How did you get into IT in the first place?
It feels like a long time ago now. I was at University studying Physics with Computing. The Physics part of my degree was turning out to be a lot less interesting than I had hoped. The Computing aspects were much more alluring as I had been messing around with computers for some years by that point (BBC model Bs and early PCs). When I graduated I had decided to either go into television or IT. An IT job (Systems Engineering for the British Army Apache helicopter of all things) happened first.
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?
I first encountered VMware in the early noughties in the guise of VMware Workstation. In the company that I worked for at the time (now part of Quest, like so many others), having multiple Windows and Linux environments was highly desirable and much easier with Workstation than with lots of desktop machines under my desk. It was also immensely useful for running multihomed VMs on hardware with only one NIC to simulate firewalls etc.
Fast forward to 2007 and my infrastructure role lead very naturally to ESX 3.0 and I was hooked. Virtualization *is* the best thing since sliced bread and since that time it has been my focus.
As for becoming a vExpert, there are two people whose influence was a factor. The first is Alan Renouf. For a couple of years I inadvertently ended up following him around from one job to another and his blog inspired me to start one of my own. I'm not the most prolific blogger out there but the passion is real. The second was David Owen who was most directly responsible for my name being thrown into John Troyer's magic pot.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
Virtualization isn't normally something you can just jump straight into. Most people who work with VMware products etc have been in the industry for a few years and have worked their way through jobs / roles in the classic support tiers and perhaps some sort of infrastructure project roles. If you've got a bit of experience behind you though, there's nothing to stop you really. Just go for it, the worst that anyone can say is "no".