Here we go…
SWI: So Philip, how did this whole thing get started?
PS: I started blogging in 2008. I was inspired by other bloggers in the VMware community who were sharing a lot of great technical information—things that really helped me to learn and optimize my VMware environment. A co-worker pointed me to a couple blogs he’d been following and I started following them, too, and finding others for my RSS reader. I largely missed the mailing list and forum era of community collaboration, but these bloggers really were helping me in my daily job. I wanted to do the same for the community—sharing problems and solutions that I ran into on the job.
SWI: And from there Techazine.com was born? Tell me a little about it.
PS: My focus with Techazine is mostly enterprise IT and at that it’s mostly around VMware and Microsoft software solutions and HP hardware solutions. Those are the vendors I use daily and so I try to stick with what I know. I also write about management software around those ecosystems; things like PowerCLI and PowerShell, orchestration tools and monitoring tools. I enjoy writing about vSphere most of all as that’s where I have the deepest knowledge. I really believe in the vSphere platform and how it’s revolutionized our internal datacenter. I also enjoy writing about scripting and management solutions that make an admin’s life easier. And, although it’s not really enterprise, I do write a fair bit about Apple, including Macs and the iPhone and iPad.
SWI: So, vSphere is your favorite thing to write about. What tends to be your readers’ favorite posts?
PS: My most popular posts have been solutions to real-world issues. I tend to get the most comments and emails about those posts. They can range from optimization how-to’s to specific errors with fixes related to a product. I think these tend to be my most popular posts because they immediately help readers with something in their environment. I also seem to get a lot of traffic around my HP 3PAR storage posts. We’ve been early adopters of some of their technology and so I get to write about that.
It’s actually hard to predict what will be a popular post. Believe or or not, one of my all-time most popular posts is a review I did on the Redbox Instant streaming service when it launched. I think that one was lucky timing on my part; I just happened to post it when there was a lot of interest.
SWI: What takes up your time when you’re not blogging?
PS: I’m a full time systems administrator for a telephone cooperative in South Carolina. As a part of their internal IT team, our group is responsible for the infrastructure that the business operations run on—the servers, OS and middleware, networking and storage. I also get the chance to consult with our managed services team and help them design solutions for customers from time to time. I primarily focus on Windows servers and Microsoft applications and I'm the primary VMware administrator for the co-op.
My other full time gig is family. My wife and I have two young children, so most of our free time is spent chasing after them and going to their activities.
SWI: How did you get into IT in the first place?
PS: I guess my story started with a Tandy 1000. I started out at home with command line and DOS. As a student in high school, I really discovered my love for and aptitude with computers while helping teachers and fixing small problems on the school network—Netware, DOS and Windows 3.11.
At the same time, growing up on a farm, my dad taught me how to troubleshoot. Those troubleshooting skills I learned way back when are probably why I ended up as a systems administrator instead of a programmer or developer.
I then began working for a consulting company while taking classes in college and that was really my gateway into the industry. The consulting company gave me exposure to a lot of environments and software. I picked up a lot of skills during those first few years. It just seemed like a natural fit for me.
At the end of the day, I like solving problems and this field provides lots of opportunities to do that. Lots.
SWI: As an IT pro, what are your favorite tools of the trade?
PS: I really love PowerShell and PowerCLI. I’ve been busy over the last couple years rewriting a lot of our scripted processes in PowerShell and I’ve learned a lot. So, I’ve really gotten hooked on Quest's PowerGUI as my development environment for these scripts. I’m also a big fan of vCenter Orchestrator for setting up scheduled tasks to run in our vSphere environment.
There's a short list of apps that I can't live without. For example, NoteTab Light is my preferred text editor—excellent search and replace functionality—and Putty for SSH.
From Solarwinds, I don’t deal in CIDR often enough, so the Subnet Calculator is a go-to for me. I was also really impressed with Solarwinds Server and Application Monitor (SAM) when I saw it at a recent trade show.
SWI: OK, last question…what’s next for IT?
PS: Cloud is probably the biggest shift I see taking place in the IT industry right now and in the future. For many companies, cloud doesn’t fit yet. A lot of companies who’ve tested running in the cloud find that the lack of control and security are big sticking points. But it will mature and for companies that don’t have IT as a core competency, I think it’ll make more sense to move to Software as a Service for many of their functions. It won’t ever fully displace the datacenter—since legacy applications will have to run somewhere—but it will most likely shift a lot of IT employees around as the jobs move from private companies to cloud providers.
Cloud also has a lot of internal development shops thinking about architecture and how to get more resiliency and scale to applications. Scale-out used to just be for Facebook- and Google-sized companies, but now medium-sized companies and enterprises alike can benefit from investing in rewriting their applications with modern underpinnings.