Archive for Time Management

Startup Spotlight: Re-skill, Pivot or Get Squashed

spotlight

The subject matter of this post is a startup of sorts and was triggered by a conversation I had with an industry veteran a few months back. By veteran of course, I mean an old bugger! ūüėČ

It is an entity which begins its journey sourcing a target market in the tech industry and spends day and night pursuing that market to the best of its ability.

It brings in resources to help meet the key requirements of the target market; some of those resources are costly, and others not so much.

Occasionally it hits a bump in the road with funding and potentially needs to find other sources of investment, and may go through several rounds of funding over the course of a number of years. Eventually it gets to a point where the product is of a decent quality and market value.

Then it does a market analysis and discovers that the market has shifted and if the entity does not pivot or indeed re-skill, they will become irrelevant within a few short years.

Eh?

I am of course talking about the career of an IT professional.

Though I may be slightly exaggerating on the becoming irrelevant quite so fast, we certainly all made the choice to follow a career in one of the fastest moving industries on the planet. We have no choice but to continue to develop and maintain our knowledge, in order to keep driving our careers forward.

As a self-confessed virtual server hugger with a penchant for maintaining a pretty reasonable home lab, I enjoy understanding the detailed elements of a technology, how they interact, and acknowledging where the potential pitfalls are. The cloud, however, is largely obfuscated in this respect; to the point where many cloud companies will not even divulge the location of their data centres, never mind the equipment inside them and configuration thereof!

Obfuscation

Obfuscation

That said, those of you with a keen eye may have noticed a shift in my twitter stream in the past year or so, with subjects tending towards a more public cloudy outlook… Talking to a huge range of customers in various verticals on a regular basis, it feels to me that a great many organisations are right on the tipping point between their current on-premises / dedicated managed services deployment models, and full public cloud adoption (or at the very least hybrid!).

It’s hard to believe that companies like AWS have actually been living and breathing public cloud for over ten years already; that’s almost as long as my entire career! In that time they have grown from niche players selling a bit of object storage, to the¬†Behemoth-aaS they are today. To a greater or lesser extent (and for better or worse!), they are now the yardstick upon which many cloud and non-cloud services are measured. This is also particularly the case when it comes to cost, much to the chagrin of many across the industry!

To me, this feels like the optimum time for engineers and architects across our industry (most definitely including myself) to fully embrace public and hybrid cloud design patterns. My development has pivoted predominantly towards technologies which are either native to, or which support public cloud solutions. Between family commitments, work, etc, we have precious little time to spend in personal development, so we need to spend it where we think we will get the most ROI!

charge

So what have I been doing?

Instead of messing about with my vSphere lab of an evening, I have spent recent months working towards certified status in AWS, Azure, and soon, GCP. This has really been an eye opener for me around the possibilities of designs which can be achieved on the current public cloud platforms; never mind the huge quantity of features these players are likely to release in the coming 12 months, or the many more after that.

Don’t get me wrong, of course, everything is not perfect in the land of milk and honey! I have learned as much in these past months¬†about workloads and solutions which are NOT appropriate for the public cloud, as I have about solutions which are! Indeed, I have recently produced a¬†series of posts covering some of the more interesting AWS gotchas, and some potential workarounds for them. I will be following up with something similar for Azure in the coming months.

Taking AWS as an example, something which strikes me is that many of the features are not 100% perfect and don’t have every feature and nerd knob under the sun available. Most seem to have been designed to meet the 80/20 rule and are generally¬†good enough¬†to meet the majority of design requirements more than adequately. If you want to meet a corner use case¬†or a very specific requirement, then maybe you need to go beyond native public cloud tooling.

Perhaps the same could be said about the mythical Full Stack Engineer?

Good Enough

Anyhow, that’s enough rambling from me‚Ķ By no means does this kind of pivot imply that everything we as infrastructure folks have learned to date has been wasted. Indeed I personally have no intention to drop “on premises” skills and stop designing managed dedicated solutions. For the foreseeable future there will likely be a huge number of appropriate use cases, but in many, if not most cases I am being engaged to look at new solutions with a publicly cloudy mindset!

Indeed, as Ed put it this time last year:

The Tekhead Top 10 Tech Podcast Perfect Playlist Picks

I reckon¬†that’s about enough alliteration click bait for now! If you are either a regular commuter or someone who travels a lot for work, tech podcasts are one of the best ways of staying up to date with the industry and do training without having to necessarily spend hours every week reading blog posts or El Reg.

More fool me of course, I actually do both!

As someone who is fortunate enough to work from home most of the time though, the majority of my tech podcast listening happens either when I go out for a daily walk at lunch time, when I’m traveling to client meetings, or when I’m binging on podcasts whilst getting DIY stuff done at home (it passes the time so much quicker!).

Either way, I consume a fairly large chunk of tech podcasts, and as the last time I posted a list was over two years ago, I thought I would update and re-post it here.

Tech Podcasts - Tech Podcast Meme

To be honest, not a huge amount has changed in terms of sources, though there are one or two new shows which were of such awesome quality, I had to somehow find time to squeeze them in! It’s also worth noting that I still continue to find BeyondPod as one of the most reliable and easy to use podcast consumption apps for Android!

All of these podcasts are great, but the following table is in the priority order I listen to them – you may read that as you will! ūüôā

Recommended Tech Podcasts

Podcast

Published

 

Notes

Speaking in Tech

Weekly – Wednesdays

Irreverent, funny, NSFW, but thoroughly informative and entertaining consumer and enterprise tech news and interviews! Greg, Eddie and Sarah are like the Fox News of tech podcasting, only more sensational! ūüėČ
In Tech We Trust

Weekly – Mondays

Unofficially competing hard with Speaking in Tech to be the best news focussed tech podcast out there! Unmissable!

GreyBeards on Storage

Monthly Satisfying my inner storage nerd on a monthly basis, Howard and Ray talk to existing and startup storage vendors about their products, as well as industry trends. I always learn something new listening to this show!

vSoup

Irregular Though sporadic of late, vSoup feels like a comfortable chair you sit in and chat about IT with your mates. Insightful at times, and always entertaining!

vNews

Irregular Run by two fellow London VMUG members, I’d say this could almost be described as a quintessentially British view of tech industry news. Well worth listening to!

Eigencast

Irregular but often Well known industry veteran Justin Warren, talks with companies and other industry figures about the business of IT. A very unique perspective, which those of an engineering mindset sometimes have a tendency to downplay!

VUPaaS

On hiatus? Although this seems to have fallen by the wayside, I am hoping this user and use-case focused show will make a return soon!

Around the Storage Block

Irregular

I haven’t missed an episode of Calvin’s HP vendor show in years, and though I did recently feel the need to stop one half-way through due to FUD overload, it still continues to be a great source of information.

Packet Pushers

Multiple per week

I’m no network guy, but if I have the time, I always try to catch a few episodes and learn something new. I’m never disappointed!

Professional VMware Brownbag

Weekly

I generally dip in and out of the amazingly awesome vBrownbag tech podcast content depending on what I am studying at the time. I have a massive amount of respect for the effort these guys put into providing free training for the community! Just brilliant!
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