Moving Forward, Changing Focus

May 22, 2013 in Systems4 minutes

The past two years have been nothing short of a whirlwind for me. I had the privilege of helping to create the Data Center practice for a technology startup in Cincinnati, and as a result, I’ve figuratively been drinking from a fire hydrant non stop. In the past two years I’ve learned more about technology than I could have ever imagined, part of which was the fact that what I have learned only scratches the surface of what’s likely in store for me in the rest of my career. I’ve learned that I love networking, blogging, daydreaming, building, and breaking. I’ve had the privilege of working with some really smart people, both at the day job, and on the interwebs with all of you. I know that I will never have enough time in my life to properly thank all those who I’ve been associated with in the past few years.

Because of my role, I had the luxury of learning a lot of different areas, and learning them fast. Unfortunately, goals like the CCIE (a fire that has been raging ever since that day in Washington, DC when I passed my CCNP TSHOOT exam) have had to take a backseat because of the fact that focusing on one area was just not possible.

Last week, I started a new position at a technology services company based out of Texas that, among other things, specializes in Data Center offerings from Cisco and EMC. This was ultimately a pretty tough decision to make, but I believe it will allow me to do a few things a little better.

My new role will allow me to focus specifically on data center networking. This means all the way down to the hypervisor, and all the way up through the core and into the WAN. Among many other things, the last two years have had a lot of virtualization and storage experience. While I will definitely be keeping those skillsets as current as possible, this focus will permit me the ability to more efficiently reach two immediate goals. I made a decision to pursue R/S until I accomplish the CCIE. I still strongly believe that having a Route/Switch skillset serves as the best foundation for nearly all other technical learning, and right now, R/S is the lowest hanging of all the fruit. I will move directly back into the DC track after finishing the CCIE R/S, making my second immediate goal the CCIE DC. I work with technology from both tracks so much, it just makes a lot of sense.

I will also be utilizing my existing knowledge to help promote a programmable way of doing data center networking. Whether or not this literally means a certain three-letter acronym that I’m sure we’re all pretty tired of hearing about, or a simple script to make life easier for a few people, I believe that this skillset is a big part of tomorrow’s network engineering staff.

In addition, I am planning on dedicating more consistent time to writing - I’ve learned to really truly love it over the past few years, and for some strange reason, you guys keep on reading. I consider myself honored to simply be listed in the same blogroll as some of these other folks, and I remind myself every day that the reason I do it is to pay forward all of the advice and help I’ve received from those who came before me.

I will not be attending Cisco Live this year. In addition to the simple fact that the move is too close to the date, my short term goals will require some pretty severe focus. Undoubtedly, I will tune in online, and I have already been lucky enough to participate in some pretty sweet NDA presentations concerning material I’m sure we’ll all be hearing about at Live this year. So, suffice it to say that I won’t be putting my head in the sand this year, but I do need to make sure my goals have everything they need to succeed.

I’m constantly reminded that the Unified Skillset is not a goal, or an end-state, but a constant, always changing, never ending journey. I was given some great advice not too long ago - “If you’re not getting better, you’re getting worse”. In some ways, my day-to-day will change, but in a big way, this is still pretty much business as usual. I still love technology, I still strive to be better than I was yesterday, and I still try hard to fill the room with people smarter than me.

Thanks to all who have made the past two years what it is for me.