Virtualization Pro of the Month: Josh Atwell
Editor’s Note: Datacenter Virtualization engineer Josh Atwell is our Virtualization Pro of the Month for September. Josh is an avid community organizer and networker (and now) a contributing book author.
Josh is continually contributing to the virtualization community through lab testing, his vTesseract technology blog, leading vendor seminars and open panel discussions.
How long have you been in the IT industry?
I’ve been working full-time to pay the bills since 2004. Prior to that I worked several years part time during high school and college for my hometown school system.
How did you get into IT? How did you prepare?
I went into IT feet first. I started tinkering with computers early with an old Tandy system and a dot matrix printer and took every opportunity in school labs to both break and fix things. At some point my knack for fixing the HS computers got noticed by the IT director and he pulled me in with an hourly rate nearly twice what I had been making. A huge technology grant for the school system meant I got involved with recabling the HS with Cat5, building multiple computer labs, implementing our first Windows NT domain, rolling out Windows systems, etc. This provided a very wide range of experience which served me well with each new job. I prepared by just learning hands on. After getting my degree I decided that IT was going to be more interesting and lucrative for my short attention span than long aerospace related projects.
What certifications do you hold and how did you go about getting them?
I currently have VMware’s VCP4, VCAP4-DCA, and VCAP4-DCD. I foolishly did the two VCAP certifications about 30 days apart. This was crazy challenging to prepare for and meant a self induced sabbatical on certs for a while. I intend on getting these up to date starting this fall but at a much slower pace.
I used several mechanisms for getting the certs. I learn best by doing, so putting together a homelab was critical to my success. I also got a lot of benefit from the vBrownBag podcast, TrainSignal (now PluralSight), and Scott S. Lowe’s Mastering vSphere and vSphere Design (with Forbes Guthrie) books. I’ll be using these updated resources to update.
Having the homelab meant I could take the things I was learning from those resources and immediately apply them and see how that fit in the environment. Those reading without means to put together a dedicated homelab at present should check out AutoLab and BareMetalCloud. Great resources for getting a small lab at minimal financial impact.
What is your current job?
I currently work as a vArchitect for VCE, the joint venture between VMware, Cisco, and EMC. After nearly a decade in operations it’s exciting being able to work with customers on solving their business needs with Vblocks. I do not miss on-call rotations.
How do you stay current?
I never feel current. Ever. I follow Twitter primarily to see what is being discussed. This tends to lead me to the really good blog posts. Being involved as a host on the vBrownBag podcast has also helped considerably in keeping current. The thing that helps the most is taking on projects like tech review or writing that force me to dig in a bit deeper than my day job generally requires.
What do you do when you’re not working or playing in your home lab?
When not doing the day job I’m blogging, writing, producing video content or preparing for a speaking engagement. I like to pick up a wide variety of side projects to help me learn new skills and find new ways to share information. I also very much enjoy helping people get their own projects off the ground. It’s all about community.
I work quite a bit throughout the week, but make time to unplug every day to spend time with my family. This varies from sitting around the house, going to museums/parks, or the necessary shopping. I also try to golf as much as I can, which isn’t very much.
Married, kids, pets?
I’m married to an extremely supportive wife and have two adorable boys I refer to as 2.0 (4yo) and 2.1 (15mo). The Mrs is my biggest supporter and helps me keep my head on straight.
Favorite technology product or tool?
As cliche and fanboy as it may sound it really has to be my iPhone/iPad/AppleTV ecosystem. The phone gives me a crazy amount of capability throughout the day. FaceTime makes travel away from the kids bearable.
The iPad is great for light computing, video, and reading. I write most of my blog posts on the iPad. The AppleTV is a great extension for the other two devices and everything’s easy enough for my kids to use. In fact we plan to pick up a Romotive Romo robot for Christmas. It uses an iPhone to operate. I love Samsung products (they are all over my house) so one day I may make the jump but I’m still not quite bought into that ecosystem yet. Neither is perfect.
In the next year, what are you most excited about?
Watching my kids grow up and 2.0 starting Kindergarten. I love that he is getting to the age where he can choose to show interest in some of the things that I do. 2.1 is right on his heels as well.
In the industry I’m excited about how software defined everything will start to evolve. My gut tells me that consumers won’t start to really “get it” for another year or so. I’m looking forward to helping them have that EUREKA! moment.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I’m very excited about my contribution to the recently announced Mastering vSphere 5.5 book. This book is the latest in Scott S. Lowe’s extremely popular Mastering vSphere series. I served as a contributing author and updated the Automating VMware vSphere chapter. The book is scheduled to release late October and is available for pre-order on Amazon.
As an aside, after my Seattle VMUG keynote my wife, who was in attendance, commented: “I can’t believe hundreds of people sat down to listen to you talk for an hour” While her comment was funny it rang true. I’m extremely humbled and honored to have opportunities to share knowledge and grow community in our industry. Thank you for naming me Virtualization Pro of the Month and many thanks to your readers who had interest in me and my content.
Editor’s Notice: Nominations Open for October’s Virtualization Pro of the Month
Congrats to Josh on being voted our Pro of the Month for September, and thanks to all of our readers for the nominations for Sept. We’re now accepting nominations for October- Send us an email here and let us know who deserves a shout-out and has some sage advice to share!
PS-Don’t miss our inaugural Pro of the Month for August, Chris Wahl.