VeeamON 2019: What’s In a Tech Conference?

For those of you that know me, you know I am an avid technology conference attendee. But the other day someone asked me why I enjoy conferences when “they just try to sell you stuff”. So in anticipation of VeeamON 2019, the next conference I hope to attend, I figured I would answer that question in a blog post.

The Break Out Sessions

Everyone knows the keynotes of technology conferences can be a spectacle and very entertaining, but what can I personally take back that helps me in my day to day job? The answer is breakout sessions. They provide pertinent information to my daily job, as well as providing me insight into future trends of which I might not be aware. For example, at the upcoming VeeamON, here are the breakout sessions I’m interested in:

  • Let’s Manage Agents. This is a practical session on agents, a topic that cannot be addressed too often if you are a storage admin.
  • Automate Yourself Out of a Backup Job — Advanced PowerShell & API Usage. Leaning towards the future, Veeam is providing relevant topics that guide me towards what I should be learning and how I can consume the API using tools I already know (PowerShell).
  • Veeam ONE Deep Dive on New Capabilities. I like new stuff. What can I say?
  • Cloud Native Backup Made Easy with Veeam Availability for AWS. Do you do cloud? I do.

The Technical “Rock Stars”

Every conference has speakers who are well known within the technology community, technology “rock stars.” But these rock stars are not of the “Don’t bother me” breed. Instead I have found they are approachable and actually enjoy discussing their work. Four guys I’m looking forward to seeing are:

Last But Not Least, The People

If you don’t meet at least 50 new people at a conference, you are missing out. Some of the most exciting and life changing experiences have come from people who I met at conferences. It opens a whole new world professionally and personally. There is no better place to network and grow friendships than in a setting where most everyone loves what you love and does what you do. There really is no barrier to meeting new people. The setting lends itself to a conversation. So if you have the chance to go to a conference, DON’T MISS IT!

P.S. Special mention for all you certification junkies out there, like myself: Veeam offers 50% off Veeam Certified Engineer (VMCE) trainings at the conference!

Thanks for reading and I hope to see you there! @virtualjamey

VMUG Advantage: Its Not a Sales Pitch When You Love the Product

My final post of #Blogtober2018 is going to be about a program I love and a must have for anyone who works on VMware technology, VMUG Advantage. My transition to IT is almost entirely self taught. I depended extensively on my home lab as a method to generate experience. Looking for demos, NFR, free trials and home lab licensing became an art form for me. To this day I have never found a better source than VMUG Advantage.

VMUG Membership

Note the red arrow. EVALExperince gives you access to practically the entire VMware product line. You don’t have to signup for VMware Advantage to enjoy the benefits of VMUG itself. You can join the VMUG community for free here. This will get you access to meetings and UserCons which are invaluable for networking and just plain fun. But the icing on the cake is EVALExperience.

Financial benefits

The financial benefits for test takers cannot be understated. At the time of this writing the VCAP exam cost 450$. One test will almost pay for Advantage itself. If you currently do not have a VCP or greater, then you will most likely need a training class before you can sit for the exam. These classes can be thousands of dollars. The 20% discount that EVALExperience gives on training classes can quickly become no small sum.

Learning and Experience

But more to the point, I want to emphasize the main benefit of Advantage is not  financial. What was and still is important to me is experience. This is experience that you might never be able to gain access to on your own. When I started out in IT, I put experience gained by the EVALExperience program on my resume. When asked about it by potential employers, I explained that it was in my home lab. I would challenged the interviewer to put me in front of a console and see what I could do based solely on experience I gained from my home lab. “If I can do it, it really does not matter where I learned it from, ” I would say. I would never have been able to say that without EVALExperience.

I’ll leave you with a list of the benefits below. Save money. Get experience. Join VMUG Advantage.

EVALExperience

Discounts

20% Discount on VMware Training Classes
20% Discount on VMware Certification Exams
35% Discount on VMware Certification Exam Prep Workshops (VCP-NV)
35% Discount on VMware Lab Connect
$100 Discount on VMworld Attendance

Licensing

Data Center & Cloud Infrastructure
VMware vCenter Server v6.x Standard
VMware vSphere ESXi Enterprise Plus with Operations Management

Networking & Security
VMware NSX Enterprise Edition
VMware vRealize Network Insight

Storage and Availability
VMware vSAN
VMware Site Recovery Manager

Cloud Management
VMware vRealize Log Insight
VMware vRealize Operations
VMware vRealize Automation 7.3 Enterprise
VMware vRealize Orchestrator
VMware vCloud Suite Standard

Desktop & Application Virtualization
VMware Horizon Advanced Edition
VMware vRealize Operations for Horizon

Personal Desktop
VMware Fusion Pro 11
VMware Workstation Pro 15

Sources: Licensing Discounts Signup

 

Don’t Be the Angry IT Guy

I have not always been in IT. My previous roles have been in healthcare as a practitioner. Being able to look from both sides of the glass, I often muse about the perception of IT people . Angry is the most common perception, but also elitist, rude and someone who makes you feel dumb. Us non-IT people would talk around the cooler about how so and so had met one of those criteria. We had one guy who was so rude to a colleague the she would break down and cry. Ironically, I now work in IT and can better understand frustrations. Across a number of roles, I have been in situations where someone might have seen me as any angry IT guy. Now seeing both sides of the fence, I wanted to write a quick post about how we as IT people can bridge the gap.

The Angry IT Guy

Stereotypes are often unfair or flat out wrong. But at the same time they can be a window into group perception. Like it or not, the angry IT guy is one of the most common perceptions. It is so common that Saturday Night Live parodied it (Nick Burns). Of course, an IT person will counter that if you had to deal with what they had to deal with, you would be angry too. But I must challenge my IT colleagues by saying that is not good enough. I have found four truths that help me be kind and professional, while still being able to get things done.

Truth 1: Computers Can Make Even Smart People Feel Dumb

My first job was at a help desk for an outpatient clinic system. On a daily basis, I worked with doctors and their computers. I would watch and observe the doctors interactions with computers and see their frequent frustrations (often directed at me). But I though hard about how to respond. I could tell that their lack of computer knowledge made them feel dumb. Apart and unrelated to me, they felt dumb. People are accustomed to feeling confident in what they know. This can lead them to avoid working on things they don’t know. Many of the doctors I worked with found it easier to not learn the details of computing and instead direct frustration at IT staff. “This never works” sounds a lot better than, “I don’t know how this works” in the eyes of most people.

The solution was to enable the doctors. While always being mindful of what I was saying and how it might inadvertently make them feel dumb, I would encourage them and guide them to the correct steps. I would often write instructions and tape them to their desks. They where grateful and I excelled. Now you might argue, “We can’t babysit or help people who don’t want to learn.” But frankly, I focused on how the interaction helped me. I was seen as someone who “bridged the gap”. It helped my career and I moved out of the help desk role quickly.

Truth 2: Computers Can Make Even Dumb People Feel Smart

Be humble and approachable. Hubris is ugly. IT people deal daily with complex technical details that require absolute precision. So when you have successes, it can be exhilarating. The problem arises when we use computer knowledge as the gauge for someones skill set. Each person is different and they contribute their own knowledge from study and life. It can be easy to view someone as dumb if they ask what we think is a simple question. But the problem is that people see our judgement of them. If you happen to watch the video I linked above, Nick Burns eventually tells the woman to “MOVE”. Everyone around could see that in essence he was judging her as not smart enough. That’s never going to help you in life. Being aware of this has helped me as I have moved up over the years. No matter how complex a system I might be working on, there is always someone smarter than me.

Truth 3: People Don’t Have To Learn the Computer Details If They Don’t Want To

Anger often comes from feelings of unfairness. IT people have complained to me in the past that its not fair that they have to teach people even simple things one day only to have the same person ask them again the next day. Frustration quickly builds when people don’t want to learn about computers. But the thing for me is this: they don’t have to. I don’t want to learn the details of how to fix my car. I don’t care. Funny thing is my mechanic does not care that I don’t learn either. He benefits from it. But you might argue again, “Why do I have to do everything for people who are unwilling to learn?” You don’t. Provide them the tools to learn, and in a patient, understanding manner, explain that you can’t help today and encourage them to follow the steps you previously provided. When your perception changes about what they “should” do, so will your experience with them and ultimately, their perception of you.

Truth 4: IT Is Not The Point

This one can be hard to swallow for many of us. But ultimately, IT is a tool for a company to succeed. I have seen many IT people, including myself, be offended when people point this out to us.  Our natural reaction is, “This place would not function without me!” But the truth is, a company would fall apart if anyone didn’t do their job. Information Technology, while important, is no more important than other part of the business. Everyone who works for the company is contributing and should be recognized as such. Once again, your perception of yourself shapes how you interact with non-IT staff. If you see your job as more important than others’ jobs, its going to show when you interact with others. There’s no way around that.

I hope these truths have been helpful as you think about how you can bridge the gap in your professional life.