Dec 152015
 

In the West, the holiday season summons different memories and plans for different people. The thought of gorging on a selection of delicious fowl and carbohydrates. Spending time with friends or family or loved ones for a gift exchange, or maybe not so loved ones for the obligatory once a year meet and greet. Maybe you volunteer at a local soup kitchen to serve those in need.

In the IT industry, as well as many other professions, working long and late hours is part of the job, and the thought of sleeping in a couple extra hours for a day or two could be at the top of your holiday break to-do list. Others may stay up all night for the official retail kickoff to the busiest shopping days of the year. For many, the activities will be a combination thereof, but whatever your yearly holiday rituals may be, the mere essence of the holiday season can help us remember to reflect on what we are thankful for. In our fast-paced world that we live in, it’s hard not to have blinders on at some point in time. Gratitude should be practiced every day of the year, but an explicit reminder is never a bad thing.

ocean_smMy wife and I recently relocated to the Northeast coast, and we have many reasons to be thankful this year. Having the ability and freedom to make the move is immense, and we are extremely thankful for this opportunity. One positive aspect to traveling so much as a consultant has been the ability to vet many different areas of the country, and decide which region would be the best fit for my family. The largest factor in our ability to move comes from the flexibility gained by running our own company – Heraflux Technologies. Since we have no required city or state to live in, we just need access to an airport and a stable internet connection readily available. Although some states are considered more advantageous to growing a business over others, we were able to focus on quality of life. Because we whole-heartedly believe that in the pursuit of running and growing the very best company we can build, day-to-day quality of life is a vital component and is both directly and indirectly related to our goal. We are here to serve our clients in the best manner possible, meaning making decisions in their best interests, with ethics as one of our guiding principles. We are ever so thankful to all of our clients, as they have given us the ability to transition our efforts to living our passion every single day. Although the written words don’t seem powerful enough, thank you to all of our clients and business alliances!

As we continue to grow and hire employees, we cannot forget those who work with us. I want to emphasize work with us over for us. Working for Heraflux Technologies means things like receiving your pay, benefits, and W2 with the words Heraflux Technologies somewhere on a physical document, but our stance even before we hired our first employee was reciprocal respect for the employee and employer relationship.

Our practices couldn’t have been better surmised by Bryan Johnson, who sold his company Braintree to Ebay for $800 million. He has shared that from the beginning, Braintree had three goals: employees would say it’s the best company they have worked for; engineers would say it’s the best payments platform in the industry; and customers would write love letters to the company. Get these three things right and everything else takes care of itself.

Our approach is to empower and value employees as much as our wonderful customers. Without the hard work they put in day in and day out, we would not be where we are today, and these key components hold the potential to get to where we are going. So with that said, we are extremely thankful to those we work with and for, and I challenge more organizations to share their gratitude for their fellow employees not just over the holiday season, but also throughout the year.

 

 Posted by at 2:28 pm
Nov 182014
 

I don’t care what technology or technologies you enjoy using in your daily job. If there’s an enthusiastic community behind it, you need to become part of it. Your job and career will be better as a result.

I’ll start this personal post with a mixed tale from my childhood. This topic came about from an unexpected email I received yesterday. I got news that two old friends of mine had passed away in the last month. Both were untimely, as they were not much older than me.  These were two people from my childhood, before I could drive, and before there was an official internet. This was back from the BBS days. This was pre-widespread Internet. For some of you – yes, that time did actually exist.

One of these people was a gifted entrepreneur who ran middle Georgia’s (where I grew up) first major bulletin board system and eventually the first regional Internet provider. The other was a great musician and all around person. We all competed to dial in to chat with each other each night on her BBS system. This was when I was in the influential twelve to twenty years old range.

I got to know some truly great people – personally – and I became fast friends with them for life. But the one who had the most influence on me was the owner of this system – affectionately known as sysop. She owned and managed the BBS, owned a small architectural engineering firm, and was an active environmental and political activist. She was driven and determined to build the best environment for her passions and goals in life. The BBS came from her desire to help people connect and interact. Her personality, sense of involvement, and open arms attracted everyone in the regional middle Georgia community (at least us nerds who were BBSing) and helped us all build a community around this system. We all wanted to be there with the group.

After several years of us all fighting to get access, her adding crazy amounts of phone lines into her house, and seemingly infinite late-night chats on every topic imaginable, she got the great idea to hold a gathering at her place to help us all meet face to face instead of just nickname and personality to nickname and personality. People of every age, race, political bias, orientation, and background came to meet each other. It was amazing. I was easily a third of the average age in the room, but felt more at home with these people than I did with anyone at school. I felt like I was home.

This one party led to more, until it became a routine to hang out at sysops house and catch up with this community. This person taught me the value of a number of core life skills, namely community building, entrepreneurship, and determination. I never realized how amazing this experience was until much later in life.

Fast forward about ten years. I get into the full-time work force and discover that I really enjoy working with data. I focused my sights on Microsoft SQL Server, and then started to poke around the net for knowledge. Step back a bit and you see a core group of people contributing to the growing knowledge base for the emerging platform through books and technical blog posts. This group was always encouraging people to learn more, especially those who were new at SQL Server, and did so in the most welcoming and inviting ways.

Now fast forward another ten years. IMHO, the SQL Server community has evolved into the most tight-knit, close, group of technologists on the planet. The amount of information sharing is unparalleled. The welcome newbies receive when asking for knowledge is amazing. It really is like a family. When I fully immersed myself in the community at my first PASS Summit and spoke with Kevin Kline, for the first time since the BBS days I felt like I was home again. It’s hard to describe. It’s the same feeling of community and family that I had with that group back in the day, but had not felt since then. With each Summit and SQL Saturday after that, this sense of community grows more and more. It’s great. I want to keep it up. I want all of you to keep doing what you’re doing. The SQL Server community feels like my family, and for that, I thank you.

Chris and Kelly, RIP. You will be missed by the people whose lives you changed.

Jul 032014
 

If it were not for the SQL Server community, I would not be where I am at with my career today. Period.

Some of you know me personally but a lot do not. I come from a hard-working family of teachers and educators. We’ve had our struggles over the years, just like any other family, but we always push hard (sometimes to a fault) to try to make our dreams a reality.

Ever since I was in grade school, I knew I was a geek. I got my first computer when I was five, and built my first computer for my parents when I was nine. I was building networks when I was in middle school. I loved technology but always got a thrill out of being able to put it to use to solve problems. But, there’s the conundrum that was always in the back of my head. When you are a technologist, how can you cross that chasm into the business world?

About eight years ago I discovered the SQL Server community through the very first Omaha SQL Server Users Group meeting that John Morehouse (t | b | l), a great friend of mine, first launched. It was an incredible experience, and because of the fantastic sense of community that the first meeting brought me, I decided to become the best SQL Server professional that I could be. I really enjoyed the technology, but the community was the biggest factor. The community accepted me for the person that I am in ways that non-techie groups wouldn’t understand.

Somewhere around this time I had a few jobs that were up and down and kept me on the tech side. I wanted more ability to make a positive difference on business and people. But how? How can a tech make any sort of impact? Making the impact helps to cross the bridge. Fortunately, the community helped to steer me along the right path.

About three years ago I decided that it is time to start giving back, and struggled to find the avenues to do so. I never thought I would enjoy it until I played a bit part to help coordinate the first SQL Saturday in Nebraska back in 2010. I had always been the person to quietly get the job done but never one to be in front of people. I think the teacher part of my upbringing came out for the first time with my SQL Saturday session at that first event. I found that giving back helped me feel more complete. Giving back helped me feel like I could make a difference. And it grew from there…

My commitment to the SQL Server and other technical communities that I am a part of is simple. You helped originally steer me in this direction. You helped mentor and guide me over the years. You supported me when I launched my own consulting company in ways that continue to astound and amaze me. I want to give you everything that I can in return. I want to help others any way that I can.

Today I am honored and humbled to be awarded the Microsoft Most Valuable Professional (MVP) award for my efforts in the SQL Server community over the years. To have Microsoft acknowledge the work that I have done is incredible and amazing and very much appreciated, but the impact to the communities and people, and the friends that I have made for life as a result, is the best reward.

#SQLFamily – This award is for you, because of you. As my friend Argenis Fernandez wrote so eloquently a few days ago, now the real work begins for those of us who were selected for this award, past and present. But it does not have to just be me or the other folks who are visible in the community today. Speak at community events. Blog. Tweet. Nominate anyone you know that is an unsung hero in this community for MVP. Continue to grow the community participation and give back. You never know how fulfilling that it can be unless you give it a shot!

microsoft mvp wide

Apr 022014
 

Today VMware released the list of 754 people who are the proud recipients of the coveted vExpert award for 2014. I am proud to say that I have been awarded this great award for the second year in a row!

vmw_logo_vmware-expert

The VMware community is very strong, and I thank John Troyer (@jtroyer) and Corey Romero (@vCommunityGuy) for all of their ongoing efforts to herd cats within the vExpert community.

To check out the full list and congratulate the folks you know who made the cut, visit the vExpert directory here.

Thanks everyone in the VMware community, and keep up the great work! 

Mar 032014
 

IMG_1605My wife, Molly, is one of the smartest (non-technical) people I know. Although she has learned a lot about what I do through osmosis as well as from reading in her spare time, she’s talented in many other ways besides understanding what SQL Server actually is and the difference between virtualization and cloud computing. We both have very entrepreneurial spirits; she ran her own music studio for a number of years, and that’s a small part of why we’re such a good fit as husband and wife as well as running Heraflux Technologies as business partners. Besides making sure that all the pieces of our business are running smoothly seven days a week, in her spare time she dabbles in storytelling, and she had a great accomplishment come from her talents a few weeks ago – a short film she co-wrote that was produced last summer was accepted in the Omaha Film FestivalMens Rea. Over 600 submissions were processed, and she made the final list! We recently spoke about her inspiration for the film and what it’s about.

“I have a strong interest in subcultures. This interest coupled with North Omaha’s extremely high rate of poverty and crime led me to tell this story with Amber Sue Greser (Molly’s writing partner for the short). Mens Rea, which translated from Latin means Guilty Mind, explores two different but also similar people. Nia, who works nights to be able to attend school and take care of her alcoholic mother, has grown up in poverty. She’s striving for something better, which I believe most people attempt to do with their lives, but the reality can seem impossible for many people to pull up the proverbial bootstraps if they don’t start out with boots or even socks. The second main character, Marcus, has also grown up in poverty, but unlike Nia, doesn’t work and watches his single mother work two jobs to support the both of them. On the surface, Marcus could be labeled as a “bad person,” but he’s avoided the neighborhood gangs, dealing drugs, and going to prison. His lack of motivation is due to his observations about what it takes to get ahead. We tried to create a script that hopefully removes some of the black and white thought processes behind interpretation of a situation like Nia’s and Marcus’. The short is a very serious and dark drama with an ending that unfortunately echoes many real-life situations.”

Molly’s co-written short plays in Omaha at Village Point Theatre on Friday, March 7th at 8:30pm. For more information about the film festival, which runs Wednesday, March 5th through Sunday, March 9th, or to purchase tickets go to — http://omahafilmfestival.org/  

Omaha Film Festival 2014

Jan 022014
 

2013 was a year of incredible growth, change, and challenge for me. This last year has been an amazing roller coaster of emotions and life changes. Reflecting on this past year has my head spinning because of all the frenetic twists and turns along the ride.

Challenges

This past year was certainly not all rosy and perfect by any stretch of the imagination. Extended family members had a number of unexpected medical issues which added a lot of stress and worry. A crazy travel schedule, sleepless nights, and stress from all angles helped to run me down and forced me to slow down and take things in stride. The challenges always seem to work themselves out, but it’s always stressful while they are happening. For those out there who supported me through some of these difficult times, I cannot thank you enough. 

Community

vmw_logo_vmware-expertIn 2013 I achieved something I only dreamed about – becoming a VMware vExpert for the first time. It’s a community award, similar to the Microsoft MVP award, and only about 570 people worldwide received the honor. I’m very humbled and grateful to the community for valuing my input on the topics that are near and dear to my heart.

Next, I was fortunate enough to be selected to speak at a wild 13 SQL Saturday events in 2013! I had a blast traveling from coast to coast to speak to groups from Sacramento to New York City and Washington DC. I come from a family of teachers, and I am quite addicted to speaking and teaching at these events. For the last SQL Saturday of the year, I even got selected to present my first all-day preconference training session at the December Washington DC SQL Saturday. I had a great time and the attendees were very pleased.

The SQL Server User Groups and SQL PASS Virtual chapters, both in person and via the Internet, were also tremendous fun. I always enjoy presenting, and enjoy the questions and feedback from the attendees. I strive to be the best presenter that I can be, and every time I present I learn more and feel that I am growing as a presenter.

sqlpasssummit2013logoThe SQL PASS Summit was an event  that I will always remember. I received great reviews from the attendees of my spotlight session, and treasure the networking that I spent almost all the hours of every day engaging in. I simply will not miss this event each and every year from this point going forward. I consider it the best event for SQL Server professionals in the world – period.

Going Independent

The most dramatic life change that I have had in recent memory was the decision to go independent as a consultant in September when I started Heraflux Technologies. The immediate association with Linchpin People was unbelievable as well, as this group of upstanding professionals and I just ‘click’ and are moving forward with quite a bit of fun and exciting projects and initiatives. This alliance has just started, and I am extremely eager about the future possibilities!

Heraflux-Logo-Color-SM linchpin people

My most popular blog posts

Thank you so much for taking the time to frequent this blog. This blog continues to get more and more hits each week. I enjoy sharing the knowledge that can be so valuable to IT professionals out there, and the following blog posts from this last year constantly receive the most traffic on the site.

CPU Overcommitment and Its Impact on SQL Server Performance

This article describes the extreme impact of a common problem (err – design choice) with virtualization platforms – that of CPU overcommitment – and it’s impact on your Tier-1 business-critical workloads. 

Benchmarking Your SQL Server Instance with DVDStore

Quickly and repeatedly benchmark and baseline your overall SQL Server performance with this free utility from Dell. This walk-through shows you how to setup and automate your instance benchmarks.

SQL Server Virtual Machine vNUMA Sizing

Better align your NUMA-aware virtualized application workloads with the underlying hardware configuration by tuning the properly VM.

Installing SQL Server 2012 on VMware vSphere

This blog post describes the new features that shipped with SQL Server 2012, and talks about the best practices when installing the new version on your VMware environment.

My goals, past and present

I generally set some pretty unrealistic goals for myself, as I am a glutton for punishment and push myself pretty hard most days. (If you have ever taken the Gallup StrengthsFinder, my top strength is Achiever.) Most of the time it works out for the best.

I wanted to achieve the Microsoft Certified Master for SQL Server this past year, but with Microsoft announcing the retirement of the certification, I felt that my educational efforts would be better suited in focusing on the new business and the expansion of the technologies I am looking to support. I feel confident that Microsoft will replace it with another updated highest-level certification in the future, and I intend to be first in line for that certification path. 

I also intend to continue to work towards VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX-DCV). With the release of vSphere’s stepped 5.5 release instead of a major 6.0 release this past September, I have a bit more time to work on it, so it became a goal for 2014.

I continue to work towards a mastery of Microsoft’s Hyper-V platform, Azure SQL Databases, Azure Virtual Machines, VMware’s hybrid cloud services, and the upcoming VMware vSAN product. The In-Memory OLTP feature of SQL Server 2014 is also greatly intriguing and on the list to explore.

The upcoming year

Looking forward to 2014, I feel a growing sense of satisfaction that a lot of events from the last twenty years are continuing to help guide me in the right direction. The start of my business in Q4 2013 helped solidify my resolve and determination to keep on the right path, and reflections on the wild pace of 2013 is helping me to slow down, think straight, and develop a more steady pace in the progress of my interests. I know my travels will take me all over the country, and I cannot wait to go see more of this great world.

(I’m still doing a lot of SQL Saturday events this year, though, as I cannot think of a single continuous thing that makes me that happy!)

The challenges of the past year constantly remind me to stay humble and keep the things that matter the most to me – family and close friends – always in the forefront of life.

Thank you, community, for coming back to this site and supporting me in my various interests and endeavors. I would not be able to do this if it were not for you.

Onward into 2014!

 Posted by at 4:23 pm