“It ain't what you don't know that gets you into trouble. It's what you know for sure that just ain't so.” - Mark Twain
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Update: 28 Oct 2012
Well, it's been a pretty interesting few months since my last update. I FINALLY wrapped up a big WAN circuit inventory project. And in the spirit of full transparency, I have to say I didn't find the work to be particularly fulfilling, although it needed to be done. At the end of the day, the work that was done will continue to be leveraged for a number of years, and has helped Kaiser Permanente save hundreds of thousands of dollars. OK, so that part was fulfilling, but dealing with carriers and their antiquated / multiple billing systems less so. (I probably just ensured that recruiters from AT&T and Verizon won't be calling me any time soon.)
More recently I've been teaching myself how to create dashboards in Microsoft SharePoint 2007, making use of web parts that leverage data housed in a Microsoft SQL database. I'm beginning to create a place where senior managers can get a handle on our key performance indicators as they relate to financials, operations, people, and our key initiatives in Network Services.
The good news for me is that I've taken an old dashboard (a static webpage really) that had to be manually updated each month, to a solution that is about 98% automated. This will save me about eight hours of manual work each month. I've also been able to highlight four new categories of WAN performance issues that were given far less attention in the past. My toolbelt has definitely gotten bigger and heavier as I've needed to use Microsoft SharePoint Designer 2007 as well as Microsoft InfoPath Designer 2010.
And the learning continues! As the end of the year approaches, I'm so pleased that there are still training dollars in our 2012 budget. So, starting tomorrow, I'm heading on over to LearnIT in San Francisco for the next three days to delve deeper into Microsoft SQL Server 2008 Analysis Services. I was getting just so far on my own, and I think I'll be able to get to the next level with instructor-led training and the accompaning labs. And then later in November I will be taking a Microsoft Visual Studio 2010 introductory course. While I've been using Visual Studio for about a year and a half now, I think this course will fill in a few gaps for me.
Happy Halloween, and for those who are in the path of Hurricane Sandy, be safe. May your path to the voting booth be unobstructed.
Thanks for stopping by!
Update: 21 May 12
Recognition rocks. Especially when it takes the form of cash, high praise during all-hands calls, and even a hug! That said, "exemplary performance" couldn't have been achieved on my own. I work with a great bunch of people who have all this wonderful expertise I can tap into, and who aren't selfish with their knowledge. All of this is what makes working at Kaiser Permanente so great.
22 Feb 2012
So, today was my first day back to work after eleven days off. I wanted to close Lotus Notes as soon as I saw how much e-mail I had to go through. (The fact that we are still using Lotus Notes is cause enough for me to end up in the fetal position under my desk, but I digress...) Anyway, about halfway through the day, I received this! And a prepaid AMEX card! Whe hew!! Just the universe's way of balancing things out. Mr. Brill, you have my deep gratitude.
(Wow, updates to my website two days in a row! I'm on a roll!)
Update: 21 Feb 2012
Wow, it's been a couple years since my last update (how does that happen??) and I'm quickly approaching my three year anniversary at Kaiser Permanente. If I could summarize that time with just a single word, "tools" would be it: NetScout nGenius Performance Manager, CA eHealth, Microsoft SharePoint, PowerPivot for Excel 2010, SolarWinds Orion, Microsoft SQL Server 2008 R2 Server Management Studio and Business Intelligence Development Studio, HPNA, TortoiseSVN, and, well, you get the idea.
As I wrap my head around the world of Business Intelligence and try to get the most out of these tools, training has been a big part of it all too. I've gone to all day SQL training sessions, have been engaged in quite a bit of self-paced study with resources like Lynda.com, SkillPort, etc. I passed the ITIL v3 Foundation exam at the end of last year, and began exploring certification in Microsoft SQL Server. I'm still trying to decide if certification for SQL Server 2008 R2 is the way to go, or should I just plan for SQL Server 2012 whose release is right around the corner.
I'm hoping that my use of all these tools and deepening expertise is a valuable part of care delivery at Kaiser Permanente. I have a limited sense of this because I don't work with KP members (patients), so I don't get their direct feedback. But in my work with others in Network Services and other areas of the business, I know that folks' ability to make better decisions based on high quality data is improving all the time. The Capacity Planning team I am a part of can definitely tell better performance and financial stories than even a year ago.
So what's next in 2012? Continuing on my efforts that started in 2011, I'll be structuring our cost data so that we can get a deeper understanding of our enterprise WAN spend, which means new SQL code and reports. Lots of work to do there. But I'm also looking forward to some upcoming events:
SQLSaturday #109 @ the Microsoft Technology Center in Mountain View, CA on March 3rd
A birthday celebration somewhere in here. Not just for me, but I know a lot of March babies!
SQLServer 2012 Special Ops Tour - Microsoft offices @ 835 Market Street in San Francisco, CA on April 5th
Oi, looks like a busy 2012. Luckily I'm just returning from vacation and am recharged and ready to tackle this stuff. Stay tuned for my next update in 2014 (if my track record for website updates is any indicator...)
Wow, I can't believe it has been 9 months since my last update, and already 14 months since I earned my MBA! Well, since starting my job at Kaiser Permanente last May I've been incredibly busy. I already feel a great sense of accomplishment in the work I have been doing. A lot of my time has been spent taking all kinds of data from many sources, and turning it into some kind of business intelligence. The tools I have been using are pretty standard really: Microsoft Access, Excel, FrontPage, SharePoint, ftp and telnet. I've also had some wonderful exposure to NetScout nGenius, CA eHealth v5.7/6.1, and some other network performance management tools. The results have been exciting: I have taken what I have been told previously took a week to do and got it down to a couple hours or less. Need to know where there is asymmetric routing on the network? Give me a few seconds. Need to know the utilization of all of our MPLS circuits last month? Child's play! Using regression and some historical data, I can even predict what next month's WAN traffic might be.
All of this and more gets published to a Metrics Dashboard that I created. It helps management to get a better sense of the health of the network, and make the important decisions that need to be made so e-medical records can be accessed by members and physicians without incident, and so that the network is robust enough to handle digital X-rays, VoIP, and videoconferencing. It feels great to be a part of all that.
I have three months until my one year anniversary, and my hope is that I can turn my attention to automating some of the processes I have put in place and migrating the data I have collected from Microsoft Access to MySQL.
Below is a pic of my team, a great bunch of people with an impressive collection of skills and knowledge. My boss is missing because someone had to take the picture :) (I'm second from the left.)
Update: 30 May 09
Life as a Network Capacity Planning Engineer at Kaiser Permanente is going well after my first two weeks. That's not to say I don't feel like a deer in headlights sometimes as I am buried with all kinds of new networking and Kaiser acronyms, but I'm absorbing it all quite well. And I can't complain about my team at all...a great group of people who are willing to share their knowledge and mentor when the opportunity arises.
The commute out to Walnut Creek from San Francisco isn't as bad as it might sound! I bought a bike which gets me from the Pleasant Hill BART station to the Kaiser Permanente data center in Walnut Creek, and I'm totally loving biking down the Contra Costa Canal Trail twice a day, five days a week. I'm not looking forward to the start of the rainy season later in the year because it will mean keeping the bike at home and hopping on a bus.
Things at school have finally wrapped up now that the graduation ceremony is behind me. While I'm not into ceremonies all that much, being able to see my former classmates and the faculty again made it all worthwhile. Below is a pic of me and my friend Eva - we took a marketing and a finance class together, and I'm glad to have this parting shot of both of us!
Update: 8 May 2009
Change is in the air, and as much as I like to, I'm not talking about Obama! In one week I'll be taking on my new role as Network Capacity Planning Engineer at Kaiser Permanente! This will be a welcome change for me as I finally make my transition from recent MBA grad to the next stage of my career. It's an exciting change for me because my target industry in grad school was health care, and Kaiser Permanente was the subject of two projects in my MBA program. More details of my new role can be found under my professional experience section.
I'll be on BART a lot, so I'll have lots of time to read and keep up with my other interests: business strategy, biotechnology, and changes in the business climate in Vietnam. I'll also be exploring professional certifications, and see which ones make sense in the context of my career path. I recently read an article in BusinessWeek that highlighted "evidence of an emerging structural shift in the U.S. economy that has created serious mismatches between workers and employers" ("Help Wanted", Coy, May 2009). I'd prefer not to get caught up in all of that, and will be giving lots of thought to the kinds of skills that are needed in our highly dynamic economy. Fortunately, I enjoy learning tremendously.
Since I have a fews days off before work begins, I'm totally going to use the time well and see the new Star Trek film, as well as X-Men Origins: Wolverine !!