The 365 days blogging experience!

In these similar days back in December 2008, I officially lunched my very humble blog. There are really lots of things to talk about in such occasion, but I decided to pick up two main aspects. In the first part I’ll talk about the three persons who made this place a reality, and in the second one I’ll list down my happiest and most memorable 10 moments throughout this incredible 365 days blogging experience!

Deepak Narain:

Deepak is one of the VMware super geniuses working in my region. The first time I saw him, was back in summer 2008 in my corporate when he was visiting us along with one of the local VMware partners. I remember I asked Deepak in that meeting about VMware’s Site Recovery Manager (SRM) which was not released yet, and he started right away talking fluently about it. I was truly impressed, not just about his incredible presentation skills, but also for the fact that he was ready to talk technically about it without any sales nonsense. Few hours later to that meeting I got an email from him with some technical documents on how to make an SRM PoC with the Lefthand VSA, which by the way after few months led to one of my most successful posts of all time over here.

I kept exchanging emails with Deepak back and forth after that meeting, and one of those times I mentioned to him that I’m thinking to start blogging, and that I was not sure if it’s a good idea! I told him also that I’ve registered a cheesy domain name (hypervizor.com) although I was originally thinking of VMcrowd.com (you know, after the British show “the IT crowd”). I got a reply from him few minutes later saying that he loves my domain name, and that he can’t wait for me to start blogging! I didn’t listen to him right away as I thought he was just being polite and diplomatic, but he kept reminding and encouraging me many times later!

I did listen to him eventually although I had no clue what on earth would make my blog anything special next to the hot-shot blogs out there at that time like NTPro.nl, Yellow-Bricks.com & Boche.net/Blog!

The story normally ends up here saying: “.. and I blogged happily ever after.”… well, here is a shocker:

In April 2009, when the vSphere was officially lunched, the bloggers in the private beta were finally allowed to start talking freely about vSphere. I started myself a series of posts/videos I called “vSphere 4 Unleashed” and I’ve put lots of time and effort in these posts. Although I’ve got good response, I was expecting for some reason much more! I was a bit frustrated to tell you the truth, and this frustration kept growing and growing until I started thinking that maybe it’s not worth it, and that it’s time to stop blogging!

At that time, and when I was having this frustration at its peak, I suddenly got an email from Deepak out of the blue saying in a hurry that he’s sitting in one of the internal VMware presentations back in the US given by one of the VMware higher executives, and that one of his slides had my name and blog URL! – I was in shock! He didn’t give me much details, and I learned not to ask him about anything internal in VMware because he’s always very conservative about that (so is anyone I knew from VMware, and I highly respect that in them BTW), but I was incredibly happy and extremely excited. As you may have guessed, all my frustration and black thoughts were gone at that point, and I had instead a huge energy that pushed me further to take my blog to the next level with more professional and advanced posts.

Many of my discussions and meetings with Deepak have been an inspiration for many of my blog posts over here. For example, I was having a coffee lately with Deepak during one of his visits to Doha, and somewhere in our discussion the VMware HA topic came up. I told him, while I was showing-off: “did you know that this technology was originally developed by a company called Legato?” .. he smiled back at me and said: “did you know that I used to develop that code myself?” … and then the discussion went on with some incredible details about the origin of this software, which completely blew my mind away. When I checked Deepak’s Linkedin profile later that day, I knew that he was actually the “Software Development Manager” at Legato before he joins EMC, and from there to VMware. The very next day, I started designing my HA diagram with much more passion and admiration to this great technology.

Of course Deepak has no idea about all these stories, and in fact, he goes and tells everyone he knows about my blog and how I publish some good stuff out there about VMware! The funny thing is that I’ve been trying to convince him to start blogging (with no luck so far), but I’m telling you, if he decided to do it one day, he will be a force to reckon with in our blogosphere!

 

Eric Sloof:

When I first started my blog, I used to publish some normal news just to get my first steps into this blogging world and have the sense of it. After nearly one month, I decided to shift gears and publish something interesting. At that time the vCenter SRM 1.0 was a quite hot topic, but it was also somewhat advanced and rarely talked about in the blogosphere. I was up for the challenge and started doing a compete lab between two physical sites/datacenters with dark fiber connectivity to simulate a real-world SRM scenario. After I published my first posts of this series I was very interested to see the reaction but I had one little problem, I simply had no visitors, or let’s say a very, very few of them. Somehow, Eric Sloof over at http://NTPRO.NL picked up my posts, and published a very nice post about them on his blog. I was really happy to see that, not just because of his very kind words, but also for the fact that he emailed me and told me that he mentioned my posts on his blog. This personal approach really stood out for me, and I knew right away that he’s someone who really has a passion about the technology, and cares about what he’s doing. As you can imagine, he simply brought thousands of visitors between a day and night to my blog because his site is widely popular and very well known in the blogosphere. As a matter of fact, the next day Eric posted his article, I got an email from Deepak with a subject saying “Ok, you are famous now!” and in the message he mentioned that Eric’s blog is one the most respected and popular ones across the community!

Eric didn’t even stop at that point, he actually kept updating his post with the new tutorials that followed and appeared on my blog. It’s worth mentioning here also that later on, Tom Howarth & Roger Lund mentioned my SRM tutorials on their blogs, and I’m very grateful to them as well.

One last thing I want to mention here. In the Top 20 Bloggers poll arranged by Eric Siebert, the NTPRO.nl was my number one vote. I simply asked myself this: what would be the one blog that I would never stop reading? And I realized right away that it’s Eric Sloof’s. He has the exclusivity (sometime we call him Eric Scoop!), the news and also he can get down and dirty with deep technical stuff about any technology/product you can think of. I wasn’t really surprised when I knew from the last Dutch VMUG that VMware’s CTO himself is following and reading Eric’s blog!

 

John Troyer:

If Eric Sloof brought thousands of visitors to my blog, then I believe John Troyer brought the entire virtualization planet’s attention to my blog when he added me to the V12n RSS feed! It even happened faster that I can imagine. I originally knew about this great RSS feed, and I was following it myself, but I didn’t expect to be added that quickly to it. John also has an incredible attention to the very small details that can pass infornt of anyone. I remember one of my posts had this small sentence – “May be also we can start thinking of automating and managing individual labs using the new and long awaited Lab Manager 4.0, expected sometime this month.“, and the very same day that post was published, I received a DM from John on twitter telling me that he read my post, and he can arrange a brief for me with one of the Lab Manager product marketing group if I’m interested! Despite the fact that it was really tough to find a slot for me at that time, he kept exchanging emails with me being CC’ed until he finally got my slot scheduled. He was even putting extra efforts and went through lots of hassle to get me the best timing due to the time-zone deference between the US and Qatar. Few days later the Lab Manager 4.0 came out, and few days after that I blogged about my crazy idea of automating and provisioning ESX inside itself using LM4, which was, and still, one of my personal favorites here, and also driving insane traffic to me through Google with keywords like “vSphere in a box” / “esx inside itself” ..etc

I also learned overtime (and through more than one experience) that John is the best, and most trusted person, to get back to if you have something important that you think VMware should know about or be aware of. I actually used to joke and say that John Troyer is the “God Father” of VMware whenever his name comes up in any discussion, but if you really look at his tremendous efforts and dedication, plus the exceptional and unique community he was able to build for VMware, you would really see how lucky VMware (and us, the community) to have a person like him.

 

The top and best 10 moments throughout my 1 year blogging experience:

 10  When I started getting loads of emails from 1) visitors asking me about deep technical aspects; 2) VMware local partners taking my advice on design best practices; 3) local and international companies offering me various and interesting job opportunities, driven explicitly from ideas/articles they read on my blog!

 09  When I won the very first vSphere blogging contest among the best and most brilliant contestants in the blogosphere.

 08  When my blog posts started to appear in the VMTN weekly Top5 Planet V12n entries.

 07  When I received Deepak Narain’s email as mentioned above.

 06  When I came to know that VMware used in their VMworld 2009 Labs a setup based on a special build of LM4 to run and automate the ESX inside itself, which was very similar to my “vSphere in a box” Lab Manager Automation blog post.

 05  When I was attending one of the vCenter Site Recovery Manager 4.0 private betas WebEx sessions, and all of a sudden the presenter (who’s one of the great BCDR/SRM specialists in VMW) messaged me in private and told me that he likes my blog, and thanked me for my efforts.

 04  When I started having brilliant technical minds following me on twitter like Scott Lowe, Chad Sakac, Duncan Epping, Massimo Re Ferre’ (just to name a few).

 03  When I received an email from one of the VMware Systems Engineers telling me that my diagrams are the stuff that he and his colleagues like to circulate internally and wallpaper in their “cubes”.

 02  When my AppSpeed blog post was listed in the
product’s official page
on the VMware corporate website, and was mentioned in two of the VMworld09 sessions.

 01  When I received an email on Wednesday, Jul 29th , 2009 at 7:27 AM that simply made one of my biggest dreams come true. Unfortunately I won’t be able to elaborate more on that (at least for now) but I can tell you that it was by far “the” best moment throughout my entire blogging experience.

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