vExpert Spotlight: Ricky El-Qasem

Twitter Handle: @rickyelqasem 

Blog URL:  www.virtualizeplanet.com

Current Employer: Veeam 

How did you get into IT in the first place?

As a child my mother purchased me and my brother just about every home computer that were popular in the early 80s. So IT was in my blood at an early age. I started a job as a consultant/engineer about 18/19 years ago where I built/installed Novel Servers. I started at the bottom and worked my way up.

How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?

Before joining Veeam, I was working as a consultant and part-time trainer for a European distributor called Centia Ltd (which was later acquired by Arrow ECS).  In 2005, we were awarded the right to distribute VMware; with that came the need to deliver VMware training courses.  The management at the time started asking who would become the VMware instructor, someone who knew hardware, storage, networking, operating systems, and virtualization.  I could see all fingers were pointing at me.  I was very resistant, as I didn’t want to become a full-time trainer, but my hand was forced; I went about becoming a VMware VCI (Certified Instructor). 

Looking back, it was the best thing that could have happened to my career (Thanks Yuri & Raj).  Very quickly, I became the head of professional services, lead instructor, and VCI assessor. 

By the way, 2005 didn’t signal the start of my love for VMware.  In 2001 I’d purchased a copy of Workstation, and to this date, VMware still has proof on its support system that I was an early adopter of the technology. 

In 2007, I was approached by Rick Hoffman at Veeam to see if Centia was interested in Veeam distribution.  I had to decline, as we had rules about competitive solutions.  A year later, Rick and I had the same discussion, but things had changed, as Centia had been acquired by Arrow.  I asked Rick if Veeam needed anyone in the UK, and later that year, I joined as a Senior System’s Engineer.  At the beginning of 2010, the CEO, Ratmir Timashev, appointed me Director of Global Education Services and gave me an opportunity to develop an Education Services program for Veeam, which I’m in knees-deep doing right now.

What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?

Don’t sit around waiting for your employer to train you; train yourself.  Buy books and cheap CBT training, and take exams.  All this nonsense about learning by real-world experience is no match for having in-depth knowledge about your subject matter.  For example, at VMworld LA 2006, I decided to be one of the first to take the VCP3 exam.  I read the whole VI3 document library, which consisted of about nine documents (about 2500 pages), to help me pass. And as a VCI, I needed to score higher than an 85%. It’s this kind of effort that makes you an expert and will help you in the field. Finally, if you can afford it, or you can persuade your employer to buy you one, build a small lab at home.  I have a FC lab, and it is the key to my expanding knowledge in IT.



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