We're excited to announce that we have a new customer-facing tech team on board, the SquaredUp Tech Evangelist Group! As a team, Adam, Shawn and Sameer will be producing cool, nerdy tech content about all things monitoring, as well as kick-starting various initiatives to help customers make the best of SquaredUp. These include in-depth tech guides, on-site customer visits and many things in between – read on to find out more!
Left to right in above image:
Shawn Williams, Tech Evangelist
Adam Kinniburgh, Lead Evangelist
Sameer Mhaisekar, Tech Evangelist
Hi Tech Evangelist Group! Could you tell us a bit about yourselves and your previous experience?
Sameer: Hello, my name is Sameer and I represent SquaredUp in India. I’m based in Hyderabad and have been working in the industry for just over 4 years now. I’ve always enjoyed my work – I started as a SCOM admin and later got involved in Azure consultancy briefly before getting hired here at SquaredUp.
I’m also the main organiser of Experts Live India – in fact, I am proud to say that I pioneered the Indian version of the event! I also co-manage a community blog called AnalyticOps Insights (anaops.com) where I write about my experiences with SCOM.
Shawn: I’m Shawn and I’m based in Indianapolis, US. Those who know me well know that sarcasm is my native language and that I'm a total "workaholic" when it comes to solving problems or working out a way to transform data. Embarrassingly, I’d have to say that work is my hobby and I tend to bring work home with me.
But in all seriousness, I really do enjoy working in the tech field and solving problems. At Purdue University where I worked for 23 years until I joined SquaredUp earlier this year, I was a Systems Engineer for Infrastructure in their central IT organization. My responsibilities revolved around solving problems across systems, gathering and working with "data", along with system performance, tuning, and general troubleshooting. I was also the SCOM admin.
Adam: I'm Adam Kinniburgh, Technical Services Manager at SquaredUp. I've worked here for three years now. In my role, I manage a number of teams, including customer support, internal system engineering, and also a new team of business process analysts. The Tech Evangelist Group is the latest (and very welcome) addition to Tech Services!
Most of my career has been systems engineer-focused at various levels. From starting out at a help desk, right through to consulting and project work for government, all of my experience has been about using technology to solve problems for people. For me personally, there's always been a real focus on using the right tool for the right job, rather than just getting some software and making it work for the use case at hand. Because of that, my focus is always on the customer and what we can do for them, what we can't do, and what we should be doing.
Three industry experts of very different backgrounds! Why did you all choose to join the tech evangelist team?
Adam: I was nominated to lead the tech evangelist team because of my knowledge of SquaredUp and my experience with system engineering. I know our customers very well and our product inside out. I’ve literally got orange and blue running through my veins – check out this Christmas dashboard I made for fun!
So when we had the opportunity to bring in Sameer and Shawn, it seemed like a good idea for the three of us to team up, obviously because they know their stuff when it comes to the tech, but also partly because they are both based outside the UK. We’re a customer-facing team that’s spread out around the world – between us, we’ve got almost all the time zones covered.
Sameer: I’ve always been very interested in community work and got quite involved in Microsoft’s TechNet SCOM forum. I love talking to experts and fellow SCOMers from around the world and learning from them, or sometimes maybe teaching them a thing or two on forums or via the blogs I write. I’ve always enjoyed technical troubleshooting, and the feeling that I could help somebody, somewhere in the world to answer their questions – directly or indirectly – is pretty amazing!
Shawn: To be honest, it was a really tough decision to leave Purdue University when I was approached by SquaredUp. But what really won me over was how genuine and enthusiastic SquaredUp has been to me and the SCOM community. Unhappily there were times at my previous job when it felt like no one else cared. It was at those moments that SquaredUp would drop me an email and share some new design or feature, and my excitement was renewed! I shared it with others in my organization, and we were able to accomplish so many wonderful things with or without SquaredUp, but at the end of the day we were able to deliver because of SquaredUp. So I decided to leave the University and join the SquaredUp Tech Evangelist team. Maybe I can create that same excitement for someone else?
I bet you will Shawn! What specifically do you each hope to contribute to SquaredUp’s tech evangelist team, considering your previous experience?
Adam: First and foremost, what is tech evangelism? It’s connecting people who have problems with the product, tech and knowledge that they need to be successful. In other words, it’s more than just marketing, sales or support. It’s about authentic content, communication, community, and it should be a key part of any modern technology business.
For us, this means coming up with the whole package to deliver much higher quality services for our customers. It's not just about building new features because we think they sound cool. It's about having a team of people who are industry experts, who are able to understand what customers really need, so that we can deliver real solutions. I’d like to help us deliver cool things that are relevant to people.
Shawn: Looking internally at SquaredUp, I would like to champion those items that make SquaredUp more of a one-stop or single-pane-of-glass. For example, at Purdue University, we had a number of infrastructure related tools that presented data in a bunch of weird ways. Sometimes I was able to duplicate those dashboards in SquaredUp, sometimes I wasn't. When I couldn't, SquaredUp usually had an alternative method, but I “lost my mind” when it wasn't the same (like presenting numbers on a dashboard instead of a graph).
Looking externally, SquaredUp is an extremely flexible tool and I was able to do a lot of interesting things, but I sometimes think IT Pros need a person to share their experiences, frustrations, or issues with. It's during those types of conversations, when we can share those experiences, that people realize that there's more there than they realized and that they probably already have what they need. When I was at Purdue, I called those the "Last Mile" conversations. We were almost where we needed to be, but we just needed to cross that last mile to close out the project. I'm hoping that I can help more people cross that finish line.
Sameer: I’ve got experience with both SCOM and Azure, and I’ve always enjoyed working in this space. The things that I’ve learnt in my past roles will definitely help with producing technical content, and my experience with regular blogging with surely come in handy. Also, since I’ve been an active part of the community, I’ve made some great friends and acquaintances over the years from different parts of the world, which will definitely help me reach out to a wider global audience!
Exciting stuff! Could you give readers a little sneak preview as to what you’ve got in store for us?
Adam: At the moment, it looks like our work will be a 50/50 split between a new Customer Success Initiative we’re putting in place, and working with the marketing team to produce cool, useful, nerdy content.
Sameer’s working on an upcoming series on Azure Monitor, which is a nice example of helpful content that isn’t just more stuffy technical documentation. It'll feature the real experience of learning about Azure Monitor, highlighting challenges and pitfalls, and it’ll be genuine, not just a re-engineered version of Microsoft articles.
We'll also be spending quite a lot of time working directly with customers as part of our new Customer Success initiative, which ties together support, tech evangelists and sales. We will be available to go and help our customers be successful – both remotely over calls or in person when it’s appropriate. Using all the knowledge that the three of us have, we will help customers create the cool dashboards that we show off in our demos when we go to events, and make sure they know how to achieve their goals with SquaredUp.
Sameer: As Adam mentioned, I’m currently working on an “Azure Monitor learning path” blog series in which I will be documenting my personal experience getting to grips with Azure Monitor. It’s going to be launched in January – come with me on my journey and hopefully it’ll help you go from Azure Monitor zero to hero!
Shawn: I'm still getting up to speed on all things Azure, but when I get the opportunity, I would like to really dig into Microsoft's "monitoring" message. For me, Microsoft's message about the future of the IT Pro has been all over the map, but I think they finally have something worth talking about with the announcements made at this year's Ignite conference. While most of the sessions highlighted certain Azure features, I think the over-arching message is that the IT Pro's job is changing and there will be certain skills that they should start focusing on to remain relevant. Obviously, only time will tell if this current message is the one that wins, but I haven't seen or heard anything about this change from the general media.
A second, but way more interesting topic to me, is to start looking at what monitoring tools to use in certain situations. At Microsoft Ignite 2019, I overheard a lot of audience chatter about how confusing Microsoft's strategy is with monitoring. For example, they support, Process Explorer, Process Monitor, xPerf, Performance Monitor, Windows Admin Center, System Center Operations Manager, Azure Monitor and, of course, you can also use PowerShell (to name a few). To me, each tool has its place and an IT Pro shouldn't settle on just one tool (unless they want to), but they should choose the right tool for the job, bearing in mind that each tool has a subtly different audience with different considerations.
Great topics! What are you most excited about with regards to your new role?
Sameer: I’ve been given the responsibility to strengthen SquaredUp’s market position in India – a challenging task, but one that is hugely exciting to me. To pitch SquaredUp to customers in India and learn how the Indian market works with its different mentality and approach – it's a great brain-teaser! This is something I haven’t done before and spans sales and marketing, technical support, and even partnerships. I’m really excited to try out some ideas we have and hopefully see them work out!
Shawn: I'm most excited to be learning about Azure and Azure Monitor. Getting up to speed with how Azure works and how Azure Monitor fits into the picture is exciting for me (new toys to play with). Plus there's a new query language (Kusto) to learn and I'm always game to learn a new language. I’d also like to help others exploit their SCOM landscape more. I was very proud of how fast and responsive my SCOM landscape was. I was able to do a lot of things that people said couldn’t be done, like get "all the red out" from the all alerts view. There will always be those people that think SCOM is a four-letter-word, but we can prove them wrong.
Adam: Much of my job at the moment is inward facing – the systems and business process teams I look after are all about how we do things internally here at SquaredUp – but like I said previously, I've always enjoyed being more customer-focused.
I’m excited about helping to tie together support, sales, relationship management and marketing to make sure that when someone finds us for the first time, the really awesome stuff that we show them is actually something they can achieve quickly. I can’t wait to focus on customer success and tech evangelism so we can close the gap between selling/ looking after the product and helping customers fall in love with it completely.
Now, could each of you please give us one little fun fact about yourself.
Shawn: Hmm… Well, I've built my own electric guitar. It was part of summer guitar making workshop at Purdue University. We started with the wood slabs, designed, built and painted our own personal guitar under the tutelage of Purdue's Taylor Guitars and Fender Guitars Luthiers. Did I mention that we also hand sanded our guitars? There was so much sanding. So. Much. Sanding…
Sameer: I am an avid PC and console gamer and enjoy playing online multiplayer games with "ma bois". If you're on Xbox, look up my gamer tag "ABlurryFace15" and we can play together ?
Adam: I play the ukulele. And I'd like to be a beekeeper. I took a beekeeping course at River Cottage down in Somerset, which was pretty cool. It all stemmed from my love for barbecue, which is my third fun fact. My garden is full of high-tech meat cooking equipment of various shapes and massive sizes in some cases – you could do 20 racks of ribs or 50 kilos of beef, easy. But the key thing for barbecue is good barbecue sauce. And good barbecue sauce needs good honey. I want to make it all from scratch, as much as possible. Hence beekeeping.
That’s three fun facts, Adam, not one – but wow, I’m sure everyone at the office would appreciate that very much. In fact, maybe they’ll hire you as SquaredUp’s very own Beekeeper, now wouldn’t that be a dream come true. Thank you Shawn, Sameer, Adam – we look forward to all the great work you’ll be doing for SquaredUp!