Category Archives: Next Generation SE

Becoming a Next Generation SE, Part 3 – Listen, Read, and Learn.

What should you do if you want to broaden your skill set and be well versed in new technology?  It’s quite simple: learn from as many sources as you can.  Crack a book and read.  Subscribe to blogs (even if you just have to get them sent to your email).  Get some podcasts into your handheld supercomputer and listen to them.  Watch some videos – get your demo on!  As obvious as it seems on the surface, finding the right forums for this information isn’t always as apparent as you’d hope.  I’ve found that using a consensus of multiple credible sources recommending the same thing makes me more likely to consume that option.  A bit of Little Data for my education, if you will.

As i travel along my journey, I’ve been compiling the suggestions, opinions, and thoughts of numerous peers, speakers, and experts in the social sphere.  I’ve been keeping a comprehensive (and growing!) list of Books, Blogs, and Podcasts that can be used to exercise the old gray matter.




At the end of the day all of these links are simply guidelines to simply get you started and get the learning juices flowing – the point is really to help remind you of some great ways to get your learn on.  I would love to get your feedback on additional relevant podcasts, books, blogs, or other that you’ve found are equally as compelling.  I’ll add them in this post, or a follow-on post.

Other Books: (These are more for sharpening your SE PreSales Acumen, or otherwise related)

Becoming a Next Generation SE, Part 2 – Learn Markdown

Our second installment in the “How to become a Next Generation SE” focuses on yet another critical skill – Markdown.

“I still don’t know what Markdown is…?” I respect that.  I might suggest you head over to our friends over at What Is Markdown and read their breakdown.  It’s a bit more deep than just documentation, in this case, but hey have a good breakdown of the basics, if it helps you get there.

“Why Markdown?”  You might ask, and rightfully so.  Markdown is the documentation standard on GitHub for one.  For those who are looking to participate, and maybe just aren’t ready to learn to code as an SE just yet – this is a great starting point.  You can contribute in a few ways:

  • Contribute to an existing project by helping with the documentation
  • Contribute a new project by creating valuable missing documentation on something.
  • Write unique and original presentations for your daily tasks, such as customer meetings.

I’ve been forcing myself to learn markdown using a few of these methods already.  One of them was inspired while I was learning about contributing markdown projects on GitHub and found Sinker’s Taco Fancy – a VNX Techbook level document which has sub-components combined to make numerous recipes and is #foodie gold!  My personal result?  I documented one of the recipes my friends and family beg for consistently.  My spaghetti and meatballs are borderline epic, if I do say so myself.  I’ve decided to set my recipe free unto the world, hoping for feedback, additions, enhancements, and anything else that might come from setting it free. OK, so I’m slightly imitating what EMC has done recently by firmly embracing Open Source and offering open versions of Greenplum Database, HAWQ, and GemFire – but the point is the same – everyone benefits!  Want more Open Source EMC stuff? Don’t forget to drop by EMC{code} on GitHub.

Here are the links to the markdown versions of my Italian Red Sauce (Gravy) and Meatballs – I bet you ‘fork’ them before the weekend’s over!

The other process I’ve been working on is starting a new master deck (PPT) to use for my presentations on all things EMC, using Markdown.  This was inspired again by Matt Cowger – he’s the meanest, nastiest, best mentor you could ever have at EMC! 🙂  He introduced me to Deckset – a markdown based app for managing your presentations.


Below are a few of the bookmarked sites I have in regards to Markdown, which is unfortunately a bit of a fragmented soft-standard.  It’s still young and becoming more prevalent daily, so the growing pains are frankly expected and worth it. Here’s a few of the sites that I found that I’m focused on:


Learning sites:

Once you’ve started learning markdown and are ready to deploy version 0.1 of ‘Hello’, you’ll need just a few more things to get yourself started (sound familiar?)

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

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!