The Architect Virus. Professionalism, Career, Status, Narcissism & Entitlement

What’s with this “Architect” virus going around? Why does everyone want to be one? Is it because of status, narcissism, entitlement, money? No really, why?  I know some architects who work very hard and earn just as much or a little more than most other professionals. Their responsibilities and stress levels are a few notches higher than most however. What about status? That’s just bragging rights. Sure you can inflate you’re résumé or LinkedIn profile a bit with that but that’s about it. You don’t need to be an architect for that. Just call yourself “Senior Master Enterprise Technology Architect”, no need to do anything more than to type it in. Inflation, that’s what it is. Once you needed like 10 to 15 years to become senior at anything. Now 4 years out of school you’re a senior consultant with years of experience. So now we need some more titles to make the distinction I guess. Entitlement? Are you that good? If so how come no one sees it?

OK, so you have big dreams of being an architect. Do you have the skills to go with them? Prove it. Start working as an architect. Act like one, work like one and maybe one day you’ll even become one. Being an architect is not a title, it’s not about how many post grad training you receive or master classes & conferences you attend. It’s not a pay scale; it’s not a promotion or a status. None of these things define an architect, let alone make you one.  It’s all about what you do and achieve. It’s about results and value. Hell, you can have three PhD’s and two Post-doctoral Certified Guru certificates hanging on your wall. Those are all fine, but tell me what your value to the business is? How do you hold up in a passionate discussion with industry experts?

An architect is someone who is capable of designing, building, implementing and supporting medium to large, more of less complex systems in such a way that they function well and that are not or do not become a burden to the organization that uses them. In that respect, my mum used to be a great “domestic architect”. She had a very small budget, big needs for her family and like a true engineer she created very workable and productive solutions with very little money using the resources at her disposal. Al lot of people today couldn’t hack that effort. No way. Did she moan and complain? Occasionally, but most of the time she was working and making sure everyone was taken care of and got all they needed. She never got any status or money for that. No bragging rights, she found satisfaction in doing a great job. She also got some respect.

Why do some people act like spoiled brats? Frequently in direct contradiction with their ambitions. I see this in job applicants, and people on the job at the places I work. There is nothing wrong with ambition, earning your fair share, being rewarded. But all too often people expect this up front. Instead of earning they are into getting mode. That just doesn’t work. You don’t get a job, you don’t get a pay check, you don’t get respect, and you don’t get knowledge. These things are earned, not given. Now there are and will always be bad bosses, exploited employees, dysfunctional organizations and such but please don’t be a narcissistic entitled brat. Don’t complain about problems, help solve them.  Trust me, if you really work in a dysfunctional place beyond repair you need to leave. Run! But if you stay … that’s your decision. Perhaps that pay check and benefits are not that bad after. Or are you, contrary to your ego, not convinced that some other business will pay big bucks for you added value? Whatever the reason is, start doing your job. That is what earns you the paycheck & benefits. Moaning and groaning can be an outlet to vent some steam but it doesn’t solve anything in the end. Don’t give me “It’s not my job”, “That’s not my responsibility”, “My boss should do this and that”, “Someone ought to do that”, “This should be fixed”. Don’t moan when you’re constantly going on about being a great professional, too good to waste your time on the lowly work and are “working on becoming an architect”. It’s bad enough for someone who’s just doing enough to prevent being fired, we can really do without the gripes from someone who claims he’s going to lead. There’s an old army saying: “Shit flows down, gripes flow up”. Your team doesn’t care if you think you ought to be paid more and deserve more gratitude or demand more status.

You’re probably an engineer or a likewise highly educated professional with an above average wage. What do you expect? That they pay you that wage to whine about issues and that “someone” must fix them. Wake up sun shine. That is your job!  Do you really think that the high end wage and great benefits you’re being paid is just to show up and find that the company is running perfectly already? Nope, you’re there to take care of those problems and work towards a better organization. Are you doing that? Are you really sure about that sport? Why on earth do you expect to be patted on the back, made compliments and expect status promotions and raises for sitting around complaining? Take responsibility and build that better organization, that better infrastructure, that better team or that better application. It’s your job, your responsibility. When you’re always in the “what is in it for me” mode, taking care of number one, are you really doing your job?

Leading a team, being a go-to person also means thinking of the team. You need to look at the needs in function of the plans for achieving results, the desired out come and what the team needs to get the job done. If you don’t, you let everyone down. That’s why I am disappointed that the first time people are given the opportunity to put together a conference delegation based on the above mentioned specifications and they do the following: send your themselves. They didn’t make a plan for the team; they didn’t ask around or discuss the needs and plans. They just pocketed a conference or training. “Hey, I’m not being paid to take care of that. My boss should”. Perhaps your boss is drowning in work. Perhaps he could have used some help. Help you could have provided, proving you’re capable of helping the team, supporting your boss and take responsibility”.  If you can’t even get that right, how on earth do you think someone will ever listen to you, follow your lead or give you a promotion? It won’t happen, never, ever. They are just advertising their own short comings for the job they claim they aspire to do.

So do your job well and good. Your job satisfaction will increase, people will notice what you can achieve and will start working with you with greater confidence, enthusiasm & results. Working hard & smart generally leaves you a richer & experienced person. And perhaps, not guaranteed, you might get a raise for that. But even if you don’t your job life will be a much happier one. If that’s not enough for you … well there are plenty of organizations that will hire you and pay you the big bucks if you have such good and in demand skills that deliver outstanding results.

All of this can be summed up in one sentence. Instead of expecting to get things because you think you’re entitled to get them start earning them by working for it. In the long run, what do you think will work out better? Assume the role & responsibilities, do the job before the title and the raise. And no that does not mean you have to work yourself to death. But 9 to 5 coasting never made anyone an expert. Here ends the career lesson.

Geeking Out

Did any of you ever use a disk duplex setup in a Windows server?  A disk duplex can be achieved using a Windows server that has two raid controllers on which you create two mirrored virtual disks. You than use software mirroring in the OS to create a mirror using those two virtual mirrored disks. That way a raid controller can malfunction completely and your systems stays up. Those kind of setup where hard to find or come by. So what does a geek do when he gets his hands on a Hyper-V host that has access to two EVA 8000 SANs? Well he creates a VM that has two disks. One on EVA 1(RAID 5 or 1 ) , the other on EVA 2 (RAID 5 or 1). When he’s done installing the OS, he converts the Windows basic disk to a dynamic disk and creates a software mirror. The end result: a disk duplex in a Virtual machine. Instead of using to raid controllers we used to SAN’s with storage controllers! I just had to do it, couldn’t resist :-)

Direct Access Step By Step Guide Version 1.2 released

I’m about to start work on a Windows 2008 R2 / Windows 7 Direct Access project and while gathering some resources (I played with it in the lab last fall) I noticed the Step by Step guide has been updated to version 1.2 which was published on June 18th 2010. It’s a great kick start for demoing Direct Access in a lab for management. Grab it here. http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/en/confirmation.aspx?familyId=8d47ed5f-d217-4d84-b698-f39360d82fac&displayLang=en. If you’re hooked and need more info, check out the Direct Access pages on TechNet: http://technet.microsoft.com/en-us/network/dd420463.aspx

Some people complain Direct Access is (overly) complicated. Well, it’s not a simple wizard you can run or some SOHO NAT device that you plug in, but come on people. We’re IT Pro’s. We did and do more complicated stuff than that. As a matter of fact I remember some feedback John Craddock got last year at Tech Ed Europe (2009). Some consultancy firm employees told him he should not make it look that easy. Organizations need consultancy to get it right. Really? Some will, some won’t. I have nothing against consulting, when done right and for the right reasons. I even consult myself from time to time with partners who need a helping hand. But take note that the world does run on people, and consultants are people (really!). What they can learn,  you can learn. Just put in the effort. So go have fun setting up Direct Access and giving your road warriors and IT Pro’s some bidirectional and transparent connectivity to company resources. To me Direct Access was one of the big selling points for Windows 7 / Windows 2008 R2. Better together indeed :-)

Exchange 2010 DAG Issue: Cluster IP address resource ‘Cluster IP Address’ cannot be brought online

Today I was called upon to investigate an issue with an Exchange 2010 Database Availability Group that had serious backup issues with Symantec Backup Exec not working. As it turned out, while the DAG was still providing mail services and clients did not notice anything the underlying Windows Cluster Service had an issue with. The cluster resource could not be brought on line, instead we got an error:

“Cluster IP address resource ‘Cluster IP Address’ cannot be brought online because the cluster network ‘Cluster Network 1’ is not configured to allow client access. Please use the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in to check the configured properties of the cluster network.”

I have been dealing with Windows 2008 (R2) clusters since the beta’s and had seen some causes of this so I started to check the cluster & Exchange DAG configuration. Nothing was wrong, not a single thing. Weird. I had seen such weird behavior once before with a Hyper-V R2 cluster. There I fixed it by disabling and enabling the NIC’s on the nodes that were having the issue, thus resetting the network. I you don’t have DRAC/ILO or KVM over IP access you can temporarily allow client access via another cluster network or you’ll need physical access to the server console.

In the event viewer I found some more errors:

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-FailoverClustering
Date:          6/18/2010 2:02:41 PM
Event ID:      1069
Task Category: Resource Control Manager
Level:         Error
Keywords:     
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:      node1.company.com
Description: Cluster resource ‘IPv4 DHCP Address 1 (Cluster Group)’ in clustered service or application ‘Cluster Group’ failed.

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-FailoverClustering
Date:          6/18/2010 1:54:47 PM
Event ID:      1223
Task Category: IP Address Resource
Level:         Error
Keywords:     
User:          SYSTEM
Computer:     node1.company.com
Description: Cluster IP address resource ‘Cluster IP Address’ cannot be brought online because the cluster network ‘Cluster Network 1’ is not configured to allow client access. Please use the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in to check the configured properties of the cluster network.

Log Name:      System
Source:        Microsoft-Windows-FailoverClustering
Date:          6/18/2010 1:54:47 PM
Event ID:      1223
Task Caegory: IP Address Resource
Level:         Error
Keywords:     
User:          SYSTEM
Counter:      node1.company.com
Description: Cluster IP address resource ‘IPv4 DHCP Address 1 (Cluster Group)’ cannot be brought online because the cluster network ‘Cluster Network 3’ is not configured to allow client access. Please use the Failover Cluster Manager snap-in to check the configured properties of the cluster network.

So these cluster networks (it’s a geographically dispersed cluster with routed subnets) are indicating they do not have “Allow clients to connect through this network” set.  Well, I checked and they did! Both “Allow cluster network communications on this network” and “allow clients to connect through this network” are enabled. 

Weird, OK but as mentioned I’ve encountered something similar before. In this case I did not want to do just disable/enable those NICs. The DAG was functioning fine and providing services tot clients, so I did not want to cause any interruption or failover now the cluster was having an issue.

So before going any further I did a search and almost within a minute I found following TechNet blog post: Cluster Core Resources fail to come online on some Exchange 2010 Database Availability Group (DAG) nodes (http://blogs.technet.com/b/timmcmic/archive/2010/05/12/cluster-core-resources-fail-to-come-online-on-some-exchange-2010-database-availability-group-dag-nodes.aspx)

Well, well, the issue is known to Microsoft and they offer three fixes. Which is actually only one, but can be done using  the Failover Cluster Manager GUI, cluster.exe or PowerShell. The fix is to simply disable and enable  “Allow clients to connect through this network” on the affected cluster network. The “long term fix” will be included in Exchange 2010 SP1. The work around does work immediately and their Backup Exec started functioning again. They’ll just have to keep an eye on this issue until the permanent fix arrives with SP1.