2012: A Year in Review

I’m not normally one to do New Year’s resolutions or “the year in review” type posts, but I felt my silence out here deserved some level of recognition…or explanation…or excuse…call it what you like.  So, if anyone is still listening here on my little lily pad in the great big Internet, here it is, my year in review.

After 3.5 years providing post-sales implementation services as a Systems Engineer, I was given the opportunity to move into a dedicated pre-sales role within my company as a Solutions Architect.  When I first started, I was lucky enough to participate fairly equally in both pre- and post-sales, often time seeing a project through from the very first meeting to the final roll-out.  I love this approach.  Unfortunately, as the years rolled on, there was more and more post-sales time and less and less pre-sales time.  When the company decided to form dedicated pre- and post-sales engineering positions, I was faced with the choice between the two, and I decided to go pre-sales.  I had no idea how much different it was to be dedicated to the role, rather than something I did between projects.

I spent a lot of 2012 trying to truly embrace this new role and wrap my brain around how sales really works.  The process took awhile due to a lot of distractions, however.  There were still projects I had to finish up that were already on my schedule and products that I had to cross train others how to do.

Just when I thought I had cleared up all the project work, we inked a deal with a new customer to provide and implement the infrastructure underlying a vCloud Director based public cloud.  I ended up being the primary systems/storage resource acting as both architect and a coordination point for the actual implementation (along with a lot of hands on and cross training).  An interesting twist happened half way through the project when this new customer of ours ended up purchasing my company, turning us into a wholly-owned subsidiary and making the public cloud we were building something we would have to sell.  It was an awesome project to be involved on and provided me a lot of insight and visibility within our new larger family.  I wouldn’t have traded the experience for anything, but it did affect my ability to concentrate on learning to be a Solutions Architect.

In addition to all that, I was lucky enough to be able to attend four different conferences in 2012 (VMware Partner Exchange, HP Discover, VMworld US and VMworld Europe), participated in two in-person meetings of the VMware Partner Technical Advisory Board (PTAB), and attended two HP Tech Days (storage and Gen 8).  Being able to attend so many conferences was an awesome experience, but all these events meant additional weeks out of the office.  Many of these events were not sponsored or directly related to my job, so I am truly blessed to have an employer so willing to allow me to attend such events.  Some have questioned why I stick with a small VAR in the middle of the country when I could be working at EMC or VMware.  This is one of the reasons.

Of course, VMworld US included a little side event we like to call VMunderground.  In previous years, I’ve tended to hang out in the background and let my co-conspirators (and very good friends) Theron Conrey and Sean Clark lead the charge while I help out when and where they needed me.  This year, I took a more active role.  While it didn’t affect my day job, it did distract me from extra curricular activities, such as this blog.

There were also many other smaller items I accomplished during the year:

– Supported several user group activities, including a big VMUG event in Omaha, the Midwest Regional VMUG in KC and the Omaha UCS user group

– Racked up 14 articles on SearchVMware.com

– Participated or presented at many company sponsored customer marketing events (e.g. lunch & learns)

Towards the end of this year, I picked up coaching duties for my daughter’s Destination Imagination team.  It’s an awesome program, and if you’re not familiar with it, I’d encourage you to check it out here.  It’s a huge time commitment, and has and will keep me distracted during the off hours as well.

Overall, a very busy year.  Hopefully that helps you understand why I’ve been so quiet this year on my blog (and to some extent on Twitter).

As awesome (and busy) as 2012 was, I’m definitely looking forward to 2013.  Working for a company that can deliver both on-premise product and services, as well as traditional managed services and cloud-based services opens a ton of doors and a solution set that will be hard to beat.  We’re already running towards new product offerings that customers are asking for.