Nerd Journey 039: The Transition to Enterprise with Paul Woodward Jr and A.J. Kuftic Part 1

Welcome to episode 39 of the Nerd Journey Podcast [@NerdJourney]! We’re John White (@vJourneyman) and Nick Korte (@NetworkNerd_), two VMware Solution Engineers who are hoping to bring you the IT career advice that we wish we’d been given earlier in our careers. In today’s episode we chat with Paul Woodward Jr. and A.J. Kuftic about the transition from smaller organizations to the Enterprise.

Original Recording Date: 05-14-2019

This podcast is a follow up to Episode 14 of the ExploreVM Podcaston Making the Move to Enterprise.

Topics – Paul Woodward Jr. aka @ExploreVM and @AJKuftic on the transition to Enterprise

2:43 – Background on the ExploreVM Podcast

  • Paul had been blogging for a couple of years and thought podcasting would be easier than writing. Boy was he wrong about the level of effort involved!
  • Paul mentioned podcasting has been a great experience. He wanted to give back to the community that helped him grow.
  • Paul has sound proofing foam in his office to make things sound better.
  • Changes in Paul’s career trajectory due to starting the podcast…
    • Paul made the move from delivery engineer in the SMB to large business. He’s now a Pre-Sales Engineer for SHI.
    • His perception is the podcast has not hurt his career but feels like it has indirectly influenced it.
  • Paul mentioned people have been pretty open to being guests on his podcast, even in the early days.
  • Some people were hesitant at first, but they eventually get over the fear, relax, and can have a great conversation (that the rest of the internet gets to hear).
    • It is not exactly the same as speaking to someone at a user group event or conference (i.e. think phone call vs. in-person interaction).
  • John speaks to the logistics and challenges of booking podcast guests.

8:55 Paul’s Experience with a Move to Enterprise

  • Each step has been interesting.
  • Paul’s first IT job was very siloed and was in identity and access management, but he’s liking the MSP and the VAR world.
  • The challenges in smaller environment are different than those in larger environments.
  • The best part for him through this process was continuing to evolve and learn, which was a direct result of making the moves.
  • Working at one company as a customer may not expose you to the same number of problems and different environments working for a MSP or VAR might. Online community participation is also helpful to gain exposure to a wide variety of scenarios.

11:58 – Silos and Interface Areas

  • A.J. got silo’d only when he moved to a large enterprise and has spent a large amount of time being a translator who could talk to multiple teams intelligently to promote wider systems level thinking.
    • For example, understanding public cloud requires knowledge of a number of areas.
    • Having the generalist mindset coming from SMB really helps build rapport with different teams.
  • If your Twitter timeline is excited about some new technology, give it 5 years before you’ll see it in proper enterprise.
    • When these technologies get to large enterprise, there are more standards and best practices developed.
  • If you’re comfortable in interface areas (where technologies interact), you can enhance your value to the company greatly.
    • This is where A.J. has made his career.
    • How can you shift with the industry so your skillset is not deprecated? Listen to A.J’s theories.
    • Is vendor lock in real or a myth?
    • It’s ok to be wrong. People have their own opinions. Pick your battles, kids.
    • The architecture discussions happen in the interface areas.
  • In a small shop, you are the interface. As you move up, your ability to communicate ideas becomes crucial.
    • This comes back to people and processes and may have nothing to do with the technology itself – who will support, did we met design spec, etc.
  • Great quote from Paul – "As much as we all love to play with technologies, our end goal is the success of the business, whether you think you are or not. IT is a tool of the business."
    • People stuck in a silo don’t see the big picture / overarching goals.
    • Paul’s first stint in a help desk gave him a nice view of silos early on in his career. Then moved to a MSP and helped sell different technology stacks to upper-level decision makers.
    • Nice quote from A.J. – "Just because you’re not doing what they are talking about on LinkedIn does not mean you are wrong."
    • Sometimes asking why trips people up. We talk through some examples of this related to companies moving to public cloud.
    • Make the changes you want incrementally.
    • Think about more than just where the bits are stored. What is the business expecting me to deliver? How does this change the way we will need to operate?
    • Are the goals of the silo the same as the goals of the business?
    • Go to market is different than go to function.
    • Architecture is about balancing what it is that you do (i.e. standards) with what the business needs and adapting as needed. Be willing to allow changes to the standard if needed.
      • Sometimes you need a bigger engine, and sometimes you need a bigger fuel tank.
      • A one-off could turn into a new standard.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

image sources

  • Paul Woodward Jr and A.J. Kuftic: John White

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