Community: The Icing on Your ExtraHop & Why I'm Here

Some days I just frackin' love what I do. Taking a figurative hammer to the metaphorical tough nut in the form of a complex problem and cracking that baby wide open is just plain fun. Getting to use wickedly cool technology to do so is just icing on the cake. Tasty, decadent icing.

Whether it's in my personal life or in business, with various forms of killer technology and random acts of code-fu, I love problem solving. There's an exhilaration I tend to feel when coming up against a thing that seems difficult, complex, even vexing, only to triumph in the end. It's like a confluence of great stories. One part mystery novel, one part hero's tale (and I even get to be the hero in my own internal monologue, where my brain and not my biceps do the dragon slaying), and one part O'Reilly "In a Nutshell" series, with an often happy, storybook ending. What's not to like? Seriously you guys, it's pretty much the best.

Hi. My name is Colin, and I like solving problems.

Solving problems is what got me into this whole "Tech" thing. I found that I thrived on the puzzles, the solutions, and the fact that, more often than not, if you were clever enough, if you turned the puzzle box over enough times, looking at it from enough different directions, you'd be able to come to a solution that would benefit not only you, but often many people and even an entire business. It wasn't about a career, it wasn't about money or mortgages or any such thing. It was about me, a computer, and making it do every single thing that I wanted, exactly how I wanted. Despite any preconceived notions the system at hand may have had prior to our meeting and ensuing "discussion" in the form of techno-hackery, which took on many varied forms, bending it to my will was always a joy.

Starting at Community Ground Zero

Combine my loves for manhandling technology into submission, solving problems, and my affinity for people and communication in the most open and transparent forms possible. Then add a heaping helping of my adoration of the written word (Book nerd? Why yes, thank you), and it was pretty logical for me to wind up at ground zero of a technical community. I mean, don't get me wrong, I had no idea that was a thing that could happen or that I'd enjoy doing until I stumbled headlong into it. After some years as a relatively straightforward software engineer, however, eventually I did just that. We grew from next to nothing when I joined to over 160,000 members. It was a hell of a ride. And. I. Had. A. Blast.

Writing cool code, writing—you know—words, helping people all over the world with an ever-evolving, consistently interesting stream of questions and problems is awesome. Making them into rockstars and zealots of the technologies at hand by working with them to solve problems ranging from mundane to monolithic, getting to travel around the world to meet them and help them get even more deeply involved and educated is even better and—man, I tell ya, that's my kind of drug. Turns out, it's actually helpful to the other people involved too … who'd have thought?

Why ExtraHop? People, Technology, and Community

Fast forward 10 years, hundreds of presentations, thousands of community conversations and events, and it's this same draw towards puzzles, problem solving, bending computing devices to my will and helping people in the process that's recently drawn me here to ExtraHop. This place is something else. It contains just the right components to make some serious waves, in all the right ways. When it became apparent that I could be a part of all this goodness, I simply couldn't resist. I jumped at the chance to become a member of the team that's just about to be "the next big thing" in SDN, application information fluency, wire data analytics and collaboration, and more. Why, you ask, am I so bullish on ExtraHop? What drew me here? I'm glad you asked.

First, the people. This place is filled with some of the most brilliant, creative, interesting people I've ever had the good fortune to work with. I've been here barely over two weeks now and I'm still meeting people and cracking up over how much we have in common, how much they just get it (for non-zero values of "it"). I am a firm believer in people driving—well, everything—but certainly technology and business. You can have the coolest widget in the world, but if you work with a bunch of jerks spewing crap and calling it the best thing since high-cap resistors, not only are you going to be unhappy, but chances are the market is going to smell the stink and not dig what you're slingin'. The people here are sharp, driven, interested, and up on not only what the market is doing today, but where it's headed tomorrow. That's clutch.

Next, the technology. Lean, mean, with a badass pedigree and a take-no-prisoners stance on app/network intelligence and analytics—this is a technology that is, from everything I can tell after getting under the covers a bit, loved by those that understand it, and woefully underestimated by those that haven't caught on just yet. This tech is ready to come out of the gates swinging, and take down just about any monolithic, mucked-up application problems in its path. My inner geek is doing cartwheels and happy Snoopy dances. Okay, let's break down why the ExtraHop platform rocks socks just a little bit, geek-style:

  • Deployed out-of-band, not inline

  • No issues with traffic delay or increased latency

  • Fully virtualized if that's your bag, hardware if not

  • Ridiculous amounts of application intelligence, protocol fluency, and insight into absolutely everything your application(s) are doing

  • Based on wire data, which, as I surely don't have to convince most savvy geeks out there, is the truth about what's actually happening in your deployed systems, not just what is being reported or logged

  • And now it has the ability to run scripted triggers that can not only see but act on that immense wealth of data

Do I want to play with that gear? Are you serious? Hell yes. Oh, you want to pay me to do so? Right, I'll just be over here not complaining for one femtosecond.

Last, but never in my book nor my heart least, is community. What's that you say? ExtraHop has a community? Well … we're getting there. Not yet, by the standards that my visions and dreams of grandeur tell me are possible in the not-so-distant future. We've done a darn good job of fostering a healthy and active set of forums so far. There are great questions, solutions, interaction, and access to the core tech ninjas that know how this stuff ticks, wielding mightily swords of network truth and application justice—in other words, everything that's needed to turn on a wickedly cool community. And that's just what we plan to do, take things to the next level. To take what's currently a hell of a good beginning and make it an exceptional resource to anyone trying to solve problems, collect data, or otherwise tinker with their applications and network. ExtraHop can likely help you, and I'm here to help make it easier than ever for precisely that to happen. That's going to be one hell of a ride, and you and I both get to ride along, if we so choose. I know I do … how about you?

Let's Do This! Building the Community

So what's next? For now, get out there and join the forums. Ask some questions. Read some solutions. Explore the free, interactive online demo. Get your hands dirty and see what this wicked cool tech is all about.

More is coming, I assure you. Blogs, docs, walkthroughs, deeper access into what we're up to internally, more information than you could shake many sticks at, even if you were a triple gold medalist in stick shaking on eight cups of coffee. It'll start with blog posts, like this one, and slowly but surely we will systemically infiltrate leverage many more resources, as they become available, until we've got a thriving, bustling community packed with goodness, information, and geekery of the highest order. In the meantime, if you've got ideas, requests, commentary or the like, give me a shout. What would you, as a soon-to be community member in the ExtraHop army (since you are going to join, right? right?!) like to see? I'm all ears.

Until then, code hard, and I'll see you again soon.

Colin Walker is busy building community at ExtraHop. Colin Walker is busy building community at ExtraHop.

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