Help! I’m Stuck in the Muck of My Job, Part I


I have no idea how sage writers churn out endless gems in books that help us better navigate our careers but they do. I’m not a voracious reader but I have stumbled on a few books that seem to parallel my thought process. My short list includes:

  • Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t (Collins)
  • The No Asshole Rule: Building a Civilized Workplace and Surviving One That Isn’t (Sutton)
  • Blink: The Power of Thinking Without Thinking (Gladwell)
  • Our Iceberg Is Melting: Changing and Succeeding Under Any Conditions (Kotter)

Now, I wouldn’t say I’ve had a playbook career, but my personal way of muddling through has worked out pretty well over the years and along the way, I have learned a few things that have helped me tremendously—my own gems, I guess you could say. Some I’ve gleaned from reading, but most are from my personal work experience, family and peers, as noted.

Recently, I’ve found myself on a few speaker tracks talking about some of these gems, so I figured it might be time to write them down and share them. Whether you’re navigating a career in business, medicine or IT, these gems apply. The list is different if you’re a manager or a non-manager, but reading both will benefit you short- and long-term—perhaps even broaden your perspective a bit.

Gems for non-managers:

  1. The only person who’s going to manage your career is you. If a manager is taking an interest in you and your career, take advantage of it.
  2. A job is a job and a career is a career. I spent nearly 14 years at the same company, albeit in different roles. When I left that company, I realized what I had was a job, not a career. Yep, I’d stayed 10 years too long!
  3. Keep an eye on your résumé. Every inch of your résumé counts. If you haven’t enhanced it recently, then it’s time for change. After all, a job is a job and a career is a career (see #2).
  4. Have a 3-5 year plan but be realistic that it will likely change. It’s good to dream and it’s fun to look back with friends and say “Did you ever imagine we would be here three years ago?”
  5. Being invaluable at a task will keep you employed but will likely stunt your career. What’s never said is managers want people who are good and stable in their roles. So, if you’re good, they’ll likely prefer you to carry on doing what you do best without any disruptions. If this is the case, you and they will inadvertently stunt your career.
  6. Being a selfless utility player will make your career rich and rewarding (Graham). Continuing the thread from #5, I was once challenged by a boss to learn a unique skill—something that would make me “invaluable.” He told me to document it, try it again, teach someone it and make myself redundant. THAT’s how you make yourself invaluable to a business. Incidentally, I was going about this in the polar opposite way, so this piece of advice was a massive help to me—and my career.
  7. If you figure something out, document it, try it again, teach someone, make yourself redundant (see #6) and raise your hand  for the next tough assignment. Remember every inch of your résumé counts.  Keep learning (see #11 below).
  8. Learn to like the crappy jobs (Dad). Try and find a successful executive who didn’t fight on the way up by taking the harder road!
  9. Figure out who you are and how you think. Are you a Tank or Plumber? Are you a Linear or Abstract Thinker?
  10. Figure out what you’re good at and, more importantly, what you aren’t good at. Most careers stall or slide when you don’t know these two things or are insecure in your ability and get ahead of your skis. If you do this, guess which part of your so-called skills will be critical in your next job? Be forewarned!
  11. Keep learning. Rinse and repeat is good for your hair but not your career. There is nothing worse than doing the same thing year after year.
  12. Try not to live where you work (Mick). A small commute can help you detox. Don’t take baggage home; it will stunt your career and hurt your home life.
  13. If you find yourself underwater with to-do’s, make a list (Edmundo). On Friday, write down every task you know you have to do (make a separate list for business and personal). From this list, identify your top 10 tasks for the upcoming week.  For an added cool factor, send a copy of your list to your boss. You’ll have a better weekend; you’ll figure out what really is important (see also Heidi’s post “Have You Taken the ‘Repeat Test’?”) and you’ll stay on course.
  14. Take all the advice you can but act on only what you see is correct (Uncle Richard). Translation: Two ears and one mouth.
  15. If you start a new project or idea, don’t let it creep too far (Andre). Most projects fail from never-ending creep. Lock your plan down and execute, and then adjust.
  16. Raise your hand. If your job doesn’t challenge you, and even scare you, at times, you’re not stretching far enough. Make sure people know you have extra capacity.

IT friends, are you stuck in the muck that’s become your jobs? What resonates from this list? Tweet me at @guychurchward or comment here.

IT and business leaders, my gems for you in my next post!

Guy Churchward

Guy Churchward

President, Data Protection and Availability Division
I'm an enterprise infrastructure hack. Really, if you think of my career as a building, I’ve spent it underneath in the sewer lines and the electric plumbing, making sure things work. Invariably, my businesses end up being called boring. But that’s okay. It means they’re doing exactly what they’re supposed to do, which means their customers can do what they need to do. I come to EMC by way of BEA Systems, NetApp and most recently LogLogic, and my mission is to lead EMC Data Protection and Availability Division's efforts to deliver a protection storage architecture that leaves us all in better shape for the next guy, or gig, that comes along. Oh, and make no mistake about it, I want everyone to know who’s number one in backup, and why.

Is Archiving Part of Your Checklist?


While we do a lot of talking here on The Backup Window about backup and recovery, as we should, it is important to keep in mind that archiving is also a key component of a data protection strategy.

The good news is that with EMC Data Domain systems, completing your data protection strategy doesn’t have to be hard. In addition to providing efficient backup and disaster recovery, Data Domain is an ideal platform for archive data. All Data Domain systems inherently support archiving workloads without the need for additional software.

Why Data Domain for archive storage?

Here’s how Data Domain checks off key requirements to be a leading protection storage platform for archive data:

  • Compliance: With EMC Data Domain Retention Lock, Data Domain systems can simultaneously meet governance policies and compliance regulations for your archive data and provides secure data retention for file and email archive data that meets the strictest US and International standards including SEC 17a-4(f), ISO 15489, and MoReq2010.
  • Reliability: Protection storage is the storage of last resort.  It is the last place you go to access critical data when you can’t access it anywhere else.  So, when selecting an archive storage solution, it is imperative you find a solution you can trust to provide you access to your data when you need it.  The Data Domain Data Invulnerability Architecture instills such trust.  The Data Invulnerability Architecture is built into every Data Domain system and provides end-to-end data verification, continuous fault detection and self-healing.
  • Efficiency: Archiving data on a Data Domain system gives you the benefits of inline deduplication: by eliminating duplicate data segments, you can reduce your archive storage footprint by up to 5x and your consolidated backup and archive footprint by 10 to 30x.  This is the industry’s highest dedupe rate for archive data. In addition, the unique ability to consolidate backup and archive workloads onto a single Data Domain system eliminates silos of storage leading to administration savings and maximized storage efficiency.
  • Cost-savings: Specifically, Data Domain offers a savings of up to 82% lower cost per gigabyte compared to other archive storage solutions.  Furthermore, a recent study from IDC shows that customers who consolidate their backup and archive data onto Data Domain gain a payback on their investment in under 6 months!
  • Breadth of Our Ecosystem: Data Domain systems have a broad archive partner ecosystem as they are qualified with leading archiving applications, which enables them support a variety of archiving use cases, including file and email, database, content management, and storage tiering. For file/email and SharePoint archiving, Data Domain systems integrate with EMC SourceOne (which just announced some great new features) to provide a complete end-to-end EMC archiving solution.

Got questions? Shoot me a comment or a note to @A_Langon and check us out on-line at and

Alyson Langon
A couple years ago, fresh out of Business School at Boston College, I started at EMC and dove head first into all things backup and archive, focusing on Data Domain systems. I love the challenge of communicating complicated technologies in innovative and engaging ways and there is certainly no shortage of inspiration at EMC’s Data Protection and Availability Division. Outside of the tech world, I am an artist, animal lover and sufferer of wanderlust. You can also find me on Twitter achieving the perfect balance of data protection and cat gifs.

Business Execs Are from Mars, IT Execs Are from Venus


It’s a well-documented fact: men and women see things differently.

Indeed, the dissimilarities between the sexes have been the subject of countless self-help books over the years (perhaps most notably “Men Are from Mars, Women Are from Venus”) and remain key focus areas for the latest crop of psychologists and human behaviorists.

A quick Google search of “men + women + communication gap” yields tens of millions of results. Broaden the search to “men + women + communication” and the number increases another 30%.Yep, folks, we (still) have a communication gap!

Before you panic, no, The Backup Window hasn’t morphed into a relationship self-help site or I into “Dear Abby.” But relationship building—between men and women, business leader and IT leader, IT leader and IT administrators, and IT administrators and backup administrators—is as important to future business success as choosing the right technologies to deploy.

Yes, IT transformation is just as much about the people, process and priorities organizations set as it is the swapping out of old technologies for new ones. In fact, perhaps more than any time in history, business success is bounded by the strength of a company’s communication up, down, across, and within business and IT teams.

So, what do you do?

Identify the Gaps—Starting with Business and IT Leaders
No one ever said the road to “running IT like a business” (a.k.a., IT as a Service) would be without obstacles, and it hasn’t.In fact, according to a recent EMC- and VMware-commissioned survey conducted by IDG, while business and IT leaders agree running IT like a business is important, they don’t always see eye to eye on:

  • Benefits of ITaaS to the organization: IT leaders see cost-savings as the primary benefit, whereas business leaders point to productivity, efficiency and agility gains.

ITAAS Survey - Fig1 for Blog

  • Progress in delivering ITaaS: Eighty-one percent of IT leaders surveyed reported significant or moderate progress, compared to 64% of business leaders. Further, Twenty-seven percent of the IT leaders surveyed in the study said their IT operations ran like businesses today but only 18% of their business peers agreed.

    Source: Big Picture Global Survey:

  • Areas for improvement: According to the survey, IT leaders think IT is doing a better job of understanding and meeting business objectives than business leaders think they’re doing. Specifically, business leaders cite the need for IT improvement in:

    • Understanding the services the business needs/wants
    • Packaging IT services to meet these needs
    • Communicating a plan for future services

Clearly, this isn’t a scenario where agreeing to disagree is an option, or at least a business-viable one. For IT to run optimally as a business, business and IT leaders need to be in lockstep, and this requires communication and trust.

I’ll end this post with one more graphic from the survey. This one looks at the “Roadblocks Faced by IT in Implementing ITaaS” (asked of IT leaders only) and the “Roadblocks to a More Effective IT/Business Partnership” (asked of business leaders only).

ITaaS Survey - Fig 3

Source: Big Picture Global Survey: Dual Perspectives of ITaaS. Conducted by IDG on behalf of EMC and VMWare, June 2103.

Except for agreeing that IT technical expertise is a problem area, the lists are very different. What do you think?  Is this an accurate picture of your environment? How’s your communication? How big is the gap? Do your own assessment and tweet @biggarhb with your results!

(Note: Graphics leveraged in this post were from the “Big Picture Global Survey: Dual Perspectives of ITaaS.” Conducted by IDG on behalf of EMC and VMWare, June 2103.)

Heidi Biggar

Heidi Biggar

Marketing and IT Consultant, Data Protection and Availability Division at EMC Corporation
I’m often asked how a political science major at Tufts wound up in the IT world, covering backup, storage, virtualization and cloud of all things. Truth is, it’s really a love for learning, a need to understand the “bigger picture” and a desire to share that view with others that’s steered my path over the past 20 years, from campaign manager to editor, analyst and marketer. After hours, you’ll find me hanging with family, running 10ks through Peachtree City’s 90 miles of cart paths, watching football or reading. I’m a New England transplant enjoying life in the South. In my previous life, I also blogged for ComputerWorld, Enterprise Strategy Group and Hitachi Data Systems, but The Backup Window is my baby. It's been great watching it evolve.

The Future Is Now for VSPEX with EMC Backup

We told you about it in July, and now it’s here.

Avamar 7 and the new midrange Data Domain systems that we announced with our Backup to the Future launch event are now part of VSPEX Proven Infrastructures.

VMware vSphere Data Protection (VDP) Advanced, powered by Avamar, is also now part of VSPEX.  It’s the backup solution choice for 50 VM VSPEX Private Cloud, Exchange and SQL Server deployments when VMware is the hypervisor.

Why does all this matter?  Backup is broken.  Accidental architectures are spreading as application teams look for solutions, driving up cost and complexity. VSPEX with the new EMC (and VMware!) backup solutions offers a fast path to fix it all with simple, efficient and scalable backup.  It’s a perfect match and now available!

EMC Backup and Recovery Options for VSPEX Private Clouds

EMC Backup and Recovery Options for VSPEX End User Computing with Horizon View

EMC Backup and Recovery Options for VSPEX for Virtualized Microsoft SQL Server 2012

EMC Backup and Recovery Options for VSPEX for Virtualized Microsoft SharePoint 2013

EMC Backup and Recovery for VSPEX for Virtualized Microsoft Exchange 2013

EMC Backup and Recovery Options for VSPEX for Virtualized Oracle 11gR2

VSPEX Family

Mark Doncov
I’ve spent most of the seven years I’ve been at EMC on backup. Currently, I work on category and solution marketing initiatives in EMC’s Backup Recovery Systems division. In short, this means I focus on the “why” for EMC Backup, not the “what”; I leave the bits and bytes to the product teams. Over the years, I’ve seen big changes in the backup world. I will be looking at these – and the even bigger ones that lie ahead - here on The Backup Window and other social channels.

Oracle OpenWorld Wrap-up: Everyone’s a Winner (Except the Kiwis)

What a week and what a show!  This week San Francisco hosted two amazing Oracle centric events – the America’s Cup regatta and Oracle Open World.   As you probably heard, Oracle Team USA completed an epic comeback after being down 8 – 1 to defeat Emirates Team New Zealand on Wednesday.  This thrilling victory added to the buzz in the city that was already going full tilt up at the Moscone Center for Oracle Open World.

Oracle Open World Show Floor

Caitlin at the EMC Booth

If you ask me (okay, I’m a bit biased), the source of a lot of that buzz was the EMC booth where thousands of customers stopped by throughout the week to discuss EMC solutions for Oracle.

One of the hottest topics of the week was data protection – unfortunately it’s clear that DBAs around the world continue to struggle with backup and recovery.  With so many DBAs backing up directly to primary storage, there are a lot of efficiencies that can be gained by using Data Domain and DD Boost for RMAN.

We met many wonderful DBAs during the week and had a lot of great conversations about how they can improve Oracle backup while maintaining control.


Of course the booth was just one of the many places EMC data protection was the topic of conversation.  On Monday, Jeff St. Cyr and I had a packed house where over 200 folks came to learn how they could “Make Oracle Backups 50% Faster with Deduplication and Oracle RMAN”.   In this session, we discussed the various options for backing up your Oracle databases and some of the best practices for each approach.


The fun continued on Tuesday, when we kicked off the day with the EMC keynote starring Joe Tucci and Jeremy Burton.   One of the highlights of the keynote was Jeremy’s focus on how EMC is focused on making lives easier for DBAs.  This included a demo of DD Boost for Oracle RMAN – showing how DBAs can get faster, more efficient backup and maintain complete control by managing backups within Oracle Enterprise Manager.


A couple hours later, theCUBE featured a Data Protection Spotlight, with guest appearances by Guy Churchward, Stephen Manley, Darryl Smith (from EMC IT) and yours truly. You can check out the videos here – some great conversations on the state of data protection today and how it’s impacting database backup and recovery:

Caitlin's Cisco talk

In addition, on Monday and Wednesday, Cisco welcomed me to their booth to discuss ‘Backup and Recovery of VCE Vblock Systems for Oracle Applications’.  This was a great opportunity to touch on how Vblock enables the fastest path to the cloud and the different options to protect all applications in a converged infrastructure.

The week wrapped up with a bang on Wednesday night with an energizing performance by Maroon 5 and the Black Keys.  It was a great way to wrap up a fun and engaging week.


See you all next year!

Caitlin Gordon

Caitlin Gordon

Data Domain Product Marketing, Data Protection and Availability Division
I have spent the past nine years focused on all things data protection, with a focus on backup and archive. Lucky for me, Data Domain Systems give me lots of good topics to discuss here. When I’m not blogging, I’m equal parts gadget geek and sports freak – always ready to chat about the latest IT rumor or celebrate/lament the latest Boston sports heartbreak/victory. You can also find me talking backup on Twitter and YouTube.