Nerd Journey 037: Jon Hildebrand and the Journey to Architectural Thinking

Welcome to episode 37 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 discuss.

Original Recording Date: 05-06-2019

Topics – Jon Hildebrand

2:26 – Jon’s Background and Career Journey, The Cerner Years

  • Today Jon is a Principal Technologist at Cohesity and is located in Kansas City.
  • He spent 14 years with a specific company and moved to a service provider for around 4 years before getting "axed."
    • Jon realized early on that networking would be very important in his career.
    • Jon was part of the IT staff at the college he attended and landed a job at Cerner along with several classmates. His first role was that of a consultant.
    • How is working with college professors similar to working with seasoned IT professionals? List to Jon’s take on that.
    • One of Jon’s major projects was tackling a Citrix environment in the early 2000s. This was a 6-year endeavor and required heavy travel.
    • Jon then moved over to managing internal systems (VMware and others) to broaden the technology focus.
    • By the time he was close to finishing up at Cerner, he was part of a 4-5 person team that managed 80,000 to 100,000 virtual machines and 2500 – 3000 hosts.
    • The scale of the environment required learning automation skills, and Jon started exploring PowerShell and PowerCLI, drawing on a background in software engineering.
    • Jon speaks to his discontent with sitting in the middle. He began to get involved in user groups like VMUG.
      • He started to really enjoy presenting and realized he did not enjoy what he was doing at his day job.
      • Someone he knew from school let him know about a new opening at a service provider.

12:46 – Moving to LightEdge Solutions

  • This role would expose Jon to learning networking, storage, and managing multiple global datacenters (not just a single datacenter).
  • He spent 4 years here and did some great work in process standardization.
    • Something as simple as building a server could change hands 8 times. Jon was able to trim some of these processes like building a virtual machine down from weeks to just a few minutes.
    • The automation bug never really left Jon, and even now, he’s still into PowerShell.
  • At Cerner he was hyper-focused on virtualization, but the role at LightEdge allowed him to touch and gain insight into other areas (or silos).
    • Jon speaks to other reasons for leaving Cerner in this light.
  • Jon transitioned to more of an architect than an engineer after being exposed to the pain points of the system as a whole.
    • One of the reasons this transition was easy for him to make was his ability to improve processes.
    • When you begin to analyze departmental silos, this is an analysis of environmental culture. Jon speaks to the different mentalities on the organizational structure of technology departments.
      • John White weighs in on his experience with organizational structure.
      • Beware of "that’s how we’ve always done it" in interviews.
      • What other red flags does Jon recommend you look for when interviewing?
  • Contact Jon Hildebrand on Twitter @snoopj123.

Contact us if you need help on the journey.

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