People who have made their career on technology know that trends, patterns, and best practices change nearly daily. My career is focused on virtualization and more specifically desktop virtualization techologies. But of course it’s technology so it can’t be just RDSH or VDI, nope it’s expanding to follow-me data solutions like Citrix ShareFile and VMware’s upcoming Horizon Data solutions. Add in Mobile Application Management (MAM) and to a lesser extent Mobile Device Management (MDM) solutions that are quickly becoming core to Citrix and VMware’s solution stack.
There’s no sitting on the sideline, all you can do if you intend to play in this space is to go all in. In order to do this and stay on top of all the changes I rely on my network and tools. In my daily life these are the tools (listed below) that I use to stay on top of the changing technologies I pay attention to and aggregate quickly to information that I find useful.
- Twitter – by far the best application in my arsenal, I even wrote a blog post on The Impact of Twitter in My Life, Twitter isn’t Facebook, if it feels like it is you’re using it wrong
- Reeder – aggregation of ~750-1000 posts a day that I peruse through
- Pocket – anything I find interesting in Twitter or Reeder I save to read later in Pocket
From Pocket the items I find most interesting I put into a Word document (currently in SkyDrive because ShareFile doesn’t preview the file) that I share with everyone…it’s that Virtualization Resources link in the menu on my blog. I’m about 3 months behind updating that Word doc…but it will get done.
Often at the end of a meeting with a customer I get the comment…”Wow”. Yeah it’s not an accident I know a lot about this stuff, I spend a lot of time, energy, and rely on tools to be the absolute best I can be.
Good luck all…write some more blog posts for me to pocket and add to my Virtualization Resources document.
I’ve heard a lot of discussion in the last two weeks since VMworld 2012 San Francisco about Horizon Suite, View, Horizon Data, etc… how they’ll be combined or replace each other, which one is the broker, blah blah blah..and what I can’t help but scream to myself is, “You’re missing the point!”. What I believe VMware showed at VMworld with their Horizon Suite is the new “Workspace”. Citrix CloudGateway is this same new “Workspace”. So let me explain a bit.
The Windows desktop (literally the desktop screen) has been our workspace since the days of Windows 95 and it hasn’t changed much in the time since, even with Windows 8 on my laptop the desktop is still my primary screen. The reason that the Windows desktop hasn’t changed much is because it works well for the average user. It’s where we put shortcuts to recently used applications, saved documents we were working on, and put pictures of our family or dream automobile. What has changed is that we now have multiple devices and therefore workspaces. We have smartphones, tablets, laptops, desktops, web browsers, etc…and each of these for many people is made by a different vendor with potentially a different operating system for each. This is the fundamental change that has happened in the industry, we’re no longer Windows desktop only users. Each of these new devices has a desktop/workspace that you use to launch applications, documents, pictures…you get the point, they all have a “desktop”. The post-PC era isn’t one without Windows, it’s an era of Windows, iOS, Android, OSX all at the same time and interchangeably depending on the user.
A Workspace is like your desk. It’s a place to stack up documents, books, to-do lists, bills, etc. It’s the base to which you return to do your job. If VMware and Citrix can replace the Windows desktop with a new desktop or “Workspace” as I’m referring to it, then they can become the base that users require to do their job. Citrix and VMware aren’t stopping here, they realize that the other fundamental change that has happened is people are increasingly using their own devices and so a new category of IT applications has emerged, those meant to manage application and data security on non-company owned devices. The big challenge in my mind isn’t the application and data management, this will come in time. It’s changing people’s behavior, changing them from using the native Workspace on each their devices to using a new Workspace provided by Citrix/VMware.
A few days ago I returned from Citrix Summit/Synergy 2012 held in San Francisco California and while I was there the full weight of how Twitter changed my life became self evident. Years ago when I would attend Microsoft TechEd conferences I would go, listen to session after session, and many days rarely speak more than a few words to a few people over breakfast or lunch. At night I’d attend the parties and quietly return (drunk) to my hotel room afterwards, a satisfying learning experience, or so I thought. Fast forward to last week, it felt like everyone I knew was there, people I’ve had conversations with on Twitter were walking by in the hall, every waking moment was spent talking to my Twitter friends…and guess what…learning, trading information, brainstorming…and yes, getting completely piss drunk I’ve heard the naysayers who say they tried twitter and didn’t get anything out of it, that the information wasn’t interesting…blah blah blah, well try again. Learn how to use it, your career is IT you say, so prove it to me, learn something new, be an innovator again.
I use Twitter and RSS feeds to stay on top of what’s going on in the industry, from that I have built relationships worldwide with people who have the same interest as me, who trade information with me, who help me become better at what I do. I can tell you with a straight face, Twitter has completely changed my career, I would not have been speaking last week at Citrix Summit if not for Twitter, sure I could write my blog posts, post solutions to cancer (VDI), but without Twitter nobody would know. I’m not interested in IM solutions to help me chat with people I work with, my network is worldwide…no shit…and it’s awesome, there are some really smart folks out there and I get to talk to them whenever I want.
A story I often tell before I present at conferences is this… All of the presenters that you paid hundreds or thousands of dollars to come and listen to, the ones you hold in high technical regard, are all on Twitter. There’s a reason for that…and you’re missing out.
btw, I was user number 650,163 on Twitter. In some freak accident of fate I signed up for Twitter before a few hundred million others. http://twitterhow.com/how-to-find-how-old-your-twitter-account-is/
In an earlier post here I outlined the applications I have installed on my Mac, I wanted to expand a little on the hardware and a few of the apps I use all of the time to keep my life running smoothly.
Hardware I use:
- MacBook Air 13″ – Daily laptop, it’s what is always with me
- MacBook Pro 15″ – Sits on my desk at home always on, runs Parallels and has Ubuntu, WIndows 7, WIndows 8 VM’s, does backups to the cloud using CrashPlan from data on my Synology DS1511+
- iPad – Always with me
- iPhone 4s – Always with me. Is quickly becoming my defacto digital camera.
- Synology DS1511+ – At home, houses all of my photo’s, movies, software, files, etc. I backup the critical data on it using CrashPlan which is installed on my MBP 15″. Synology has client software for my iPad and iPhone and a web interface which allow me remote access to the data stored here. Synology also has a video server for streaming photos and videos to my XBOX 360 and Samsung TV.
Software I use:
- Evernote – All of my customer notes from meetings, internal company meetings, and a few personal notes like grocery lists, etc are all kept in Evernote. I have Evernote clients on all of my devices and can get to any of this information pretty much anytime I want…or start taking notes on my iPad and change later to my MBA. The downsides to the Evernote free edition that I use is that I can’t easily share information with other or collaborate on documents the same way I can in Google Docs, I guess if I was willing to pay for it I might use Google Docs a little less, but I’m cheap.
- SugarSync – All of my local data on of my laptops or WIndows VM’s is replicated using this. SugarSync is installed on each laptop and in each VM. Since I can control what is replicated to which device I have granular control over what I want accessible where. Also have SugarSync clients on my iPad and iPhone.
- Office 2011 – Installed on both of my MacBook’s, it’s my primary productivity suite software I use, I don’t love it but it works most of the time. Any data created is replicated via SugarSync.
- Sonos – I have a Sonos system at home, if you don’t know what it is Google it. I highly recommend it. Music library is stored on my Synology although more and more I find myself just using Spotify.
- Spotify – I have a paid subscription to Spotify and clients loaded on my MacBook’s and my iPhone.
- Reeder – My RSS reader client, sync’s off of Google Reader, have the client on both MacBook’s, iPad, and iPhone. Anytime I want to catch up on my feeds I’ve got it.
- Twitter – I use the native twitter client on all of my devices, I’ve tried others and keep coming back
- Air Video – Much of the video content I have isn’t in a format Apple devices like my Apple TV understand. I have Air Video installed on my MacBook Pro at home that points to the Synology where the videos are stored. I can launch the Air Video client on my iPad and Air Video server components on the MBP do a live conversion and stream the data to the iPad…then I can AirPlay to the Apple TV.
- LastPass – I keep all of my password, both work and personal in LastPass, I install the browser plug-in on all of my laptops and VM’s.
- xMarks – Bookmarks synchronization, installed on all of my laptops and VM’s.
I’ve had some thoughts rattling around in my head for a while and I wanted to take a minute to write them down to share with others as well as to help myself add some order to these thoughts. My career these days is pretty perfect, I get to create architecture and designs, implement them, then move on. I don’t have to deal with the internal organizational politics, sell ideas to my management, etc. I just get to participate when it’s time for you to do the “fun” projects! It wasn’t long ago though that those less savory items were my life working as an IT Infrastructure manager in a fairly large organization…4000+ users and a few hundred servers. I’m saying this to try to convey some level of empathy for those of you working with organizational politics that might think I’m just an ignorant consultant.
There is a ton of waste in IT environments. I can’t tell you the last time I found an organization that by design was fully utilizing their IT infrastructure. Most VMware environments are significantly underutilized. I see org after org adding servers to their VMware farm when they don’t need to. That’s great for the VAR I work for but it’s partially the reason people are looking at IAAS instead of internal infrastructure. I have 2 theories on why people add infrastructure when they don’t need to and this applies to more than just VMware farms, you could apply this to almost all IT infrastructure.
First theory, IT overbuys infrastructure because it’s hard to “go back to the well” for more money later, they’ve been conditioned to buy more than what they need because they can’t easily buy infrastructure later so when a big project comes along they buy as much as they can whether they need it or not knowing there will be future needs that won’t get approved that this one big purchase will make up for. I know this happens, I hear it constantly from IT groups we work with, I did it myself…heck I even went so far as to keep a few dozen servers under maintenance when they were no longer needed just so when the CIO wanted to cut costs I could cut a few servers from their maintenance contract and “save money”. Wouldn’t it have been better for the company if I had cut those servers immediately from their maintenance contract? Sure! But my reality of cutting costs wasn’t based in reality or what was best for the business, it was just a number I had to cut regardless of the impact to the business. So to make up for it I made sure there was always lots of waste. Sound a bit like government?
Second theory, your IT department is technically clueless. So back to that example I used of organizations buying more servers for their VMware farm than they need? Pure lack of understanding. Maybe they had a performance issue and didn’t know how to troubleshoot it and decided in the future they’ll make sure they’re not exposed like that again and just buy more hardware than they need. Maybe they really don’t know how any of this virtualization works and are just nervous that it actually works…and since they lack any tools to measure or simulate workloads they don’t have any way to argue against an end user that says things are slower now that they are virtualized. It’s like taking your car to a repair shop that doesn’t know how your car works, they just start replacing everything and when in doubt bigger is better. Every management book I’ve ever read has said to hire people smarter than you and that people are the difference in an organization. Yet every day I meet organizations that knowingly hire people dumber than them, keep people in key positions they know in their gut aren’t right for the business. Why? Do you think these people don’t affect your organization negatively? I doubt it…I’d bet on it that you’re wrong. Even in the organization I work at I think the cost a bad employee is vastly underestimated and understood. Smart people are the difference…always. I’ll hire smart over tenure (or any other metric) every day…it is the only thing that matters.
So why do I bring all this up? Because your CEO is about to try to replace you with “Cloud” and you need to understand why. I’m not saying IAAS isn’t the right solution for you I’m just saying that in order to have internal infrastructure in the future you need to start acting a little more like IAAS providers internally because those providers hire talent and don’t overbuy. More on that in a future post.