Thanks for your support!

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Image via CrunchBase

Over the past few days I have received an incredible number of you asking what happened, if I am okay, and if I will be alright.  I can assure you I am.  Let me explain.

A great many of you have known me as a Microsoft contractor.  I have been for quite some time, first as a Virtual Partner Technology Advisor, then as a Virtual Technical Evangelist, and most recently as a member of the Server and Tools Business.  So when e-mails to my @microsoft.com account started to bounce (Tuesday this week) a lot of people expressed their concern.  I am quite touched by the outpouring of support!

I have always contracted to Microsoft through its Canadian subsidiary, Microsoft Canada.  In September of this year I accepted a contract with Rakuten, Inc – a Japanese company – that would see me spending most of my time in Tokyo.  Although we tried, there was no good way for Microsoft Canada to keep me on.  It was not done maliciously – in fact, my skip-level (my manager’s manager) did everything he could to a) keep me on, b) communicate the issues with me, and then c) accommodate my request for a timeline extension.

So let me answer some of the ‘Best Of’ questions… the ones that seem to be coing up most often.

1. Did your decision to leave Microsoft have to do with being turned down for a particular position?

No. Although over the past year I have indeed been turned down for a position, it has worked out very well for me in almost every way imaginable.  While taking that role would have been good for me, I have been able to grow in the direction I have wanted to grow.  Because of my independence I have been able to accept the consulting project I am currently working on, which is one of the mot exciting projects I have worked on in years.

2. Did you leave Microsoft because of a disagreement?

No… and yes.  I suppose in the end we disagreed on geography – my consulting role needed me to be in Japan, and Microsoft Canada would have needed me to be in Canada.  Other than that there was no disagreement whatsoever.

3. Did you leave because you did not like the direction in which the company was heading?

Not at all.  In the army I topped out at Staff Sergeant, and as such I learned quickly that some things were above my pay grade.  At Microsoft that was the case as well – I know that a lot of things are out of my control, but I also knew that whatever direction the company would take, my position (should I have elected to keep it) was safe.  Whatever decisions the company made, as a VMware Compete expert I was reasonably safe 🙂

4. Do you feel any disdain toward Microsoft, Microsoft Canada, or anyone you worked for or with?

ABSOLUTELY NOT.  I loved working there, and while I may have had the occasional issue with someone they were always resolved.

5. Did you leave Microsoft to work with competing technologies?

NO.  Although over the past couple of weeks I have made a habit to wear my non-Microsoft branded shirts more than usual, I have not ‘gone over’ to any other competing technology.  With that being said, I am carrying an iPhone now not because I left Microsoft… because Windows Phone 8 is not available in Japan, and this is what the company I am working for gave me.

6. Will you be going back to Microsoft?

That is a very good question. What I once thought of as my dream job no longer holds the same appeal to me.  With that being said, there are a lot of jobs at Microsoft, and should the right opportunity present itself I would be glad to go back, either for the right contract or for the right full time position.  However one thing is for certain: I no longer view Microsoft as the Holy Grail of companies.  I think they are a great company to work for, but there are a lot of other great companies out there.

7. What will you miss most about it?

I had to give this question a little thought.  My first knee-jerk reaction was the people, but then I realized that the people I got to know are still there, and are still available to me.  I am still a Microsoft MVP, a Microsoft Certified Trainer, and an influencer.  My friends are still my friends.  When it comes down to it, I suppose what I will miss most is having Lync… having the ability to call my family from Japan was a great tool!

8. Any regrets?

None at all… for the remainder of my time in Japan I will continue to work closely with Microsoft, but not with the Canadian team.  It is a really exciting project, and I would not trade it for anything.

I want to thank you all again for your concern and support, and hope to be able to continue working with you in the future!

Thank you for your support!

What a year it’s been.

That’s right, it’s been a year since I joined the DPE Team at Microsoft Canada as a Virtual Technical Evangelist.  I blogged about it here and I was as excited as could be.  I can assure you that the excitement has not waned for one minute during my tenure here.

Over the past year I have had the pleasure of doing countless presentations and IT Camps across the country.  I have met with hundreds if not thousands of IT Pros from sea to shining sea, and have gotten to know a few of you.  It is has been commonplace to get emails from community members asking me when I will be back in their city, from Victoria to Halifax and all points in between.  Over the past couple of months the pace of those request has increased as I traditionally do not do a lot of events during the summer months.  My response has always been ‘Stay tuned!’

I have known probably since the beginning of the summer that today was coming, and now that it is here I am sad to announce that effective Friday the 6th of September I am no longer with the DPE Team.  I am, for the time being, with the Canadian Server Marketing group.  I say for the time being for a reason… stay tuned to this space for some really exciting news!

So what does my departure from DPE mean to you?  Not much, because I am leaving a team of very capable evangelists.  Ryan Storgaard has a vision for evangelism that is really forward-thinking, and Pierre Roman and Anthony Bartolo are both incredible evangelists, and will still be bringing you IT Camps and everything else I did.  I know both of them have been hard at work getting ready for the upcoming camps based on Windows Server, System Center, and Windows client.  Feel free to reach out to them just like you did with me.

Of course, I am not abandoning the Canadian IT Pro community… I am just going to be doing different things.  So feel free to reach out to me if you like as well!  I can always be reached via my blog, or on Twitter @MGarvis.

To those of you that I have connected with over the past years, I want to thank you all.  Victoria, Vancouver, Calgary, Edmonton, Regina, Saskatoon, Winnipeg, Windsor, Sarnia, London, Kitchener/Waterloo, Halton, Mississauga, Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, Halifax, Moncton, and Sydney.  Eight provinces, twenty cities, two languages, three islands, two oceans, and dozens of MVPs.  Every user group across the country, a bunch of schools, and more than my fair share of pubs.  I stopped counting events a long time ago, but a lot.  THANK YOU FOR YOUR SUPPORT!

-Mitch

Where’s Mitch?

As I mentioned last week I am now spending a lot of my time as a Virtual Technical Evangelist for Microsoft Canada.  Part of my duties in that role include blogging, which is what brought you here.  However for the time being I am going to post most of my articles on the Canadian IT Pro Connection at http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/.  Most of those articles will be republished here, but there will be a delay of a day or two.  If you simply cannot wait, I urge you to head over to http://blogs.technet.com/b/canitpro/ and read what I (and Ruth & Chris) have to say!

In the meantime I will be coming to a city near you soon… if you are around I hope to see you at one of my events!  Here’s the calendar for the next five weeks:

  • September 12: Windows Server 2012 Launch Event (Vancouver, BC)
  • September 13: Introduction to Windows 8 (Halton IT Pros, Halton Hills, ON)
  • September 19-21: Miami, Fl (training)
  • September 27: Windows Server 2012 Launch Event (Ottawa, ON)
  • October 3: Windows Server 2012 Launch Event (Montreal, QC)
  • October 9: Introduction to Windows 8 (Silicon Halton – Burlington, ON)
  • October 12-14: SMB Nation (Las Vegas, NV)

I hope to see you at one of my events while I am on the road!

Virtual Technical Evangelist

As I told you on Monday, I have a new role at Microsoft Canada.  As a Virtual Technical Evangelist (Windows Infrastructure) I will be working very closely with the DPE (Developer Platform Evangelism) team on events such as the Windows Server 2012 Launch Tour that we kicked off yesterday in Toronto.

I was introduced to the Evangelism team back before we founded the Montreal IT Professionals Community (MITPro).  They have influenced so many IT professionals over the years, and it is an honour to now be part of that team.

I cannot imagine that there are too many people whose career paths have been changed so acutely as mine because of DPE, and that is why I am so glad to be on board.  While I am sure I would have done well, I cannot imagine that I would be where I am today were it not for their influence.  That is just one of the reasons why I am so thrilled to be here… the chance to give to others what I have gotten from them.

Over the past few months several people have asked me how I have gotten to where I am; over the next few weeks I will be writing some articles about that for those of you who would be interested in helping the DPE team out.  The first step is volunteering at events, but I’ll go into more detail.

In the meantime as we prepare to take the Launch tour on the road, I am looking forward to coming out to see so many of you across Canada.  We are thrilled that the Launch events across the country are all sold out, and we are looking into what we can do to expand… which means you will probably see up again before the end of the year.  We are planning a bunch of Windows Server 2012 IT Camps across the country – we are currently preparing to go to thirteen cities across the country, and you can see which ones on Ruth’s post here.  If your city is not on the list but you would like for us to come out, the first step is to reach out to us… in order to do a Camp we need someone in that city to ‘take point’ for us.  If you are willing, then we just might be able to come to your city too!

…Come to think of it, that may just be the first step to becoming an influencer as well Winking smile

The Dawn of a New Day

As I sit in my office getting ready to close up, it is a little after 10pm, September 3rd, 2012.  That makes tomorrow a very important day in the world of IT.

Microsoft has announced that on September 4th, 2012 they will make Windows Server 2012, the newest generation of one of the most successful back-end software franchises in the world, available for purchase – in other words, GA (General Availability).  For those of us on the front line evangelizing the product, it is a very exciting time.

For myself it is doubly exciting, because as of September 4th, 2012 I am officially joining the Evangelism team at Microsoft Canada – albeit in a less direct way.  My new title is Virtual Technical Evangelist – Windows Infrastructure.  I have known about this for some time but have kept it quiet for a couple of reasons, not the least of which is superstition.

For the last year I have begun to work much closer with the Evangelism team, with presentations, tours, and blog articles on Server Virtualization, Windows, and many other topics.  I have surprised many people in the last few months when I told them that I do not actually work for Microsoft Canada, but with them.  My new title simply means that I will be doing more of the same – teaching people and groups about Windows (Server and Client), helping them dispel some of the myths, showing them how to use the technologies better.

It is a very exciting time to be a Technical Evangelist.

Because of the switch I want to put a few things straight.  Very little is actually going to change.  I will still be running SWMI Consulting Group, and will still be available for private engagements.  I will continue teaching both Microsoft and some non-Microsoft technologies in classroom settings.  I have spoken with Stephen Rose and Simran Chaudhry, and have assured them that I will still be a Microsoft MVP, and will continue to be an active member of the STEP (Springboard Technical Experts Panel) team, presenting on Windows 8 across the country and, when invited, around the world.  None of that is changing.

Something else that is not changing is probably what makes me the ideal candidate for this new (I am the first!) position: my passions.  If you have heard me speak or read my articles you know a lot of what I am passionate about, and none of that is changing.  I am still a passionate advocate of Hyper-V and the Microsoft Virtualization story, including the Private Cloud managed by System Center 2012.  I am still a passionate advocate of migrating clients and users off Windows XP, and will continue the countdown right through April 14, 2014 (by the time you read this the countdown will be to 580 days until #EndOfDaysXP!).  You can read it on my blog from time to time, or if you want a running countdown you can follow me on Twitter at @MGarvis.  These passions and focuses are not being redirected because of the position I am taking, rather I was selected for the position because my passions and focuses are exactly where a Technical Evangelist (Virtual or otherwise) for Microsoft should be.  I have not focused because I have been paid to.

Another passion of mine that will align me to the role is my passion and belief in the IT Pro (and other) technical communities around the country.  I will continue to support those communities – whether they are on-line or in person, user groups or otherwise – in the same manner and with the same passionate zeal that I have in the past, dating back nearly nine years.  I hope that going forward I will be able to do so from a more official position than I have, but even if that does not happen my support for user groups and their leaders (and aspiring leaders) will not change.

Over the next few weeks we will be crossing the nation with the launch of Windows Server 2012, and following that we will likely do the same with Windows 8.  Interspersed with both we will be bringing IT Boot Camps and user group events to you in your city, so stay tuned;  it may be an exciting time to be a Virtual Technical Evangelist, but it is a really exciting time to be an IT Pro and community member in the Microsoft ecosystem in Canada.  We look forward to helping you along the journey!