The Road From Nowhere

Since I’ve told you a story or two, why not tell another one?  Seems everyone in the virtualization community loves a good story.  Let’s rewind our clocks back to 2013.  I’d love to be able to pinpoint an exact moment in time, but I’m starting to get far too old to remember these details.  I had just completed a major project for our team which involved me spending a ton of time in front of a PowerShell prompt and script editor.  I had effectively recreated our entire server team’s build process in the virtual environment.  To give you a little taste of what this environment entailed, let me rattle off a few statistics about it (relevant before I left for my current position back in late February 2014).

The overall environment was nearing, or had well exceeded 50,000 virtual machines.  This was spread across two rather large vCenter devices and encompassed 8 physical data centers (although, to be fair, it was two physical sites….each site had a certain amount of rooms that equated to a single “data center”).  There was also something to the effect of 3500 ESX hosts in this environment (all with HP logos on them).   I forget some of the other details, but this was well before we had implemented storage DRS, so there were also a ton of individual datastores in the environment as well.  I vaguely remember our VMware account team telling us that we were approaching top 20, worldwide, in active virtual machine numbers.  That’s how large the environment was.

Back to the scripting project.  I was able to use some of the internal tools we had, along with our ticketing system (BMC Remedy) to remotely initiate virtual machine builds for our clients without these builds having to hit a manual provisioning process.  It involved many steps and nearly 2000 lines of PowerShell code (although, most of them were in the form of IF…ELSE statements).  I got many internal kudos, along with a couple of individual awards for this project.  Unfortunately, it was all internal.  Now, it was pretty common, at that employer, that they kept their knowledge internal to the company and did not really like their employees getting too active in the technical communities.  Predictably, I had a major problem with this.  Eventually, I did something about it.

Shortly after the project was completed, one of my co-workers, who I later found out was actually a “silent” VMUG steering committee member asked me if I would be willing to present at the local VMUG on the project we just completed.  The theme of the meeting was going to be related to automation and one of the VMUG leaders was looking for someone else to co-present during the topic block.  I’ll admit; I was deathly afraid of public speaking.  I barely could hold myself together to do it in front of other internal groups at the company I worked for.  Eventually, I relented and agreed to present.

I fretted about coming up with the perfect presentation.  I felt like I needed to rehearse.  Eventually, I just loosened up and decided that the presentation would work itself out.  Don’t get me wrong; I still did a lot of practice in my head.  On presentation day, I thought I did a decent enough job explaining why the project was necessary, what we did to accomplish the goals, and, at the time, mention that the process was responsible for dumping 10,000 virtual machines into production during the first year it was in operation.  I don’t remember much of the presentation itself (you can thank the Boulevard tap room and a couple of Tank 7 glasses before hand), but I was told that I wasn’t too bad at this presentation thing.  Not only that, I got to interact with a few of the local VMUG chapter leaders and network some.

Later on that year, at the KC VMUG Super conference (what the UserCon was called before had), I was called up and given a small token by the VMUG leader for being one of two users who gave presentations during the course of the calendar year.  For as large of a VMUG chapter that Kansas City has, it really struck me as odd that only two users gave a presentation during that entire time.

Fast forward this story a little bit (say, to February 2014).  I finally decide the time was right for me to leave my current position.  I’m not going to go into all the specific details of it, but let’s just say that I felt I had plateaued in my career there and was no longer content spending my days performing vMotion migrations across a vast vSphere environment.  Shortly after my move to my current employer, I’m contacted by the VMUG leaders and asked if I want to start participating as a VMUG steering committee member.  Of course, was my answer (why wouldn’t it be, I had caught the bug in giving back to my technical community).

What’s happened since I stood up there to do a user presentation is short of stunning.  I’ve now presented in front of the VMUG three more times (with a fourth one coming up).  I’ve also taken over a leadership mantle in the local Cisco UCS Users Group (not to mention presented at that user group two times, as well).  Now, if you notice a theme there, it’s that it’s in my local communities.  This last VMworld, I responded to a call for panelists for the joint vmunderground/vBrownBag Opening Acts panels.  I sat up with fellow automation enthusiasts (including many of which their blogs and community posts were what enabled me to fumble through PowerShell/PowerCLI in the first place).

Needless to say, I’ve caught the community bug.  What’s happened next is beyond what I even imagined.  I put out a blog post a couple of weeks ago about being selected for a delegate for a Tech Field Day event (specifically, Virtualization Field Day 6).  I’m starting to feel like (at the risk of sounding awfully clichéd here) I’m finally spreading my wings.  What being selected for this has done, has made me realize that there are others, specifically those outside of my local technical community, that it’s adding a level of validity to what I say in the community.  Not that I’m going to run a huge mega-ego over this, but to be selected as a delegate, the group at Tech Field Day has to review your body of work and decide whether you would be a good fit to build a rapport with the other delegates, but also provide valuable input to those presenting and in the form social media interaction.

So, two years after I stood in front of a local VMUG chapter and gave a presentation on how I wielded PowerShell/PowerCLI, I stand before community with a simple message (especially to those that are on the fence about getting involved).  “Get involved”.  Who knew that presenting at a local VMUG chapter would turn out the way it did for me?  I’m excited to see where it goes.  Who knows, maybe a Cisco Live or VMworld session?  🙂  Time will tell on that one….

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About snoopj

vExpert 2014/2015/2016, Cisco Champion 2015/2016. Virtualization and data center enthusiast. Working too long and too hard in the technology field since college graduation in 2000.
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