Goodbye 2017, welcome 2018!

Professional

We’re back at work for a couple of day now in 2018. Another year flew by. In 2017 we’ve been busy with letting Windows Server 2016 and Azure based solutions shine across the entire stack of compute, storage and networking. This allow various services and applications to deliver the best possible results on-premises and in the (hybrid) cloud / IAAS. In other words, pretty much what you’d expect a Microsoft Cloud & Datacenter MVP to be doing. The amount of time and money saved by having context, a goal and a plan to evolve your IT environment incrementally and keep it current cannot be ignored. It is significant.

Cloud wise, that word seems to have become whatever vendors / consultants / businesses want it to mean. Very convenient. There are (too) many ways in which cloud solutions are defined the various forms of cloud in an ever-bigger set of permutations. In the end it’s about the best possible solution for the needs at hand at the time you make the decision. Things change fast and we just try to make reasonable future proofed decisions. Sometimes that will be pure “serverless” such as Azure Function. Sometimes it is still very much some form of on-premises virtualization and anything in between. It doesn’t matter. All you need to do is support the organization to deliver what’s needed cost effectively and efficiently. In reality today, that means a lot of options are available. As long as you have a plan, don’t paint your business into a corner in any way and can manage the governance of what you’re doing it’s not too shabby. Especially not when compared too so many that are just being sold to and are just “doing” stuff in a copy / paste effort to avoid looking like they’re not on board with the buzz of “digital transformation”.

When I wear my CTO but perhaps even more the CEO/CIO/CFO role I really do like “serverless”. The big risk to manage today is the utter and gigantic lock-in this is and will remain for a while. That needs to be managed and can be managed as long as the benefits are there. Interestingly enough, many CxO still haven’t woken up to the biggest potential benefit but I almost never see mentioned. Too often people have blinders on. Whether this is due corporate inertia, political pressure or the tyranny of action driving them so seek out point solutions, it is a widely spread issue, a challenge we all face and one that will be with us for quite a while.

Anyway, the world is getting more and more mixed and diverse than ever and guiding organizations through that ever faster changing landscape is part of the job. Telling management what they need to hear over what they want to hear is part of that. Sometimes that works out well, sometimes not. The advice is always solid. But while I can lead the horse to water, I cannot make it drink. One is thing is for sure you cannot build standards, frameworks or platforms to success. Success cannot be bought either. Those are tools the manage past success more efficiently and hopefully more effectively.

Personal

My blog is still growing and, at well over 1 million views in 2017, according to my various WordPress statistics it’s doing better than ever in helping out the community at large. I’m quite happy about that. That’s what being a Microsoft MVP, a Veeam Vanguard, a Dell Community Rockstar and a Microsoft Extended Experts Team member is all about. Sharing and learning via blogging and community activities. I was able to present and attend various conferences to share experiences and knowledge. In return I got the opportunity to learn a lot and gain some insights into technical and market trends and developments. As part of those community activities I had more “practical” and “informal” strategy talks with various CIO/CTO role holders than before and that gave me a lot of insights in how businesses are dealing with IT anno 2017. It fluctuates between struggling and thriving, quite often in the same organization. My strength in those talks is that I don’t sell anything. No products, no company, not my time. It’s just a conversation based on insights, ideas and interests and community activity.

I’ve helped out a lot of colleagues & community buddies this year. That’s good. It helps look beyond the blinders of one own environment and that is always great learning experience. This helps to keep working interesting and fun while being productive. It’s a win-win situation.

Real Personal

Once in a while I raise toast to absent friends and fallen comrades. That list got a bit longer again this year as I lost my father. He had been through many personal health related challenges for many decades. That means I have taken more and longer care of my father than he did of me. That’s OK, one does what’s needed when and where needed even when one often feels that can never be enough. Life is not just about personal choices that are 100% under our own control, no matter how much people like to pretend it is. He doesn’t have to be afraid and in pain anymore. In that knowledge I have found solace. Keep in mind life is short and you don’t choose how you’ll end up. So, enjoy all your vacation days and learn to unwind once in a while. The world will keep turning despite you being out of office now and then.

Work

One thing was also a trend in 2017. More and more the recognition of my skills, value and abilities come from ever more diverse and globally dispersed directions. I can speculate on why that is, but I won’t. For now, I’m happy to know I’ve managed to stay employable. 2017 was also the year in which recruiters were more active than ever as the war for talent is on. The job market for skilled IT personnel is on fire it seems. A few recruiters did a good job by at least presenting themselves as having a clue, but many were literally so out of touch with reality it seemed that they can be replaced by AI at the current state of that technology in a heartbeat.

A few tips to all recruiters:

  • Read my Linkedin profile & blogs etc. It’s all out there. No, I’m not a Java programmer or a helpdesk jockey. The canned intros of “I read your profile and found you to be a great fit …” for a complete mismatch functions are way too often laughable and give me a very poor impression of the recruiter right from the start.
  • Give a good impression of the job role so I can evaluate quickly if it’s something I’d even consider. When that info is on the internet and you won’t share it, this is not making you look good.
  • Include a realistic minimum / maximum level of pay, secondary benefits, ability to telecommute … If that’s not even possible how can that role ever hold the status of an “opportunity of a live time” and why would I waste my time on figuring out if I’d be earning less, losing primary and/or secondary benefits. Be real people. Really, no one is looking to be worse off.
  • Don’t get mad at me if you contact me unsolicited and don’t get an answer when you don’t even have the courtesy to provide the above. I never asked you anything, remember that please. And if I do I hope I’ll be more to the point and direct I what I expect and need. I really dislike wasting my and your time.

Really, seriously, I mean this, the silly games that are way too often played are not worth my time. In a war for talent it seems this is a complete waste and indicates that the job market is (still) very much broken. Long commutes and fixed office hours that require long public transport commutes or being stuck in traffic, even in a salary or company car, are a waste of time and money. I don’t consider that a benefit. That being said, we all can hit bad times and I might need to take a pay cut, commute s long way, lose benefits etc. in my life time. But no one does this voluntarily. I have seen many of my peers grow into to better paid, interesting roles in 2017 on their own. Word of mouth & a network are key.

Looking forward to 2018

I have storage related projects, both on-premises and in the cloud or a mix of both in 2018. The combine high availability with data protection, scalability and accessibility in the best possible way I can find given the circumstances. I’m busy with strategies and mapping. By doing so I keep learning to help transition IT between the world of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Step by step. I also hope to attend and speak at 2 or 3 international conferences and learn even more form my peers.

So, goodbye 2017, welcome 2018! The new year is at our doorstep and we’ll let it in with a smile. I wish you all a great, fun, healthy and prosperous 2018.

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