I can't believe I get to say that.
I have been using SolarWinds products since 2003, and a member of Thwack for almost as long. But until this week, I hadn't thought about how it would feel to write a blog post like this.
It's been an interesting journey to this point
I started out 25 years ago as a classroom trainer teaching WordPerfect 5.1 and DOS basics. After 5 years and more applications than I can count, I made the leap to desktop support, and then server admin. And then, during a project where we rolled out standard PC and server images to about 10,000 systems, I had the chance to work with an inventory and software distribution tool called “Tivoli”. As it turned out, Tivoli did other things too. Like monitoring and event correlation. I was hooked.
That was about 12 years ago. Since then, I've had a chance to work in small environments (dozens of systems) as well as large ones (10,000 devices in 150 locations) and even gargantuan ones (250,000 systems in 5,000 locations). I've had the chance to work not just with Tivoli, but also NetIQ, Patrol, OpenView, Sitescope, Zenoss, Nagios, and a few others. I've had the chance to learn about monitoring AIX, HP-UX, Solaris, various flavors of Linux, routers, switches, load balancers, wireless devices, storage systems, UPS and environment controls, virtualization platforms, and every flavor of Windows except Microsoft Bob.
In all that time and all those tools, three things stood out about SolarWinds
First is how easy it is to accomplish so many things. It's not that you can't do certain things with other tools. Let's be honest: Given enough time and expertise, you can set up monitoring using nothing more than Perl, Cron, and a few well-designed shell scripts. But with SolarWinds you can do more in less time, and that translates to having more sophisticated solutions implemented in the time it takes just to get other tools up and running.
Second, the level of development across the entire suite of SolarWinds tools is nothing short of astonishing. It's not an exaggeration to say that, if you have more than 2 products, you will probably upgrade something once every quarter. And even though each upgrade comes with the usual hassle of testing, coordinating change control windows, and late nights, it's hard to justify NOT doing it because each new version comes with features that are innovative, compelling, and just flat-out slick as snot.
But what really sticks with me is the dedication and insight of the folks who graciously share their expertise on these forums. Like I said, I've been using SolarWinds (and hanging out on Thwack) since 2003. I'm here to tell you that the forums for “the other guys” don't have this level of ongoing interest, communication, and engagement (both between users and with staff). They don't have “regular folks” who carve out time every week (sometimes every day) just to help other users with questions. They don't nominate MVP's. They certainly don't have a store where people spend hard-won points to get shot glasses, lab coats, and so-bright-you'll-never-misplace-it laptop sleeves.
So when the job posting came my way, I jumped at it. For me, it was the opportunity of a lifetime.
I now have a business card that reads "Leon Adato, SolarWinds Head Geek". It's hard to imagine anything cooler than that.
Part of this job is to be a technical evangelist: I'm here to evangelize not just SolarWinds tools, but monitoring as a discipline of I.T. My take on that evangelism is that I want to see monitoring design become as consistent and repeatable as network designs. I plan to provide resources – documents, matrixes, case studies, sample RFP's business justifications, ROI models, and more – that help make the business case and overcome purchasing department interia. Most of all, being a technical evangelist means I'm here to show the importance and relevance of monitoring to the challenges companies face, and demonstrate how having a solution is more cost effective than doing nothing.
Another part of the job is to keep my "customer" hat firmly on my head. It means drawing on my experiences over 12 years setting up monitoring for dozens of enterprises and be the voice of the customer in roadmap discussions. To make sure “wouldn't this be a cool looking widget” doesn't trump “we needed this key feature yesterday” during design meetings.
But the best part of the job is that I get to be as excited as you are when monitoring saves the day (or the bottom line) for your organization.
My name is Leon Adato, and I'm a SolarWinds Head Geek.