table seat and the view is spectacular.  If you don’t think a CTP has perks, you’re mistaken and this is one of the best perks I’ve ever had.

If you’re here and want to connect, let me know. You can look for a dude wearing a red hat (literally) and it’s likely me or DM on twitter or the Synergy app. Looking forward to the rest of the week and running into old friend and making new ones!

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.

OpenStack, Uncategorized

OpenStack Summit – keynotes

Thanks to Champions Solutions Group, I’ve been able to attend the OpenStack Summit this year, 2016, in Austin, TX.  The event is interesting considering my experience with other conferences.  Generally I attend those that are geared towards partners, customers and sales. However, OpenStack is geared to a wide audience, but especially towards the engineers, architects and users which makes me feel right at home.

Highlights included the attendence of 7500 people and also the revelation that 65% of deployments of OpenStack are now production deployments!

OpenStack’s keynotes focused on a few themes.  Donna Scott from Gartner was correct in pointing out “disruption” as a key motivator explaining bimodal methods of deployment (mode 1 being reliable stable and mode 2 more experimental but agile). AT&T presented their challenges and wowed the audience with the rate of growth of mobile data (150,000% from 2007-2015!).  They are adopting a white box solution to lower cost, increase speed and agility. They also talked about a management layer for mult-tenant, complex networks.

Mirantis had a great presentation and poked at Gartner on their past of saying OpenStack wasn’t a real player (but that it’s in the past and happy they are hear).  After some story about Russian and vodka drinking bears, Mirantis made some excellent points.  Namely, people and process over tools and technology.  This is exactly the core of DevOps and if you know me, is a good overall view (I wish they went into value stream mapping a bit but it’s a start!).  They also pointed out that while they are a big AWS fan, there is ENORMOUS market share outside AWS and AWS has a teeny part of it!  They also poked a little fun at the vmware guys (not all, I know many are embracing change) but that adopting agile and openstack without looking at people is a killer.  Namely public cloud adoption seems great because you don’t have to deal with the people, but it’s not cheaper or always better.

We also heard from SAP and VW and Red Hat.  Red Hat stayed on message with the 65% of deployments to production.  SAP explained their addressing the movement of the industry with a customer expecting instant response time with a tweet. VW explained the connected car and the use of cloud computing.

Day 2 had keynotes that focused on containerization.  QUite a lineup of presenters including Cisco, OVH, TWC and liveperson and smartcities (and more) spoke. I think the best highlight was the presentation by Google and CoreOS highlighting tectonic which overlays Kubernetes (  I may have got this wrong, but each kubernetes node can hold many containers and they run openstack components as containers. They demonstrated a horizonv2 to v3 upgrade and also self-healing by killing a neutron and then a nova node.  I was definitely impressed and need to shore up by kubernetes skills!


Citrix, PVS, Uncategorized

Citrix PVS and Managed Service Accounts gMSA

I’m a big fan of Managed Service Accounts because they are much more secure and aren’t easily exploited by human beings.  Basically, Active Directory controls the account with it being responsible for changing passwords.  While use of gMSA (group managed service accounts) is sometimes hit or miss, I didn’t find much on recent use with Citrix other than a vague “we support this” statement.

Carl Webster had a much older attempt with PVS (not sure whether he tried again or not) and I wanted to ensure that this worked on PVS 7.7 (just released).

You’ll need a couple of things

I would leverage a tool for creating and managing gMSA that I got here.
(note: for a quick guide on setting this up, I would look through Derek Seaman’s blog).


Add you PVS server to the list otherwise it won’t work. (I only have 1 PVS server right now, I’m in rebuilding mode…)


For SOAP, you’ll need to make this account a member of the local admins on the PVS server (when you add the account, make sure you select “service accounts” for objects.


For SQL, I am using 2014 with availability groups.  Check out Derek’s blog for a great walkthrough on this.

Your database should have been created already (use the dbscript.exe to manually create the database in PVS)

Grant the permissions needed to your gMSA on the SQL database (I create the account on both database servers just in case (when I test the failover))

Testing failover should work and you will also notice the services are runningpvsconsoleservicespvs


Fixing Thomas the Tank wooden train tracks (or Brio)

If you have young children like I do (4 kids, aged 5,4,3 and 1) you probably have some Thomas the Tank Engine wooden train tracks.  A few of these pieces have this plastic plug that is the “male” piece, which obviously joins with the female piece.  Try as you might, there is little that can be done if your bundle of joy pulls out the plug and loses it.  You have what I’d call a “neutered” piece.  It’s flat, but neither male nor female.  Unfortunately, some of the best pieces are usually the ones with this plastic plug male piece in them (hills, splitters, animated sections, etc).

Since this toy is not cheap (for what you get) and I supposedly can fix anything, I had to attempt to figure this out.  Searching the internet yielded no results but finally I found a random post on some forum that provided a solution (and the guy who posted it deserves all the credit!)

To help you out, you’ll want to get the right sized eye screws (pic is what I bought at Home Depot), also get the drywall #10 anchors.  You’ll end up cutting the anchors (about 1 or 2 ridges should protrude from the hole).  When you screw in the eye it doesn’t need to be dead center but try to get it somewhat straight.  Electrician’s pliers work very well but honestly any pair of pliers will do fine.

Now I have happy 3 and 5 year old boys.  Perhaps your 3 year old son isn’t obsessed with trains like mine, that’s fine, but if he is, I hope this helps.

What you’ll need
What it should look like
Final Product