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Where has my focus been the past few months?

I'm sure everyone has probably noticed a steady decrease in the amount of blog posts I put out. If you pay attention to twitter, you might have seen a shift in my focus.


VMware has been good, but there comes a time when you need to pump the brakes. I've reached a point where I don't care about the intricate details of all the vSphere products and trying to be an expert in them. If there is one thing that VCE has taught me, it's that converged and hyper-converged infrastructure is removing the need to be in expert in the core product set. There will come a time when you realize knowing storage pathing policies or trying to understand the DRS algorithm is pointless. And with EVO:Rail coming to market (and once it becomes fully baked) you won't need to know how to administer the environment what-so-ever, negating the need for many of those VCP skills. Argue with me all you want, but the goal is abstraction from vSphere for many product sets.


I turned my focus to IaaS offerings with vCloud Director then vCloud Automation Center and UCS Director to bring everything up to a higher order of control. This is what I talk about in my every day job. But I still look at IaaS like, "there has got to be more".


I started learning Ruby back in September of 2013 and have since released a few different Rails applications including JumpSquares.netMonsterRemote, and Simple World Cup Stats. I've also started diving into more languages recently and I'll get to that later. So what led me to this point?



I graduated from University of Kentucky back in 2006 with a degree specializing in Visual Basic. I did that for 3 months out of college and then said "never again". I hated to code. My mind couldn't process the proper way to do things and it seemed like I spent most of my time googling for code samples to hack instead of trying to create it from scratch. I made the switch to administration/operations, then networking, then VMware...and now I'm here. It was about this time last year that my good friend, Steven Bryan, and former manager, Jonathon Donaldson, were releasing a product internally for Self-Service Labs. The entire framework and UI were written in Ruby on Rails. Once I realized I had the same potential, I began learning and released my first application about a month later with some help from Steven. The gratification you receive from using a completely functional piece of code that you have written is very satisfying. Albeit, when it's not working it's frustrating. I set out to solve more of my every day issues with code and that's how I released


The past two years have surged the DevOps movement with the notion of Infrastructure as Code. Puppet, Salt, Ansible, Chef are all vying for top contender and if you want to use any of these products, you need a foundation in Ruby or Python to make it happen. Yet again, another reason for me to learn. Since Chef and Puppet are the top two contenders and I knew a bit of Ruby, I tried my hand at making a few cookbooks. I use Thin and Nginx for my jumpsquares appliance and wanted to automate the process for anyone else who deploys that as part of their standard web server offerings. I was able to release my thin_nginx cookbook for others.


Back in June I went to the Cloud Foundry Summit (Cloud Foundry Summit 2014 - A Review and Perspective) because I was interested in learning a new technology. With minor coding experience, going through my own struggles of deploying applications, and deploying on Heroku, I left with excitement. PaaS makes dealing with IaaS seem like a huge waste of time. IaaS has it's places and will be around for a while, but if all you care about is getting applications up and running without messing with load balancers, OS dependencies, and scale then PaaS might be the answer your looking for. PaaS helps you and your development teams adopt a micro-services architecture to help build horizontally scalable applications.


Following suit, I started picking up Docker because it has a ton of steam and traction. Docker is being loved by developers and operations folks because it brings environment consistency from conception to production. I don't think anyone can even keep up with all the Docker stuff anymore, but Docker shows promise for the eventual decline of hypervisors, VMs, and OS management. At OSCON this year, many companies talked about Docker removing IaaS, Chef/Puppet, and VMware from their environments completely. Talk about eye opening.


OK. So why code, again? After watching people like Nick Weaver, William Lam, Matt Cowger, Jake Robinson, Fabio Rapposelli, Clint Kitson, and Alan Renouf over the years, there is a trend. Each one of these guys have massive amounts of respect for their domain knowledge, but they can take anything 5 steps further by writing some code to make their (and everyone else's) lives easier. Their value is unmeasured and well respected in the community. My goal is to be able to hold my own in a conversation with these guys. 


I've got about a year of Ruby experience under my belt but I need to diversify my skill set. The one great thing about code is that once you understand the concepts, it's all syntax from there on out. There is a program where I'm located called Code Louisville thats free to anyone in the city. They currently run 3 development tracks, Front-end, Back-end (Ruby), and iOS. I have a good foundation on Ruby so I decided to join the Front-end course to spice up my skills. 


Now, I'm sure everyone that reads this thinks HTML and CSS are too simple and what could you possibly want to learn? The entire 1st month of this course was spent doing CSS from scratch. No templates, no wordpress, no themes, no bootstrap, just a simple <h1>Hello World</h1> and learn to style from there.  I can honestly say that there is more to CSS than you could ever want to learn and I've used it with a great deal of success so far. I've completely revamped the front page of to it's current style and will be committing more styles to the application soon. Our course requires us to create a website for "our portfolio" and since I'm a huge Halloween nut, I created This website was built entirely from scratch, but includes some copy/paste of Javascript & jQuery. I also did another site that I can hopefully announce relatively soon.


The second and third month, goes over Javascript, jQuery, and AJAX. This is what I really wanted to learn. As weird as it sounds, Javascript is still very powerful and is now used in more server-side languages. This course will help me get a foundation for moving to Angular.js, Node.js, and cross-platform mobile frameworks like Titanium or PhoneGap. Not to mention Javascript is required for doing some advanced vCenter Orchestrator tasks as well.


How am I learning all this? Sharing knowledge is more powerful than keeping it yourself so I wanted give you the opportunity to follow my steps as well. Code Louisville is essentially a wrapper to make it feel structured and have deliverables. All of the courses and content are online at All of the content here is "paid-for" content, but there is a special program that you might be able to take part in to get the bulk of the courses free like me. The Louisville Public Library has teamed up with Treehouse to give free access for anyone with a library card. I would encourage you to dig around on your city's public library website to see if they have something similar. Here is all the course content. Access to advanced topics requires a Pro account still, but this is all for building a good foundation until you're ready to pick up the pace.


Here is my profile so you can even see some of my progress over the past 2 months.


If you don't have it available in your city, you can use my referral code to get 50% off your first month. 



What's next, definitely Node.js then trying a hand with Objective-C/Swift and then Go so I can be cool like Clint Kitson. 

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