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.


Dear blog: A **ITload of virtualization & cloud happened this summer

At SolarWinds thwackCamp 2015, I was joined by my friend, Dave McCrory, CTO of Basho. We discussed the Application Stack Wars 2015 – Rise of the Versatilist. It was a total blast!

And I wrote my first eBook: 4 Skills to Master Your Virtualization Universe. My virtualization basics introductory blog post gives some insights into the purpose of the eBook. Just in time for SolarWinds at VMworld.

Then, it’s off to my friend, John Troyer’s, inaugural conference — The Reckoning.

Finally, it’s back to Austin to present at SpiceWorld Austin 2015. P.S. there’s something about AWS re:Invent as well.

Family Friends Forked #DescribeYourselfIn3Words

Twitter hashtag trends are fun little exercise in creativity in 140 characters. Today was no different as one was asked to #DescribeYourselfIn3Words. I choose Family, Friends, and Forked. The first two are obvious but the last word seemed to confuse folks so here is my clarification for describing myself as forked.

Forked pays homage to my engineering background and the choices made in life. In its simplified form, a fork is a place where one can travel in one of two distinct and different paths. A decision is made on which path to take. In fact, it’s a binary decision – “1” on the path taken and “0” on the path not taken. Simple and fundamental, yet able to build sophisticated and complex instantiations such as one’s life experience.

Yes, I could have said bifurcated but forking is more elegant and to-the-point than bifurcating. Forking has made me to who I am and who I continue to become. I’ve forked so many times that I’ve lost count; but each decision continues to mold the present and future me. And that’s why I’m forked — it describes me perfectly.

What three words would describe you?

So Say SMEs in Virtualization & Cloud: Back to Performance Optimal Shenanigans

Check us out. We quietly filmed 8 new So Say SMEs in Virtualization & Cloud episodes and they’re all available on our YouTube channel for your viewing pleasure. Thank you for your support and engagement!

I was auto scaling before auto scaling was agile, webscale, and simple.

But it was almost for naught.

According to AWS, “Auto Scaling helps you maintain application availability and allows you to scale your Amazon EC2 capacity up or down automatically according to conditions you define.” A similar process is discussed by Enterprises with private cloud resources who want to leverage additional compute capacity of public clouds during heavy load periods. Policies usually dictate how these additional resources are orchestrated and provisioned.

Sounds similar to claims from my US Patent 8,176,497, which specifically focused on database workloads, but would apply to other workloads as well. The funny thing is that the Dell Patent Committee almost voted not to authorize the disclosure. The deciding vote was cast by a retiring Dell VP and Distinguished Engineer. Had it not been for his vote and the other two Distinguished Engineers (one BIOS and one Solutions Engineer), this patent never would have gotten its chance before the US Patent Office. By the way, the dissenting votes were by a Dell Storage engineer- now a Dell Storage Director and a Dell Distinguished Mechanical Engineer. Hilarious that my “auto scaling” patent was almost killed by a Mech E. and a SCSI engineer.

This humblebrag is brought to you by a trip down memory after lunch with a longtime friend and former Dell OCTO engineer.

I’d love to hear of similar stories where your idea or your project was almost shuttered only to find its own greatness later down the road.