Twitter Handle: @Justin_Lauer
Current employer: Tintrí
How did you get into IT in the first place?
I was the kid who used to take electronics apart just to see if I could put them back together again and have them still work. I remember always wanting to build my own computer and was thrilled when my dad took me to a custom computer shop to select all the parts. After I built my first computer, I honed my skills with the help of two computer-savvy friends—one was a DOS genius who ran a BBS and the other was a Windows guru. I realized then that I had a natural knack for this stuff.
In college, I made the decision to pursue a career in Information Technology. I continued to gain hands-on experience through a side business I created in school that involved installing network cards in other students’ computers so they could connect to the school network and access VAX as well as what little Internet existed at that time. During summers, I started working at technology consulting firm as a computer service engineer, and I was hooked.
How did you get into working with VMware and becoming a 2011 vExpert?
I was first introduced to VMware while living and working in Memphis, TN as an IT Manager for a medical practice. The practice needed a major datacenter refresh and I knew I could do an all-physical refresh or consider virtualizing. We started experimenting with VMware Server 1.0 and realized how amazing this platform would be for our business.
I attended my first VMworld on a mission to obtain as much knowledge as I could and then come back to kick-off our first virtualization project. We virtualized about 85% of our environment in the first 18 months. Along the way, I became very active in the VMware community. I happened to meet an amazing VMware employee, Wendy Perilli, at the Gartner Midsize Enterprise Conference. We discussed my environment and she urged me to submit my story as a session for VMworld. I spoke at VMworld in 2008 and 2009. I also became interested in reviving the Memphis VMware Users Group and led the VMUG while I was living in Memphis.
During that time, I was invited to join the VMware SMB Advisory Council to provide feedback on upcoming features targeted to the SMB audience. Through that program I met another phenomenal VMware employee, Azmir Mohamed, and became involved in beta testing VMware Data Recovery. Shortly after that experience, I was asked to participate in the vSphere 4 Customer Activate Program. Essentially, it was an early upgrade opportunity to test out the upcoming vSphere 4 release. We went full out and upgraded our entire environment to vSphere before the product was even released.
Along the way, I had the opportunity to provide customer case studies, customer quotes and video interviews for VMware.com and VMworld. In addition, I was lucky enough to be the customer keynote speaker at the Chicago Virtualization Forum in 2009. I was selected as a vExpert in 2009 and later that year relocated to Chicago, IL and joined the EMC vSpecialist Team. While at EMC I remained as active as ever within the virtualization community, engaging with customers and partners in the field, and at VMUGs and conferences. I was happy to be selected again as a vExpert in 2010 and in 2011 after I joined Tintrí.
What would you tell someone who wanted to get a job like yours to do?
My first piece of advice would be to determine which area of virtualization you are most passionate about and focus on that. That passion should keep you motivated to learn and stay engaged with all the new developments within that focus area. I’d also recommend getting involved in the virtualization community. Whether you are a novice or a pro, it is important to connect with other members of the community. This can be done in so many ways, from VMware events to VMUGs to Tweetups to webinars. Make every effort to ask questions, share insights and stay connected. Collaboration opens doors.