New Year, New Beginnings

The new year is well on its way but for a moment, I’d like to go back and reflect over the years of my career. I can remember being fresh out of college and landing my first real gig as a Network Systems Analyst for a local school district in Mississippi, the Hinds County School District. Really, the title was a glorified way of being called a PC tech. But it was a good learning experience for me to “cut my teeth” into the world of IT and learning some valuable troubleshooting skills. Also, in that role I learned a lot of core technologies that I would use in later roles that I would attain. (Active Directory, Exchange, GPOs, Cisco Networking).

Fast forward 4 year later to the year 2011. I began work as a Senior Network Specialist for the Mississippi Division of Medicaid. I must say, this job felt like going to college and getting paid to do it. I enjoyed every bit of it. I learned so much in a short period of time and was exposed to all types of technologies that were new to me at the time. It was at this job that I first discovered VMware. I came in at a time when there was a state mandate to migrate all physical servers to the VMware platform. So, I quickly became familiar with the P2V tool from VMware. Starting at ESX 4.0, we migrated 95% of our infrastructure into a virtualized platform. From there, I got a chance to help in a series of upgrades, to ESXi 4.1, 5.0, 5.1, and 5.5. By then, I was bitten by the virtualization bug and I knew that I had found the technology that I wanted to focus my career around. And that’s exactly what I set out for.

Two years later, I joined a local bank as a Network Engineer. At the time of joining, I honestly felt like I had taken a step backwards when it came to the technology that I had at my disposal but by the time I left this role, I made many major improvements to the infrastructure and to my personal growth. Starting with the VMware infrastructure that was outdated, I upgraded us to a supported version. Then moving on to the storage infrastructure, I implemented 16GB fiber channel throughout and implemented two new storage arrays. I felt like I was able to really see the entire thing through. From the network setup, to the storage setup, to the VMware compute, I was able to right a lot of wrongs and found satisfaction in that. I also created a DR plan for us using VMware SRM, which had to be inacted on a few occasions…I won’t go into details 😉 So my love for VMware products continued to grow. I began really taking a interest in not just the surface level of the products I was using, but I wanted to dive deep into them. So, I began studying to become VMware certified. While in this role, I passed both my VCP6-DCV and VCP6-NV. NSX was a product that we had no intention on using at the bank, but that wasn’t my intention for learning it. It would come in handy for later use in my career. All of my hard work didn’t go unnoticed, as they created a senior position for me. But still, I wanted more involvement with VMware technologies instead of having to be sidetracked by other day to day tasks from in house applications or end user issues.

Three years after joining the local bank, I left and came to my current employer, Venture Technologies, as a Senior Virtualization Engineer. It was perfect! VMware all day, everyday! It was my first time coming into a real customer facing role, where I felt I made a real impact on businesses by solving their issues using the VMware platform that we offered for IaaS, DRaaS, and BaaS. I gained exposure to new VMware products and also began to take an interest in VMware’s cloud platform and automation. So, I began studying for my VCP6-CMA cert, which I was able to pass at VMworld 2017. In my current role, I’ve lead several projects for customers ranging from infrastructure migrations to complete VMware environment builds to POCs to close out sales deals and even building out our first self service portal to enable our customers the ability to spin out their own VMs and  networks using VMware vCloud Director integrated with VMware NSX. My love for NSX really grew in this role when I could firsthand see the benefits of it, not only from a service providers perspective, but to the value that it provides for the customer experience. Once again, not being satisfied with just a surface level knowledge of NSX and having already acquired my VCP6-NV, I decided to embark on the journey of taking my first VCAP. Some of you may be familiar with the Road to VCAP6-NV study guide that I began to blog about to help not only my studies, but hopefully to provide value to the vCommunity as well. I was able to successfully pass that exam on my first attempt at VMworld 2018! I’ve definitely had some highlights and fond memories from my current role but….

With a new year, comes a new beginning, a new challenge. So what next for me? Well, I am excited to announce that I will be joining VMware as a Senior Solutions Engineer for the VMware Cloud Provider Program. I look forward to working with this talented team and seeing what positive impact we can make together. There’s definitely a range of emotions that came to me at once…but most of all I’m humbled at the opportunity to work for, what I feel, is one of best companies in the world. I’ve always heard nothing but positive things from the employees of VMware and after visiting the VMware campus in Palo Alto, CA for the VMUG leader summit last week, I can definitely see why it was voted as one of the best companies to work for in the Fortune 100. I’m very excited about the possibilities that lie ahead. Many thanks I send to those that have supported me, encouraged me, and helped me along in my career thus far. Thanks to my managers that cared about my personal development as a IT professional. And thank you vCommunity for being, hands down, the best IT community that exists.

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