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Journal of thoughts

Keith Smith - My Blog - Twitter @_KeithIT > Journal of thoughts

On to a new chapter

Monday, December 11, 2017 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Today was my last day at SIFF as CTO. It's been one hell of a year! I am proud to have spearheaded over 30 major projects in the Infrastructure, Security, and Business Application arena and saw them to completion. I look back at my time here with pride knowing that in the technological sense, it was truly a night and day transformation since I joined.

I've always tried to capture before and after pic's of things because pictures always tell a unique story. Below is one of my favorite photos, it literally represents all the technical transformation I spearheaded.

Next chapter starts in a few weeks!



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Cloud Services for the enterprise

Monday, May 8, 2017 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Most IT staff balance building out more internal and robust IT infrastructure versus utilizing cloud services to fulfill those needs. More infrastructure sometimes means more personnel and overhead if processes aren't efficient and automation of repetitive task are missing, this causes decision makers to weigh that against the cost to determine the value of cloud services to an organization. To balance whether or not the IT service we are thinking of moving to the cloud is a core or unique service to our business versus merely a commodity. Moving commodity services to the cloud, particularly to those providers with highly evolved and transparent security models, are particularly attractive. Most technologist believes that this provides freedom to focus on the technologies that are core business enablers while receiving top-tier service from cloud providers makes the business more sustainable.

Still, not everything with cloud services is perfect. I find that small interruptions in service do happen, and the reason(s) these disruptions occur can be difficult to pinpoint. We as IT Pro's are unable to control the issue or have any real impact on the issue’s resolution. Those experiences can be frustrating as the end-users usually can’t tell the difference between an IT-supplied service and a cloud-supplied service; but they do understand that what they need doesn’t work, that IT gave it to them, and that they want it fixed immediately.

And of course, cloud applications are not maintenance free. We still utilize our resources to manage the applications, including user provisioning, permission management, configuration, and enabling new features for end-users.

I also find those technologies that allow organizations to bridge traditional infrastructure and cloud infrastructure can be troublesome seamlessly. For example, a cloud identity provider that provisions access to multiple cloud applications sounds like a fantastic tool until that provider has a day-long outage, resulting in a very unproductive day for our end-users. These end-users also need to exercise caution when considering what providers will do about backing up data. Most providers will keep the service running at a 99.99% rate, but if a document gets corrupted or deleted and forgotten about within normal operation of the application, there can be no recourse if you haven’t taken additional steps to plan for those possibilities. Numerous organizations that I have consulted with weren’t prepared for that possibility, lost data with cloud providers, and promptly retreated to on-premise solutions.

With the speed of provisioning, the general reliability of services, and the enhanced security benefits offered by the top cloud providers, it’s hard to ignore the benefits that these cloud services can provide. However, it is important to understand limitations and take those into account when determining the right course of action for your organization.


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Developing Soft Skills

Tuesday, October 25, 2016 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

Working in information technology is very exciting to me. It is very rare for me to wake up in the morning and not look forward to coming into work. My technical skills that I have acquired through the 14 years I have been in IT has served me well. At the same time though, we all have other skills that are just as important as the technical skills. Lets face facts here, there are always going to be people who know more than me and who have done more than I have. What sets a successful IT person apart from a non-successful one usually comes down to the other skills they bring to the table.

These other skills are called "soft skills". They are key factors in how you react to situations, talk with people, and approach challenges. Believe it or not, these soft skills say a lot about you and have the potential to make or break your career in the end. The real challenge when it comes to developing these soft skills to work in your favor is that they are so tightly entwined with your personality.

There are many soft skills to develop, but there are three that I have really focused on through my career.

Attitude is everything in business. If you are an optimist, can see the bright side in a sea of darkness, and can follow projects through with positivity and vigor, you will be valued as an employee. Compare that with the guy who views a project in a negative light and complains about how the project will fail through the process. If you are a business leader, who would you rather work with? Most people would agree they would rather have the guy who is positive and brings them up as opposed to the guy who brings them down.

Being positive only helps if you are able to communicate your positivity to the people around you. This counts in not only a verbal sense, but through a written sense as well. Developing this skill requires development in areas like verbal communication, non-verbal communication, and listening skills. This is a soft skill that you develop through the course of your life and career.

Organizations are looking to become more lean. This means they want cross functional teams that have people who are willing to work with others. If you don't play nice with others, or if you view yourself as someone who works better alone, its time to start developing this soft skill.

If you are looking to develop your soft skills, there are many ways to accomplish this goal. The first would be to find a mentor. This can be your boss, a friend, or a leader that you know and respect. We are all more likely to change the way we think and the things we do when we learn from someone who we look up to. The second way is to volunteer your skills to areas outside of your workplace. Take up a cause such as volunteering at a food bank or other non-profit. There are not only soft skill learning opportunities at these non-profits.



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Life and Work Balance

Monday, February 22, 2016 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in Journal of thoughts

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vCenter 6.0 interface sucks

Thursday, September 10, 2015 - Posted by Keith A. Smith, in VMware, Journal of thoughts

As mentioned here, I finally made the move back to vSphere and decided to go with version 6. There has been chatter over the past few years that, the release of a great new web client was coming. Well, it finally came and honestly, they would have been better off sticking with the fat client. Why..? You may ask. Because the interface is Flash! Yes, the same Flash that should have been deprecated by now, the same Flash that has more Zero-day vulnerabilities than a tennis net has holes. I don't understand why any company would develop an interface in Flash or Java at this point. I can here some people at VMware saying if we were to develop the vSphere 6 web client in HTML5 it would take more time. I think most if not all customers would say ok take the time, because HTML5 is the best way to go point blank!

I will say this, the vCenter doesn't totally suck


1) New platform architecture 

2) Upgrade process is supposed to be a lot easier


1) Uses Flash — vulnerabilities, vulnerabilities, usability is terrible.

2) Uses Java — A catastrophe, Issues with every Java upgrade that are compatibility related,"security enhancements", vulnerabilities

3) Uses browsers & plugins — impacted by browser releases or changes, versions, vulnerabilities

I think that VMware needs to be more transparent about what they are doing with the replacement of this terrible Flash interface. I also think that they need to keep the TAM's informed so they can keep customers apprised of the progress.


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