Shawn Cannon is a longtime friend of the Dell TechCenter. He has blogged on Dell TechCenter and he's written about Dell related topics on his own IT blog, vTech411. If you've been to either Dell World or VMworld, you might have seen him enthusiastically chatting with Dell or other IT pros or interacting with others from his popular twitter handle @rolltideGA.
In addition to writing on TechCenter, Shawn is active on many different IT communities. In fact, he is the only person that I know of, to simultaneously hold vExpert, Dell TechCenter Rockstar, and EMC Elect designations at the same time!
I recently conducted an interview with Shawn over email, where he shared his thoughts on the social media community within the IT industry, talked about challenges that he faces as an IT pro, and told us more about himself.
Please tell us about yourself. What is your current role and where do you work?
My name is Shawn Cannon. I live in the great state of Georgia in the metro Atlanta area. I currently work for Gladiator Technology as Systems Administrator, Sr. We are part of a bigger company called Jack Henry & Associates.
What is your IT blog about, and how did you get started?
My IT blog is still small at the moment. It is vtech411.com. I started it over a year ago at VMworld 2012. I blog about anything related to virtualization in IT, which can be servers, storage, software, etc. I will also blog about my experiences at conferences such as VMworld and Dell World.
How did you get involved in the IT industry? Do you specialize in any particular IT technology?
I first got interested in computers thanks to a friend of mine way back in Elementary School. He had a Commodore VIC 20 and we had a blast with that thing! I was hooked from that point on. I got my own VIC 20 and eventually the Commodore 64. I continued to use Intel-based computers growing up. I even ran a Bulletin Board System (BBS) at home back in the day of dial-up modems! That was a blast! My first IT related job was at a bank in Smyrna GA. I eventually left there to work for the company that installed the computer network at the bank back in 1996. We used Netware back then, eventually mograting to Windows NT 4.0 and all Windows since then.
I don't really specialize in a particular IT technology as I wear many hats in my admin role. I manage our virtual infrastructure as well as our storage and firewalls.
What are the biggest IT challenges that you face?
Right now the biggest IT challenge that I face all deals with regulations that banks have to deal with. Our systems are audited just like financial institutions so we have to have all our ducks in a row. As I am a doer (I want to do things as soon as I can to make things work) it definitely makes my life harder. I know that does not seem like the typical IT challenge but from my perspective that is my biggest hurdle.
"Once I found out about Twitter and joined it, I found so many IT professionals out that willing to help with anything!"
What effect do you feel social media has had on the IT community and industry in recent years?
I think Twitter has had the most profound effect on the IT community and industry. Once I found out about Twitter and joined it, I found so many IT professionals out that willing to help with anything! That is the most amazing thing about community to me. I don't ever remember a time when so many people were willing to help others like the past 5 years. If you did not know someone or if you did not have a support contract you were pretty much out of luck. Twitter changed all of that. Blogs have been huge with information sharing as well but I know that the popularity of blogs is waning. Vendor communities such as TechCenter, VMware communities and EMC communities are picking up a lot of steam putting a lot of personal blogs out of business.
You are currently a vExpert, EMC Elect, and Dell TechCenter Rockstar for 2013. Can you share your thoughts on these IT Industry advocacy programs?
The first thing I want to point out about these programs is that they are "community" in nature. They are not technical certs at all. They are programs that honor you for your contributions to the community. Each program definitely has its differences. VMware vExpert has been around the longest thus many more people know about it. Because of that any companies including VMware give the vExperts things to honor your selection. Those gifts are nice but not the reason to try for vExpert. EMC Elect was brand new this year and there have been a lot of opportunities for the elect to get announcements ahead of time for new releases. I know they had some special perks at EMC World this year but I was not able to attend. At VMworld they had an EMC Elect lounge right above their booth in the Solutions Exchange. That was VERY nice! And finally there is the Dell TechCenter Rockstar program. One of my favorite things with the Rockstar program is that you give Rockstars opportunities to go to Dell events such as Dell World and you take care of us 100 percent. That is a very unique perk that the other 2 programs do not offer. Overall, even though I am part of 3 community distinctions, all of them complement each other in some way. I will continue to contribute to all of them whenever I can.
Do you find Dell TechCenter helpful in your role as an IT Pro?
Yes I find the TechCenter site very useful. I know that I can find what I am looking for there even if it is just a link somewhere else on Dell.com.
What would you like to see on Dell TechCenter in the future?
This is a hard one as I think the TechCenter site has most of the content I expect to see. As long as the content remains fresh and relevant then I am happy!