Ep#88 Shifting Left Done Right Using DevOps

September 14, 2022

Episode Summary

We've all heard of the terms, "Shift-Left", "DevOps", "DevSecOps", or even "ClickOps". AWS Hero, Chris Williams joins our podcast to break down the terms and provide us a better understanding of how and when to use them. Plus he's talking about his career from vTug to WWT, which includes his new role as a Cloud Therapist.

Chris is always working on something and community focused. That's what makes him an awesome AWS Hero.

Oh, and you can't forget his recent fame on TikTok... haha

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About the Guest

IT Solutions Architect & active IT community leader with exceptional technical and communication skills. Can work both as an individual contributor and as the technical lead for an organization. Has a comprehensive knowledge of infrastructure technologies and IT services. Adept at leading cross-functional global teams to deliver customer solutions and communicating complex technical solutions to business leaders. Comprehensive data-center experience covering design through to implementation.

#jonmyerpodcast #jonmyer #myermedia #podcast #podcasting

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Episode Show Notes & Transcript

Host: Jon

Please join me in welcoming enterprise architect, Chris Williams to the show, Chris, thanks for joining me.

Guest: Chris

Thanks, Jon. Uh, thanks for having me on hello everybody. Nice to meet you.

Host: Jon

<laugh> Chris. I feel like I'm in the presence of like, I don't know. This is awesome having you on the show. You're so well-known not only in a DevOps community, vbrownbag. So, so many things, social media and your personality speaks volume in words. So I don't know. I'm like starstruck to have you on the show.

Guest: Chris

I, I love to irritate people on several different platforms. I just insinuate myself into a process and then just bug the heck out people until, uh, until they tell me to get the hell outta there.

Host: Jon

<laugh> and then you move on the next one.

Guest: Chris

Then I move on to the next one. I, I, you know, I, I figure I'm gonna start doing a talk now. I don't know. Maybe I'll start dancing.

Host: Jon

<laugh> uh, talk to me about that because

Guest: Chris

No, absolutely not. I will not do a TikTok on dancing. <laugh>

Host: Jon

Do, do not say not because, oh, wait a second. I'm not gonna spoil, you know, you're gonna be at reinvent. I might have to put you on the spot to do it. And I think that might be a good opportunity. <laugh>

Guest: Chris

I have to, I have to work on my floss. That's that's what the kids are doing now, right? It's the floss. Yeah. Okay. Wow.

Host: Jon

That's that's like, so 20, 21, man.

Guest: Chris

<laugh> dear. I'm so old now. <laugh> but thank thanks for having me on Jon. Yeah, my first and last time.

Host: Jon

Oh shit. What are we talking about today? Oh yeah, that's right. No, no, no, just kidding. Okay. So we're talking with Chris, not only his bag story, how he got into what he's doing now and all the other stuff he's done, including the brown bag, but I wanna talk about DevOps, but let's get a little insight onto who Chris is and how he got into everything. Well, I don't know if we have enough time for everything, but the basics I'll

Guest: Chris

I'll I'll keep it, I'll keep it short and succinct. Um, so I, uh, started off, uh, as, as many people in the it industry do playing video games, uh, super enjoyed playing doom, uh, liked networking it up with my friends. Uh, some somebody said, Hey, you're kind of good at this networking thing. And so a local university hired me to rewire their CIS department. Uh, and, and then, then, uh, I stopped studying for my, for my pre-med. I was, I was originally pre-med and I stopped doing that, got my CCNA. Then I got my MCSC. Then I got my VCP. And, and then I, I got into, I naturally segued over into the, the social stuff, cuz I liked being sociable. I like the community aspects. Um, and uh, things just kind of snowballed. I became a VMware V expert and then I became an AWS hero.

Guest: Chris

I've been running user groups for quite some time. Um, the, the, the good folks over at V brown bag asked me to join up and help them out several years ago now. And so I've been, I've been running the, uh, the us channel and, and helping out there for, I wanna say the past seven years it's been going on for 13 years, but I've been, I've been involved with them for about the past seven years. Uh, and, and professionally, I am currently an enterprise architect working over at WWT, uh, worldwide technology. I've, I've been a cloud engineer. I mean all the way from desktop support to, to CIS admin, to data center, Migrator to cloud engineer and, and then, uh, cloud cloud architect, and now enterprise architect concentrating on AWS. Of course,

Host: Jon

Chris doom. Oh my God. That just brings back a nostalgia of booting it up into disk and then playing. Oh, mm-hmm <affirmative> oh, I just wanna go back to that time and play a little bit. I mean, old school style. All right. Little nostalgia. Sorry. The attention. Why is I just noticed something, a trend, a lot of folks that have just had on my podcast have more of a premed or medical background or bioengineering, and now they're in tech. Really? How does that happen? I mean, tech more interesting than that, or just easier? What,

Guest: Chris

So I, I, I went, I went down the path of premed, so I I'm, uh, my, my family is Greek. So of course the standard Mediterranean edict is you shall either become a doctor or a lawyer. And, and so doctor was kind of picked for me, but, you know, I, I, I enjoy, I enjoy medical processes. Neurology is fascinating. Pharmacology is fascinating to me and everything like that. So what, but, um, as I, as I got into it, as I got into my studies, I was in, um, gross anatomy and, and, uh, I, I just, I kind of, I, I saw, I saw my first cadaver and I was like, Nope, I'm out check <laugh> check, please. I'm done. And, and I was like, you know, what, if, if I, if I work on a human and they blue screen that, that's it. But if I work on a machine and it blue screens, I can, I can recover from that. So, so, uh, I cashed my chips in, on the, on the pre-med thing. And, uh, I, I actually did get a degree in psychology. That was the, the fastest way that I could get out of the university with a degree and, and, and, uh, just get the heck out of there and then then proceeded with my it career. But, um, I, I think it, I think it was, it was good to realize what I didn't want to do. And, and that, um, that, that was, that was how I came to my calling.

Host: Jon

Isn't blue screening, the same, like on a person the same as a computer, just reboot, right. Clear. No. I'm. Yeah.

Guest: Chris

And, and sometimes it works, but more often, I, I, I don't know. I I'm, I was,

Host: Jon

You can't install that OS all right.

Guest: Chris

No, no, no. There's, there's no, there's no reset button. There's no, you know, take the battery out and reset the bios chip. So that's, that's going way back. That's that's that's 46 time right there. Wow. I am old

Host: Jon

<laugh> so you, you had a degree in psychology mm-hmm <affirmative> mm-hmm <affirmative> I, I guess I gotta prepare, be careful what I say or what you're at. No, <laugh>,

Guest: Chris

I, I use that degree, especially now at the enterprise architect level. I am using that degree far more often than I'm I'm spending, you know, actually doing hard skills, like, like, like genuine keyboard time versus talking to people in a boardroom setting, or trying to convince somebody to do something when it's in their best interest, but they're, but they're being recalcitrant. Uh, that psych degree comes in really, really handy, uh, listening skills and communication and, and, um, validation. And, uh, all, all of the hallmarks of, of being a good psychologist are, are very necessary for being a good enterprise architect as well.

Host: Jon

Uh, it would be great for a salesperson when I'm hiring. I might have to look into you and be like, how can we get this person to do something I'm just kidding. <laugh>

Guest: Chris

I, I just talked my boss into letting me change my title to cloud therapist for, uh, here at worldwide. So I'm, I'm in the process of getting my title changed on my, on my, uh, my signatures and everything. Chris Williams cloud therapist.

Host: Jon

<laugh> and that's pretty good. You just talked them into it. You know, it's in everybody's best interest if I change it, because think of how personal it comes across, as I'm talking to 'em about their architecture. Now they're not laying on a couch, but I am engaging with them. And they're just telling me all their problems and how I'm just helping them understand them.

Guest: Chris

I, I did give him a bullet pointed email saying why it would be a good idea to change it. And he was like approved <laugh>

Host: Jon

Oh, I love it. Okay, Chris, how'd you get into DevOps because I wanna talk about V brown bag and then we also have to bring up what is it called V tug? Uh, we, uh,

Guest: Chris

The virtualization technology user group. It, it is, it is now defunct, but, but yes, the, the, the VTU is, is an old, uh, we, we ended that in 2019. We, we can get to that though. Um, okay. Where, where do you wanna start, Jon

Host: Jon

<laugh> man, I got so many places I wanna start. All right. Let's just jump to DevOps and then talk about V brown bag and you can lead into it or we'll just get to it whenever we get. Yeah.

Guest: Chris

Yeah, totally. So dev DevOps is a natural progression or natural evolution of anybody that spends time in, in it. If anybody that spends time in tech, either on the dev side or on the operation side, I came from the operation side. I was, I was a CIS admin, and then I was, you know, into data migrations and stuff, but it was always the non-developer stuff. But even back then, I understood the ne the need to know something about the code, to understand how things are communication patterns, how, what, what things could be modified, what things couldn't be modified, um, things of that nature. So even, even before we had a word for it, the dev dev ops, there there was there's this draw to the middle. So as, as a naturally inquisitive person, I would build the system and then some guy would come along and throw code onto it and just immediately break it.

Guest: Chris

And I'm like, how, how did you break this? I built this to be as resilient as humanly possible. And, and then I would get into asking code questions to them and, and start, you know, delving into tracing and, and patterns and stuff like that. And, and that's how my process. So, so I'm currently actually doing a, a year of Python on the V brown bag as well, because I became so interested in it. And, and we're doing Kubernetes and, and we're doing a series on GI as well. So, so there's this, there's this natural draw. If you are an ops person to understand how the code works and, uh, commensurately, there is a natural draw on the developer side to understand how the infrastructure that, that has been laid down for them, how that operates, how it's connected together, how those things interate and interact with each other and how not to break it.

Guest: Chris

So, so for, for me, it was a natural progression and, and learning, learning how to create pipelines, learning how to ask the right questions of the developers and of the product teams and everything. That just, that, that goes back to my psychology days of just asking the, why get getting into like, well, why do we have to do it this way? Why can't we do it that way? Um, so, and in addition to all of that, my boss, um, wants me to get my AWS DevOps professional certification. So I have the other four certifications and he was like, well, you, you got the other four, just go ahead and get DevOps now, too. And I was like, okay, sure, let's do it. And, and that, that was that's, that's how I got drug, not kicking and screaming, but, but naturally into, into those, into the DevOps landscape, excuse me,

Host: Jon

DevOps, is it an actual role or a cultureship or an understanding of your responsibilities?

Guest: Chris

It it's the, it's the latter too. It's, it's an understanding of your responsibilities. It's a cultural shift. It's there are companies that create DevOps teams, but I, I, I think, I think it's more just an understanding of, I mean, cuz, cuz you can say that you have a team, but whether or not they're actually doing the tasks of a DevOps team can, I mean, it can, it can vary from company to company and I get exposed to a lot of different companies nowadays. So, so when somebody shows me that an ops team that's running, you know, C I C D pipelines and enabling their developers to, you know, push the production five times a day, I'm like that you say ops, but that's DevOps or you have a DevOps team that is, you know, a human bottleneck and the developers have to like, you know, you know, put in Jared tickets to, uh, to, to even, to even get something moved into dev or, or to create, to change the system variable. Then, then you're, you're not really subscribing to the ethos even though you have the proper title for it. So I would say, I would say it's latter too.

Host: Jon

Is DevOps a methodology? Or is it actually like a person? So here's what I envision and here's what I think about operations. I've been in an operations, did it for years. I was on the developer side just to understand it, like you, I was picking apart on why they did a certain action and it impacted the system, the underlying and I how to support both. But you envision like here's operations and here's the developers now that they become one and the same or do they work together where they understand where the developers being able to handle the operations at the same time and own. It is a, you know, I just, I still think of them as separate folks because what happens is you have old traditional methods where there's silos, right? You have your operations and then you have the persons who's responsible, the business application part mm-hmm <affirmative>, but should they be the same or is it just a collaboration between the two?

Guest: Chris

It, it, uh, it, it depends on the size of the organization. It depends on what they're ready for from, from a, from a, from an evolutionary perspective. Um, it, it, it can be a number of things yet. Yes. It can be one in the same group. Um, I've, I've also seen it where it's been two separate groups, but on a per service basis. So like say your dev team has 10 different services that they, that they take care of. There are 2, 3, 4 people within the ops team that are tagged for that service. And so, so the, the, the, a couple of ops people are a member of that two pizza team. Um, and, and I'm saying two pizza team, and I'm kind of expecting the listeners to understand what that means, um, should is, is that, is that a valid assessment or should I get into that?

Host: Jon

Well, why don't you jump into the two pizza team in the understanding, and then we'll talk about more of back into the Deb off structure, two pizza team. Is, is it just an Amazonian term, like an Amazon, or is it a developer term? Like, I always hear it from both.

Guest: Chris

I don't, I don't know where it started, but, but I, I like, I like the analogy it's, it's the, you know, the number of people that can be fed by two pizzas is, is the, is the, um, theoretically the largest number of folks that you want to have dedicated to addressing a service or, or, or fixing a problem. If it gets larger than that, then it becomes too cumbersome because of the, the additional, the, the additional political brain shift that has to happen in a, in a larger group. And if it's too small, then, then they're not, they're not, um, they're not getting enough grains looking at the problem to, to have, have a, a good guest alt of, of ideas. So I, I like the, I, I like the, the phrase, I have no idea where it came from. Um, but yeah, so, so I like, I like that concept of having, you know, enough people on the ops team dedicated to the developers on a per service basis, depending upon the number of services to, to be a, a functional conduit into that ops layer. Um, some organizations, you know, smaller organizations, they they're, they've only got like one or two services. So the, the ops folks and the dev folks, they're, they're, they're already immediately a two pizza team, uh, and, and some of the larger organizations you you've gotta figure out, you know, what's, what's the, what's the best mix for them. And it's, it's always best spoke. It's always, you know, specific to that particular organization's structure, hierarchy, um, political fence making, et cetera, et cetera.

Host: Jon

You had a director of DevOps role. You wanna jump into what that's like and how you handle that, or what was the engagement and what were you trying to achieve now for a quick interruption? A huge shout out to our friends at Veeam for sponsoring this episode, being backup for AWS can easily protect all of your Amazon EC two RDS and VPC data. Wait a second. They can protect my VPC data too. Yep. That's right. Simplify AWS, backup and recovery while ensuring security and compliance. All right. Now, back to our episode.

Guest: Chris

Oh yeah, sure, sure. So I can't, I can't name the company, obviously. Yep. Um, but it was, it was a company that was trying to get a product out to market and they had, they had been running into a couple of challenges. Um, specifically what I was, what I was talking about, the, the, the, the ops team was the DevOps team was, was having was, was they didn't, they didn't have the best guidance in terms of understanding what the, what the process was ex the process expectations from, from a higher level. Um, so, so for example, here, the, the higher ups, they, they said they wanted to be like Netflix, and, and then the, the middle management folks, they were like, they were saying, right. But we're, we're only gonna push to prod once every two months. And I'm like, okay, there there's a, there's a miss there <laugh>, <laugh>, there there's a, there's, that's, that's two entirely different things.

Guest: Chris

Some, you know, one person wanted like waterfall deployment and, and, and other folks were saying, we wanna be like Netflix. And so my, my job as the cloud therapist was trying to like, you know, figure out, figure out how we were gonna, you know, cross that bridge. And, and we did, we, we, we, we figured it out. We, we got some different mindsets, you know, asking some gentle questions, doing, doing a little bit of probing, trying to figure out, okay, well, if the boss wants this and, and you're trying to push this, how, how, how do we think that's gonna shake out? And, okay, well, let's, let's try, let's try a new way. And, and so, and so we brought in some new folks and, and, um, we, we were able to get both the developers, C I C D pipelines stood up and established and, and, you know, get getting, pushing, pushing to their relevant containers.

Guest: Chris

And then the dev, the DevOps folks were then picking up those containers and, and pushing them through an automated, fully testable, uh, environment that, that allowed them to push into the lower level environments. Um, by the time that I had left, they still hadn't gotten the, the, so, so at Netflix developers have full access to production. They can, they can push to prod when, whenever they want to that's there, there's a lot of power in that, but that speaks to the fact that Netflix trusts their automation. So well, that, that if they try to push something, there, there is rigorous testing. That's gonna happen to that thing in staging, in QA, in performance, before, before it even gets to production. So that there's, there's very little chance that somebody's gonna be able to push bad coat, and it's gonna go all the way to, to prod. Um, and, and that was the path where we, where we set this CU customer on as well, um, to two good success. They, they, they did go GA um, the application was, uh, was pushed out and, uh, it's actually on my phone right now. And I, and I'm using it to, uh, to, to do things. <laugh>

Host: Jon

I love the vague that's alright. We can't give away some of the information. Do you find it really difficult to implement and work with a, maybe, uh, a DevOps structure in an enterprise, well established company or a startup who already has that technical methodology, where they are already engaged and they're, they're used to that type of structure. One is already existing stuff in place. Other is we pivot pretty quick. So we understand we need to move fast.

Guest: Chris

Yeah. I mean, big ships are harder to turn. Uh, smaller ships are easier to turn. It's, it's always harder at a, at an enterprise level to, to gain consensus, always. I mean, you, you, you, you never say never, you always, you never say always it's, it's generally harder at an enterprise level to get more people on board and gain consensus. Um, which, which is why when I first, when I get dropped into a new organization, my first goal is to figure out, okay, how high up can I go in my communications with, with the, with the folks above me to, to find out who's, who's got, who came up with the idea and how many, how, how many layers above that person does buy in happen? Uh, if the CTO came up with that idea, then it's golden. It's it's, you know, I, I get, I get to use that as my, my golden path for, for getting everybody else online. If it was, you know, an engineer that was like, oh, we should do C I C D, then, then that's, that's gonna be a harder slog, uh, to, to push up the channels. Sometimes I, I don't wanna say all the time, I don't have a percentage for it, but, you know, that's, that's in my experience, that's what I've encountered

Host: Jon

DevOps to me is interesting because coming from the operational part, part of things, and then working with developers, uh, it's also has to do with like, you know, your engineering team, right? Mm-hmm <affirmative> so things are being thrown over wall to operations. Operations is managing the DevOps portion of it. You've heard of the phrase shift left. I know you have, I know you used it. I, I know thing is shift. Um,

Guest: Chris

Are we gonna do a shot every time we, we say shift left what's

Host: Jon

That

Guest: Chris

Is, is this gonna be like a corporate bingo where you have to do a shot every time somebody says shift left or synergy?

Host: Jon

I think we're on the same mindset. Is shift left just an overused term anymore, or is it an actuality of an action items that you can do for your culture? Or is, it was like the new phrase, like, bingo, I got it. Now, moving on. I got DevOps. Bingo. You know, like here, oh, I just need one more. Let's do dev sec ops then, right? <laugh>

Guest: Chris

Yeah. Yeah. The concept of shift left is, is very valuable. We, we, as, as humans, we tend to get buried in like, like what's, what's the, what's the new phrase. What's the new thing that I can, that I can glom onto that that will make it relevant. Um, there's, there's, there's a lot of phrases that we say that eventually become trite and we start to go, oh yeah, shift left. And we were all roll our eyes. But the, but the actual core concept of it is, is, is extraordinarily valuable. We, we want to be in the conversation earlier so that, so that the right brains are in the right place to make the right decision. And when, when you're the CTO, you should naturally want to hear from the engineers, when you are the engineer or the architect, you should naturally want to be in that pre I call it the presales motion.

Guest: Chris

The, the time when, when things are being talked about before the sow is signed. Yep. I work for a VAR, obviously. So that's, that's how my brain set. Um, I always want to be right there with the account manager when they have that first conversation with the customer, when that customer says, oh, I, I would like a DevOps, please. And then the salesperson goes, sure, I'll sell you one DevOps, would you like a small, medium or large DevOps? Then I can go, whoa, whoa, <laugh> time out, time out. Uh let's. Let's figure out what, what the heck your, your DevOps

Host: Jon

Is like every sales conversation I've been involve, I'll sell you whatever you want.

Guest: Chris

<laugh>. Yes, exactly. Exactly. So, so, so for me, that's what shift left means. And it's, it's hugely important because if you don't do that, then you, you get a sow sign. That means nothing. The engineers show up and they're like, what the heck do I do? Then the customer gets pissed off and what did I pay for? And, and, and that just turns into a bad day for everybody, because at the end of the day, my job is to make sure my customer straight and, and that we do right by them. So, so for, for me, that phrase is, is very important. And I try not to actually say those two words. I, I just, I just say, just get me in as soon as possible, get me, get me in coach.

Host: Jon

<laugh> put me in coach. I'm ready to

Guest: Chris

That's it. That's it. Oh,

Host: Jon

I'm envisioning some, uh, uh, Aman tourist stuff. Sorry. Some old school <laugh>

Guest: Chris

Laces out.

Host: Jon

Yes. That's pretty. Before I get to V tug, I wanna, I have a question for you. Mm-hmm <affirmative> how do you go by implementing DevOps when you get there? When you get into engagement and the sales guy goes, yeah, I'll sell you DevOps, or you you've agreed to DevOps. How do you, and they're like, yeah, I wanna do this. What's like some of the first questions you ask, or how do you implement it?

Guest: Chris

The, the, the first questions that we ask is what, what does DevOps mean to you? That's li literally the first thing, like how, like, okay, you, you want a DevOps, what does that mean to you? And why do you think you need it and, and establishing a common dictionary of words back, back to cloud therapy, establishing a common dictionary of words is paramount to having, having a successful project. If, if one person says DevOps is a C I C D pipeline, and then I'm done, but the, the next person in the, in the same company, like working under the same, under the same CTO, says DevOps is our developers. You know, being able to write their own helm charts, but that's it. Then, then there's, there has to be a, a, a common, a common set of expectations, ideally written down in a policy that everybody can access. And that then I can wave in everybody's face when, when, uh, you know, three months down the road. So there's like, what the heck is this? That's best. My customer

Host: Jon

I've implemented what you requested here it is. Here's your dev

Guest: Chris

Here is your one DevOps, extra large. Yeah.

Host: Jon

I sold it to you for three months

Guest: Chris

With pepperoni.

Host: Jon

Yeah. All right. Uh, dev sec ops. I gotta throw another term at you going with the dev. Yes, everybody

Guest: Chris

Shoot.

Host: Jon

You know what we should do sometime? No. Oh, come

Guest: Chris

Man.

Host: Jon

We should, you know, like, uh, beer pong instead of shots. Every time somebody says it, like they say new phrase that goes with DevOps or dev sec ops. Oh, download shot for you.

Guest: Chris

I am not. If, if, if we, if we do this in person in a bar at reinvent, yes, I'm in.

Host: Jon

Oh, what? Wait a I'm this is recorded. Oh man. <laugh>

Guest: Chris

What, what could possibly go wrong

Host: Jon

In Vegas? No less. Right? Right.

Guest: Chris

Well, I mean, I mean, you're, we're gonna be in Vegas anyway, so we might as well record it.

Host: Jon

My <laugh> oh, okay. Back to dev SecOps. Yes. If you go with the DevOps methodology, mm-hmm <affirmative> security is very important. Part of the process. Mm-hmm <affirmative> why was security added into the acronym now? Why devs sec ops? Shouldn't it be engaged throughout the entire time? Or am I, am I reading it wrong or understanding it wrong?

Guest: Chris

So, because in every other it shift that we've ever had throughout the entire time that I've been in the industry, security and policy are always the, the after thoughts. So, so we, we build this cool thing UN unless you're in finance, um, we, we build, we build this cool thing and, and somebody goes, yeah, but how do we secure it? What do you mean admin is 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. It's there there's, there's always, there's always this like, oh, fudge let's. Let's go. Let's, let's take a look at this after the fact. So, so I, I see this as a natural evolution, somebody was like, don't forget security. And so they, you know, they smash sec in the middle of dev sec ops when it honestly should have been there the entire time, you know, that, that C I C D pipeline should also be running a container scanner, uh, to make sure that, you know, that, that there's isn't anything, uh, fishy in there.

Guest: Chris

I forget, I forget the name of the, of the cool one right now. But, um, I mean, I mean, we, at, at, at this most recent engagement, we had, uh, security folks on the dev team and on the ops team, on the, on the dev team that, that that's, that was literally their entire job to, to make sure that as that container was going through the C I C D pipeline, it was being scanned appropriately. And then once it made it into the, the container registry, when the, when the DevOps people picked it up and ran it through the helm chart that it was being scanned appropriately. So, so tacking the word in there is, is right. Is correct. It should have never not been in there should have never not been in a consideration, but it's, it's, it's the, it's the exact same thing where by, by saying it out loud, you, you are now manifesting it and making it real in the world. So, so yes, it's, it's,

Host: Jon

It is real now that we added it. How about, why not just sec DevOps, right? Make it first

Guest: Chris

DevOps sec. Yeah. I mean, depending upon which conference you're at, that's gonna be the case. They're gonna rear rearrange letters as they go.

Host: Jon

<laugh> exactly. Let's talk about V tug, cuz there's also a part of the conversation where that you had some cool opportunities and rented out like the whole Gillette stadium. And I, I, I wanna learn about some of these cuz I find it fascinating. All right. Let's tell me what is tug.

Guest: Chris

So the virtualization technology user group was actually, um, the, the, the new England branch of it was formed by my good friends, Chris and Don Hardney. Uh, they, they made it back when VMware first became a thing, I wanna say 2004, 2003. Um, and they, they asked me to come along and help co-lead it? Uh, I, I wanna say 2015 or 2016, they, it, it was, it was a local user group that kind of exploded. It was a quarterly event. And we, we had attendance ranging from 1000 to 1,500 people. And so it, it got so big that we started renting out larger and larger venues to, uh, to help facilitate it. Uh, when, when we have the summer, the, so the summer event was called the summer slam. The winter event was called the winter warmer. The fall event was called the fall forward.

Guest: Chris

And the spring event was called the spring ahead. And, and based upon the numbers of people that showed up, we started going into bigger and bigger venues at, at the end. The winter warmer was always being held at Gillette stadium. So the, so we would post the winter warmer at Gillette. Uh, if the Patriots made it into the playoffs, as they mostly did during the last 20 years, uh, we would actually be able to watch them warming up in the side field as we were having our, our expo event, which was, which was pretty cool. Um, and, and it was, it was, it was just a, a, you know, it was, it was a very tiny version of a reinvent conference. We had an expo hall, we had three keynotes running in, in the, um, in the, in the main area of, of the stadium.

Guest: Chris

We had breakout sessions up in the, uh, up in the boxes, you know, those, those really sweet boxes that all the companies rent out. We, we used those for, for, um, breakout sessions for the, for the expo hall, um, presenters and, and, uh, we made a day out of it. And so we, we, we would do that once a quarter, fall, winter, spring, summer. Um, and we, and we did it, they, they, they did it from, I wanna say 2003 to 2019. I was, I was there for the last four or five, uh, events because I had gotten my, my V expert and I had gotten my AWS hero. So they're like, Hey, can you find a speakers? And I was like, yes, can I help out with, with the events? And they're like, sure. And, and so we, we had a, um, we had a blast with it. It was, it was super fun. Um, but, but it ran its course and we actually stopped doing the, it was, it was, you know, large in person events without masking. And the very last one that we had was the summer of 2019, right before the, uh, the pandemic kicked in. So the, the timing of, of the ending of it was perfect.

Host: Jon

Okay. Who would not want to ask you to get some speakers and host and do some of these events and coordinate some of this? I mean, you, that's your personality having some fun, the sessions, the keynote notes. I mean, yeah. It's like a mini reinvent for it. Yeah. But it sounds really engaging. And actually it's, I like that it's smaller and a little more personal cuz a lot of events, they do get huge. Everything gets so freaking busy for you to do that. You don't get the chance to attend certain things or, or, uh, go towards the keynotes. Right. But being able to host in a stadium and you know, actually have this, everybody come in the venue's awesome. The content is great. I mean, this is something that was huge for you.

Guest: Chris

Oh yeah. It, it was a blast and, and I am currently working to reinvigorate it as an AWS community day. So AWS, um, regionally has these things called community days, which are roughly the same size as, as one of the <inaudible> events. So, so I'm, I'm now working with them to, to, with AWS and with my company to, to start figuring out how I can create an AWS community day, once again, at Gillette stadium. So stay tuned listeners. We're gonna, you know, <laugh> so if, if you actually, if you actually Google AWS community day, um, you'll, you'll see the, the different events that happen across, across the globe. Um, uh, Margaret has an amazing one in Chicago. Jon has an amazing one on the west coast. Um, there there's there's summits there's community days. There's, there's all kinds of fun things that happen. And I just, I, I like doing it it's it is exhausting. It is a lot of work, but it's so much fun.

Host: Jon

I think I'm gonna have to look into see if you need any help. Let me know. Also a little side note that I'm close to Philly and uh, <laugh> all right. Now, you know where I'm going?

Guest: Chris

<laugh> I know where you're going with this.

Host: Jon

<laugh> I'm just saying Gillette Patriots, Eagles. All right. Moving on the topic a little bit. Uh, I might have to put one, um, you, when you do yours at Gillette, the same time, I'll have to do one at the link just to kind of offset that as

Guest: Chris

Have, have some kind of it it'll be a friendly competition. I look forward

Host: Jon

To it. Yeah. Yeah. It's all about the community engagement. Let's talk about V brown bag, how it started, what it is now and how did you get involved and what are you doing now with it?

Guest: Chris

It started, um, 13 years ago. Did, did it also start roughly the same time it did? Yeah. So, so they, uh, my, my friends, Cody and L they started the V brown band a while ago. Uh, Cody, we, we call him the godfather of V brown bag. He noticed that there was a lack of community efforts around learning how to pass VMware certifications, just, just pass, just, uh, testing and taking and studying for certifications in general. Um, at the ti at the time it was concentrated on VMware because that, that was the, that was the big thing back then. And so V brown bag was a online podcast. We recorded all the episodes in the is, and the, and the series and one series would be how to study for your VCP. Uh, the next series would be how to study for your VCI X.

Guest: Chris

Uh, then it was, it was all, um, study based and, and then it kind of spiraled into this, oh, well, this other get is cool. Let's do a series on get, because gets fun. And, and I was studying for my VMware certifications back in the day. And I was using V brown bag extensively for my, as, as a part of my study regimen to, to go and pass the exams. And I was like, you guys have amazing content. I love you so much. I was at VM world. I ran into Cody and Al and Jon, and I said, Hey, is there anything I can do to help? Uh, I, I, I love their product. And they're like, funny, you should ask Chris

Host: Jon

<laugh>, did he do it like that too?

Guest: Chris

Like he he's, he has an amazing mustache. He, he actually waxes it and has the big handle bars and everything. So he, so yes, he, 100% does that. And, and they, they looped me in they're like we come host. And, and so I started helping out with the hosting duties for the us channel. There's, there's, there's four different channels. There's a Mia, APAC, Latin America, and us. And, and I started helping with the us channel, uh, every Wednesday night, 8:30 PM. Eastern time we, we get on there and we, we find people in the community it's there, there's, there's no high production values. It's just nerds being nerdy, having fun. It's I call it nerd show Intel. Uh, I love Python and AWS, and, you know, I'm a baby developer. So I, I like getting folks on that whose whose topics I find interesting. I love talking to technical people about things that excite them.

Guest: Chris

Um, last week we had, uh, Le uh, one actually she's a, a worldwide employee. Her name is Leah. She came on and talked about computer vision, uh, using Python and open CV to, to scan Legos and categorize and ID them. And it was, it was super fun. And, and I just had a ton of questions and we just went back and forth. Um, the, the week before that it was somebody else, uh, this, this week it's, it's, uh, gonna be something it's, it's always, it's always something new and fun and cool. And, and I love chatting with people. And, and, uh, we, we did a series on how to pass your Kubernetes administrator. I mean, we're, we're still doing this certification stuff. So we'll do a track of, of how to study for, and pass this T this exam, whether it be, uh, helm or Kubernetes or Python or, or VMware.

Guest: Chris

We, um, I'm currently doing one for DevOps because I'm studying for a DevOps pro. I'm doing one on how to study for the DevOps pro on my, on my blog. So it's, it's, it's everybody learning together and, and learning something that they enjoy and then sharing their knowledge and folks in the community that want to get some presentation skills under their belt. This is a nice, safe space for them to try that first shot before they, you know, submit a CFP for reinvent. They can, they can come in and, uh, try, try the presentation out, watch their recording afterwards, see, see what worked, what didn't work and, and, um, you know, hone their craft in that way as well.

Host: Jon

Wow, Chris, you're a true hum. Uh, like hero, not just AWS, but community hero. I think if there's a term out there, no, honestly, all the stuff you do, first of all, V brown bag started out for VMware, but I love the V in the beginning. It probably signified VMware, but now it's virtual now, whatever it is is your content, your certification, your stuff you do on Wednesday nights. And you like bringing people on and talk about things that excite them. That's how I envision my podcast. I wanna bring on folks who their, their stories excite them, because they're very passionate about it. We don't do it scripted. We do it natural conversation where I'm bringing out whatever your PA like, I mean, everything that you just talked about now, we, I didn't even have an insight into, so this is really cool. I have a question for you, the lady that you had on for scanning the Legos, is it a production thing? Can you share a link to that?

Guest: Chris

Oh yeah. She, she has it on her GitHub repo. She it's it's. It is, it is fully available. EV EV every, um, I, I try with every V brown bag that we do to have something that people can take away from and do afterwards. So, so nine times outta 10, they'll have like their code at, on a GitHub repo, or the slides available on slide share. Um, I always like to have something at the end that the, that the audience can then go and do the thing.

Host: Jon

Perfect. Yeah. I'm gonna, I'll reach out to you for a link. There's a gentleman and mentor of mine, Jeff Barr who loves Legos and does all this stuff, he would find this really super exciting. I just wanna share it to him from the community that I just learned today. I will tag her on whatever it is. He will like, it'll probably reshare it out. Let's talk about

Guest: Chris

The guy over at AWS.

Host: Jon

Jeff bar. Yeah. Chief evangelist. Yes. Yeah. Yes. That guy. Uh, he's a huge mentor of mine and he's

Guest: Chris

A lot, I didn't know. He was a big Lego fan. Nice.

Host: Jon

Oh, you gotta check out his blog. Actually his website go to Jeff barr.com. I think he refreshed a little bit, but he actually used to categorize all of his Legos and he would shut up. <laugh> no lie. Check out the Lego we're done with this. You gotta say I he's huge. He's actually, uh, does a lot of engagements at AWS four Legos. He'll actually fly overseas to the factory. He'll fly over you. You gotta check out someone. Yes. It's a, just on, I know we're talking about Legos here. We're all kids, right? <laugh>

Guest: Chris

We are, we totally are.

Host: Jon

So Chris, let's talk about AWS hero. How did you become an AWS hero? What's the process behind it?

Guest: Chris

So it, it is actually a black box. I, I don't know what the process is. Um, you have to be nominated by an internal AWS employee, and then it's, it's reviewed, you know, that I, I envision everybody in like dark robes around a, a table with, you know, you know, a little, a little flaming thing in the middle and they throw balls into there. And which everyone flames the brightest. That's the person that wins. I have no idea how it works. <laugh> um, but I was submitted, so I, I, I, I do the VTU. I do the V brown bag. Um, I, I, uh, have my podcast, the, I have my blog, so I, I, I, I do stuff. I, I, I enjoy doing community stuff and I think two or three people nominated me. And, and so then they reached out to me, um, I said, hello. And they, they said, we'd like you to become a community hero. I was like, what's involved. And they gave me the list. I was like, I do all this stuff anyway. And they're like, yeah, we know. So I was like, okay, sure. <laugh>

Host: Jon

So it wasn't a heavy lift, right? No, a hard decision.

Guest: Chris

It was exactly. And, uh, and so, and so then, um, Ross Barch and I became friends, Ross's runs, runs the heroes, wonderful human being. And, um, and uh, now, now we, we hang out and I, and I still, I still do the exact same thing that I've been doing. Only, only now I have, uh, the accolade of AWS hero to, to tack on because of it.

Host: Jon

I love all this stuff you're doing, not only for the community, all this stuff you've been doing V brown bag, uh, the V tug stuff was very interesting. And if you need any help, resurrecting any of it, uh, let me know. I, I have some experience in events and talking and all that, but just throw 'em in. No,

Guest: Chris

Sure. Yeah, absolutely. Don't volunteer because I will, I will abuse you mercilessly.

Host: Jon

That's all right. I love it. I love the community aspect. I love engaging, uh, the conversations, the networking folks. So we can talk offline if you're really serious. If you're not, don't worry. I won't take it personally. It is on recording though. So <laugh>,

Guest: Chris

Hey, remember when you said, yeah.

Host: Jon

Yeah. We define that by the way that that's in the document. Uh, so I love everything that you're doing. What's next for you, Chris? What are you working on now? I know you're at WWT as an enterprise architect, uh, or a cloud therapist, actually. I think we're changing your title on this. That'll be your new title, but what's next.

Guest: Chris

My role is, is actually morphing a little bit, um, that they, my, my boss recently said, Hey, you know how you're an AWS hero. I was like, yeah. He is like, how do you become a w w T hero? I was like, well, give me a budget and give me, and, and give me free reign to do what I want to with the marketing team and the events team. And, and I can, I can make some magic happen. And he was like approved

Host: Jon

<laugh> can I have your boss? Oh my God. Like

Guest: Chris

Give

Host: Jon

An unlimited budget.

Guest: Chris

Oh, I didn't, I didn't say unlimited. I, I gave him, I gave him a number and oh,

Host: Jon

You said, give me a budget. That's right. Correction. Sorry. We hung that up.

Guest: Chris

<laugh> yeah. Yeah. And, uh, and so, so I am now working on, so worldwide is the largest company that you've never heard of. There they're an $8 billion VAR. That is huge in a lot of different spaces. And, and my team, the AWS team here is top tier. I mean, these guys are the Navy seals of AWS. It is, it is amazing the stuff that they do. And, and they're very undersung. Uh, so, so I would like to be a cheerleader for them, uh, that they're, they're, they're just, they're an amazing group of human beings. And I, and I love that the work that they're doing and, and they're doing work at fortune fifties, that is just staggeringly. Awesome. Uh, so, so my, I would like to become a dev advocate for worldwide and, and kind of like, you know, make, I made myself this little devel role. And, uh, and, and so now I'm gonna get out and start extolling the ver not, not in like some creepy commercially way, but just like, you know, get, get my folks out there, speaking at events, talking about cool things. Not, not as, not as a commercial, but like putting them at user groups and, and, and getting some branding out there. You know, the, the things that a dev advocate would do. So that's, that's kind of what's next hope, hope it works. We'll see how it goes.

Host: Jon

It will work. I've noticed in the last couple of months to trend to developer advocates, Deb res for companies, the job market out there is just growing. They see the value in it. They see the community engagement, WWT. I heard of them when I worked at an MSP. That was the only time I heard of them. I didn't know of them any other time, didn't realize how that's huge, big they are. Yeah. Oh my God. I didn't even, it was like, oh, WWT. That's great. Uh, that, that, that's not, I was like, who are they? They're like worldwide technology. I was like, okay. And then this person's like, yeah. And a lot of it's like west coast that you hear more about it in certain areas. I was in orange county at the time, but it's amazing how big they are, but how unknown they are.

Guest: Chris

Correct. And, and that, that is something that I'm gonna try to fix.

Host: Jon

All right. Well, I look forward to it. You'll also be out reinvent, cuz we already planned a nice oh yeah. Little bar episode. <laugh>

Guest: Chris

Absolutely. And

Host: Jon

A TikTok add a TikTok.

Guest: Chris

Oh no. Who said,

Host: Jon

Who said? Never say never, but then at the same time you said never in that. So it's not really a never, but uh, I think after a couple drinks I can get you

Guest: Chris

<laugh> so, so we've committed to Vegas plus shots plus TikTok. Is that what you're saying? Yes.

Host: Jon

Yes. You better? Yeah. Yeah. On the recording. No lie. We're good. Don't worry. We're good. We're gonna have a lot of fun and it'll go viral.

Guest: Chris

I'm so screwed. <laugh>

Host: Jon

Ah, I didn't, you're not the only one, but either way. It's gonna be a blast. Chris. Thank you so much for joining me. This was a pleasure, man.

Guest: Chris

I, I thoroughly enjoyed this, Jon. Thanks for having me on this. This was super fun.

Host: Jon

Yes, everybody. Chris Williams cloud therapist at worldwide technology. I'm your host, Jon Myer. Don't forget to hit that. Like subscribe and notify because guess what folks as always we're outta here.

 

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