Well, as it turns out, the client here in Austin wasn't really that interested in software related professional services at the moment.
I've spent the last two days working with two awesome consultants, Hillary and Bob, from EMC. All I can say is that I'm extremely impressed with their amazing professionalism, knowledge, and approachability. They both had an amazing breadth and depth of knowledge about their practice areas that I was just blown away. These guys are simply amazing and I wouldn't hesitate to recommend them for architecting any sort of high availability, high reliability infrastructure for database systems.
I think that this type of konwledge comes from two sources:
- Extensive real world experience in implementing solutions.
- A company that really puts an emphasis on continuing educaiton for their employees on the different packages, products, and their capabilities.
On the first point, Bob and Hillary are both have an astounding amount of experience working with large network and storage systems. It was clear by the understanding of the different product, their specs, and how it stacked up against competitor's products. Not only that, there was an incredible understanding of how the products worked, down to how the very bits and bytes were being moved around on disk. Amazing. It's the type of experience and knowledge I have with some of the larger software systems I've built, where I know every in and out.
On the second point, I think one of the coolest things that they had in their tool chest was a true, searchable knowledge base of their products that detailed exactly what their products do, their limitations, and the specs. The client asked if it was possible to do this, and, within minutes, Bob was digging into the design documents for a product that did what the client described to make sure that it would work in their environment. Amazing. But it was very apparent that EMC kept their employees very well educated and up-to-date.
The client was great. Very friendly and accomodating and incredibly well versed in a variety of different areas. Unfortunately, my services weren't really needed, but I was certainly drooling over the prospect of helping them design and implement the system that they had already designed, spec'd out, and partially implemented in test. I love working with large distributed systems, something we don't really get to do much nowadays. While a lot of the tools and languages that I use everyday were new to them, like T-SQL and C#, I have no doubt that these guys will certainly do a pretty decent job with the system.
Well, it wasn't a totally wasted trip. I learned a lot about some of our partners and had a chance to meet some great guys and gals out here; I only wish that my services could have been utilized to a greater degree (I hate the feeling of being paid to do nothing), but there was clearly an unwritten agenda on the client's mind and software related professional services were not on that agenda. I helped where I could and offered what knowledge was relevant. But I can't complain too much, I did eat pretty well. I've got to figure out how to get these pictures off of my cell phone 😀