Turning the page

WP_20140605_23_00_24_ProToday (Thursday) I voluntarily concluded my employment with a well-known Southern California company where I’ve worked as Sr. Systems Engineer for the last four years. On Monday, I open a new page in my IT Career with another firm, and I’m very excited to start.

But tonight, I’m in a mood to reminisce and reflect.

I know it’s cliche, but truly, when I consider where I was at four years ago this night compared with where I’m at professionally & personally tonight, this was the job opportunity of a lifetime. It literally lifted me out of the IT ghetto and put me on a track on which I could, if I executed properly, end up in the IT Hall of Fame, clutching my #InfrastructureGlory trophy as if it was the Stanley Cup.

And I capitalized on it in just about every way I knew how, both for myself, and for the infrastructure I fretted over constantly.

Parting is always bittersweet, but I’m resting tonight knowing that I -thanks to some IT strategery from the IT management guys who hired me- have left my former employer a higher performing, more durable, and cost effective Infrastructure stack than I had when I started.

Some superlatives & memories from my time with this company for the enjoyment of other engineers like me:

  • Proudest Engineering feat: Planning, wargamming and executing -in concert with my former boss- on an overnight virtual datacenter relocation involving two Dell R810s running Windows Server 2008 R2 & Hyper-V in Denver and four 2008 R2 nodes in Los Angeles over a 100meg Layer 2 VPWS circuit with two NetApp DoT 7.3.x filers at each end doing SnapMirrors of CSVs & RDMs by the hour, then the half-hour, then by the minute during Go-Live week. Sixty+ VMs, countless direct-mapped iSCSI LUNs, 8 vFilers & and the entire /24 subnet moved in the space of about four hours in spring 2012 with minimal consultant help in a plan I nicknamed the “Double Trident” (don’t ask). And yeah. This was in Hyper-V 2.0 days, where there was nothing awesome about Hyper-V switching.
  • Most humbling defeat: Missing a key “but….” in a Technet article about Exchange 2010 to 2013 migration. And no, it didn’t involve the basics. And yes, I’m sorry I didn’t spot the queues filling up sooner.
  • If I could make a bumper sticker from my time here: “Virtualization Engineers Find ‘em Physical and Leave ‘em Virtual,” or “Give me spindles or give me death,” or “Oh me, oh my NUMA Nodes” or, of course, “I Heart LACP”
  • Funnest project: Storage Refresh & bakeoff.  Picked the best array under the circumstances and achieved #StorageGlory. No regrets and like that Nimble is as hungry for glory & success as I am.
  • The Work/Blog effect: After storage bakeoff post, got noticed by the GestaltIT crew and invited to Virtualization Field Day #3. Sat among some incredibly sharp VMware-certified & OpenStack-familiar engineers and architects in the heart of Silicon Valley where we, in the best traditions of agnostic computing, challenged vendors on the products they try to sell guys like you and me (well, mostly guys like you if you’re VMware). And yes, we made fun of each other’s stacks. #PurpleScreenofDeath
  • Racked Gear I’ll miss the most: My old, power-hungry, 6509E and its twin WS-6748-GETX blades onto which I mapped out Hyper-V 3.0’s awesome converged switching architecture. Sure, it may not be a distributed vSwitch, but I made it purr like a kitten, and I extended iSCSi to the limit. Also, Wargamming Live Storage Migration is one of my most popular posts, so I suppose it’s a somewhat famous 6509E.
  • The 3am call that woke me up the most: Session virtualization (RDS/XenApp)
  • Dipped into dev on: .net, Visual Studio & ClickOnce architecture. Also SOAP & REST, which aren’t so dev anymore and are actually quite critical for operations guys
  • Engineering focus: Value.
  • Started With/Ended With Pairs: ESXi 4.5/Hyper-V 3.0, Motorola Droid/Lumia Icon, TDM & Analog Circuits/Cloud-hosted VoIP, 100Mbit Cisco/Gigabit Dell
  • Worst mobile phone I used for work: Toss-up. Windows Phone 7 (HTC Trophy) or Palm Pixi. But they had ActiveSync so there you are.
  • Most Favoritiest Visualization I created: A 24 hour clock arrayed against Netflow egress data on my 6509e, filtered by iSCSI & Live MIgration VLANs, with flags representing the regions as they put load on the infrastructure. Average Gb/s & GB/hr calculated with Excel Pivot tables via spider chart tool & 30 days of data, averaged out hour-by-hour. Netflow v7 & Manage Engine. Wish I hadn’t left the image on work laptop.

Those are some of my fondest memories from this employer, but of course, above & beyond the technology, the hardware, the underlay and the storage are the people. I’m leaving friends, colleagues and fellow veterans behind and it’s hard….can’t believe how thoughtful they were at my going away lunch. The photo at top is of my nameplate + one they made for me.. Hashtag Sickburn was something I ripped from The Vergecast and used liberally in our wild technology debates.

Most of all I’m thankful for this awesome time in my professional life and I wish my friends, colleagues and former colleagues the best.

On Monday I start a new chapter. I’m not sure where that leaves this blog, but I at least want to finish up my Cloud Praxis series, post a hands-on review of VMTurbo, and more so look for that over the days ahead.


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