The Journey Begins

“There are many things that seem impossible only so long as one does not attempt them.”

André Gide, Autumn Leaves

For several years I have contemplated making changes to my career for various reasons that many can relate to. In early 2019 I started investigating avenues that I could take that would help fix my two main issues, money and burn-out. With almost 30 years of working the front lines supporting users with helpdesk and organizations with CIO/CTO/CISO/CITO services, I was done. Done with not sleeping because of worrying about the next attack or what email link a user might get and click on. Done with being on call 24x7x365. Just done.

In late 2019 I lost my son to suicide, and I knew then that I was not going to be making any changes to my life or career until I could cope with my own grief and trauma. Over the course of the next 2 years, I would look at the directions I could take and what kinds of companies could utilize my vast skillset and array of experiences. It was in late 2021 that I discovered the depth of the DevOps technologies and culture and I fell in love with technology again. With that burning desire to learn … My journey begins.

By January 2022 I had gathered my list of technologies I wanted to learn that could affect a positive change for my life and career. The 3 graphics below are what really amped me up and got my juices flowing. With decades of Linux experience the roadmap became clear.

The first 2 images have been presented a million different ways on likely a million different sites and blogs so I am going with the ones that I find most aesthetically pleasing to me. 😉

Infinity Overview
Infinity – Technology Overview

This next image was found over at RoadMap. It is based on the authors own experiences and comfort level but is a really good look at the technologies that are used in today’s DevOps landscape.

Keep Learning!!!

How can a real geek not get excited about all of this?

Many years ago, I attended a Microsoft Launch event for Windows 98SE. During the event the presenters kept talking about this “cloud” thing and what it meant for the future. They outlined the core roadmap for Windows and what the future could look like. PCs without a full operating system, everything loading from some remote server, data available everywhere all the time, and so much more. The entire audience was flabbergasted and in total disbelief that this would ever happen. I mean seriously, look at Microsoft’s track record during this time do you really think they are going to pull this off? Fast forward 20ish years and we are nearly there. Wow, they really meant it … Embrace the cloud or get left behind.

Today we, almost the entirety of mankind in the modern world, get most of our content from some cloud provider or another. We have moved from on-prem to hybrid environments or even wholly cloud in some cases. Our files are stored in some providers data center(s), our email is with some vendor sitting on some other vendors cloud platform, even our own “local” authentication into our own personal computers is controlled by some entity in the cloud. Many software vendors have even taken their enormously bloated software off of the desktop and have webified it in some fashion and varying levels of success.

That success or fail is where the DevOps world comes into play. All of this falls squarely onto the shoulders of millions of developers around the globe. Some of these developers are also the operations folks. From the 2 first images above, you can see that this is an ongoing process that never ends which is why it is referred to as CI/CD … Continuous Implementation/Integration Continuous Deployment. I’ll go into greater detail on some of this in a future post so that I don’t ramble on now. 😉

Over the course of January to June 2022 I have been learning with deep dives into each part of the stack. What is the stack? Well, I am glad you asked. The “stack” is not definitive and hard, but it is more of a fluid environment that changes as the needs dictate. The stack that I am working with now may or may not be identical to what other engineers are using. I’ll go into greater detail on this in a future post as well. My really deep dive started in Mid-March when my burn-out started to peak.

I tasked myself with seeing just how quickly I could learn the foundations of the culture, methodologies, and technologies to be able to build a usable simulated cloud environment. That meant I needed to learn several different technologies and methodologies to be successful and to get the attentions of any potential employer. Things like Terraform, Ansible, Jenkins, Kubernetes, Docker, Git, and a few others. I need to wrap my mind around the concepts of a Declarative State and ignore 30 years of working with living networks. What a different world it is. While there are a lot of similarities that are also some vast and extreme differences in the 2 different methods. I have to say that I really enjoy declarative state. Didn’t deploy correctly, no worries … the backend will correct that issue. Deployment blow up, again … no worries as the backend will correct that problem.

I was having a ton of fun playing with all of this and decided to show off the fun to my son-in-law who already works in this industry segment in a testing management capacity. His excitement over my accomplishments got me even more excited. The funny thing is that all I showed him was a simple VM deployment to my virtualization platform. There were several “You ought to …” statements that got my grey matter going even more. I wanted to show him that not only could I simply roll out some VM’s, which I felt was child’s play, but that I could roll out a Kubernetes cluster and do something with it. I ran into several roadblocks along the way that were hindering my progress. None of these roadblocks were a lack of understanding but were centered around, “Ok, I can do this now but what do I do with it?” For the entirety of my career, I have been a solution provider for issues at hand. My mindset has always been to find a solution for an issue that is impacting my users or networks. I didn’t see a problem that I needed to address so what next.

My son-in-law has spent most of his career in software and API testing and is now in a management position for the same. I called him up one day and told him that I needed to talk to him about all of this. I go over and we talk, I explain some of the hurdles I am encountering, and he just point blank looked at me and said, “You’re too old for this.” I obviously told him he had no idea what he was talking about and didn’t truly understand my capabilities and capacity. I explained that my issue wasn’t a comprehension issue but more about how I apply all that I have learned. What direction do I take to show practical application of these technologies? That was when it clicked for him where my hurdles lie.

The sample project he “assigned” to me was to deploy a WireMock service with some stub of an API to simulate. Test that service using Postman to successfully get results from that service. That means that I need to build the initial environment for cloning, deploy that template to multiple VM’s, deploy Kubernetes and Wiremock and then test that environment. All the while he is getting more and more excited about what I am doing, to the point that he has promoted me to his employer as a candidate for a few projects. He asked that I submit a resume and a demonstration video and see where it goes. Oddly though, being a people person, I discovered that I am not a camera person. I can talk to anyone about anything and have a good conversation, but you put me in front of a camera with no audience and I fumble. This first iteration of the video was absolutely horrid, and he immediately laughed at me and told me too re-do it. What you see below is the culmination of my education up to the end of May … just 2 months after starting my education. This excites me for what more I will be learning in the coming days, weeks, months, and years.

I hope you enjoy my blog posts and the information I will be conveying over time.

Geek The Grey Beard

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