Joining Ansible Team at Red Hat

tl;dr “It is with great pleasure that I announce I am joining the Ansible team at Red Hat as Principal Product Marketing Manager.”

In The Beginning…

In 1998, I was working at a dial-up ISP in Hickory, NC. We were heavily invested in Windows and needed to reduce costs and increase speed. My CEO at the time had the foresight to know that Linux was the future. She hired two engineers to transform the business into a Red Hat Linux based ISP. These engineers had the challenge of swapping platforms and teaching those of us that didn’t abandon ship Linux. My first Linux distro was Red Hat Linux 5 (not RHEL, Red Hat Linux). From that point on, I knew Red Hat was a platform to watch and utilize.

When the Dot-com bubble began to burst and trouble loomed on the horizon for tech jobs, I joined the US Air Force. Soon after arriving at my first duty station, I was asked to take part in an exercise, JEFX 2000. During one of the experiments, I set up a Red Hat-based distro to monitor network device activity. This might have been the first use of Linux in the Air Force (confirming that is difficult). As the Red Teams worked their magic we were able to watch spikes in activity across the network in real-time on a Red Hat Linux-based system.

From that point forward, I carried the Linux and open source mantles into battle. I find ways to solve complex problems on Defense Department networks using Linux and open source tools. SELinux paved the way for DoD to be able to embrace Red Hat Enterprise Linux when it was made available. This was my future and I knew it in the late 1990s.

The Ansible Journey Begins

Fast forward to 2014, I was out of the Air Force and utilizing open source software every day at work. My boss came to me wanting to standardize and speed up our customer portal deployments. Automating deployments of this massive Java application that required a lot of hand-holding from the lead developer to get operational was going to be a challenge. Also, handing whatever solution I came up with to development teams was going to be an even bigger challenge. I had used cfengine and Puppet at previous jobs but, I wasn’t sold on Puppet. After attending a week at an Intro to Puppet course, I spent four hours one night hammering away at Ansible.

We began the process of getting our deployment processes into Ansible’s syntax. Ansible’s low barrier to entry and flexibility were immediately seen as huge wins. Factor in the load balancers could be managed with Ansible and it was a real win for the organization. This sentiment was echoed when I attended my first AnsibleFest in Lower Manhattan (2015). Brian Coca and the rest of the Ansible community was very welcoming. New ideas for using Ansible were welcomed with open arms. I became “activated” in a way I hadn’t experienced since first learning Linux. Ansible was a tool and a place for me.

I think it’s safe to say that Ansible has made me who I am today. It showed me that you can learn more with a quiet office and a use case than you can with weeks in schools. This is how I picked up Kubernetes and it’ll be how I pick up every other piece of tech I learn in the future. But, Ansible also gave me a tool to help implement the processes people in DevOps organizations needed. Some people don’t believe in a process until someone shows them how the automation around it actually works. Ansible allowed me to show folks what a few policy changes and some automation could do.

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Challenges Ahead

It is with great pleasure that I announce I am joining the Ansible team at Red Hat as Principal Product Marketing Manager.

There are many challenges ahead. Once I get my sea legs and am running at 100% I have ideas for the future of Ansible. I want to reach out to not only customers but the community as well to build solid use cases for Ansible.

I’d like to work to see what Ansible can bring to CNCF projects. I’d like to create a better Ansible story around Kubernetes (other than, “Use Ansible to Deploy Kubernetes”). I feel this is part of my role as a CNCF Ambassador working in the Ansible team.

Most importantly, I want to facilitate more collaboration between all the projects under the Red Hat umbrella. Red Hat is an amazing company with brilliant people working there. I would love to help folks think globally and contributing towards Red Hat’s common goals.

Conclusion

I would like to thank Karen Lawton and John Willis of SJ Technologies. They brought me on board to help a few clients and I feel like I was able to accomplish that in six short months. Thank you to the DevOps community for embracing me in a way that few other communities have. I might not be as active on the DevOpsDays speaking circuit but, I’ll definitely be around (and will still be submitting CFPs as appropriate). Most importantly, thank you to Justin Nemmers and all my new colleagues at Red Hat. I am looking forward to working with you all. I think this is a fantastic fit!

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