The New RTFM

Most of you who come here know that I post A LOT about the #vCommunity. What you may not know is that I actually have a day job. Who would have thought? In between being a dad, and a husband, and a VMUG Leader in NYC, I’m also a Solutions Engineer for Zerto. I’ve been in this role for over a year and I love it. I really enjoy speaking to customers and learning different and innovative ways of doing things.

As part of this totally awesome gig, I get to talk to a lot of customers and prospective customers about their disaster recovery (DR) and business continuity (BC) plans and approaches. One of my favorite questions to ask is this:

“How many people went into IT to become a DR admin?”

I usually get crickets. Not because it’s a bad thing to be in BC/DR (I make a great living from it), but because it’s not a sexy job. It’s usually a task that gets dumped in your lap for legal or compliance reasons and it takes you away from the things that you WANT to do. It usually involved getting a whole bunch of different teams (Virtualization, Storage, Networking, DBAs, App/Dev, etc) involved and spending a few weeks (usually a few months) preparing for a test that is almost always done during a (holiday) weekend. Who the hell wants to work on the weekend? I sure don’t, that’s why I made the move to the vendor side but that’s a whole other story.

There’s one other component that I haven’t mentioned yet. Runbooks. Ugh. Just the thought of those things make me cringe. Who remembers or still uses those huge loose-leaf binders with hundreds of pages of step by step instructions that were written (and probably not updated) years ago. Once a year you would have to dust them off for instructions on how to recover your environment in the event of a disaster. Then you would have to go page by page with a bunch of other team members and hope that the system matches what is on the page.

You know what is really helpful with this kind of situation? The simple acronym RTFM. I come from the military and this acronym had a very simple meaning

READ

THE

F*ING

MANUAL

That however, is the old RTFM.

Since working at Zerto, I’ve come up with a new meaning.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

RECOVER

TEST

FAILOVER

MOVE

 

These are some of the essential functions that any IT Resiliency Platform should be able to provide you. By performing these functions, you’ll ensure that your workloads are protected, your data is intact, and your processes are valid. Let’s take a quick look at each of these functions:

 

RECOVER

This is the ability to restore your data. It could be restoring, or as we like to say resuming your VMs or applications. Or it could mean restoring files or folders from a point in time before a disruption.

 

TEST

Testing is probably one of the most important but also most overlooked operations when it comes to IT Resilience. Testing is how you know with great confidence that your systems will work when you attempt to get them back up and running. It’s a way to recover your VMs or applications in practice before having to do the real thing.

 

FAILOVER

Failover is a misleading term. This is actually recovering your VMs or applications at the target site. Think of this as initiating your DR plan in a live scenario. If your production site becomes unavailable for whatever reason, this is how you recover your workloads and make your users happy again. Simply put, when you’re down, get yourself back up and running.

 

MOVE

Zerto has a function called Move VPG which provides you with Application Mobility by migrating a Virtual Protection Group (VPG) to another location. (NOTE: A VPG is comprised of the VMs you are protecting) This could be moving to another storage platform, or another datacenter, moving from one hypervisor to another or even moving to, from or between cloud providers.

 

In order to have a complete IT Resilience platform, I believe you need to be able to perform all of these functions simply and consistently. Stay tuned as I will dive into each operation a bit more and how Zerto specifically performs each function.

 

2017 – My Year In Review

Wow, a lot has happened in my life in 2017. A. LOT. I don’t even know where to start. I’m going to share my experiences with you all and hopefully inspire you all to do bigger and better things for yourselves in 2018. The easiest way to do this is going to be chronologically so I’ll do my best to keep these in order. It was definitely a year of firsts and new beginnings for me.

#1 (and most important) – Family

Last December I guess technically it was 2016 but since it was late December, I’m counting it. (My Blog, my skewed timeline. Ha!)

My wife Cara and I were fortunate enough to have another beautiful, healthy boy, Rocco Xavier Scuola. We just recently celebrated his 1st birthday. I don’t think the impact of this needs an explanation but I will say that definitely helped put things in perspective for me. My family is the biggest reason I do what I do and strive for success. They are the greatest motivation anyone can ever ask for. The support that they have given me over the years is unmatched and I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support.

#2 – vExpert Award

vExpert-2017-Badge

The year started off with a bang. I was award the title of vExpert by VMware for the first time. It is truly an honor to be on this list. It’s still surreal to me that I made the cut. I’ve already written a post about what it meant to me that you can find here.

#3 – NYC VMUG

Coming off being named a vExpert, things got even more exciting. My good friend Ariel Sanchez Mora and his lovely wife Amy decided to leave NYC for Pittsburgh. I was (and still am) sad to see them go. I wasn’t the only one though. Ariel was a co-leader of the NYC VMUG and left a HUGE void with his departure. The remaining co-leaders thought that I would be a good fit and asked it I would help out. I immediately accepted their gracious offer and I’m really happy that I did. We’ve done some amazing things in 2017 and 2018 is looking just as great. More on that coming up later.

#4 – Zerto

1

The hits just kept on coming after that. After years of being on the customer/partner side of IT, I decided to make the jump to the vendor side of things. Boy, am I happy that I did. I tell everyone that will listen that I should have gone into pre-sales years ago. Zerto has such an amazing culture and only hire top notch people. I’ve been using the product for over 3 years as a customer so it was an easy transition to an engineer role for me as I can speak from experience. Here is more about the move.

#5 – vExpert NSX Award

vExpert-NSX-2017

August was a big month for me as well. I was included in one of the vExpert sub-programs for NSX. I’ve been a fan of NSX for a long time. It’s nice to see that my contributions to the NSX community were recognized. It’s a great fit for nearly any VMware environment and works even better when the customer is using Zerto too. 🙂

#6 – vExpert

giphy-downsized

So I know what you’re thinking, I already talked about this. This time, I’m not talking about me though. This one is even more special because I was able to take someone under my wing and coach them on what they needed to become a vExpert. Best of all, THEY MADE IT! I was so proud. I still am. I literally did none of the work, I just aimed my friend in the right direction and answered the questions that came up during the process. This touches on something that has been discussed on Twitter a lot recently. Mentoring. It’s such an important part of all of our careers. If it’s not currently a part of yours, you should change that. It’s not just about being mentored by someone else, it’s about what you can do to give back. I’ll touch on this again in a few.

#7 – VMworld/VMUG Extra Mile Award

Going with the theme of firsts, 2017 was the first of hopefully many times that I was fortunate enough to attend VMworld in person. What made it even more special was the fact that the NYC VMUG was awarded the Extra Mile Award. We started doing Whiteboard Meetings in NYC with our members where we would dive deep into current technologies, projects we’re working on, home labs, etc. We presented the concept on a VMUG Leader Call and they thought that it warranted recognition. I was so proud to be there to accept in person.

VMworld itself was a blast as well. I learned a lot about what’s new and what’s coming next, I got to see a lot of my old friends that I haven’t seen for a bit and best of all, I was able to see my Twitter timeline come to life. Seeing people that I talk to on social media in real life was the best. I got to meet some people that I’ve only chatted with online, make some new friends and finally put some faces to names. There were also some awesome parties. I attended the Zerto party, the vExpert party and of course the closing party with Blink 182 which was nuts. I also got to take part in my first vBrownBag video. Overall, VMworld was an experience that I’ll never forget

#8 – vBrownBag

During my first NY/NJ VMUG UserCon as a co-leader, I was fortunate enough to do a lightning talk on the #vCommunity as the importance of it as a whole and also to me individually. I expanded on the talk in a blog post here (it will be part of a series) and the link to the video can be found here. I think vBrownBag is really important as it’s technology by the community for the community. The content is always fresh, current and focused on things that matter. I’m currently going through their API series to try and learn some automagic, errr, automation. 🙂

#9 – vExpert Cloud Award

My contributions to the community continued as the year went on. I was honored for a 3rd time to be named an inaugural member or the vExpert Cloud sub-program. I never would have guessed in the beginning of the year that I would end it as a triple vExpert.

#10 – #vCommunity/The Level Up Project 

Level-Up-Blog-Hero

I’m sure that you’ve seen a trend here. The majority of what I’ve talked about has been around the #vCommunity. I personally would not be where I am today if not for the help of others. I always try to do the same for others where possible. Whether, it’s sharing technical knowledge, giving career advice, or even trying to help friends find new jobs, I’ll do my best to provide assistance where I can.

That’s why I was drawn to the Level Up Project. It’s everything that I love about VMUG and the #vCommunity but it’s not just limited to VMware. Take a look at the website/Twitter and you’ll find the vTrail Map. This was an awesome resource I found at VMworld. It’s only going to get bigger and better next year. The people that are involved are really some of the top talent in the industry and I’m still wondering why they keep letting me hang around them. 🙂 Hopefully they never catch on.

2017 has been a phenomenal year for me and it’s going to be tough to top it but I’ll do my best. My focus for 2018 is going to be spreading the knowledge and helping to mentor anyone who’s looking for help. I won’t limit it to just technology as there are a lot of people out there that are much smarter than me. I can share career experiences in both large and small companies, as well as what being in sales is like now. If you’re looking to get more involved in the community, I know just the guys and gals that you should talk to. If I can help you, I will. That’s my promise to you.

I’d also like to say thank you to everyone who has helped me get where I am today and supports me everyday.

First off, my wife Cara. She’s the real MVP. None of this is possible without her love and support.

The NYC VMUG crew, you guys are the best. Not just the leaders but our regular whiteboard crew too. Ariel, Niran, Prabhu, Azarya, Anton, thanks for setting the bar so high and making me want to get better every day.

To my team at Zerto, thanks for showing me the ropes and making this an unbelievable experience so far.

To everyone in the #vCommunity, just keep being awesome as you inspire me to do better every day.

Happy New Year everyone! I’m really looking forward to what 2018 is going to bring us.

Nick

P.S. Bea Arthur was a Marine. 🙂

My New Role

Although it is bittersweet, today is my last day at Viacom. I am very lucky to have been afforded the opportunity to come here and work with some amazing talent as well as some cutting edge technology. The culture at Viacom as a whole has been phenomenal. I will look back on my time here fondly.

Coming to the decision to move on was not an easy one. There were only a few places that I even considered making a move to. They were all technology companies and I was fortunate enough that I was able to pick between a few of them. My decision was obviously based on this short list of companies but how that list came to be is the important part. I wanted to go to a company where I believed in the product. Since I was looking at pre-sales roles, I felt that it was necessary that I could speak about the product with passion and first hand experience. As a customer, I could always tell the difference when someone was trying to hit a quota as opposed to when they believed in the product or service that they were selling.

I’m happy to announce that I’ll be joining the team at Zerto as a Systems Engineer covering NYC and Long Island. I’ve spent the past 3+ years as both a customer and a partner of Zerto and I know firsthand the dramatic improvement it can bring to any environment. Zerto has enabled me to perform DR tests in a matter of minutes whereas the previous products and technologies I’ve used took days. I’ve also seen it used successfully for datacenter migrations and ransomware recoveries. Given the recent announcements of bi-directional replication with Microsoft Azure, I only expect that my experiences will get better and be shared by more and more of you. I’m looking to share my experience with you as well. I plan on blogging about the technology and new features in the coming weeks so stay tuned.