Thursday, December 31, 2015

2015 Year in Review

Well everyone, it's that time of the year again! Nestled between Christmas day, New Years Eve, and obscure college football bowl games (what do you mean you didn't watch the Marmot Boca Raton Bowl?!) we find the obligatory year in review posts! So, without further adieu:

2015 Year in Review

(turn and face the strain)
Just gonna have to be a different man
Time may change me"
- David Bowie
2015 brought me some of the biggest changes one can go through in their lives. First off, on March 14th (yep, Pi day!) I married an amazing woman that, without her love and support, none of what I do would be possible. It was an awesome day with great friends, family, and, given the time of year, perfect weather as well. To this day I still look at her and wonder how I got so lucky. 

As you can tell by some guests posture, we threw quite the reception!

Another big change wasn't so positive to start, but it certainly ended up that way. I've been in IT for a few years now, and both times I changed employers, it's been due to budget cutbacks and restructuring. In October, I was part of a large workforce lay off. Thankfully, this was only a minor setback as I had a signed offer letter one month to the day that I was let go. I've moved from the small business MSP (managed services provider) realm to the SMB consulting world.

This shift will allow me to work in larger environments utilizing technologies I would not have had a chance to use previously. The company also fosters a great culture which embraces fun, teamwork, and solid family/work life balance. My new employer also values growth and training as much as I do (we will touch more on that in the goals for next years section). Needless to say, I'm excited to see what the next year will hold for me in this new role.

"If you're going to San Francisco
You're gonna meet some gentle people there"
-Scott McKenzie

Fulfilling a long term goal, I finally made it to VMworld this year! All I can say is WOW! So much do to and see, I was exhausted by the last day. The first time I stepped into the vendor hall, it was a touch overwhelming, but not long after I was bouncing around from booth to booth collecting valuable info for existing projects and new products we could offer our clients. Being my first trip, and not being certain I would be able to make it back in 2016, I tried to cram as much in as I could. I found tremendous value in the sessions and hands on labs.

The San Francisco Skyline from the VMunderground Party

Being such a large gathering of virtualization gurus, I was finally able to meet some of the bloggers, Tweeps, and vExperts who I've only had online interactions with up to that point. It was awesome having someone walk up to you and say "You're ExploreVM, right? Hi! I'm..." or hear "PAUL WOODWARD JR!" shouted from across the street. I made many new connections and friends at VMworld, fully enjoyed the vendor parties, dinners, watched some new hashtags take off, and shared some great oysters.

The VMworld party, right before security kicked me out of the Giants dugout.

While at VMworld, despite being so busy, I did find time to take and pass the VCP6-DCV. Originally in 2015 I had set out to pass the VCAPs, but with the wedding, I didn't feel I was able to devote enough of my time to preparation. So , in their place, I set my sights on renewing my VCP. I took the last available testing time on the last day of VMworld. This allowed me to take some time in the mornings and evenings to cram in a bit of studying into my already busy schedule, as well as utilize a few sessions as a study reference as well.

After I had passed the exam, I was exploring San Francisco with a few of my friends, including Matt Heldstab (NCWI VMUG leader) and Sean Massey (WIVMUG steering committee). Matt suggested that I come give a presentation at the next NCWI VMUG meeting on preparing for and passing the VCP6 since I was "one of the first VCP6s". Full of motivation and excitement for technology after VMworld, Matt planted a seed that would soon flourish.

I have long been a member of VMUG, attending various regions meetings and UserCons, but I had decided that this year would be the year I gave back to the community. In September, I gave my first VMUG community presentation at the Chicago VMUG UserCon. I dove in head first into presenting at the largest UserCon in my area. I figured if I'm going to do it, I might as well go all out. Since then, I've presented two more times; November at the NCWI VMUG Super VMUG meeting, and December at the WIVMUG meeting in Milwaukee.

 Given the feedback I received at the Chicago VMUG, and wanting to be more active in the VMware community, I dusted off my old blog to share my sessions and experiences. Now, I will admit, trying to start a series on Virtualization and Small Business while job hunting and during the holiday season was not the best timing. Unfortunately, I only got the first part in the series out this year. Look for more content in 2016, more on that later.

Whats next for me in 2016?

Building off of what was an awesome 2015, I've got quite the large set of goals for 2016. I set the bar high, but will be happy with what I reach:
  • Continue to share my knowledge & experience
    • Join a Podcast
    • Write a weekly/bi-weekly blog post
      • Virtualization in Small Business series
      • VCP prep posts
      • Technical reviews 
      • Home Lab designs, tips, and demos...
    • Speak at even more VMUG events than 2015
  • Obtain the vExpert title
  • Attend VMworld 2016 & 1 other major tech conference
  • Earn the following certifications
    • VCAP6 - Deployment
    • VCAP6 - Design
    • CCENT 
    • CCNA - Data Center
  • Attempt Virtual Design Master
 I hope everyone has a happy, safe new year! I look forward to seeing old friends and new in 2016!