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Alastair Cooke – IT Origins

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Alastair Cooke is an IT Consultant and the Chief Video Officer with vBrownBag.

You can follow him on his blog, Twitter, and LinkedIn

What’s your IT origin story? How long have you been in the field?

I started out looking after a small Novell Netware 3 network in a Physics lab at the University of Waikato, here in New Zealand. That is getting frighteningly close to thirty years ago.

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?

I haven’t read anything recently, not since the Phoenix Project and Eli Goldratt’s The Goal which inspired The Phoenix Project.

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?

The VIC-20

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?

Sorry North American Hipsters

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?

Ariel Sanchez, or any of the vBrownBag Brazil crew.

Any career advice you’d like to pass on to our readers?

Two things:

  • 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.

About the author

Rich Stroffolino

Rich has been a tech enthusiast since he first used the speech simulator on a Magnavox Odyssey². Current areas of interest include ZFS, the false hopes of memristors, and the oral history of Transmeta.

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