On Buggy Whips and Restlessness

Read­ing Time: 3 min­utes

Two roads diverged in a yel­low wood,
And sor­ry I could not trav­el both
And be one trav­el­er, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the under­growth;

Then took the oth­er, as just as fair,
And hav­ing per­haps the bet­ter claim,
Because it was grassy and want­ed wear;
Though as for that the pass­ing there
Had worn them real­ly about the same,

And both that morn­ing equal­ly lay
In leaves no step had trod­den black.
Oh, I kept the first for anoth­er day!
Yet know­ing how way leads on to way,
I doubt­ed if I should ever come back.

I shall be telling this with a sigh
Some­where ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less trav­eled by,
And that has made all the dif­fer­ence.

The Road Not Tak­en” –Robert Frost

It is an inter­est­ing obser­va­tion that when most ear­ly Eng­lish or Lit­er­a­ture majors first read that famous poem by Robert Frost, they ana­lyze the choice the pro­tag­o­nist makes as a pos­i­tive one.  In fact, the ram­i­fi­ca­tions of the choice are nev­er allud­ed to or men­tioned.  It is sim­ply that there was a choice to be made, and while many peo­ple chose one path, the pro­tag­o­nist took a dif­fer­ent one—for bet­ter or for worse—and that affect­ed the out­come of his or her life.  Recent­ly, I made such a choice myself.

I have writ­ten, at times over the years, about the per­ils of IT Man­age­ment.  I have also writ­ten about the var­i­ous bureau­crat­ic idio­syn­crasies of work­ing in the enter­prise space, espe­cial­ly at a multi­na­tion­al defense con­trac­tor.  And most recent­ly, I have writ­ten about my over­all dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the whole lot of it.  Now I am doing some­thing about it.

Yes­ter­day, I resigned my posi­tion as IT Direc­tor of the com­pa­ny I have worked at for near­ly eight years and accept­ed an offer to get back out into the world and change my view for a while.  Begin­ning March 17th, I’ll be a part of the team at World Wide Tech­nol­o­gy (WWT ) in a con­sult­ing engi­neer­ing role.  It’s been a tough deci­sion in a lot of ways, but I think it’s the right one for a cou­ple of rea­sons.

The world of IT is chang­ing on all fronts, it’s chang­ing rapid­ly, and I need to be a part of that change. My recent trip to San Jose for Net­work Field Day 7 (a part of the broad­er Tech Field Day orga­ni­za­tion , and some­thing I’ll be writ­ing about more soon) real­ly burned that into my mind, but I’d been rest­less for a while.  Rapid change is some­thing that you have to be in a posi­tion to har­ness and to ben­e­fit from, and the fact is that despite my title and acco­lades, I haven’t been where I need to be for long time.

Sure, I have had incred­i­ble oppor­tu­ni­ties in the last few years, per­son­al­ly knock­ing off a list of accom­plish­ments that I can be proud of: mov­ing to a ful­ly dual-stacked IPv4/v6 envi­ron­ment; learn­ing and per­form­ing a full scale Flex­Pod build-out; restruc­tur­ing the entire world-wide rout­ing and switch­ing infra­struc­ture in a large envi­ron­ment; being at the fore­front of adopt­ing full-scale vir­tu­al­iza­tion begin­ning back in 2005; and build­ing up a com­plete IT team from scratch.  But now that we’re there, and most things are fixed and run­ning smooth­ly, we’re in a main­te­nance mode—there’s no more chal­lenge to be had, noth­ing on the hori­zon, and I’m not a patient per­son.

The real­i­ty is, if you’re not at a com­pa­ny where IT is core to the busi­ness mod­el, a lot of the tech­nol­o­gy out in the world is sim­ply not some­thing you’ll get to see, touch, or know about bar­ring the stan­dard thing all of us in the indus­try do, which is to read and study on our own time. And if you’re in an indus­try based around tech­nol­o­gy that hasn’t changed appre­cia­bly in over 60 years, it can feel at times like work­ing for the prover­bial bug­gy-whip man­u­fac­tur­er and watch­ing the new horse­less car­riages rolling by your win­dow.

At the end of the day, I don’t need to have a team to be hap­py.  I don’t have to have a title to feed my ego.  What I real­ly need is to be involved.  I need to be involved in shap­ing the future, in chang­ing the sta­tus quo, in mov­ing the ball for­ward against a wall of stag­na­tion and staid old polit­i­cal boss­es who have no inter­est in change.  Time will tell if this move gets me clos­er or fur­ther away from that goal, but at this point, today, for me, it’s Frost’s road less trav­eled and I’m going to see where it leads.