My Lifetime Journey to IT Excellence – Microsoft MVP Award

Microsoft MVP

Being recognized for contributions to the IT communities is a humbling event and so goes my story to IT excellence and the Microsoft MVP Award.

Early Years

Technology has been integral part of my life since I can remember…..

My mother tells a story that I don’t recall and it goes something like this:  I was 5 years old (1979) and we were in a checkout line at a Sears.  While waiting, the computer system crashed and they could not check anybody out.  Everyone was upset as they were going to close the store and send people home until it was fixed the next day.  I said to my mother, “I can fix that” and my mother said, “What? You don’t know anything about computers” and I replied, “yes I do.”  I walked right up to the manager and said, “I can fix it”.  The manager looked at me and continued to talk to the other store personnel.  I then proceeded to the computer register, crawled under the desk and checked and pushed in all the cables. Next, I powered off and on the computer.  At that point, people started to notice and that the screen was coming alive. After a bit, it came back up and became functional.  My mother tells me the manager was shocked and end up giving us our items for free. My first practical application for OSI and I didn’t even know it.  This memory summarizes my passion for technology that has not waviered to this day.

During the next few years (6-10 Years old), I spend my time taking things apart like stereos and radios and rebuilding them to make them better or just work.  I would sell the items door to door in the neighborhood to help support my single mom.

From hobbying with PDP-8’s, Commodore’s, PC’s Jr’s and Apple IIc’s, it was a big world. But the real fun started when I got my first Tandy 2000 and it had MS-DOS.  I spent many days and nights programing BASIC and loving it.  And then in early 1990’s when Windows 3.0 hit, I fell in love and have been a fan ever since.  In fact, in one of my first IT jobs, I setup a DEC Alpha running NT 3.5.1 for a search engine company in Cambridge, MA.

Mid Years

Over the subsequent years, during elementary and high school, I spent my time volunteering at different organizations utilizing my technology skills to teach others.  Some include Boston Computer Society, Museum of Science – Computer Discovery Space, political campaigns, and various programming clubs.

My other passion during those days was music.  I started playing Trombone in 7th Grade and continued on to learn and pay other instruments including Tuba, Baritone, Piano, Trumpet and Guitar. I was the first freshman at Revere High School to play a solo in the spring concert.  I soloed on the Tuba and my piece was “In the Hall of the Mountain King” the final piece of the Peer Gynt, Suite No. 1.  The reason I bring up music is that I believe it helped to frame both my creativity and logic when it came to technology.

During my junior year of high school, I decided to join the US Army because financially  I didn’t have many options. The Army seemed the logical choice at the time to help pay for college.  After taking the Army intake testing, I was told I scored high and was placed with a support company as a Intelligence Analyst.  At the time, the Army had a program called split training, which meant, I went to boot camp during the summer between my junior and senior years of high school.

Well, the Army was a great experience. But all and all, I would say that boot camp was the most challenging.  You didn’t know what to expect at the time and no movie prepares you for the intensity of boot camp. I spent 4 years in the Army traveling the world as an Intelligence Analyst setting up various secure network connections to the US from foreign soil.

Towards the end of my 4 year commitment,  I decided to come home and go to college to earn my bachelors degree. I had earned an associates degree in Computer Science in the US Army Junior College.  Once I got home, I got a job at a computer store called Computer City selling computers.  I wanted to be close to it and this is all I could find at the time.  I also had a second job dishwashing and had started Northeastern University night program. Within two and a half years I had enough credits to receive my BS in Computer Science.

Early career

The real start to my career was when I was working at Computer City.  An partner from a large accounting firm(one of the Big 5 at the time) came in one day to purchase a computer.  I spent over an hour helping him with his purchase.  He was so impressed, that he offered me a job on the spot working in his company’s IT department.

I joined as a Help Disk admin and was quickly promoted to Network Admin within months. I spent a year at that firm then decided to move on.  For the next few years, I worked at various corporate companies and advanced quickly through the IT ranks.

After spending 5-6 years in the corporate arena, I decided I wanted to join the consulting world.  Initially, I joined a small IT consulting firm to learn the ropes of consulting.  I spent about a year with that consulting partner and then finally decided to break out on my own. I launched my own consulting company called Netwatch Techs. I spent close to 9 years building out a great SMB practice and started doing some enterprise level work.  And then spent four years more working as the lead with various Microsoft Gold Partners consulting for enterprise clients.

Current Life

That bring me to the current chapter in my life….Nutanix.

For a number of years, it was a dream to work for a Silicon Valley Company. I decided to open up my options.  A recruiter contacted me via Linkedin from Nutanix.  They were looking for a Microsoft Solutions Architect. That night I researched Nutanix, and to my surprise, it was an up and coming technology that builds the future of datacenter.  I was very interested and emailed the recruiter back immediately.  I spoke to the recruiter and  the hiring manager over the next few days and it sounded great, but there was one caveat, they wanted someone local to Silicon Valley.  After speaking with my wife and kids, I decided to withdraw my application.  We didn’t want to move from the Boston area and away from family……..

Fast forward six months….I get an email from the Nutanix recruiter asking me if I was still interested and that the location requirement had been changed. Within a few days, I was en route to Nutanix HQ for in-person interviews.  After intense interviews, I was so impressed. I felt the oozing of intelligence, teamwork and something real.

After a few days, I was offered the position of Microsoft Solutions Architect with the Technical Alliances team.  If you have read my blog since the beginning, my career with Nutanix starts there and so continues my journey.

As a part of the Business Development team, my job is to be all things Microsoft technically or not across all our teams.  I help build the story around Nutanix and Microsoft Solutions. I also lead the Nutanix Ready program, an interoperability program for our partners.

For anyone reading this and aren’t familiar with an Microsoft MVP Award you can click this link. 

Before I end this post I want to thank the people who really helped inspire me during the my lifetime.

First, I thank my mother, for the years of supporting my passion from the beginning. There was a lot she never understood about what I do, but was very, very proud of me, because she felt I was fulfilling my dreams.  Thank you Mom…You are always in my heart. 🙂

The next notable influence on my life is my wife Lea. There are so many things to list about her, but I will summarize a few things about Lea and some of what I have learned.  Honesty, Respect, Encouragement, Support, Kindness, Loyalty and Attentiveness.  For her, it’s second nature. I knew the second I met her that there was something about Lea I needed. Turns out, 16 years later, it wasn’t something about her at all. It was just Lea. 🙂

I have to thank each and every one at Nutanix.  The teamwork and helpfulness of everyone I work with has been the one of the best experiences of my life.  This includes my manager Andre Leibovici, who has been a great manager and mentor.  He is the one that encouraged me to start blogging.  He has taught me and continues to teach me what it is to be on an Alliance team and to be the best at it.

And finally, I can’t end this without thanking you, yes you, who are reading my posts. You, who shared my previous posts, who dropped me a comment saying thanks for the efforts, or asked a question!  You are the reason for inspiring me to learn more, share more, and blog more!

No one can feel the excitement and joy of blogging and sharing knowledge if s/he hasn’t tried it.  So my recommendation is to start a blog and write about something you are passionate about. Do not be shy, just start sharing your ideas with the community and I’m sure your journey will be pave itself and be fruitful for all!  Until next time, Rob….

Nutanix NOS 4.6 Released….

On February 16, 2016, Nutanix announced the Acropolis NOS 4.6 release and last week was available for download. Along with many enhancements, I wanted to highlight several items, including some tech preview features.

Also, checkout this excellent video with Nutanix’s Tim Isaacs and Raghu Nandan in which they go into more detail on the updates included in Acropolis 4.6 and the interviewer is my buddy Chris Brown.

Tim Isaacs and Raghu Nandan from Nutanix HQ about some of the important updates in Acropolis 4.6.

1-Click Upgrades – BIOS and BMC Firmware
The 1-Click upgrade for BIOS and BMC firmware feature is available for Acropolis hypervisor (AHV) and ESXi hypervisor host environments running on NX-xxxx G4 (Haswell) platforms only.

Acropolis App Mobility Fabric: Windows or Linux Guest Customization
Customize or clone Windows or Linux guest VMs hosted by AHV. Includes automated OS installation and custom ISOs by using sysprep (Windows) or cloudinit (Linux).

Acropolis Drivers for OpenStack
These drivers facilitate consuming the Nutanix Acropolis infrastructure as a cloud service or for use in a data center. For example, an OpenStack implementation might require using features such as single sign-on, orchestration, role-based access control, and so on. Drivers include Acropolis compute, image, volume, and network drivers.

Convert Cluster Redundancy Factor from RF-2 to RF-3
Convert a cluster created with redundancy factor 2 (RF-2) to RF-3 through the ncli cluster set-redundancy-state command. This increases the cluster fault tolerance.

Cross Hypervisor Disaster Recovery
Cross-hypervisor disaster recovery provides an ability to migrate the VMs from one hypervisor to another (ESXi to AHV or AHV to ESXi) by using the protection domain semantics of protecting VMs, taking snapshots, replicating the snapshots, and then recovering the VMs from the snapshots. To perform these operations, you need to install and configure NGT on all VMs.

Guest VM VLAN Trunking
AHV supports guest VM VLAN tagging, where the tag passes through a single port from the physical network to a VM. It allows the VLAN ID tags to be included in an Ethernet packet to be passed to the guest VM. Guest VM operating systems can use this feature to enable Virtual Guest Tagging (VGT) and simulate multiple virtual NICs.

More Backup and Data Recovery/Replication Features

  • Snapshot and Async DR for volume groups.
  • Application-consistent snapshots on AHV and ESXi by using the Nutanix native in-guest Volume Shadow Copy Service (VSS) agent for all VMs that support Microsoft’s VSS. Nutanix Guest Tools provides application-consistent snapshot support for Linux VMs by running specific pre-freeze and post-thaw scripts on VM quiesce.
  • Integrated snapshot management from an AHV cluster to a CommVault solution

Nutanix Guest Tools

  • Nutanix Guest Agent (NGA) service. Communicates with the Nutanix Controller VM.
  • File Level Restore (FLR) CLI. Performs self-service file-level recovery from the VM snapshots.
  • Nutanix VM Mobility Drivers. Facilitates distribution of drivers required for VM migration between ESXi and AHV, in-place hypervisor conversion, and cross-hypervisor disaster recovery (CH-DR) features.
  • VSS requestor and hardware provider for Windows VMs. Enables application-consistent snapshots of AHV or ESXi Windows VMs.
  • Application-consistent snapshot for Linux VMs. Supports application-consistent snapshots for Linux VMs by running specific scripts on VM quiesce.

Self-Service Restore
Self-service restore allows a user to restore a file within a virtual machine from the Nutanix protected snapshot with minimal Nutanix administrator intervention. This feature is supported on Nutanix clusters running the ESXi and Acropolis hypervisors only.

Tech Preview Features

In-Place Hypervisor Conversion
This 1-click feature available through the Prism web console allows you to convert your cluster from using ESXi hosts to using AHV hosts. Guest VMs are converted to the hypervisor target format, and cluster network configurations are stored and then restored as part of the conversion process.

Native File Services
Provides file server capability within a Nutanix AHV cluster, as one or more network-attached VMs, to form a virtual file server.

To download the update, you can go to my.nutanix.com and go to support, downloads section or you can upgrade to 4.6 within Prism.  Until next time, Rob