How did you get into IT?
As a cadet at the Air Force Academy, each cadet squadron has a computer clerk and in my sophomore year, that was my job. Essentially a help desk tech for the 60+ person squadron for small computer issues.
After transferring to the University of Maryland, I needed a job to pay for school. I found a position working on websites for the university and so began my IT career. After a few strokes of good luck and moving into systems part-time in college and then full-time through my senior year, I had become a systems admin.
After college, I took a position doing small to medium outsourcing and moved through the ranks into IT management. Over the past few years, I have moved into more of a pre-sales/architecture position.
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?
I began working with VMware back in the 2.0 days when we still had to decide between ESX and GSX. I had the great fortune of migrating a few companies through some consulting engagements from 2 to 2.5 to 3 to 4 and now have designed a few engagements with vSphere 5.
As for my vExpert time, I feel that has much to do with my time blogging and participating in the weekly VMware Communities Podcast. I began blogging for my company blog and found that there were some topics that were better said outside a corporate umbrella and started thesolutionsarchitect.net. I now continue to blog on virtualization topics for both my corporate blog at convergentech.us as well as on my personal site.
The podcast has been a huge growth point for me and has spawned great friendships and learning chances. I also had the opportunity to host a daily podcast at VMworld this past year with other vExperts.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
If you are looking to move from being a systems admin to an architect or pre-sales, my best advice would be to learn as much as you can about as many topics you can across the realm of IT. During your IT career you often come to crossroads to determine how your career will progress, stay technical or become a manager, focus on a single product or be a generalist.
Most architects I know have moved into management at some point and chose to be a generalist but with some specific product set that they are especially good at. The next thing to do would be to learn about the business side of IT. IT decisions are not normally made solely for the technical purpose but normally with a balance of technical and financial costs. I continued on my education to get an MBA and it gave me invaluable knowledge of business. You don’t need to go get an MBA, but you should look to expand your knowledge to understand the basics like ROI, capex vs, opex, and cost of capital.