Week 30, 2017, “Faster, Cheaper, Or Better”

“Technology is only valuable if it results in faster, cheaper, or better. If not, it just sucks up time and money that could be put to better use somewhere else.” – Jeff Haden, INC. Magazine

This quote is timely as we are actively investigating VMWARE’s virtual networking technology NSX.  Remarkably, the technology is capable and connected deeply with our strategic DevOps philosophy.

However, my struggle is NSX’s cost.  Sans discussing the specifics of our pricing, the math roughly equates to $2000 per server for 3 years.

Organizations with a small technology footprint, is NSX valuable enough for faster, cheaper, or better results?

\\ JMM

“Everything You Want Is On The Other Side Of Fear”

Quote from the movie Atomic Blonde, a slogan scrawled across a Berlin wall in the pre-Berlin wall era.  Having lived in that time period, the movie certainly plays out the 80s themes with music to match.  The characters blithley lighting up cigarettes and often pouring themselves a drink as the plot rains down violence in a world of secret agents and film noir.

And yet, the movie has an unsettling grittiness that is surmised in this quote.

\\ JMM

Week 29, 2017, “Force Of Movement”

“You decide. To have a good attitude or to have a bad attitude. To respond or to react. To give generously or to give begrudgingly. To offer a helping hand or to look away. To help others up or to look past them. To invest in yourself or to coast through life. You decide.” – Tom Ziglar

Today’s blog’s message came through the various communications with former colleagues that put a reoccurring theme to the week. In essence, many verbalized frustration with the lack of career opportunities and disappointment that careers are motionless and not financially meeting goals at that point in there life.

Before I give words of encouragement, let’s talk about you. Let’s talk about your performance over the past twelve months. How did you progress on your goals? What did you achieve so far this year? What education goals did you hit? Who did you mentor with? How have you invested in yourself?  Now prove it.

Many of my colleagues who are stuck will leave the organization they are in at the same state of self investment as they arrived. And still fail to recognize the competitive nature of our market and complain to anyone who will listen about their circumstances.  Experience alone doesn’t give the force of movement to careers.  Something must propel it forward, intentionally and consistently.

This is the message: You are accountable for your career. Not your employer, not your family, not your community, and not your government. You have the power to change you. The resources are out there. Your leaders gave you opportunities to grow and you chose not to.

Hard message. But necessary in this time of indignation and entitlement.  Consistent Action = Consistent Results.  Put that Xbox controller down.  Turn off Dr. Who.  Open a book.  Talk to a teacher.  Get a plan for yourself.

Zig Ziglar often has extolled the virtues of attitude, goals, and investing in yourself.  This is the roadmap of winners.  You have the capability to win.   No more excuses, team!  Go do it.  Today.

\\ JMM

Week 27, 2017, “It’s Go Time”

“Does anyone have any questions on where we are going and your role how to get us there?  No?  It’s go time, team.  Always forward!” – Jonathan Merrill

Here we are at the 60 day mark and we are looking back with awe and anticipation. Although this isn’t the exhaustive list, the highlights are:

1. We hired our system engineering architect, Sonny Mendoza. A US Navy and IT veteran, he brings deep expertise in both the VMWARE and Microsft stack. A proponent of VEEAM and NIMBLE, two complimentary technologies currently in house. His experience in both the SMB and large enterprise space is evident in his questions and answers. He has been an amazing addition to the IT team, bringing in sage experience, a positive energy, and can do attitude.

2. Wrote and implemented IT maintenance policies focusing on patching and security remediation. The policy includes an change freeze period, quarterly reviews and update schedule, and architectural review. Formalizing maintenance was the first step in establishing a relationship and accountability with teams testing patches and reducing risk. Establishing a schedule communicates when IT infrastrucutre will be updated so development and print operations has down range visibility, setting reliable expectations.

3. Implented enterprise password management. Our specific requirements were password sharing with teams, role based access control, automatic password rotation, password auditing and history, Active Directory integration, and high availability. We migrated from a KEEPASS situation to Click Solutions’ Password State.

4. Implemented the enterprise auditing solution. Speaking to vision, the solution needed to give unprecedented transparency to all teams as we marry up audit data with change management practices and and enabling a better support visibility across all teams. Netwrix Auditor is a best of breed tool and is supremely designed for SMB organizations. Microsoft space initially targeted. Additional work still to go covering VMWARE, Exchange, SQL, and networking.

5. Implemented an asset-focused network management tool. Many of my former team members won’t be surprised, but I am firm believer of LANSWEEPER and giving teams’ access to manage their resources. This tool gives teams a birdseye view of whats installed, what errors exist, and health of resources applied. When we rolled this out, teams were presently surprised at what’s going on and assists in the troubleshooting of issues. Now we are collaborating.

6. Exited out of CenturyLink’s hosted services. We are continuing to evaluate our strategic partners and aligning to goals. No fault of CenturyLink, we determined to go another direction. We thank them for their stellar services provided.

7. Implemented the ORC process. Documenting systems should be a part of our DNA. This process enforces the C (Culture) and S (Sharing) in CAMS. We asked for leadership buy in and got it, trained teams, now set goals. 100% by Jan 1.

8. Implemented Death By Meeting’s, “Tactical” and “Stand Up”. Next up is strategic. Goal: Lower adhocs.

All this in 30 days! And doesn’t include the projects in flight. Here are some quick bullets of things we are building:

  • Workstation Technology Refresh. Uplifting the workstation platform, bringing in new tech.
  • Active Diretory Refresh. Cleaning up the past, rolling out RBAC, and enabling teams. Trust, but verify.
  • Network Refresh. Rethinking wireless, local area, and wide area networks. SDN for the win.
  • OpManager Proof of Concept. Manage Engine’s solution is comprehensive. Amazing value for what is delivered.
  • Splunk Proof of Concept. Can anyone argue that Splunk isn’t an amazing tool? Evaluating it’s place.
  • Alien Vault USM Proof of Concept. Having had experience with Nessus, Qualys, Nexpose, Alien Vault is a challenger.
  • Data Operations Proof of Concept. Automating core functions internally. Managing 10k scripts or jobs requires control.
  • Intranet / Employee Portal.  Rethinking SharePoint’s place.

It’s go time.

\\ JMM

Learning IT. Got The Skills? Prove It…

Do you or your people have the necessary certification and competencies?  If not, here is list of resources I routinely push people to who need help getting their education in higher concepts kick started:

Free Sites

Microsoft Virtual Academy – Free IT Training.  Start here.  And learn everything you can get your hands on!
Microsoft Technet Events & Webcasts & Virtual Labs  – A plethora of concepts and technical deep drives. Go watch one during your lunch break.  Even better, Virtual Labs are Microsoft’s products in a virtual environment. Most have labs attached to actually learn the product.
Born To Learn – Blog on Microsoft Education Opportunities – Some free, some discounted, has a monthly spotlight/discount program.
VMWARE Hands On Labs – Learn VMWARE on their infrastructure.  Many have videos and narrative attached.

Not Free

Pluralsight – ($30 p/mo) – Recommended.  Check into it!

User Groups

DFW Cisco User Group – Since 1996, the longest and most successful Cisco user group.  Cisco and many local IT organizations sponsor.  Everything from Cisco routing and switching.
VMUG (Vmware User Group) – Another large and long time running group focused on the virtualization dogma we know as VMWARE.
\\ JMM