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Alastair Cooke is an IT Consultant and the Chief Video Officer with vBrownBag.
What’s your IT origin story? How long have you been in the field?
What’s been the biggest change in IT since you started your career?
The continuing rise of the Internet. At that time the University of Waikato was one of the primary control points for Internet traffic in New Zealand. That Novell network didn’t even use TCP/IP at first and I remember the first discussions of the World Wide Web including pictures of spiders. The rise of “The Cloud” required widespread use of the Internet before it was even conceivable.
Current worst trend in IT?
Buzzword driven purchasing. Rather than taking the time to evaluate needs and solutions, senior managers jump on whatever is fashionable and mandate that technology for everything.
Current best trend in IT?
Simplification, deploying dozens of servers used to be hard, now it is seldom a difficult task. I also like the move from procedural management to policy based management. Usually a business requirement is easier to align to a policy than a procedure. For example, business requirements seldom say backup at 10pm every day, they usually say no more than 24 hours data loss after a site failure.
Where do you see your field going in the next 3-5 years?
I hope to see the rise of real on-premises private cloud, where businesses build their applications from a set of services which IT delivers without exposing any details of the hardware and software underneath the services. The IT department should be a service provider to the business, rather than a boat anchor of process and protection that inhibits business innovation.
Book recommendations for IT practitioners?
What are you reading now?
About 270 blogs, I am way behind even on those so I haven’t read a real book in way too long. I need to find a good fiction series to read to escape the tech treadmill for a while.
First computer you owned?
A Commodore VIC20, I wrote a lot of stupidly simple BASIC programs on that thing.
What do you do when you’re not working in IT?
I’m self-employed so there is no time when I’m awake and not working. I do like to walk and go on little adventures with my wife, even if it is just going out for coffee while I’m home.
How do you caffeine?
Black coffee, with beans that were not roasted in North America. New Zealand and Australia both have strong coffee culture, and I’ve had awesome coffee in Europe but American coffee doesn’t taste right, no matter how hipster the barista.
Who do you want to see answer these questions?
Any career advice you’d like to pass on to our readers?
- Always be learning. Our industry changes too fast to stop learning.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help, help doing a task, help learning, help finding a new job or just help being you.