Moving on – My new career path – ExtraHop Networks

4043_CompanyLogo102014The Beginning

For the entirety of my 16-year IT career, I have always worked in the private enterprise. As such, my experience has always been in the infrastructure that lies before me. Through reading, I have always learned best practices and good design, but I have never actually seen it. For example, using EIGRP or IS-IS where I prefer OSPF, so that’s what I use. I have always designed the network to what the business and budget requirements are. Because of this, my knowledge is a bit……. limited. Limited to only “what I use”, not “what is possible”.

During my last 9 wonderful years at SVP Worldwide (makers of Singer, Viking, and Pfaff sewing machines), I have really expanded my knowledge. I have designed, implemented, and maintained tons of new technologies, rebuilt the network, and migrated several datacenters. Only through the use of books, admin guides, and social networking was I able to accomplish such large tasks.

Over the last 18 months, my growth has become stagnant. As my wife reminds me “You are only growing, when you are uncomfortable”, and I’ve been comfortable in my current job for too long. I need to be creating solutions and learning new technologies to better the business, for my appetite to be satisfied. So, I started putting my little “feelers” out there to see what is currently open, as I didn’t see any culture change at my current company any time soon. After a couple of months, I stumbled upon a tweet that will change my life.

I love Extrahop, and have been trying to purchase it for sometime. I also love building solutions using network metrics. Eye-candy graphs, useful dashboards, meaningful data…. making fast informed decisions based on useful metrics. Seemed like a good fit, so I applied. Fast forward 2 months, and I accepted a position with ExtraHop Networks as a Solutions Architect, hoping that my large generalist skill set in the enterprise (server, storage, voice, data, workflow, web, load-balancer, etc, etc) will give me an edge in my new day-to-day activities. I also hope it will give me that one thing that I’ve been missing…. focus on a single technology.

Because my skill set is so broad and my Tech ADD kicks in every other…. SHINY TECH!!…. Where was I? Oh, lack of focus. I haven’t been able to focus very deeply in a single aspect of technology. I started on my CCIE path, but then changed to the JNCIE path, but then changed to…… I’m hoping that working for a vendor will give me that focus and in-depth knowledge of a technology/product that will give me an “expert” feeling.
I love learning new protocols, understanding the TCP-state workflow, and other foundation-level processes. As an ExtraHop SA, I believe I can do that.

Lifestyle Change

This position will really change my entire perspective on working. Up till now, I’ve been working on static networks and systems, giving me the ability to identify the problem or system just by hearing the symptoms. All of that will change, as each project will be on a new network, with different systems, and different processes. While I’m looking forward to the challenge and opportunities, it also provides a bit of anxiety. Questions like: “What if I can’t figure it out”, “What if I don’t know”, “Why are they doing it this way”, rack my head. The customer will rely solely on me to provide an answer. At least I can comfort myself knowing that I’m not the only one, and there are tons of people far smarter than me working at the same company. All I can do is bury my head in docs, and lab, lab, lab.

This position also increases my travel considerably. I have been fairly stable at 10–25% travel at any given time. However, this position increases that travel considerably. While this doesn’t bother me too much, it is a large change for my family. Although my 3 teenage kids would never admit this to my face, I know it will affect them being gone.

The Future

Many of my friends and colleagues have moved from enterprise to vendor/VAR, so I have a tiny idea of what lies before me. Most of them are happy with the change. Still, it is a unique environment and skill set that I will have to adjust to. But, I am looking forward to it.

If my wine batch was ready, I’d toast to the future with a nice Paxson Pub Merlot! But, until then, I will just use this Dos Equis glass and give cheers to the future! If you are reading this, then chances are, you have found it via Twitter (as my analytics show). If so, then the chances are greater that you (yes, you who are reading this) probably had a hand in my career. Whether helping me with a problem, or just reading about what you are working on that intrigued me. In that respect, I will also toast a drink to you as well! Thanks for just being there! Here’s to the future! (wait, is that another toast?) I wondered why my typing is getting more labored.

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  • Daniel Dib

    Good luck with your new job, Aaron!

    • Aaron Paxson

      Thanks Daniel! Will still be seein’ ya and chattin’ on Twitter! That, in fact, won’t ever change. :)

  • tsupasat

    I’m glad that you saw that tweet at the right time, Aaron! It’s an exciting time at ExtraHop and in our space in general. The nature of the ExtraHop platform–it’s programmability and extensibility–will suit your need to try and learn new things.

    • Aaron Paxson

      Thanks Tyson! Looking forward to working with you and the rest of the team(s).

  • Anthony Miller

    Congrats! Living vicariously through you. Way to have the stones to make a change and move forward.

    • Aaron Paxson

      Thanks Anthony! It’s been a long road since the good ol’ Bass Pro Shops days (still miss that awesome cafeteria!). No doubt, these will be my last days in Lotus (sigh). I tend to think of Domino like the Commodore Amiga. Just “ahead of it’s time”. :) For others that are reading this comment, yes, I am/was a converted Exchange admin. :)

  • Michael McNamara

    Good Luck Aaron!

    • Aaron Paxson

      Thanks man! Looking forward to it!

  • Tina Marin

    Good Luck in your new adventure!

    • Aaron Paxson

      Thanks Tina!