So, who hasn't had a busy year?
Not one of you, I bet.
Yeah, I could say the same.
But what I'll say instead that it's been a pretty exciting year. My consulting practice has gained new clients, new partnerships, and I learned a ton from the numerous projects I've worked on.
About a year ago I was still consulting exclusively through Yates Ltd, a boutique consulting firm that focuses on cost optimization for large enterprises. I was just finishing up several projects:
A global carrier hotel and fiber route analysis for a global Financial Services firm
A network assessment for a canadian data center firm
Assisting a defense contractor with their bid for a government network refresh
Work continued off and on throughout the rest of the year on some new and interesting projects for Yates Ltd:
Engineering support on an MPLS to SD-WAN network transformation project for a global IT services company
A network and network security roadmap for a global pharmaceutical and supporting their bid process for renewal of their MSP contracts
Developed a business case for the expansion of a global media firm's BigPanda AIOps initiative
A data center inventory for a global IT services company
Troubleshooting and fixing the LAN and WiFi network for a hospital's new administrative building that was experiencing horrible application performance
As much as I enjoyed and learned from the projects with Yates Ltd, the real exciting developments revolved around new clients, and new types of work.
In May of last year, I started working with Selector Software, a startup in the AIOps industry with a focus on network event correlation and visual analytics. It's a really interesting product that's really transformational for operations teams. In a bit of a turn from the usual technical work, I've been providing primarily marketing-oriented services, but leveraging my technical expertise in the field to produce better marketing materials on the first draft with minimal input from the Selector employees.
Media Production: Scripted and edited together 4 videos/video ads, plus some other videos
Product Marketing: various pieces of educational collateral on their products, brochures, banners, etc.
LinkedIn advertising: Manage their spend, create and launch campaigns, write ad copy, and reporting
Lesson? All of that video production and digital advertising I did a few years back for my wife's band Sandi Siegel paid off!
Late last year, we started working with Tim Hoffman at EdgeReach Consulting and helped out one of his clients who was in a bind. The end-clients' entire technical team had left and the management team needed to recover access to their linux-based environment as well as fix some problems with their automated provisioning system so they could activate new services for clients. Even though I haven't done much *nix command-line work over the past 20 years, between old muscle memory and the lab work the last couple of years, I was able to get them up and running pretty quickly.
Lesson? That learning project paid off!
We completed a network assessment for Seaborn Networks, and continue to support them in the areas of network architecture, design and product management functions for their IP business, managing key supplier relationships, supporting sales with training and account prospecting, and developing a long-range business plan for their Internet service.
Lesson? I dunno, really. This work is like a perfect storm of my entire life's career all wrapped up into one. It's really fun.
And then, a completely divergent business opportunity, we took on a managed crypto-mining services client, building out a small farm on a profit-share arrangement for the build and ongoing management.
Lesson? Another learning project that I haven't really even blogged much about yet, but it paid off. Well....it may pay off some day...or not. Such is crypto. :-)
In the partnership arena, we established an agency relationship with Inflect that is allowing us to efficiently quote IP, transport and data center services for our clients as the need arises.
Growing the team
I started subcontracting this year! It's just a seed at this point, but with the client growth that I predict over the coming year, it seems I might turn Siegel Group into a an actual group! While we have actively subcontracted out only two different companies, we have almost half a dozen additional resources identified that we hope to bring to bear to solve problems for our clients.
At this time, we have a media production consultant and voice-over person (give Dave van Allen a wave), as well as a graphics design firm available to help round out the skillset on some of those marketing-related projects.
Over the coming year, we are anticipating the need for some network engineers, automation engineers and project managers.
Siegel Group Labs
I did make a bit of time to play...I mean...learn some things in the lab. Here's some of the the years experiments:
Learned all about cryptocurrency mining and set up a small farm. So far, I've mined some Ethereum, avian, Raptoreum, Monero, ERGO, Ravencoin, TON, UraniumX and a few other miscellaneous coins.
Added redundancy to the network: a) dual Internet connections (Starlink backing up Trailblazer Fiber), b) redundant PfSense routers, c) Redundant network switches
Added a second server, a Dell R720 we picked up on the cheap off Ebay
Lots of work on the Smarthome, adding WiFi and Zigbee devices and setting up automation
Sadly, any further expansion of the lab and mining farm is pending some electrical work, which is taking FOREVER.
Last, but certainly not least, my volunteer work at NANOG continues. I was re-elected to another 3 year term on the board and am currently serving as Vice-Chair for the second year. While I wrapped up my 2 year run on the compensation committee, I continue my work on the Education Committee, shaping the direction of future educational offerings of the organization. COVID has been rough on an organization that makes all it's money running a tri-annual conference, but pushing through the challenges has been rewarding, and the progress the organization has made is exciting to watch.
Oh yeah, almost forgot, I finally got that Hotfoot album out that I engineered and mixed.
When I think back over the past year, the things that come to mind first are not the accomplishments, but the things I didn't get to. As I write this post, reminding myself of everything I did, I'm in disbelief. How in the world did I do all of this? I wanted to blog more, I wanted to launch a youtube channel, I wanted to get more remodelling done on the house, I wanted to spend more time with my woodworking gear in the shop, I wanted to exercise more and eat healthier, and yet, there's the report card for the year. Nothing to be ashamed of, I don't think, except maybe my expanding waistline. ;-)
And finally, a huge thank you. Thank you to Charlotte Yates and the rest of the folks over there for being so great to work with, and thank you to my new clients for trusting me to help fill gaps in your organization and move your companies forward. It is truly rewarding to play a part in helping all of your companies grow.
So, here's to the next year of exciting developments and learning opportunities. Let's go help some people out and have some fun.