By: Hallie Barnes, Marketing Coordinator & Michael Westerfield, Sr. Solution Architect

Meet Michael Westerfield, one of Dasher’s value-adds to our Florida engineering team.

Florida Solution ArchitectQ & A: I spent a few minutes with Michael to hear a little bit about his life in sunny Florida and what skills it takes to be a successful IT engineer.

Michael joined Dasher in October of 2015 as a Senior Solution Architect focusing on data center and virtualization. His background consists of pre-sales architecture, design, and deployment of data center environments primarily focusing on data center networking and virtualization of servers with VMware.

Michael has designed and built environments supporting a range of hardware platforms including Hewlett Packard Enterprise (HPE), Dell, and IBM servers; Brocade and Cisco Ethernet networks; Nimble, and EMC storage. Accompanying his virtualization design and integration efforts, Michael also has an extensive background in data networking such as Brocade’s Ethernet Fabric (VDX) and Campus networking product lines (ICX).

Hallie: What industry trends do you see happening in the marketplace?

Michael: What we are seeing today is tension between hardware manufactures and software manufactures as they fight for dominance in the IT space. Companies such as VMware are trying to take everything and make it a software solution. Companies like Cisco and HPE are focusing on delivering hardware and software converged solutions to drive value to their clients. Each type of company is using marketing and products to define the future of the IT marketplace and their importance in the ecosystem. DevOps and software defined everything is certainly driving change.

Hallie: What are some of your hobbies outside of work?

Michael: I really enjoy hiking and online gaming (Fallout 4 and console gaming). I like new places, new things to do. I’m an explorer, whether it is a new town, new trail or local area. It is getting difficult however, because I’ve explored so many different spaces.

Hallie: What has been one of your biggest challenges in your career?

Michael: I had a client whose data switching environment was under powered and under capacity. They were trying to use it for IP storage and once every 3-4 months, the switches would flake out. Trying to determine the root cause of that problem and prove it to the client was difficult.

In Florida, another challenge is managing my schedule because the Dasher team travels a lot to see and support our clients. We do mini tours of 2-3 days to reach our clients all over Florida. If I am on a deployment, it can be for 4 or 5 days and is typically very intense, focused work.

Hallie: Tell me a little bit about your background and how you came to Dasher?

Michael: I’ve been in the industry for 20+ years working in enterprise IT and engineering. The last 15 years, I’ve been in the channel. I wanted to be with a professional, high speed organization and that is why I came to Dasher. I was interested in their excellent reputation and their robust line card. For an engineer, it is great to be exposed to so many different technologies that  I am constantly learning something new.

I was born in Nuremberg, Germany into a military family. I traveled back to the States and joined the military myself for 10 years, 4 active, 6 reserves, as an intelligence analyst. After leaving the military, I earned a degree in political science at UCF, but quickly realized it wasn’t my passion which ultimately led me to technology. It was just a natural fit as an analyst. Information technology was easy for me.

Hallie: What do you consider your top areas of expertise?

Michael: Virtualization and data networking. I am Brocade certified with tons of certifications. I am also a VMware VCP and this year I will be VCAP.

Hallie: Tell me about an interesting project you’ve worked on recently.

Michael: This past year I have been deploying data center servers for one of our large travel industry clients. The was my first significant project at Dasher. Dasher creates a Customer Requirements Document (CRD) that is incredibly detailed so that no items are left to chance when we architect, deploy and implement solutions for our clients. The process starts with our “Client Interview Form” that Dasher has built up from years of experience deploying data center infrastructure solutions. I applied my past expertise to improve the process and in the end, the client was very happy with the result of the deployment. There is a ton of pre-planning for the install, so when we got out there we have minimal issues.  

The project itself used a combination of blades and rack mount servers to implement a solution that included web-servers, various databases, and Hadoop clusters.  This was all connected through a very high speed, low latency IP network infrastructure and IP based storage backend.  It was very interesting in that we were setting up two data centers at the same time with an East coast team and a West coast team each deploying an identical infrastructure. Coordination between the team was crucial. When there were changes that had to be made, both teams needed to be in agreement and both teams needed to implement those changes identically.

Hallie: What areas interests you in the technology industry?

Michael: I’m most interested in virtualization, SDN goes hand in hand. It plays to both of my strengths. I’m interested in seeing how that plays out. Outside of my expertise, I’m interested to find out how far the cloud concept goes. Our clients are talking about moving very large compute workloads to the cloud. Many people feel they can move a great deal of workloads to the cloud, but there is a balance of what applications can live in the cloud and others that will be kept locally in your enterprise network. How far will companies be willing to farm out their data center needs? In the past few years, we have seen companies like Netflix, close their private data centers and move workloads to Amazon for their streaming platform. Other clients come to Dasher to help them architect solutions to move out of the cloud due to the high cost of running ongoing workloads in the cloud.

It is a fun time to be in IT and I am glad to be a part of it!