I’ve worked in the IT industry since late 1990s. My IT career can be divided into two periods: doing stuff and talking about / selling stuff.
For the first half I held various System Admin roles and spent most of my time in data centers setting up new environments and fixing old environments: Unix Admin(AIX, Solaris, HP-UX, Linux), Backup Admin (Veritas & Legato) and Database Admin (Oracle), Storage Admin (EMC & NetApp). During dot-com bubble, I spent about 18 months abroad setting up new data centers for a Finnish mobile phone operator (Sonera) in U.S, Netherlands, Germany and Singapore. During that time I also lived about a year in Singapore.
Once the bubble burst in around 2001, I had to relocate back to Finland and started my journey towards more customer facing roles, first as a Support Engineer at Proact Finland Oy serving mostly our NetApp customers, but also taking care of some Pre-Sales tasks. After about four years I was ready to move on, I had always worked with Oracle in some capacity and wanted to become a DBA. Next three years was spent at Fujitsu Finland, while there I completed Oracle Certfied Professional (OCP) certification for Oracle 10g. Unfortunately I didn’t get to do as much DBA work as I wanted, since I had strong storage background, I actually spent most my time fixing issues related to storage and backup, although mostly issues in those fields related to databases, but not much “real” DBA stuff.
My first real Pre-Sales position was at DataDomain in new and exciting world of Dedupe Backup Appliances. That was fairly short stint, lasted only about 11 months and ended when EMC bought the company and closed the Finnish office.
For the next six years I found my self back at Proact Finland, this time working as Pre-Sales engineer in Sales department. I was the first dedicated person to hold this position, there was no one to tell me what to do, so I had to “mold” my position and tasks by myself. When I joined the relationship between guys making all the promises (Sales) and people actually delivering the promises (Support/Services) wasn’t really good, due to over promising by Sales and under delivering by Support, usually Sales taking all the credit and Support guys getting all the blame. At that time storage was sized mostly based on capacity, which inevitably led to problems with performance. Also documentation of made promises was lacking and our Support guys didn’t really know what was promised, which led to many unhappy people, both on the customer and internal team side of table. So for the next couple of years I spent lot of time “inventing” pre-sales tasks, doing performance sizings, improving documentation, improving communication between Sales and Support teams and making sure that customers got what they were promised. In the end it is much easier to keep the current customers happy than pissing them off and finding new customers.
First couple of years were quite tough, but once I got things rolling, I found myself in a situation where I could help my sales guys make and exceed their “numbers” and work only about four to six hours per day. For a while it was nice and easy, I spent some extra time in investigating new technologies (Virtualization, Pernix Data, Simplivity, NEC Hydrastor, Riverbed, IBM flexsystems / storage, Cisco UCS, just to name few) and certifying myself at pre-sales and sales levels for various products and completing some more technical certifications such as NetApp NCDA. But more and more I filled my afternoons by playing golf. I am quite passionate about work and hobbies, once I start something, I usually put a lot of effort into it. With golf this meant a lot of golf, I mean a LOT of golf, 201 rounds of golf in one year to be exact 🙂
One can only play golf so much, so it got boring after a while. At the same time world of IT and storage was shifting once again and it became harder and harder to win storage deals and make “numbers”. A new era of converged and hyperconverged solutions was emerging. We tried to sell these new solutions, but there wasn’t much success. One reason for that was heavy reliance on just few established vendors and our sales guys made their “numbers” more easily by selling those products rather than trying (and sometimes failing) to sell something new and exciting.
For some time I had a nagging feeling that something had to change. The final push came when my favourite sales guy told me that he was leaving. When he signed with BigTec, there were no pre-sales positions open, but just couple days after that, one of the Pre-Sales guys at BigTec moved on and a position opened. I was quick to sign new contract as this was good opportunity to move on, something old and familiar to work with (NetApp & Brocade) so I didn’t have jump into the deep end and start from scratch. On the other hand BigTec has more products to cover, more freedom to work with many products, rather than concentrating into just few.
Update May 22, 2017
I’ve resigned from BigTec. Back in business starting from Sep 1.