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A day at sea aboard the USS Howard #CiscoChampions #LeadersAtSea #USNavy

March 27th, 2017

I’d like to share with you an absolutely amazing opportunity that I got to experience this recent March in 2017!    

Late last year the Cisco Champions forums were abuzz with this very unique and special occasion to get the chance to head to sea with the US Navy and experience a day in the life of the men and women in blue, serving our country.   Some of you may remember the two years I spent in Afghanistan, in a sandstorm of a landlocked country, where Army, NATO, Air Force and Marines were widely represented but the US Navy, not nearly as much.   So this further allowed me to truly experience life as they live it beyond what the sandbox offered.

Well as every journey begins with a single step, this journey began with a train ride in order to arrive at my eventual destination of the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado, CA.




The journey was long and tumultuous but it was well worth it for the experience and adventures that it brought about.


Feeling like a rockstar, I begin my start with a parking space just for me, or well, Mr. version of me, but nonetheless, that felt pretty good!   But things only continued to get better from there! As we head inside to a briefing room we got to drill our initial chaperon on details of the day to come as well as very specific details about the US Naval Fleet!


It was an honor to meet Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden who is Commander Naval Surface Force U.S. Pacific Fleet.   There were no electronic devices allowed in the briefing room when we first met with him so you’ll have to accept this post-briefing photo-op with him. More than the honor to meet him though was the hour he spent sharing with us details of the US Navy, it’s history and the current state of effects.   Some notable quotes, anecdotes and stories he shared were;

Enlistment and enrollment figures in the US Navy are between 60 and 70% existing Navy Families.   Fathers and Mothers who serve have a higher liklihood of their sons and daughters going on to serve in the Navy, while this is a very familial type story it also speaks to fewer and fewer candidates outside of Naval families are enrolling to serve.   This then lead to the Vice Admiral sharing that his father was coming to visit the week we were there, and what they were likely to talk about, was the Navy and how things can be done better. It’s interesting to note that Vice Admiral Thomas Rowden’s father was also a Vice Admiral during his service in the US Navy, an interesting comment that he made was, while his father served, his own three sons have not expressed an interest in joining the Navy.   If the trend of familial recruiment figures were to persist as they had in the past, but pursuing a military career isn’t in more individuals trajectories, we could be facing a recruitment crisis before long.

The US Navy focus is “How do you get from where you are, to where you want to be

US Naval ships are at their lowest figure in history, “It takes 15 minutes to close the door, and 15-30 years to deploy a new ship

On the hardworking nature of the men and women at sea, “Winners work hard, losers don’t.


Here we head out for our ~45 minute helicopter flight to go 80-90 miles out to sea where USS Howard (DDG 83) happened to be at that point! Keri Kukral and I are all geared up in this mid-flight selfie!


Commander Amy McInnis, Commanding Officer of the USS Howard (DDG 83) introduces us to her crew and our liaisons who will be giving us a tour of this very operational Destroyer on the open seas of the Pacific Ocean.


A sample of both the crew and the fire power of this offensive and defensive warship.


Subtle yet very serious fire power available here on deck.


As a testament to the very familial nature of the US Navy and their attachment to their ships.  This is the bell at the front of the USS Howard (DDG 83) and when the ship is in port, often baptisms are scheduled by families to have their children baptized on the ship. Their names are then etched inside of the bell for perpetuity.   I saw the engravings, it really ties family, and ship and navy and family all together.


A comment made by one of the shipmates was, “They said join the Navy and see the world, but they didn’t mention that 71% of the Earth is covered in water!”   A poignant yet interesting comment, but they further went on to rave about all of the Ports across the world they’ve had the opportunity to visit and the amazing experiences they had while enlisted in the ranks of the US Navy.


Our time cannot last forever, so our ride arrives to take us back to solid mass of Earth.


I really liked this photo and the simple yet very complex nature of the lives and roles these soldiers fulfill to protect our borders, our shores and our seas.

I’m only sharing a small sample of photos from this whole adventure as I have over 400 photos and videos I took!

To sum things up, this was an absolutely amazing experience I had the opportunity to enjoy and explore with, and I had many takeaways, some public like included here, and some private.    I don’t want you to think this is an advertisement for the US Navy or any of our Military operations, just as my time in Afghanistan was not either. However it really does shed light on the state of affairs across our military in general and particularly the extremely lean (too lean) Naval forces we have, both in the supply of people to man the ships, and the ships themselves.

It really increases my appreciation for everything they do, and this was just one ship as part of one fleet, in one part of our worlds oceans.

I really want to thank the Cisco Champions program, Brandon Prebynski, Dennis Hall of Avere Group LLC and Mike Raney, PRO of US Navy Fleet who helped make this all possible.

Also see the experiences of my fellow Leader at Sea, Keri Kukral 

A DAY AT SEA ABOARD THE USS HOWARD – By Keri Kukral of RawScience.TV 

Dennis Hall, founder of Avere Group LLC, made my embarking possible via his nominating me the US Navy. He is neither an employee of nor contractor with the military.  He does this as a pay-it-forward in tribute to service members, veterans, allies and their families.  Dennis Hall initially submitted my nomination to the Public Affairs Officer of the US Navy, Commander, Naval Surface Forces – Pacific. The Public Affairs Officer selected me for the Leaders to Sea Program.   Dennis Hall acts in accord with Cisco Systems as liaison with the military for public affairs programs pertaining to Cisco Champions and Cisco Social Ambassadors. 

Dennis Hall may be e-mail contacted at:   The word “Contact” is part of his e-mail address.  His mobile phone number is 916-430-5263. His blog for Avere Group LLC is  On Twitter he is @averegroup

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Posted in Baltimization, Cisco, CiscoChampion, Community, LeadersAtSea | Comments (0)

Why does the “Industry” predict what happens when it’s the Community who Adopts?

March 19th, 2015

This is a particularly pressing question that has come up recently.  I even put out a post about it in the SolarWinds Thwack community because they’re such a diverse and engaging community I love the feedback they tend to present!

I’ve seen a lot of predictions over the years, whether it is “This is the year of VDI!” (Currently we are on the 7th “year of VDI”)  Or “Big Data is here!” we all know the infinite number of predictions we constantly hear about, I’ve even included one of my own for the coming 2015 from from? ?SingleHop who hit me up at the end of 2014 saying, “Hey, do you have any IT Predictions for 2015?”

Single Hop 2015 IT Predictions

So I get it. You get it.  But are these really predictions intended to become self-fulfilling prophecies or are they mere posturing while YOU the Community. You the CUSTOMERS of the world are the ones determining whether these predictions actually come to fruition.   Now not all Predictions are within our control, like saying the cost of a particular product or solution will be reduced, that is really up to the industry that bears it, that we constantly fight for pricing on and against. 

But let’s talk about some general purpose predictions and it’s really up to you to decide what YOUR adoption is, I’ll provide some color in some places if you’re not familiar with it so as to give you a baseline to discuss.

Software Defined Storage (SDS)

Everybody and their brother is talking about SDS. “Check out our SDS Solution! It’s awesome!” blah blah blah.  So for the moment, let’s take a sober look at what the SDS space looks like.   VSAN is now available as 2.0 in vSphere 6.0.  However prior to it going GA last week, VSAN alone has ~1200 customers.   That’s pretty significant considering their solution has only existed for LESS than a year. (Compared to other similar solutions, the numbers are in the HUNDREDS not Thousands) so the possibilities look potentially bright, albeit at a cost.  

Now what about vVOLs you say. Yea you can say that, is it too early to tell? Yes. Yes it is FAR too early to tell, because vVols have gone GA LAST WEEK and not every vendor has their support integrated for it.  For what it is worth, vSphere 6.0 having just come out still isn’t fully baked and supported by all of your third-party applications, so if you run a pure-play VMware environment only without Veeam, Zerto and every other billion vendor solution out there and at the same moment your SAN also supports vVols, then sure, but for most of you… You’re going to be waiting a little while (At least 60-90 days for full support and adoption)   So for the meantime you’re still looking at vSphere 5.5 and the respective solutions present there, that’s not a BAD thing, it’s just a factual thing you need to be aware of.

Now to play the devils eggvocate on this a moment, If VMware has Let’s say a million customers, and ~1200 of them are running VSAN today. There’s nothing but room for growth, lots and lots and lots and lots and LOTS of growth.   So it’s not like the tides have been turned, the tipping point as it were (I’m sure that’s somehow relevant :)).   It really comes down to you to decide, “Of the Software Defined Storage strategies available in the market place which ones am *I* liking and seeing value to leverage in my organization” You know or blah blah blah. :)

Software Defined Networking (SDN)

Why yes, let us talk about the SDN space for a moment… The number of solutions available aren’t exactly bursting at the seams.  I mean sure, –14- hours ago, Juniper and Mirantis have expanded their partnership to pursue SDN type joint development, but for the whole of the market-place, that doesn’t mean they have a go to market solution we can adopt.   That said, let’s discuss what we CAN adopt.   VMware NSX, Cisco ACI and OpenFlow.   VMware’s NSX is the best player in town, it has the greatest feature-set and capabilities and will give us visibility and insight into East-West traffic which has essentially been masked as a result of the adoption of Virtualization.  Pretty awesome, right? NSX has been around for ~5 years+ now? And they had 400 customers when VMware acquired Nicira back in 2012, and today they have 400 customers.   I don’t see this puppy jumping off the shelf, when something like VSAN which has been 1.0 has 3x as many customers.   Now, I’ve found that VMware sales people will disagree with me, “We see it everywhere, everyone is interested, stop saying that no one is buying NSX”  Okay, show me the money, stop telling me the rhetoric that YOU are being told.  Like I said, it is the BEST player in town, yet when I talk to guys who run some of the large NSX shops… Well, let’s just say I wish that it worked as well as HA, DRS, or vMotion.   So should you adopt an SDN strategy or should you look at one? I’m sure you’ll be the first to tell me that YOU are indeed looking at one, because we can predict all the hell we want, it’s up to you to decide and enact.

Hybrid Cloud

The Cloud the Cloud the Cloud! This is surprisingly one area where I keep hearing about it from YOU and not in reverse.  Customers and friends who have made such claims as, “Yea, I moved ‘x’ services from On-Premises into Azure” or one who said they’ve moved 100% of their server workload into Azure. Yea, Seriously, Wow!  I’m with you, the proof is in the pudding, and want to see how it tastes 3, 6, 9 months and a year out, but the fact that others are doing it is quite a positive testament to the capabilities.   Oh and people are starting to adopt the same in a vCloud Air type of scenario (Yes, I hate it when they keep changing product names on us, I mean give a brother vCloud Air with Retina at least! :))   So while even *I* have predicted that people will start adopting Disaster Recovery as a Service leveraging capabilities like vCloud Air, I’ll let you know how I see that start to play out vs just saying, “Yea I think people will start to do something like that”.   The year is still early and I’ll actually have some interesting Hybrid Cloud stories to share as the year progresses, but for now, you tell me if you’re seeing adoption of YOURSELVES increase :)

Monitoring and Management

This is often the most overlooked, undervalued and most necessary part of every organization.   Companies who produce tools that allow you to manage your environment, watch over your infrastructure and then start to provide intelligence and guidance as opposed to merely sharing information with you can be few and far between.  Some players in this space like Solarwinds have done more than just simply take a temperature of what people are doing and have started to integrate what matters most to you into a single pane (drink!) to allow for better management.   I’m not saying, Hey stop proceeding down your road of deploying Orion, NPM, SRM, Virtualization Manager, and an infinite number of items that provide insight, however Solarwinds themselves have seen a need for integration, thus their release of AppStack to provide that unified point of management.   The Microsoft Fanboys may say, “I can do everything I ever could want with System Center” and it’s cute that you believe that, but the moment you need to do something non-microsoft centric or provide deeper insight into a Virtual, Storage or Network layer… I’m not saying you won’t see anything, I’m just saying… you’ll have blinders on. :)   The monitoring and management landscape is filled with lots of players, many of whom are one-off and many of whom are trying to be the ‘everything for everyone’ ala HP OpenStack (ouch!) so be wary and be aware.  Though how important is correlation engine analytics and deep inspection visibility and insight into your infrastructure into 2015? Is that something you desire or do you feel it merely a myth?

These are just a handful of items which are often predicted about and in particular have predictions for this year.   What are you seeing be the players in this space that you’re looking into? What do you see yourself straight-up adopting?   You’re the trendsetters, we’re just a bunch of random people touting our thoughts. :)

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Posted in Big Data, Cloud, Community, Evangelist, Microsoft, Storage, Virtualization | Comments (1)

VMware comes out in full support of NSX and Networking, “A vote for VCP-NX is a vote for Certification!”

February 10th, 2015

Some of you may have read my original post back in November, The VCP-NV is your ticket to escaping the VCP “Class requirement” for VCP-DCV! which had basically stated that until February 28, 2015 you’d be able to get your Cisco CCNA/CCNP and then take the VMware VCP Network Virtualization with no course requirement, and that made you eligible for taking ANY other VCP (Such as Data Center Virtualization (DCV) or Cloud) without having to pay for the Course requirement applicable to those other certifications.

Then within the last week, an Asterisk appeared OUT OF NOWHERE, LIKE WTF?! Which prompted this blog post #AsteriskGate VMware feels the ‘pinch’ and “invalidates” the VCP-NV as a “valid VCP Certification” #AsteriskGate – And the general gist was, all of a sudden the stance appeared that the VCP-NX wasn’t as valuable as the other VCP Certifications (This prompted outrage from the community, to where people were being told by VMware Education that no, the VCP-NV did not ‘count’ basically) among other things.

Well, the latest on this trend of things is… This is no longer the case! I don’t want to say our community outreach and outrage respectively was the  ‘cause’ of this resolution but it likely was. :)

Here is an email I received from VMware Education when I contacted them on this matter;

As I understand, you need to know if  a VCP-NV certification taken through Cisco credential, can take certification in different track.

I would like to inform you that, yes, you could take VCP certifications in any track based on the VCP-NV certification taken through Cisco credential. There in no course requirement.

So there we go! Mission Accomplished. Oh and might I add an update from my original blog post which mentioned that the CCNA/CCNP route would expire 28FEB2015…

You can go this path until 31JAN2016!!!

So my dear friends, colleagues, network junkies and other industry brouhaha’s… Go out there, Get Certified! Whether that be by getting your CCNA R&S / CCNA DC, then getting your VCP-NV and on to VCP-DCV or you choose another path, the power is in your hands… Don’t let it pass you by! <3

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Posted in Certification, Cisco, Community, Education, Virtualization, vmware | Comments (2)

Are you attending Interface Seattle next week? (4DEC2014)

November 24th, 2014

Interface Seattle

So, I ask the question… Are you going to be attending the Interface Tour in Seattle? I ask selfishly because I will be there, and you know how much I love you all and I’d love to meet up with you! :)

One cool element of this particular conference is that me and my new rockstar home Xiologix are a Gold Sponsor of the event! So that itself is awesome enough reason to check it out, right?!

There are various sessions at the show, and interestingly an accredited model for earning CPEs which is really useful for you CISSP, CASP, or other kinds of folks needing to maintain some sense of Continuing Education.

My favorite part however will be the opportunity to discuss with ya’ll next generation data-center type things and you know how I’m always a fan to solve pretty much any problem, with or without a whiteboard!

So come check it out, especially if you’re already in the Pacific Northwest area! <3  Here’s an Invitation for the event to check it out!

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Posted in Community, Seattle, Xiologix | Comments (0)

A look at #VMworld Day 1 and what you should know!

August 26th, 2014

Let me start off by saying, WOW. I mean Mega-WOW.  If you haven’t watched the Keynote from 26AUG2014 yet you definitely ought to.   This VMworld and this keynote focused on what has been taken for granted within the community and the virtualization space for years from a corporate perspective.   This VMworld has focused all eyes and attention on the COMMUNITY.   When the executives of VMware get up and say that the community matters, that the VMware Users Group organization is not only visible but also important to the mission and the success of their business; They are finally getting it! Today as it stands the VMUG organization has over 100,000 members. If you’re not one of those members, you should be. And if you are one of those members, continue to get involved, grow, rock! 

But there have been so many other points which were hit on, discussed, leveraged.  Down below is a breakdown of the items which they mentioned and respectively discussed, including where you can sign up for the Beta programs for some items.   This is only a small portion of the products which will be unveiled, updated, released, so on and so forth!  (There will be more references in the coming days)

This as a whole breaks down just a small section of what was discussed at the Keynote (General Session), What products were mentioned, and some little ones you ought to know about which were not directly mentioned THERE but instead were referenced elsewhere and are now able to be talked about.

  • Policy as a Service (Congress – Being worked on by Tim Hinrichs and Peter Balland, Scott Lowe pointed them out to me at the CTO Booth.
  • Mentioned briefly in the KeyNote but the further integrations and validation of the Government Cloud First Program – FedRAMP (Which is huge)
  • A serious commitment to the Open Computing Project (OCP) joining as a Gold Member

There is much more which will come from this, not only announced today but the outliers and little enhancements (Which I’ll discuss in the next few blogs)

A look at some of the products featured today 26 AUG 2014!

Hybrid Cloud
Software-Define Your Data Center
SDDC Management
Rapidly Scale Your Infrastructure
  • VMware EVO: Rail
    • EVO:RAIL announced partners: Dell, EMC, Fujitsu, Inspur, Net One Systems and SuperMicro. More to follow!

The point is, this is just a taste of more to come.  Look forward to Video interviews with Engineers, Architects, Founders and more on some of the game changers in the industry, as well as highlighting particularly cool technologies, and doing my best to avoid the companies with crappy products. <3

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Posted in Community, Virtualization, vmware, VMworld | Comments (0)

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