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New Beginnings

2011 has been a very interesting year for me; both the most interesting and most challenging, personally and professionally.

It started great, with a trip to GestaltIT’s Tech Field Day 5 in San Jose. I met a bunch of new, independent technology folks and heard presentations from some great vendors. I made a lot of connections that I still keep in contact with and share ideas with, as is usually the case with previous Tech Field Day events and delegate interactions. All in all a great experience!

Literally a month after I returned from that trip, my company, my family and I lived through one of the strongest earthquakes in recorded history, you know, no big deal. I learned how to use technology from VMware and NetApp to deal with the disaster from the business side, and learned that living through something like this takes both a financial and mental toll on even those not directly in the path of the devastation. Lots of my colleagues have already left Japan to return home or relocate to other countries in Asia to escape the aftereffects. Japan is still recovering and no doubt will come back stronger than ever, but the bruise is most certainly still purple.

A few months after the earthquake, things were beginning to calm down, so I approached Stephen Foskett of GestaltIT about attending Tech Field Day 6 in Boston. It was a great opportunity for me to tell my story as it related to the earthquake and IT technology. I even got to hear a session from VMware on, of all things, the new features in Site Recovery Manager v5.

In addition, just before attending Tech Field Day 6 in Boston, I learned that a session I had submitted for VMworld regarding our earthquake experience was accepted as a customer panel for VMworld. And as I publish this post, I am coming off an amazing week and sucessful session at VMworld. It was nice to share our story and talk about the unique set of circumstances around our use of VMware’s products.

Also, while in Boston, I had an opportunity to interview with a VAR and got a job offer, which I actually ended up turning down. This was my first time interviewing for a job stateside in about 10-11 years, as I have been in Japan for the past 7. The practice of doing the interview and talking with technology people during Tech Field Day lit a fire which made me seek out a bunch of different career opportunities for companies that I truly admire. I wasn’t sure I wanted to leave Japan, but at the very least, I had to see what was out there; to see if there was something that would be worth leaving my 2nd home behind and starting anew.

This brings me to the decision of my new home going forward, and the news you’ve been waiting for…

I was approached back in June by a colleague I met back at VMworld 2010 San Francisco last year. His name is Nick Howell and he started back in February as a Virtualization Solutions Architect over at NetApp. He sent me a DM: Hey I’m referring you for a position over here at NetApp, blah, blah, blah. I thought, sure Nick, I love NetApp, we’re a customer, why not. Time went on and Nick said: Be patient, it takes time, you’ll hear something, I promise.

Well now, come August I hadn’t heard anything so I was starting to think I would have to put on my networking shoes at VMworld to try and make some contacts and set up some interviews there, but, low and behold, I get an e-mail in the first week of August inviting me for a phone interview. That interview led to 4 additional phone interviews and I was finally offered the position of Virtualization Solutions Architect at NetApp just a couple weeks ago. I will begin working over there on 9/19 following an overseas move from Japan to Raleigh-Durham-Chapel Hill, NC (“The Triangle”) in early September.

This position is truly a dream come true for me! I can’t believe it’s happening to me, still to this day… I will be working with the likes of Scott Baker, Nick Howell, Chris Gebhardt, Jack McLeod, Julian Cates and Vaughn Stewart. I will be exploring the latest NetApp products and services, creating technical marketing materials, speaking at conferences, and evangelizing products and solutions from VMware, NetApp and its other technology partners.

Since my goal in the past couple years has been evangelizing VMware’s products as well as other IT technologies, this is truly the perfect job for me. With NetApp’s support and resources as well as the colleagues I’ll have around me, I am sure to excel and continue spreading the word on virtualization, cloud computing and enterprise storage that my blog focuses on.

On that note, I plan to continue this blog, as well as to post content in the NetApp official blogs. Also, I plan to re-commit to getting content out on the Japanese section as well, since Japan needs help now more than ever, especially with technologies that help deal with disasters and reduce energy consumption. I plan to continue to help them in the best way that I can.

Here’s to new beginnings…

Everything that has a beginning has and ending. Make your peace with that and all will be wellBuddha

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Japan – My Earthquake Experience

I want to stray from my usually technical content for a brief moment to talk about what happened on Fri.

As many of you may now, I am located just south of Tokyo, Japan. I had quite a scare while at my office during the earthquake. Me and my colleagues knew after about 5 seconds or so that this was unlike anything we have ever experienced in Japan. I have experienced plenty of small tremors in the past 6-7 years that at first, I wasn’t sure what to think. The ground was literally moving so much that we had to lower our center of gravity or risk falling over.

We ended up exiting the building only to have it start raining on this typically cold March day. We stayed outside for a few minutes and went back up to the 2nd floor office when things began to calm down, amid the still shaking trees and swaying telephone lines and poles.

About 5 minutes later we felt another significant aftershock, but this time I didn’t leave my office immediately. I tried to get as much information from the JMA (Japan Meterological Association) website, Twitter, etc. to find out what was going on and try and communicate with people about what was happening. Amazingly our virtual infrastructure and Internet connections in the building survived the disaster.

Immediately after I finally went outside after the aftershock, someone announced that the office was closing so that people could try and find their way home. I tried several times to contact my wife on her mobile and on our land line (yes, land line; specifically for this type of situation), but the power at our house went out and cell towers were jammed.

I headed on my own by foot to the nearest train station. It was completed shut down. I heard later that the very next station completely lost power. Add to that the fact that the safety of all the tracks had to be checked, so all trains were shut down until at least the next morning.

I ended up finding 3 other colleagues from the office at the station and we ended up finding a seat at a donut shop (Mister Donuts) and had some coffee and a few donuts. All this time, we were trying to contact our families and watch Internet broadcasts of the developing situation.

As it approached 9PM, i was finally able to reach my wife, after about 4-5 hours, albeit via e-mail. She said that she could come and pick me up, by car, along with her father. I asked her to meet me at the station, but the shops were starting to close, so I walked 15 minutes back to my office.

Upon arrival, I saw about 4-5 colleagues who were also stranded, with no way to get home. I was determined to not sleep at the office, I just wanted to get home to see my family, etc. so I was anxiously awaiting my wife’s arrival.

Once she arrived, we immediately headed towards home. The hour was about 11:30PM when we left and the traffic was not surprisingly a bit heavier than usual. I did the driving and we headed South toward the highway entrance. The highway looked good at first, traffic wise, I thought possibly because it was closed and re-opened. It turned out to be the wrong way to go. I trip that without traffic takes 40-45 minutes ended up taking 4.5 hours.

We ended up getting home safe and sound at 4:00AM Saturday morning, only to start hearing the details of the death and destruction up further north in Sendai, Fukushima and other areas. We are very thankful that we were able to avoid the trajedy that others didn’t or narrowly escaped.

Thanks for all of your support over the last year with my blog. I will be back soon. Just taking some time to reflect for a few days.

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