Community and the Rural IT Professional

I was born and raised in a small area between Charleston and Huntington, WV. While I recognized my hometown, Scott Depot, was a small town growing up I thought of both those cities as just that, proper cities with all the benefits and drawbacks that go with them. As I grew older and my worldly view wider I came to realize that what I considered the big city was to many a minor suburb, but never the less it was and still is my home.

This lack of size and economic opportunity has never stood out more than when I began my career in Information Technology. After graduating from Marshall University with what I still believe to be a very respectable skill set many of my fellow graduates flocked to bigger areas such as Columbus, OH, RTP and Atlanta. I chose for a variety of reasons to stick around here and make a career of it and all in all while not always the most stable it has been fairly successful.

There are very few large datacenters here with most datacenters being composed of a handful of racks. Some go to work for various service providers, others enter the VAR space and I found my niche in what I like to call the Hyper Converged Administrator role. The HCA tends to wear most if not all of the hats; virtualization, storage, networking, server administration, etc. I consider myself somewhat blessed that I’ve managed to avoid the actual desktop admin stuff for most of my career, but still some of that too.

In the past couple of years I’ve got more and more active within the social IT community by way of conference attendance, social media and blogging and while it hasn’t necessarily changed the direction my career is going it has radically changed it in that I have found great opportunities for growing my personal knowledge. This growth in some cases has been very strictly technology related by way of pushing me to explore new facets of IT systems management I didn’t previously consider as well as access to very knowledgeable people who are usually very eager to point you in the right direction when asked. In other ways this knowledge while IT related is more oblique in that I feel like I now have a much better understanding of what life is like on the other side of the various fences (vendors, VARs, datacenter admins, etc) than I ever did before. This latter knowledge base has greatly changed how I approach some of the more political parts of IT such as vendor management and internal project pitches.

While the global Internet community is great I find that the missing piece is still facetime. The richness of communication when I’m at conferences is more personal than anything that is done online and I find myself somewhat jealous of those in areas large enough to support user groups of any kind of size. In the past year I’ve got to know VMware User Group (VMUG) leaders from Louisville, Kansas City, Phoenix and Portland as well as the guys behind the excellent career oriented community vBrisket and enjoying hearing tales of what’s involved in getting their regular meetings together and wish I could do the same here.

Personally my goal for the coming year is to do a bit of travel and attend the meetings of some of the User Groups listed above. If you are local here in the WV IT community reach out and let’s figure out how to do something here. There may not be a lot of us here but that’s an even better reason to get to know each other and share the knowledge.

VMUG Advantage Eval Experience

Do you find yourself longing for the good old days of the VMware Technical Network (VMTN)? Do you have a home lab you are wanting to use to learn more about the VMware ecosphere. Well good news, the fine folks at VMUG today announced the addition of a service called Eval Experience to their already excellent service VMUG Advantage. Eval Experience will provide 365 day evaluation licenses for a variety of VMware’s products including

  • vCenter Server Server 5 Standalone
  • vSphere with Operations Management Enterprise Plus
  • vCloud Suite Standard
  • vRealize Operations Insight
  • vRealize Operations 6 Enterprise
  • vRealize Log Insight
  • vRealize Operations for Horizon
  • Horizon Advanced Edition
  • Virtual SAN (VSAN)

That is a great list that includes the vast majority of technologies that one wanting to break into virtualization would look for. Really the only thing missing in my opinion is NSX and frankly I’m flummoxed as to why it isn’t there considering VMware’s big push in the SDN direction of late.

In any case, considering the $200 price tag for an Advantage subscription this is a good deal for evaluation licensing kit. For comparison, the best deal I ever got for Microsoft Technet (#RIP) was $250 per year. Nevermind the fact that you get a number of other discounts and services as part of your subscription.