About

Consulting Services, Content Marketing, Blogging, and Podcasting!

Greetings!  And thanks for visiting us!

After a long career starting in 1998 and spanning two decades, I have decided to take DatacenterDude to the next level as an independent services offering.  For details on available services, check out the Services page!

About

THE EARLY YEARS

My career in technology goes back to the humble beginnings of a young kid playing Atari and Nintendo in the 80s. My love of gadgets and video games, as well as a penchant for taking things apart, led me to learning how to build my own gaming PCs in the late 90s.

One of my earliest jobs was stocking and selling parts for heavy equipment in South Carolina. The catalog system they used was a giant stack of CDs with all of the exploded views and catalogs of part numbers. Every machine had its own disc, and looking them up required swapping disc after disc. Since I was familiar with Windows networking and ethernet, I figured out a way to set up a central computer, a shared folder, and copy all of the discs’ contents onto the hard drive, making it accessible via UNC path to all computers in the branch.

This led to me to traveling to all 12 branches and repeating the same process, eventually landing at the HQ in Charlotte to centralize the distribution of all data to all branches. I also converted their NT4 domain to Windows 2000, implemented Active Directory, and migrated Exchange 5.5 -> Exchange 2000. It would be an understatement to say that I made every mistake possible, but in my eyes, that’s exactly how you learn. After some intense studying and testing, I received my MCSE 2000 and CCNA certifications.

The rest, as they say, is history.

From there, I relied heavily on my Mechanical Engineering education and got into the business of cabling and wiring datacenters for proper power distribution, rack/cage design, and power/cooling layouts. This time period involved contract work not only in the private sector, but within some of the largest financial and government institutions as well.

After that, around 2005, there was this new thing called “VMware” that was beginning to get the attention of us all. In 2006, I joined a large healthcare company in Los Angeles that desperately needed an overhaul to their Active Directory strategy and branch locations management. Over the course of the next 4 years, we went about virtualizing everything (including Oracle/Exchange/MSSQL), consolidating onto centralized shared storage, and implementing 10GbE networking. This process revolutionized the company’s IT offerings and enabled us to downsize overall IT spend for years to come.

Around this same time, social media and blogging were taking off, and I began sharing some of the work we were doing, as well as writing HOWTO’s for certain issues we faced and how to fix them.  In 2010, I was invited to speak at Oracle OpenWorld on behalf of VMware on virtualizing Oracle, how it is possible, and how approaching it differently could save you millions.  This was a huge hit with the community, and got the attention of many vendors that were interested in bringing me on-board.

NETAPP

In 2011, I joined NetApp, and have chronicled that ride extensively.  Some of the highlights include authoring documentation used by 10s of 1000s of users to setup best practices in their environment, presenting new technologies to customers, affecting real change to new and old products while working with product managers, and of course, meeting all of the wonderful folks traveling to the many different trade shows, meetups, and user groups. I cannot put into words how rewarding it is to help someone solve a problem they face. Whether its the biggest scale solution, or simply flipping a switch to increase performance, there is no greater high than seeing the smile when you’re able to pass on great knowledge that solves a customer’s problem!

After NetApp, I joined a hot new startup for a year. While my heart was already pulling me in the direction of breaking out to be independent, I felt I could still greatly contribute to a new company struggling to be heard and taken seriously, and feel I was successful in doing so. They’re doing great, and I’m happy for them!

TODAY & BEYOND

While this website started as a personal and professional blog, and played host to the popular NetApp Communities Podcast in the past, we’re re-launching it with a new focus on providing services.  I will continue to blog here sporadically, and look for a new tech podcast coming soon!

Thanks for visiting!  Please check out my service offerings and get in touch with me with any questions!

Regards,

Nick Howell

@datacenterdude
nick@datacenterdude.com