This coming June will mark the two year anniversary of the Melbourne Cisco Data Center User Group. The first session was back on June 7th 2016 and as with all of the group sessions there were two, one vendor and one community. The vendor session was presented by Chris Gascoigne from Cisco about ACI and Nexus 9k while the community session was from Will Robinson about GNS3 in his homelab. Both session were excellent and a great start for the user group. Not only that but both have since become core to the DCUG with will taking on the role of an organiser for a good while and Chris working his magic behind the scenes to help us get the vendor sessions locked in every month.
Where did it come from
Back in 2016 I attended Cisco Live for the second time but my first as a Cisco Champion. There were not many Cisco Champions in Australia at that time. I believe it was 4 in total, and three of us were due to be at the Cisco Live. Chris Partsenidis was another Cisco Champion based in Melbourne and I was looking forward to meeting him. Prior to the event Chris reached out to me so we could meet up at some point during the week. Unfortunately for Chris has got caught up with network outage issues (Cisco related 🙂 ) that week so he was unable to attend. I met with a Cisco rep that was over from California for the event and collected the Cisco Champion swag which included a Cisco Champion shirt. Following Cisco Live I arranged to meet with Chris over a coffee to exchange the prized shirt. And this meeting is what led to the Cisco Data Center User Group in Melbourne. Over a coffee Chris and I spoke about how we were both relatively new to Melbourne and how we were struggling to find a user group that covered the topics we were interested in. Chris is a network Cisco Champion and I am a data center Cisco Champion. I had been to a number of other user groups and I really enjoyed the VMware User Group (VMUG) so something similar to that was what I had in mind. Chris agreed and so we reached out to Lauren Friedman from Cisco. Lauren has been trying to get something similar going for Cisco at a global level and so we took on the Cisco Data Center User Group for Melbourne and essentially became a guinea pig. We agreed on a format of a vendor and community session, times for each of the presentations and the frequency of the sessions. Since the initial session we’ve had 19 more over the course of the two years and it’s being going solid since the start. Read More
Earlier this week I got a great email from the NetApp United team to say I had been accepted for a second time into the team. This followed on from a similar email from the VMware vExperts the week before. Being included as a member of these advocacy/influencer groups has meant I’ve completed the trifecta along with last months Cisco Champions inclusion. I’ve spent the past number of years working with technologies from all three companies and it’s nice to be recognised as a contributor to the community.
Being part of these groups means a huge amount to me. They have all, in particular the vExpert group, been something I’ve aspired to being a part of over the past couple of years and I’m overjoyed about being accepted into each program. Each of the influencer programs is different in their approach but there’s some commonalities too. The common things among the programs are:
* Being able to network with peers across the globe.
* Having access to NDA information before it gets released to the general public.
* Ability to interact with engineers and in some instances leadership within those companies.
* Dedicated comms channels for easier interaction (Slack for vExpert and NetAppUnited and Spark for CiscoChampions)
Lately I’ve been trying to get on top of all the things I have going on in life to give myself a little bit of perspective and find a bit more joy in life. Just like anybody else with young kids I find it hard to juggle home and work responsibilities. On top of this I have a number of other things I’d like to personally achieve throughout the year. I wrote a blog post called what’s another year which details all the things I’d like to do this year. It’s a long list and all are time consuming in their own right. What I’ve found though is that I’ve been failing to meet most if not all of these objectives and to be completely honest it’s been getting me down.
I’ve completed some of the list already which is great but I’ve found that we’re nearly a quarter of the way through the year and I’m behind on a lot of them. I regularly frequent a cycling site called Cyclingtips and if you’re at all into cycling I’d highly recommend spending a few hours reviewing the content there. As I reviewed some of the old content I came across two posts which struck a chord. The first was around parenthood and cycling. One of my main goals for the year is to get cycling fit and to build cycling into my routine. In the past three weeks I’ve struggled with this and I was looking to see what others have done to make it work for them.
This lead me to another post on CyclingTips called the two and a quarter rule. It’s a brief post but I found it so bang on. We have the capacity to handle two and a quarter things at any one time. For most people this is normally broken down as 1 being given up to work, 1 being given up to family and the last one quarter being yours to do as you wish. But it’s a finite resource. If you allocate too much to the quarter it will mean you will overflow and impact the other two areas of your life and that will have it’s own consequences. As soon as I read this article it dawned on me that my problem was that I was squeezing too much into the quarter and not getting as much as I wanted done. This is partly why I haven’t been able to keep on top of cycling in the past few weeks, there were other focuses. This is still going to be the case but I’ve decided that the quarter is flexible and I’m going to use it on a day to day basis. So one day the focus will be on getting out for a bike ride, another it’ll be to create a blog post such as this, another day it’ll focus on reading a book or studying for an exam. This way I will be able to get the majority of what I’d like to complete this year finished off and not impact either my family or work commitments. Or at least minimise the impact.
I’d highly recommend spending a bit of time to see if the two and a quarter rule works for you or even fits what you have going on in life. For me personally it fits, but I’d be interested in hearing what others find.
Two things recently appeared on my radar which got me thinking about the IT Hero culture. One came through the vExpert slack feed and later followed up by a blog post and the other was through a conversation with my sister. In both instances the people suffered health issues due to undertaking too many hours at work in a condensed time period. Following this I began thinking about the issues IT employees face when it comes to time management and finding a balance between keeping systems online 24×7 and actually having a fulfilling life outside of work. The whole IT Hero culture has been an issue for me for a long time, particularly since I suffered from it a number of times myself. I ended up sacrificing family time to work on numerous occasions and only in hindsight did I really see it as being a problem. Before proceeding however I’d like to point out that I don’t have an issue with someone putting in extra time to learn something new, provide shift work support or ensure life-saving services remain online. Or in the rare case that there’s a critical issue that needs to be resolved quickly. There’s also people that want to operate their lives putting more emphasis on work than home life and that’s fine too. My particular problem is more around the perception that you cannot be replaced and that you have to be seen to do extra work all the time in order to show value in your position.
There’s a real problem in IT where employers expect more and more of an employees personal time in order to keep systems up and running or to complete projects. Usually this aligns to work cultures where anyone seeing to leave at a regular time every day is judged to not be part of the ‘team’ despite completing their workload within the allotted time. It is particularly noticeable at smaller consultancy firms but the big ones are just as guilty. But the truth is that it’s not all down to employers. As the employee you really need to set the boundaries and expectations with your employer and more importantly advocate for yourself and your needs. However that contradicts the predominant IT culture of employees that put themselves on a pedestal as the saviour of the day. The combination of lack of boundaries, employee advocacy and embedded perception of self-importance leads to what I think is a negative work-life balance. Read More
Last week was the annual pilgrimage to Cisco Live in Melbourne. Well, normally it is. This year however I was unable to secure a free pass because let’s be honest here, the price of a full pass is extortionate. While the value of the event cannot be disputed the cost to get there can. Cisco Live is the best networking conference in Melbourne for those working in enterprise IT. I also mean networking in both senses of the word, networking technology and people networking. This year there were 7200 attendees and it promised to be an absolute cracker. But I was not going to be there.
I find conferences such as Cisco Live a great way to recharge the batteries and get re-inspired at work. You hear about all the latest and greatest and being out of your normal habitat changes how you approach solutions. Having the opportunity to meet experts and those that have literally wrote the book on a subject is invaluable. I’ve been to the past three Cisco Live events in Melbourne and I had hoped to keep that run going but unfortunately this year I was unable to secure a pass and it was too much of an expense to fund myself.
It wasn’t so bad though. We run our Cisco Data Center User Group (DCUG) on a monthly basis and it falls on the first Tuesday of Cisco Live so we had organised to have two international speakers for that. This would at least give me my fix. We were extremely fortunate to have Lukas Krattiger and David Jansen both extend their schedule to fit in the DCUG and provide a thoroughly enthralling session.