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Two Years at Microsoft

This is commonly the time at any company I discuss how I’m about to move on…

Nope, not planning on going anywhere… I know, it’s odd for everyone involved, but we’ll all get used to it.

Where I’ve Been

I joined Microsoft two years ago, to take on the role that Patrick LeBlanc left so that he could accomplish all that we’ve observed with Adam Sexton on Guy in a Cube.  It was just a bit intimidating, as I’d never done analytics or AI before, nor had I really any experience in Azure. I hadn’t even thought about the big shoes I’d have to fill that Patrick had been wearing.  Lucky for me, I had a great team to work with.  I have a tendency to kind of figure things out in my own way and Dustin Ryan, Steve Pontello, (and later on, Hope Foley) made it surprisingly easy for me to kind of fill in the gaps where I was needed, including discovering the gap at Microsoft for Oracle.

Data and AI in EDU

Over a year ago, I was busy automating the modern data warehouse workloads, building out analytics/data platform solutions for customers and another 35% on anything Oracle that came up in the Education space, (High Ed and K-12).  I’d been approached by Israel Vega from the global team, (which was just developing at that point) and asked if I would join, but I really loved my current team and my boss, Denny, so I chose to pass up the opportunity to transfer.  Anyone in tech knows, when you find a place that you love, you hang on for dear life and Education is an awesome group to work with and my team was fantastic.

As the Oracle workload grew and I became known for being able to do this type of work, groups outside of Education came to my manager and asked to borrow me.  As we were able to handle the workload as we automated more in the cloud, the exception was made for me to work on a few customers, starting with ones that were “connected” to Education customers, (municipalities that had education dependencies, etc.)

The Shift

Almost six months went by and upon traveling to PASS Summit, speaking to attendees and peers, it became apparent that my focus was shifting dramatically.  I was up to 70% Oracle on Azure and more of my customers were outside of my Education team, (most were now global) than inside of it.  I was still communicating with the global team and had recommended my spouse and first mentor, Tim Gorman to the team when they asked for someone with similar skills to my own.  They interviewed him, loved him, (of course they did!) and hired him.  At that time, there was still a clear interest in bringing me onto the global Customer Success Unit, (CSU) team and as I came with my own customer base, I was an easy acquisition for them to justify.

My Second Team

I joined the CSU as an Subject Matter Expert, (SME) for Oracle on Azure Engineer the first day of 2020 and it’s been a whirlwind since.  I’d been focused and was very aware of what we needed to make Oracle on Azure successful.  I’d been taking on a consulting role vs. Cloud Solution Architect, (CSA) role and had been working with the small, exclusive group on the Oracle side at Microsoft for some time.  It was simple for me to ramp it up fast and started to design how we went about lifting and shifting Oracle to Azure, in all it’s forms.  Having Tim work with me on this was a quick shift, as we’ve been working together for years and he is my partner in life, so we understand each other’s work styles quite well.  The team we belong to quite large-  almost 40 individuals with skills covering data, AI, Analytics, networking, identity, Windows and Linux.  We’re about to be restructured to allow us to work more efficiently, but I’m thankful for those that I’ve got to meet and work with in the last six months in the CSU.

In the short time I’ve been here and with only a couple individuals to contribute to what’s been done, we’ve:

  • Identified how to properly size almost every Oracle workload for Azure.
  • What in Oracle is supported, what is certified and how to create an end-to-end solution in Azure for Oracle
  • Rewrote all the Oracle for Azure documentation, (still short of publishing, but oh, so close.)
  • Started recording internal training sessions for the Cloud Solution Architects, (CSAs) with architecture, technical tips and tricks and best practices to help them do so they aren’t so dependent on our small group.
  • Built a massive, internal Oracle for Azure channel on Teams that Microsoft folks come to when they have questions or need documentation, etc.
  • Built scripts and solutions in Github for anyone to use to make Oracle on Azure simpler.
  • Have posted to blogs, (both DBAKevlar, Microsoft Data Architecture Blog) done podcasts, web sessions and in-person presentations to let people know that Oracle on Azure is an easy and viable option for anyone.

As June and the 2020 fiscal year closes at Microsoft, along with my first two years, I’m really amazed the opportunities I’ve had to build out a role which wasn’t what I originally was hired for and for my managers, (three so far!) have willingly allowed me to build.  I’d like to thank Denny Ramsey, Christian Linacre and Vincent Staropoli for offering solid leadership while I have and continue to:

  • Do what I think needs to be done, say what needs to be said, even when they wish I’d step back.
  • Never, never, never give up.
  • Find a way around and roadblock or create a mob to help break through it in the end.
  • And through it all, hopefully use my powers for good.

I’m excited for what I’m about to take on in the coming months and can’t wait to see where it will take our customers and Microsoft.

So yes, you’re stuck with me, Microsoft, for as long as you will have me… </p />
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