Twenty-Twenty-One-daheck?

About two years ago, I started writing out my plans for the next year. Everything from personal goals, professional development goals, and everything in-between. It’s been my mile marker each year in terms of progress and career growth. I began this process because I was quite tired of only working through customer break-fix issues and wanted to gain knowledge of new products, solutions, and architecture. Also, because I’m lazy, I do this because if I don’t push myself, then nothing will move the marker, and if I don’t set a marker, then I don’t know what has moved.

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A dream written down with a date becomes a GOAL. A goal broken down into steps becomes a PLAN. A plan backed by ACTION makes your dreams come true.”

This is the quote that started it all. Basically, my goal of “Stop Sucking” just really didn’t lend results from month to month, and year to year. Well, 2020 is almost done, and it’s time to focus on the next year, and the next goals. 2020 has been an “interesting” year for everyone, but I’ve been very blessed to be where I am, doing what I’m doing. Let’s look at the performance review for 2020 #CovidYear and what progressed in the year.

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The Shut-In Year

2020 has been a banner year; keeping me on my toes was changing jobs right at the end of 2019 (day before new years eve). This was not the initial plan when I wrote the goals for 2020 so it was a bit of a swap from my expected goals, then in March the shutdown started, and holy cow how everything changed. Looking at the year, the goal difficulty should have gone from hard to way easy. Here are the goals I had in 2019:

  1. Learn and be operational with vRealize Automation 8
  2. Learn and be operational with vRealize Operations 8
  3. Create an Ansible solution, and utilize playbooks for configuration management after deployments in vRA 7.6
  4. Kubernetes Solutions
    1. Create Endpoint solutions, and make a PKS solution
    2. Go through the “Learning Kubernetes the hard way”, on Git
    3. Create a Kubernetes cluster in rasberry pis, and figure out how to create and deploy images to it
    4. Create AKS, GKE, and EKS for kuberenetes solutions in the public cloud
  5. Learn Terraform for Private cloud, and Public cloud in AWS, Azure, and GCP
  6. Learn Pulumi for the Private cloud, and Public cloud in AWS, Azure, and GCP
  7. Obtain my VCP in CMA
  8. Obtain my AWS Architect Certificate
  9. Target weight at the end of 2020, is 170.

Looks like a lot of stuff, right? To me this felt like a boatload of extra work while keeping customers operational as well. As for all vRA related goals, you can check that right off. From setting it up in 8.2, to getting my VCP in Cloud Management, to even using Terraform in vRA, it has been a lot of stuff. Even at the end of this year, I got to create a blueprint for “no-touch” deployment of SaltStack Enterprise and then SaltStack deployed the whole application stack (Blog link will go here when live, – Expected 1/7). One thing about vRA, I’ve just stopped working with 7.x. I’ve put in my time with it, and now that I’m working in a different position, I’m focusing on the current market solutions. Not knocking 7.x, it’s just not my focus.

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Moving to Kubernetes; getting my CKA and the Cloud Native Master specialist badge from VMware was a great learning experience. Even spent the time to write blogs on how I passed. I spent a lot of time working on my pi cluster, which I’ve talked about it several times on ItRealityUS. It was a great way to learn kubeadm k8s and getting things up and running. I’ve even used MetalLB on the pi cluster, so it’s really awesome how the cluster can help prep for the CKA. One thing I’ll add, is, KIND clusters are extremely helpful for this now. If you can run KIND, then you will get most, if not all, the functionality and be able to learn how things work in a k8s cluster. I also managed to get my Terraform Associate certification. I then wrote a blog about this (which ended up being the most clicked blog). I’ve used Terraform for a while, and I’m a big believer in the solution. Finally, I got my AWS associate certification, including the Cloud Practitioner… now Lets look at the list and check off what I did.

  1. Learn and be operational with vRealize Automation 8
  2. Learn and be operational with vRealize Operations 8
  3. Create an Ansible solution, and utilize playbooks for configuration management after deployments in vRA 7.6
  4. Kubernetes Solutions
    1. Create Endpoint solutions, and make a PKS solution
    2. Go through the “Learning Kubernetes the hard way”, on Git
    3. Create a Kubernetes cluster in rasberry pis, and figure out how to create and deploy images to it
    4. Create AKS, GKE, and EKS for kuberenetes solutions in the public cloud
  5. Learn Terraform for Private cloud, and Public cloud in AWS, Azure, and GCP
  6. Learn Pulumi for the Private cloud, and Public cloud in AWS, Azure, and GCP
  7. Obtain my VCP in CMA
  8. Obtain my AWS Architect Certificate
  9. Target weight at the end of 2020, is 170.

My target weight at the end of 2020 was definitely not 170. I hadn’t gained weight, but I definitely lost muscle. So I need to get back into working out. Especially burning the fat. If I don’t get to the gym in 2021, I’ll take a loss of weight as a win.

Pulumi and vROPS got the short straw in 2020. I had a couple things take its place, for that I’m actually quite happy. Pulumi is an amazing product and something I’ll look forward to when I get the chance, but for now very glad to have something still out there to dig into in this space.

Twenty-Twenty-One

A good friend of mine, who single-handedly changed my life, told me to focus this year on sales and cloud. Sales, because I’ve been told several times that my skill set is extremely technical and I’m incredibly skilled for technical positions, but I have no skills in how to deal with sales and quotas. Well, that’s something I plan on changing this year. This year there is a quota for my team to meet, and I plan on being a part of that. A big part. As for the clouds, I have my AWS certification, but I am not sure if AWS Professional is in the cards. I’ll toss it in the list as its pushing the bar, but there are three main public clouds. With all this in mind here are my goals for 2021.

  1. Obtain Associate level certification in GCP and Azure
  2. Training in SaltStack
  3. Obtain Professional Level Certification AWS
  4. HashiCorp – Associate in Consul and Vault, with professional in Vault.
  5. Create a Demo Application and start digging into full stack dev. (This is a stretch goal)
  6. Kubernetes
    1. Obtain CKAD
    2. Write a Kubernetes application
    3. Tanzu!!
    4. OpenShift!!
    5. K8s all the things!
  7. Gain Knowledge of sales
    1. Understand and prioritize sales opportunities
    2. Learn dealing with clients as opposed to customers
    3. Manage to be a big factor in meeting or exceeding the sales quota.
  8. Personal Goals
    1. Workout at least 3 times in a week
    2. Soft Skills (people skills) – Learn the Non-Tech
    3. Lose weight
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Looking at it on paper, it seems a like a lot. With Covid we really have no clue what 2021 will hold. Currently, I expect nothing to change. I expect that I’ll be able to get these things completed or mostly completed within the year. The stretch goal will probably be a continual goal. I really want to dig into development, and really get into DevRel and Advocacy for developers. In my last customer job, I really enjoyed working with developers and operations to bring them together. I like trying help developers and operations understand why each one needs the other, and more importantly, the tools that can help that relationship.

Moving from customers to clients, or, from Tech to Marketing/Sales, is a big change for me. Thankfully it’s one that many people have talked about on podcasts/blogs. I plan on doing a lot of research in the next year on this topic. I’ll start by digging into NerdJourney podcast as they have a couple episodes on it, and I’m sure we will explore this with the ITRealityUS podcast.

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In terms of tech, I really want to dig into the cloud certifications right off, and then do HashiCorp certifications as I write an application using Vault and Consul in k8s. I really want this application to be portable to multiple clouds and create a reference architecture that can really grow my job and myself personally.

Not sure what code to dig into for writing an app. I only have so many hours in the day but really need to dig into this as much as possible. Thinking Python, and Go will be my framework(probably not the right word there). Then may dig into some other application langges, such as React.

Soft skills are also growing, as I need to learn how to talk to clients and people I work with, to really learn from others and change my mindset from the technical to the marketable.

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Something I think will be rather difficult for me, but something necessary. I plan on going through three books to help this. “Gap selling”, “7 Habits of Highly Effective People” and “Atomic Habits” are the books I’m going to go through (Thanks Audible). These are basic self-help books for anyone, but its about time I start working on this part of myself. I’ve always been a homebody and an introvert to an extent. So I need to work on those issues and start learning how to work with people more than just getting things done in a vacuum. I think a lot of people are in that place in the IT world. We all think about the code/infrastructure/architecture before the people, and I need to figure that piece out.

Create, Re-Create, Repeat

Working in Tech has been categorized as “Create, Re-Create, Repeat”. Specializing in a product is only good for a certain amount of time, but eventually you need to re-create yourself, and you skillset, which can be rather rough.

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When I found my footing in automation, I was pushed into it. I really didn’t have any marketable skill other than the ability to follow a runbook or pick up the phone. Automation fell into my lap and I jumped on the opportunity. This time, I’m trying to figure out myself the best next step, which is something I’ve never done before. Normally its pushed on me by a different source/person. Now if I fail, I’ll have no one to blame but myself… and twitter… 2021, will be a rough year for me. I’m going to get down, I’m going to get beat up, and I’m going to fail daily. But each failure, each doubt, each bruise, and pain help me get stronger, better, faster. Its like my gym trainer told me when I worked out, “If its not hard, and not hurting, then you’re not growing. Dig deep and keep going.”

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