And so today begins the next chapter of my processional career.
For the last five years, I have held various roles within Firefly Communications, the premier datacenter education partner within the Cisco ecosystem. I started out as a storage instructor and consulting, teaching primarily Cisco MDS courses, before moving into a little known (for some pretty good reasons) product called VFrame Data Center. It was part of an acquisition Cisco made (TopSpin), and provided an interesting mix of server deployment, automation, network configuration, and policy enforcement across Cisco and other products. As a product, it had massive potential, but a couple of significant flaws – most notably, it’s reliance on the APIs or command lines of third party products that Cisco could neither control nor predict. When that product died, I went back to teaching MDS, and a little bit of a new thing called Fibre Channel over Ethernet on this newfangled line of switches called “Nexus”.
The combination of skill in those three products (MDS, Nexus, and VFrame Data Center) would turn out to be very fortuitous, as I was invited (along with Joe Onisick and Fabricio Grimaldi, both rockstars of the datacenter) to be among the first to learn “Project California”, a mostly-secret project to produce Cisco’s first foray into compute – what eventually would be released as the Cisco Unified Computing System. UCS became my primary technology focus for the rest of my time at Firefly.
Over the subsequent years, I moved through several roles in Firefly, including Product Line Director for the UCS platform, Chief Technology Officer for the Americas, and finally Vice President of Engineering, overseeing all technical instructors, platforms, and internal IT for the company worldwide. It was a challenging but rewarding position, where I was able to use my love of technology and mentoring, and develop my managerial and leadership (not the same things!) skills through interaction with some great mentors.
Eventually, though, it came time to make a change. I had reached the end of what I felt I could accomplish professionally at Firefly, so I decided that it was time to move on.
In deciding what I wanted to move into, I consulted some great peers, associates, and legends for assistance (thanks all of you who provided guidance – especially @drjmetz @bradhedlund @omarsultan @jonisick) and boiled my interests down into a few key areas:
- Technology Evangelism
- I love taking a piece of technology that I’m passionate about, and getting others just as excited about it or helping them see how to solve key operational or business problems with it. I’ve done that with MDS, Nexus, and UCS over the last five years and been very successful and fulfilled by it.
- Staff Mentoring
- One of the more rewarding parts of working for Firefly was the opportunity to work with some of the best and brightest people in the datacenter space. Everyone brings their own unique talents and experiences, and I was able to learn just as much from working with them as any class could ever teach. At the same time, I enjoyed being able to help others develop their skills – whether technical, presentation, instruction, or just general business experiences.
- Firefly afforded me a great deal of independence in how I went about mentoring my team and accomplishing the strategy as set forth by the rest of the senior leadership. Not being tied to a desk job with an hour commute each way was very important to me. Being out in the field, in front of my team and customers was always one of the best parts of my job.
After evaluating a number of different roles and companies, I have selected World Wide Technology as my new professional home. I will be working as a Technical Architect in the Federal sales team. I’m excited – and just a little bit nervous – about stepping out of my comfort zone in a familiar company and striking it out on a new adventure. Without challenge there is no growth, and without growth there is only decay. So let’s go see what’s out there.
One of my new year’s resolutions will be to blog more and get more ideas and discussions flowing. In my new role, I will have a much more broad set of technologies to focus on beyond just UCS, so I hope to do the same with my blog here.
Thanks everyone for reading and for your support!