Tag Archives: General

What I’ve Learnt from 12 Months Working From Home

This week marks one year since I started at Veeam and it feels like that twelve months has flown by. Before I started here at Veeam I had only worked for local companies here in Perth, though the last two had national presence which meant some travel interstate and occasionally overseas for events like VMworld. Prior to this role I was office bound however this role, being part of a Global Team meant that I had to work remotely from home. Something that I thought would be a walk in park…however the reality of working from home is far from that.

There is a growing norm (especially in IT) where location doesn’t matter and working remotely is embraced. For the employer they win by getting the person they want…and for the employee the boundaries of locality are lessoned meaning that more opportunities can be pursued. In my case, living in one of the most isolated cities in the world I was aware of other vendor roles where people worked from home so knew if the right role popped up, I had a chance to remain in Perth…travel a lot…and work from home.

The role that I’m in has me traveling roughly once every three days, however that has come in waves and I’ll have periods of travel, followed by periods at home meaning I could have times where i’m working from home for weeks on end. While this isn’t a definitive guide as such to working from home, I wanted to jot down some experiences and lessons learnt from my last 12 months, because the adjustment was tougher than expected.

If you want some generic advice there are lots of articles out there that list the Top Working from Home Tips, but below are my key takeaways from my experiences.

Getting into a Routine:

This is the obvious one, however it’s actually hard to achieve unless you really put your mind to it. Over the first two to three months I was finding myself still stuck int the old routine of getting up and effectively going to work. I sat in front of the computer from 8am to 5pm, had dinner, played with the kids and had family time. Problem was my team was spread across the globe and I was then working from 9pm to 12-1am so my screen time was significant. I wasn’t burning out, but came to the realisation that because of the working from home and the fact that timezones meant nothing I had to stop thinking as a 9-5 worker.

This involved setting a routine that was achievable. When home I now get up, have breakfast with the family (when possible) and then get ready to go into the study. For me, having a shower first thing is still optional and while that might disgust some people out there, I tend to wash up during my first break of the day. That break is usually around 11am after dealing with emails and when the east coast of the US starts to go to bed.

One of the things that I try and do during the middle part of the day is get out the backyard and shoot some hoops…basketball is a great game to play by yourself. Once I have lunch I usually get back on the computer for a couple of hours and then head out to the gym for a workout. Once I get back home the kids are back from school and generally its time for dinner and I try to do some family time where possible.

After family time I then do the nightshift when most of EMEA is well into their day and the US is starting to wake up. From 9pm till 12am (or later) I can work efficiently and tend to get a lot fo work done during this period. It’s also when most of the timezones I deal with are awake at the same time, so interaction with workmates is at it’s peak.

Getting over the Feeling on Loneliness:

Those that know me know that I am a pretty social guy…I love a good chat and enjoy interacting with people in the office. Those that have worked with me, also know that I like to muck around a little bit and have a laugh during the day. All in all I enjoy peoples company, so probably the biggest adjustment to working from home was the fact that I did feel lonely to begin with. It was good to hear that people I have mentioned that to that also work from home had felt that as well…good in that I wasn’t alone in this.

The key that i’ve found to combating that sense of isolation is to ensure that I am not home bound 24 hours a day, five days a week. The thing that solved this for me was developing a routine where I get out of the house to go to the gym to be around other humans…and while I am not exactly having conversations with people at the gym I’m at least physically around people which seemed to help.

In addition to that, social media platforms like Slack, WhatsApp and Skype are critical social interactions and while they can be sometimes distracting…they are critical to making sure that I feel connected with the outside world which in turn helps beat the isolation.

Having a Proper Home Office Setup:

The last thing is around having a decent home office setup. I know a lot of people that work from home but work at the dinner table or on the kitchen bench. This isn’t conducive to being able to work constantly or efficiently. I made sure that there was a decent study when looking for a house and I’m lucky enough to have a good one at the moment. It’s isolated from the main living area of the house and setup in such a way that it closely replicates an proper office.

Apart from all the right technology one of the biggest things for me is keeping this space tidy and organised. It’s important to maintain a high standard even though no one else gets to see the setup. Apart from that the other thing I’ve learnt is to make it as desirable as possible to be around…because I spend all day there I want to feel like I want to be there. Apart from the job being rewarding, for me it’s important to have a sense of pride in your work space so even if working from home it’s an important point to consider.

Wrap Up:

One thing to finish up on is that support comes in many flavours while working from home. I’m lucky that I have a great boss and a great team that I work with…they help tremendously in making the working from home thing work. Without a great team and support structure it would be indeed be a lonely gig.

All in all, after a period of adjustment I’ve settled into a decent routine while keeping myself sane during the periods when I am working from home. Ultimately what I learnt during the first twelve months of working from home is that you have to be disciplined. With the discipline to stick to my routines and get into a rhythm day in and day out it’s become easier and more natural. That said, I still miss the office atmosphere however there is some sacrifice that needs to be taken in order to work in a role that is ultimately very rewarding.

And like actually being at an office…the key is to minimize distractions!

CBT Bugs – VMware Can’t Keep Letting This Happen!

[UPDATE] – VMware have released an official KB for the CBT issue.

Sadly if you recognize the title of this post it’s because this isn’t the first time I’ve felt compelled to write about the continued industry frustration with some repeat ESXi bugs. In February I wrote in general around the recent history of bugs slipping through VMware QA. Four months later and there has been another CBT bug slip through the net…just to reaffirm the core message of my last post I talked about the fact:

There are a number of competing vendors (and industry watchers) waiting to capitalize on any weakness shown in the VMware stack and with the recent number of QA issues leading to a significant bugs popping up not abating, I wonder how much longer VMware can afford to continue to slip up before it genuinely hurts its standing

The one area of absolute concern is the amount of Change Blog Tracking bugs that seems to slip into new builds of ESXi. This time it’s Express Patch 6 for ESXi 6 (Build 3825889) that contains an apparently new symptom of our old friend the CBT Bug. The patch it’s self is a fairly critical one for those running VSAN and VMXNET3 NICs as it addresses some core issues around them but if you use quiesced snapshots duing a VM Backup may have issues with CBT. The vmware.log of a VM being backed up will contain:

vcpu-0| xxxx: SNAPSHOT:SnapshotBranchDisk: Failed to acquire current epoch for disk /vmfs/volumes/
vmdk : Change tracking is not active for this disk xxx.

For a detailed explanation of the issue go to: http://www.running-system.com/take-care-express-patch-6-esxi-6-can-break-backup-cbt-bug/ 

[UPDATE]

VMware Support is aware of this issue and are currently working on it.
This KB article will be updated once the fix for this issue is released.

To work around this issue, apply one of these options:

Again as a Service Provider the CBT bugs are the most worrying because they fundamentally threaten the integrity of backup data which is not something that IT Operation staff or end users who’s data is put at risk should have to worry about and most backup vendor’s use CBT to make backups more efficient. In this case…specifically if you use Veeam the lack of CBT will extend backup windows and increase the chances of VMs not being backed up as expected.

VMware need to continue to nail ESXi (and vCenter) as well as keeping focus on the new products. VSAN, NSX and everything that VMware offers runs on or off of ESXi and though hypervisors are not as front of mind anymore, everything that VMware does relies on ESXi and VMware partners who create products to work with ESXi need it to be stable…especially around backups. Everyone needs to backup with absolute confidence…the more these CBT bugs appear the less confident pundits become…I already hear of people not wanting to go to ESXi 6.0 because of issues like such as this latest one.

That’s not a good place for VMware to be.

Note: I had sat on this post since Friday, but reading through Anton’s Veeam Community Forums Digest this morning where he lamented the lack of QC and repeat issues. He suggest’s that this is the new normal…and that maybe the thing to do is wait and hope for vSphere 6.5…not a good situation. However, like me he also believes that this can be fixed…but it needs to happen before the next release.

References:

https://kb.vmware.com/selfservice/microsites/search.do?language=en_US&cmd=displayKC&externalId=2144685

 

 

Quick Post: From 36,000 feet

This is just a quick post from somewhere in between SF and LA. Got to say that Virgin America is very impressive. Seats are comfortable and the entertainment system is well advanced over Qantas or AA.

I won’t be so privileged on the A380 back to Sydney… But I have lots of time to go offline and write up a couple blog posts on my VMworld experiences.

Descending now!