What's Your Exit Strategy?
@ Theo | Friday, Feb 8, 2019 | 1 minutes read | Update at Friday, Feb 8, 2019

Why are we afraid of “lock in”? Typically we hear the term and automatically assume it’s bad. It certainly can be, but doesn’t mean that every situation you’re in is a bad one.

On February 8, 2019, I gave an Ignite talk regarding Exit Strategies and “lock in” at DevOpsDays Charlotte. We broke down “lock in” and the varying degrees of it, then talked about how you can use it to your advantage by having an Exit Strategy (which is exactly as it sounds).

“lock in” isn’t exclusive to technology–what about your current employer?

[Video] | [Slides]

About Me

Self-described technology enthusiast working with containers, DevOps, networking, load balancing, etc.

Career

After college, I came back to the family business, this time to force-feed technology into the business instead of passing around a QuickBooks file and design templates on a Zip disk. This ended up as a good trade–I was able to both freely learn and implement new(er) technology and gain powerful business experience. I am fully capable of explaining any technical topic to a non-technical audience. I taught my mother about files/folders on a hard disk by showing her the files and folders in her file cabinets.

I spent a short time as a law firm doing more of the same, but wanted more. I joined a state-level government agency and began to specialize in networking. I quickly moved through the ranks moving from Junior to Senior status, and spent a few years as a Network Manager. I dove into “network service” technologies and tools like load balancing, name resolution, monitoring, logging, and analysis. My success there came from four principles:

  • Work with the customer–ensure your decisions are for their benefit.
  • The borders of your responsibility are soft–learn about how your department affects other departments. A little cross-team knowledge goes a long way.
  • Don’t waste time repeating processes–if you’ll repeat it, script it and let the system work for you.
  • Automate yourself out of a job–if you do, they’ll give you a better one.

College

I went to Florida Institute of Technology in Melbourne, FL, USA and received my Bachelor of Science in Computer Science. While the degree is a great résumé builder, the knowledge and experience gained were much more valuable.

We didn’t just focus on learning a programming language–we learned WHY a language was developed and what separates it from others. Concepts were more important, because that led to a language-independent programming skill. As a result, I can now write code in any language.

I also got a taste at other IT-related skills. The program provided enough electives for us to branch out and “test the waters” around different disciplines. As a result, I got a breadth of skills to help complement my degree: cryptography, computer vision, system administration, OS concepts, database design, etc.

My senior project was a collaboration between Aerospace, Mechanical, Computer, Electrical, and Software Engineers. We built a scale model of a V-22 “Osprey” with a design for mid-air transition while carrying heavy cargo. Since it was a scale model, we also used a wireless serial transmitter and ground interface to control the osprey using a Radio Controller hooked up to a computer screen. My job was the GUI/software for the Flight Control System and interface as well as the scripts to perform the advanced aeronautical calculations. It was a great team experience that further expanded my breath of skills and abilities.

Moving

My family and I wanted to move from Tallahassee, FL, USA, to Charlotte, NC, USA and we got the opportunity when I was offered a Network Engineer position with an insurance company that had a regional headquarters in Charlotte. I joined the Network Services team and found my passion for improving processes through orchestration/automation. I also got my first taste of cloud and cloud networking, which required a new education on cloud networking. For many years, I had watched other network professionals accelerate their knowledge and experience on networking to a point, then stick with that knowledge until otherwise forced to change. I realized that I’m not an “old school” networker, as I think being an expertise in networking doesn’t mean knowing every command in a CLI. Cloud networking is different, and requires a new way of architecting–traditional networking tools only work until the cloud border. Ultimately, I spent a short time at the insurance company because I was recruited by Amazon.

The Early Years

Ask my mother, and I was always going to work in technology. At age 5, I set the clock on the VCR and programmed it to record my shows.

My family owns a swimming pool contracting business in Tallahassee, FL, USA and I spent my childhood and teenage years learning how to run a business. Technology was a hobby, and I had fun exploring building my own gaming rig, writing plugins for software, and begrudgingly providing free technical support to friends and family.