Monthly Archives: January 2015

Becoming a Next Generation SE, Part 1 – Learn to Code

During my personal journey to adapt my skills as an EMC Systems Engineer to fit the model of our Next Generation SE, I will be sharing the steps I take and the information I gather along the way.  I am pretty comfortable with the general conversations that are required of me, but I can say without hesitation that my weakest skill would be the actual coding of an application and deploying it in an environment (specifically, in a PaaS environment).

While he was in town working on his lab environment, I took the opportunity to corner Matt Cowger and ask his advice in regards to application development and the role of the Next Generation SE in general.  If you don’t know Matt (how is that possible?), the one thing you should know is that he’s ‘wicked smaht’ and that he is a prototype for what the EMC Systems Engineer is becoming (he has a particular set of skills, skills he’s acquired over a very long career).  Matt and I were discussing learning to code, and I asked for his advice on which language he would recommend – it was clear: Python is the way to go.  I’d received numerous suggestions and seen it mentioned countless times, so I asked Matt why he thought it was the way to go.  His explanation sealed it for me.  I’m paraphrasing here, but essentially Matt explained that “In other popular languages, there may be 10 different ways to accomplish the same task. In python, there might be only one way to do accomplish that task”.  As always, if you ask 1,000 people their opinions, you’ll get 1,000 different answers on how to do things – but Matt’s explanation was really compelling to this novice coder. Python it is!

I had already bookmarked as many “teach yourself X language” sites as I possibly could, so I sorted all of those that could teach me python and I’m off to learn.  Here’s a list of the sites that I found that I’m focused on:

And here’s a few others for supplemental training:

Once you’ve started learning python and are ready to deploy version 0.1 of ‘Hello World’, you’ll need just a few more things to get yourself started:

Get yourself a Github account, publish your code there, and start following some people. While you’re at it, go find an interesting project, fork it, and play around with the code.

Next, go sign up for Cloud Foundry and start a project. Send me the URL, I’d love to see what you’ve done!

What is the Next Generation SE?

The best *and* most difficult part of being an EMC Presales System Engineer is keeping on top of the constant change within the IT world that we work in.  I’m constantly amazed at the ability of our leadership to keep ahead of the industry trends and be pushing Sales and Engineering to be educated on the conversations that are likely to come (and they always do).  Change is something that I enjoy, but it’s possible that what’s coming down the pipe for our position is not just simply change.

You never change things by fighting the existing reality.  To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” – Buckminster Fuller

2014’s EMC Systems Engineer, in essence, is becoming obsolete.  Not necessarily because it’s problematic, but rather because the landscape is demanding it.  What we must embrace is the Next Generation of SE and what we must become to be successful at that.  So what is a “Next Generation SE” you ask?   I personally believe I have an understanding of what might be expected of us, with more things yet to come.

Matt Cowger has a great blog post on this topic, giving his take on what he thought it would take for us to evolveas an organization.

The Next Generation SE skillset, for me, looks like the following:

Have a fundamental understanding of:

  • DevOps technologies
  • Automation and orchestration methods
  • Agile, and similar development methods
  • Microservices
  • Data Frameworks and Analytics
  • Massively Paralell Processong models
  • Open Source software in the Enterprise

And be able to:

  • Comfortably disrupt existing practices with new methods
  • Show the effective business result of implementing new technology
  • Demonstrate value (return) to the business of a technology investment
  • Speak across all functional teams in a business

I hope for this to be a working document that I can adjust as I get feedback, so please – bring the comments!