vDM30in30 – Day 3: Failure

Fail fast, learn, and move on. A simple motto to live by for any IT professional. Unfortunately, many of us aren’t given the luxury of failing aka being wrong. We get paid to be right and sometimes, we get paid a lot to fix things that others foo’d up. And that’s why I’ve seen so many IT pros not know how to handle failure. Call it ego or stubbornness, not being able to gracefully handle failure can end any IT career.


So how does one navigate failure when failing is not an option? Start with a process.

  1. Hypothesis.
  2. Test that hypothesis at a small scale and gradually increase scale.
  3. Measure and analyze key data.
  4. Move forward based on data and your experience in your data center environment.
  5. Repeat this cycle for your solution as your environment variables change over time.

Seems simple enough; but what do you do when failure is not an option? You take a stand because failure needs to be an option. Failure is that limit, that boundary where you rise or you fall. And at that moment, lots of great things can happen like learning where you want to go, learning what you want to become, and learning to become better than you were prior to failing.

So my POV is this – plan for failure by having a process to gracefully handle failure such that you become a better professional, more sought after professional. Anyways, being right all the time is tiring and frankly, boring.

vDM30in30 – Day 2: Network

IT is changing at an accelerating rate with plenty of IT jobs at stake. And yet, doing a job may not be enough in this IT-as-a-Service paradigm that hybrid IT is ushering in. With IT jobs evolving and forking into multiple paths, deciding which path to take and when become integral to continuing one’s prosperous IT career.


The IT career path is one of the hottest topics that I regularly discuss with my industry friends and peers, even when we are talking about current IT trends. This brings up an important task that many IT professionals often overlook, which is building a competent, trusted network of industry friends, peers, colleagues, and resources. This is one of my golden rules that has served me incredibly well. I make a concerted effort to continually do what I can to earn — and return — mutual trust.

I have formed and leveraged a network of trusted advisors, who have helped me progress throughout my career. From my start in the Office of the CTO to joining the virtualization revolution during its grassroots stage to engineering solutions for the Global 2000 to working on the first iteration of converged infrastructure, every opportunity that presented itself and was undertaken after counsel from my trusted network of advisors.

This even extends to my time at a cloud start-up now a part of Big Blue, and even my decision to accept the role of SolarWinds Head Geek. My circle of trusted advisors continue to play a major role in my life and my career, especially with so many opportunities presenting themselves in this hybrid IT world. So I ask you – do you have a network of trusted advisors that you lean on for career advice?

vDM30in30 – Day 1: Reputation

I’ve decided to take the vDM30in30 challenge proffered by my friend, Eric Wright. This first post is about the one thing that every IT professional needs to protect at all times and that is their reputation. Circumstances change but your reputation in the community will define you and your opportunities.

Technologies, people and process will change and that change will affect your role and responsibilities as an IT professional. The tidal wave of change is coming at an alarmingly faster rate with a larger, more data center shattering scale. This often leaves IT professionals facing multiple forks in their IT career path. Do you stay true to your present expertise whether it be VMware vSphere or Microsoft Hyper-V or any other tech construct? Or do you take the plunge and catch the next big wave, which could lead you to better fishing grounds? As an IT professional takes time to come to a decision on taking a certain path, your reputation will either aid or hurt you.

Here are a few simple tips to protect and enhance your reputation.

  1. Search for and engage with the IT communities that you’re interested in.
  2. Approach every social engagement, industry event, user group gathering and community get together like an interview. Your next gig will find you and the accompanying interview process becomes MUCH easier.
  3. It’s okay to say “I don’t know.” Don’t make it up.
  4. Seek to understand and then, to be understood.
  5. Treat others the way you want to be treated.
  6. Have fun.

Remember that the global IT community is small yet has a long memory. Below is a picture of me with my friends – Todd Muirhead and Scott Hanson, who got me started in tech communities and social media.