Virtualization Pro of the Month: Paul Meehan
Editor’s Note: Dublin, Ireland’s Paul Meehan is our Virtualization Pro of the Month for November. Paul is a freelance consultant and technical architect specializing in VMware, SAN Storage and Data Management solutions. He has recently started writing for us here at VirtualizationSoftware.com with his debut posts (see here and here) generating a ton of controversy and discussion. Paul blogs as well on his own site www.paulpmeehan.com. Follow Paul on Twitter. Paul also blogs on his own site here.
How long have you been in the IT industry?
I got my first “proper” IT job as a Systems Engineer in the early 90’s in Ericsson, the Swedish Telecomm’s firm, working on UNIX based Network Management systems. That was in the early days of Sun Microsystems, so we worked with their really early systems like the SPARC Classic and ELX. It was the first time I experienced working 36 hours straight, through the middle of a systems outage. Back then, performance was the big challenge. Systems couldn’t cope with the amount of data they had to deal with – Everything was a bottleneck, but then we started to see multi-processor systems. I’m beginning to feel my age now – when the Mainframe “thin-client” architecture starts appearing again via VDI you know you’ve been around the block.
How did you get into IT? How did you prepare?
My first computer was a Commodore 64, I remember waiting 30 minutes for “The Hobbit” to load from tape cassette, and then eventually watching it crash repeatedly. That didn’t overly impress me. I studied Applied Physics in College but never really got into the software side. I came across IT by accident really when I joined Ericsson. I think my ideal job is a bridge engineer, connecting things together, and building things always appealed to me; That’s why the systems side, and systems integration does it for me. UNIX was my first real IT buzz and is probably still my favourite – just the way the whole thing was designed – not quite a first love but not far off. The concept is still there with Linux, Powershell, and now Windows Core. Isn’t that UNIX by another name ?.
What certifications do you hold and how did you go about getting them?
Back in the day, certifications weren’t as important to me as experience and training. I probably had a slightly jaundiced view of certification for a very long time, and didn’t think it was of a high enough quality. That’s changed now of course, and now I feel I’m in catch-up mode.
The first Cert I passed was Red Hat RHCT – I got it as I just missed out on RHCE which was tough. Then I got CCNA 3 years ago. The last year or two I’ve been pursuing VMware advanced certifications – I hold VCAP-DCA and am sitting VCAP-DCD in 4 weeks. I plan to submit an application for VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX) next year – that’s been my goal for a while. While studying for VMware certifications, I have really benefited from sharing of information within the VMware community. That’s so important for the advanced certs, and I think that’s how everyone gets through what are really tough exams.
I think the best way to learn is to setup your own home lab and load up whatever you’re studying – if you learn by doing, it’s the best way. It’s also a place where accidents can happen with no fear of the phone ringing after a fat-finger error.
What is your current job?
Since December last year I’ve been working as a Freelance Consultant. I work mainly with VMware, Storage and Data Management solutions. I’ve been into Storage for a long time so that’s probably my specialist skill. I’ve worked with many vendors storage both designing and implementing, which comes in useful for VMware where it’s so important. I’m a certified Commvault Consultant as well and enjoy working with it, as it’s such a powerful suite. My last project has been developing VMware Learning Catalogs which was very interesting. Being Freelance means you get lots of different opportunities, but it also means there’s never a guarantee when it will come, so you have to be as flexible as possible even when it might not suit your personal life. Being permanent is more straight-forward in my view.
How do you stay current?
It’s very hard, especially as vendors are launching product after product and changing them all the time. I found since I joined Twitter that my knowledge has increased massively but filtering the wheat from the chaff is tricky. I’ve learned a lot just getting involved in discussions on Twitter. I also try and take in at least 2-3 webinars in a week if I can. I find the vBrownbags series really good and also the Trainsignal/Pluralsight monthly subscription well worth the money. I also really like the VMware blogs, especially office of the CTO.
What do you do when you’re not working or playing in your home lab?
My personal passions are scuba diving, mountain biking and Handball (American and Irish). I live close to the mountains so it’s handy for biking. The best place for diving in Ireland is in the West of Ireland in the Atlantic, where the scenery and landscape are awesome, and a pint of Guinness in a local Irish pub after being out on a RIB on the Ocean is so satisfying.
I’m involved a little bit with coaching local kids in One-Wall Handball which has really taken off in Ireland, but best of all is hanging out with my family. The day just isn’t long enough, but they take priority and going places with them is the best.
Married, kids, pets?
I’m very happily married to Dara with three children, Eve, Isobel and Max aged 9, 7 and 4. I enjoy enjoy embarrassing them with my silly behaviour whenever I can. They are involved in lots of stuff like Running, Horse Riding, Football, Drama, Music and other things, so there’s always some drama going on in our house and it’s never quiet. But that’s what it’s all about in my view – Work is not important when compared to family.
Favorite technology product or tool?
I love my iPhone 5, but particularly when combined with the fantastic Spotify iOS App, and a decent pair of headphones. I have a pair of foldable AKG K451 which cost me about €60 and are awesome when paired with an iPhone. I just love Spotify and have ditched my CD collection for it – it’s the best way to discover new music.
It’s also great using Apple TV to stream all movies, music, or TV from an iPad or iPhone to your TV. Just like everyone else Twitter is so addictive because it’s such as cool way of interacting with people with common interests.
In the next year, what are you most excited about?
This year I plan to submit an application for VCDX all going well, so there’s an awful lot of hard work ahead and no guarantee of passing. I’ve started blogging much more and also working a lot more in the UK where I think there are great opportunities, so there’s quite a bit going on.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I think all of us are witnessing a massive change in many areas of technology right now. I can’t ever remember such innovation, and the goalposts moving so fast. But it’s still interesting to see the traditional vendors are still there, and many customers will always be conservative and slow to change. I think that’s fine, and think variety is great – Each to their own. It’s just like music and fashion which cycle around every 20/30 years – next year it’s gonna be something else, so I don’t get too bogged down in the technology, but try to see where things are going – that’s what’s important.