Episode 094: Azure Networking & Security with Derek Smith

In this episode I chat with Derek Smith about Azure Networking & Security. Derek is a Senior Azure Technical Consultant at Ahead, working to help clients with their Azure cloud journey.

In this episode, we talk about…

  • How Derek got into Azure and tech in general
  • Past networking experience has strengthened Derek as an Azure specialist today
  • A few common networking snags that customers tend to have trouble with
  • How to start with networking from scratch in Azure
  • Breaking down the AZ500 certification and the focus of Azure going forward
  • Microsoft’s possible future specialty in networking
  • Most people have difficulty working with dedicated circuits
  • Software-defined networking forced Derek to unlearn certain things
  • What happened with CenturyLink and their backend network issues
  • One of the most underrated services that Azure offers right now
  • How Sentinel was built to augment security capabilities
  • Breath in all, depth in one; advice to remember for a career in the Cloud
  • The best career advice that Derek has ever gotten

Resources from this episode:

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Full Transcript:

Mike Pfeiffer:
All right, everybody. Welcome back to another episode of Cloud Skills FM. As usual, really appreciate you tuning in and today’s episode, super pumped because Derek Smith is with us. Derek is a Senior Technical Consultant at AHEAD. Got a ton of Azure experience. Derek what’s up, man?

Derek Smith:
Hey Mike, how’s it going? How are you?

Mike Pfeiffer:
Doing really good. Doing really good. Thanks man.

Derek Smith:
Thanks for having me.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, absolutely. I’m always trying to get voices out into the ecosystem, people working on Azure. It’s just a kind of chaotic time and so I appreciate you coming on, sharing your knowledge with us. For anybody that doesn’t know you, maybe you could just let us know your background, how’d you get into tech, how’d you get into Azure, all that fun stuff.

Derek Smith:
All right. All right. So we’re going to go way back deep into the rabbit hole. So I got into tech when I was six years old. This is my most fondest memory of my childhood. I can remember the day my dad walked through the door, had a custom built Windows PC in his hand and waltzed over to our spare bedroom where we had the desk set up, fired up that Windows 3.1, started playing Solitaire and Minesweeper and looking at that. All right. So that is when the love affair of tech just sunk in and, yeah, it hasn’t ever left me since.

Derek Smith:
But no, started tech, I think, as a formal profession 2000 and… What is that? Seven or eight, I joined Geek Squad, the white shirt and the black tie. And yeah, I started doing the basic help, semi-help desk, right? Help people fix the viruses and other things on their Windows computers. And then yeah, started just growing and expanding. Eventually got myself into a full-time help desk role and then transitioned into networking, Cisco world networking. So everything was CCNA, CCDA, Cisco wireless, things of that nature. And so I was really into doing the networking aspect of things. Cisco ASA firewalls, things of that nature.

Derek Smith:
And then as I started getting into larger and larger enterprises, Check Point, Fortinet, all those things started permeating my world. But Microsoft had always been there, I’ve always worked with Windows server name the year that you want to pick. All the way from 2003 until now. But it took moving to South Carolina and my boss at the time for a company called Contech really was like, “Hey, the future is systems, right? The future is Windows. That sort of world. Networking is great and people are always going to need networking, but the software is where the world is going to go and it’s going to be good for you to head in that direction.”

Derek Smith:
And so I took his advice and I sunk my teeth into Office 365, which then led into Azure AD, and then how do you not transgress into Azure after you’ve sunk your teeth into that, right? You’re like, “Oh, there’s this really cool cloud identity system. What else does it work with?” And it’s like, “Oh, there’s this.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s how you get sucked in, right?

Derek Smith:
That is how you get sucked in. Right. And that’s how I think most organizations do get sucked in, right? They start with SaaS, right? Companies use Office 365, I helped Contech migrate to Office 365. And so that’s your toe dip into the water of cloud. And then once you start experiencing what that water, that lake is capable of, you dive in and you just start swimming. And it’s been a world of fun. I’ve met amazing cloud professionals throughout the US. It’s been well worth spending the time, the effort, everything. So, yeah, that’s been my journey.

Mike Pfeiffer:
It sounds like an awesome one. And there’s a lot of parallels for me. I was just thinking about my backstory, very similar concepts or similar paths, I guess I would say. I also did a lot of networking back in the day and I would imagine that that’s really set you up for success because it’s usually a place where people struggle. Have you found that? Is that one of your specialist areas in Azure, is networking?

Derek Smith:
That definitely is one of my specialist areas in Azure. I would say networking and security are definitely my specialist areas because really from a networking standpoint, everything has to interconnect, everything has to be able to talk to each other. So when you look at how to build for success in cloud, whether you look at the AWS well-architected framework, you look at Azure’s well-architected framework, and GCPs, right? Networking is a cornerstone of that framework. How do I build that landing zone with the networking and make sure that there’s some type of pairing, some type of connectivity, whether it be the VPCs or the VNets for what Google has. So that has definitely set me up for success, having that background.

Derek Smith:
And then obviously more specifically with my primary focus being in Azure, the way Azure has expanded its networking capabilities, they’ve gotten to a point now where networking is as a service. It’s not even a resource that’s part of the infrastructure that you have to set up. There are certain technologies that you can use just by themselves. You don’t need anything else. So, that, yeah, has definitely served me very well in the cloud and a lot of people looking to get into Azure, looking to get into cloud, I tell them that. A good place to start is networking because if you know networking, the rest of the cloud stuff comes, I think a little easier for you compared to more traditional, just specific system administration. Some dev ops guys might argue with me, if they know coding or things like that, it makes things easier. But yeah, served me very well.

Mike Pfeiffer:
So one of the things that’s been interesting to me on the networking side in Azure is originally, which was infrastructure services, that’s where you were thinking about networking, but now it shows up everywhere. It shows up in managed services because they’ve added so much customization and being able to drop manage services into a VNet and stuff like that. Now you have to actually think about it a little bit. And if you’re a developer or even somebody that just doesn’t do networking, it can be like a deer in the headlights moment. Is there a few common things that you work with on customers where they always tend to hit a snag there or any common patterns that you see?

Derek Smith:
I would say the most common pattern is more so just how to design their networking strategy, whether it be hub and spoke, do they go partial mesh, full mesh? Most customers, we try to make sure they don’t daisy chain anything together, because that strategy just simply doesn’t work, but it’s really the architecture of networking. And I think it’s just understanding the breadth of the networking services that’s available.

Derek Smith:
I mean, take Load Balancer, I think is probably a good example that I talk with a lot of customers about. Well, what’s the difference between the Azure Load Balancer and the Azure Application Gateway? Why would I choose one over the other? And then you can obviously talk about Traffic Manager and Front Door, that’s a whole nother separate discussion going down that area of things.

Derek Smith:
So it’s really understanding the right service for the unique situation and you’re right, developers, we’ve run into a number of instances where we’re migrating workloads and it’s like, well, the app doesn’t support that cloud load balancing. So it’s like, all right, well now we have to go back and fix the app because it needs to work with that, otherwise you’re really losing out on some of the advantages of the cloud. So, yeah, networking is critical for a lot of people.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, I agree. Yeah. It’s a hard thing for a lot of people to get past. We’ve done tons of trainings and different workshops and stuff on Azure Architecture and the Administrator cert and in both of those, networking’s a big focus. Do you think that people that are working on Azure or are getting into Azure…

Mike Pfeiffer:
… People that are working on Azure or getting into Azure, should focus on networking; so they can bring that up. And if so, like how do they start, especially if they’re doing it from scratch, in your opinion?

Derek Smith:
I definitely think they should bring it up, and make it a focus. I think, how they bring that up, right. I mean, you can spin up a Vnet, and a free subscription, right. That doesn’t cost you anything. It’s when you start putting workloads in, and sending traffic back and forth, but…

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s a good point though, for a lot of people that may not even realize that.

Derek Smith:
Yeah. I mean, people are like, “Oh, if I spin up VNet, it’s going to start charging me money.” Well, no, VNet itself, is free. It’s the bandwidth that’s go back and forth. So, you can turn on something like network watcher, and spin up a bunch of VNet’s, and you can just start using that topology view. And you can start to see, how’s my networking being laid out? How are the VNets talking to the subnets, and vice versa. So, how I try and get people to get started with that conversation. Beyond that, it’s really just sinking your teeth in. Just start playing, spin up a VM, go out to the, get hubs, spin up a quick start. There’s probably a dozen quick start templates, that you can just do deploy to Azure.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Oh right, that are just network specific.

Derek Smith:
Yeah. Single, VNet to subnet, or double VNet. Just fire up one of those, and just start playing with it. I mean, and just destroy it, at the end of the day. Nobody says you have to keep it around, for multiple days on end, [crosstalk 00:09:31] the cloud.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Exactly. Yeah, so I love the message; just get in there and get going, like get your hands dirty. It’s a great message. And, you mentioned security, so I’m sure that you probably looked heavily, or maybe even done the AZ-500 exam. A lot of people are focused on that. Maybe you could share some of your perspective there, around the cert; and also your opinion of the security services out there in Azure.

Derek Smith:
Yeah no, absolutely. So yes, I have taken the AZ-500. I passed it, at Ignite last year.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Ah, nice.

Derek Smith:
I took advantage of the free test. So yeah, so I booked it, schedule it, walked in, passed it. So, I mean the test itself, it is great. Obviously this one was pre-2020 updates. So, some of my experiences are going to be slightly different, I think, from what people are seeing today. They’ve added Sentinel, they’ve added Front Door, they’ve added more on Security Center. So, those are kind of a little bit more on the focus. I think Azure Firewall had just gone GA, when I took it. So while it was on the test, I think it was maybe five percent, I’m sure. I think, now it’s closer to 10 to 15 percent. So to me, Security Center, biggest focus within the security products. Microsoft seems to be honing in, on making Security Center, that single glass, single pane of management, from a security perspective, and integrating Azure AD Premium Services.

Derek Smith:
All of the security features that we see with conditional access, password policies, PIM, password blacklist, all those things are being now piped directly into Security Center. So, you can start getting alerting, and metricking from that standpoint. Defender ATP, is starting to get pumped into there, now. Cloud App Security is coming into there now. So, they kind of started out disparagingly, starting to come together. And, what Microsoft has realized, I think, with the AZ-500, is we want to make sure our security engineer associates know, hey, where do you go to configure the more common services? So, Azure AD Premium, AZ Firewall Security Center; and then, you’ve got some of the more popular tertiary solutions like Sentinel, Front Door, network security groups, things of that nature. So, that’s kind of where I would focus on, from that perspective. But, that’s really seems to be the focus of Azure going forward.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. It’s one that I’m getting a lot of questions around lately. It seems like a lot of people are hitting, the administrator stuff, passing the architect, maybe. And then, now they’re like, “All right, let’s do some specialties, like security.” Do you foresee Microsoft doing a specialty, for networking at any point?

Derek Smith:
I sincerely hope so. I’ve talked with some of the global black belt guys, on the networking side. It’s gotten so deep into networking, where Microsoft has such a breadth of services. Is it coming? Probably. How soon it is? A little uncertain, but I would say probably 2021, 2022. Yeah, you’ll see a networking specialty.

Derek Smith:
I mean, Google and Amazon already have theirs, so it just makes sense. I think at this point, it’s hard from a administrator perspective, and from, even a solution architect perspective, to touch on all the various networking pieces. Even for me, like I’ve gone through both those exams. I touched a lot of it on a day-to-day basis, but I’m still learning things daily, that I didn’t know about networking; because there’s just a lot to cover. It is difficult to shove all of that stuff, that you need to know; in either the admin or the solution architect thing, without sacrificing some other part. And so, it just makes more sense to break it out and say, “Hey, if you want to be this network specialist, go take this exam.” And, we’ve seen that, right? IoT, AI, data, they’ve gotten their specialties. So yeah, I think that works coming.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. And, we talked about this on the show in the past; and especially, I’ve talked about this a lot with Tim Warner. It kind of concerning that for people that are new, some of those basic capabilities seem like we’re just not really focusing on it now, because we kind of asked the NCSC, now we’re just saying, “Hey, go straight in the Azure.” And, we’re assuming networking, but anyways, I’ll get of my soapbox.

Derek Smith:
Yeah, you’re fine.

Mike Pfeiffer:
But I’m also curious, you kind of touched on this, there’s things that are hard to simulate; like ExpressRoute is a great example of that. Is that something that is difficult for you to navigate? Or, since you have a background networking, it’s kind of easier.

Derek Smith:
I would say its easier for me, because I have that background for others, little more difficult to wrap their head around, setting up some type of dedicated circuit. Especially if you haven’t had a lot of exposure to things like MPLS, SD, SDN, things of that nature. The dedicated circuits, you go into Azure to set up this circuit, and you look at it, and you’re like, “Okay, I know I need this name, this BGP address, but why do I need these two/thirties in here.” “How does that thing…?” So, people kind of stare at that a little bit.

Derek Smith:
And then, there’s obviously the component where you have to sit and wait, because you have to hand over some information to some third party provider, whether it be AT&T, or Verizon, or CenturyLink, or somebody else. So, there’s that part that you have to go let those ISP vendors handle. Whereas a VPN, you do it, and you’re good to go. There’s no waiting. So yeah, that’s a little bit of a struggle. Plus, there’s more restrictions around ExpressRoute, versus VPN. You can only have 10 ExpressRoute’s. VPN connections, its like up to a thousand now, so.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. I mean, ExpressRoute’s insanely cool, It’s awesome. And, I’ve got a lot of customers that we worked with last year, and the last couple years. I’m doing too much consulting these days. I’ve been dropping that into episodes lately, just to let everybody know. But, it’s always, once it’s set up, it’s great. But, it’s like getting it installed, is usually like a horror story, with everybody I’ve ever talked to. I think that comes back to not being easily… Is [inaudible 00:07:20], to go practice.

Mike Pfeiffer:
It’s like, this is it. Let’s go. And so, you’re already in it, when you’re doing it. Switching gears just a little bit, well, not really switching gears; but I want to ask you something else that’s kind of related. Earlier in the chat, you mentioned that your boss or whoever it was, it encouraged you to go into software, because everything’s becoming software. Two questions, I guess. Number one, did you find that in Azure networking, you had to unlearn some of the things you learned in networking? And then, are you glad now that networking is software defined, and people that are networking focused right now, should they get into programming and stuff like that?

Derek Smith:
Initially, yes. I had to unlearn some of the things, I had to learn in networking because…

Derek Smith:
So I had to unlearn some of the things I had to learn in networking because software defined networking really wasn’t a thing when my boss made that comment to me, right? It was still very CLI-driven. It was still getting into the Cisco switch or the router and making those. Using graphic user interface things was kind of frowned upon. You weren’t an expert if you used those things, you were an amateur. And so, cloud kind of flipped that on its head and said, “Well, you are an expert if you can go do it in an interface versus plugging into a CLI.” As you progress down, you still use PowerShell and CLI and ARM templates to deploy in networking. But for a lot of people, GUI is probably, I would say the most comfortable thing.

Derek Smith:
Yes. I’m very glad software defined networking came down. I’ll just say that right there, right now. And I think we’ve seen that. Cisco made its tectonic shift with its certifications. They’re all about software. They’re all about utilizing … They’ve got their whole dev net certification capabilities, so abstracting a way, kind of that underlying thing and doing everything via software and defining code, I think it’s just made life easier. We’ve seen the fruits and the benefits of that automation. We’ve also seen the downsides of it as of two weeks ago, is when CenturyLink went down because of an automation issue, so great power, great responsibility. Automation is great when it works well, can really cause a huge problem if it’s not done correctly. I guess putting back the security hat on, that just leads to making sure you have the right gates to control when you deploy code because it can break a lot of things if it’s not done right.

Mike Pfeiffer:
So for anybody that’s listening, they might be listening to this episode. It was recorded six months ago. What was the thing with CenturyLink? What happened?

Derek Smith:
So what happened with CenturyLink is they had some piece of automation for their backend network. I don’t remember the specific piece of code in the article. I’d have to go back and look, but essentially they hit deploy. And about two weekends ago, if you were trying to use your Starbucks mobile app to go order some drink, guess what? Your app wasn’t working because CenturyLink was down. So things like Hulu, Amazon Prime, I mean huge providers, outage, done. Pretty much, I think, half of Sunday, your favorite streaming or your favorite application on your phone was not working, and so it sucks.

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s life, right? Life in the cloud kind of, right?

Derek Smith:
Yeah. Life in the cloud, but it’s like you go in on Monday to face some of your clients that you’re working with being like, “Well, you keep harping that automation is great, but look what just happened.” And it’s like …

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, makes it harder to go in there and win that conversation.

Derek Smith:
It does make that conversation a little bit harder. How I phrase it to people is like, “Look, automation is still great. It’s making sure that it through the right change process to make sure that when you do hit deploy, you’ve vetted this out before you do it.” Azure has a great example, right? I think … When did Mark Russinovich give that talk? I want to say about a month or two ago, right? Azure runs on Azure, so they copy their own network in Azure and then test changes multiple times before they do it physically in the real world. And it was really cool to see him kind of lay that out and he’s like, “Hey, look. Here’s our network. It’s all in Azure. But guess what? It’s a copy. It’s not the real thing, but we tested out here just in case for that reason. We don’t want to break anything.”

Derek Smith:
And so, while they’ve had an outage here or there, North Central, South Central, those regions, for the most part, when we’ve had these major blips in the last probably 18 months to 2 years, Microsoft has never been one to go down because of it. It’s always been the Amazons, the Googles, the Hulus, the Netflixes, all those people have all suffered outages. And Azure’s been fairly untouched, which has been, I think part of the reason you can stand up and say, “Hey, this is the way to follow automation. Copy your environment, test it before you actually do it, and then drop the automation in because you know it works.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. Automation is always paramount, even though that happened. Obviously, the consistency of automation is really at the end of the day, the biggest payoff. Going to the next thing I’m thinking here, as you look towards the end of this year, and you’re looking at 2021 already, what are you excited about in Azure coming up?

Derek Smith:
What am I excited the most about? I think the biggest thing I’ve been harping on a lot has been Sentinel. It’s 12 months old, 13 months old at this point from a GA standpoint. By far, I think it’s one of the most underrated services they offer right now. And the stuff that if you follow the Azure or the security team, I do recommend going and check them out. They have their own podcast. They’re a lot of fun to listen to. That’s the other big focus. I think, I don’t want to say quietly, at least the security team is talking about it, but I think the rest of Azure as a whole isn’t harping on it, but that’s kind of the other place where you can start centralizing all of your security, not only from an Azure perspective, from a hybrid perspective, whether you’re on-prem or in another cloud.

Derek Smith:
Sentinel has a whole lot of API connectors that you can touch in other areas and then you can bring it all together in a single place. And I think what makes that the most powerful is, for the most part data ingestion into a cloud provider is free. It’s exfiltrating the data is where they tend to say, “Oh, we start turning on that little ticker.” When I talk to organizations they’re like, “Yeah, I’ve got my SIEM sitting on-prem and we’re spinning up this new cloud environment. How should we start monitoring those things?” And I’m like, “Well, spin up Sentinel in the cloud.” And they’re kind of like, “Why?” And it’s like, “Well, it’s cheaper to keep your data in the cloud versus exfiltrating it all to on-prem.”

Derek Smith:
I’m not saying that is a bad option. If you want to send it all the time on-prem, great. Just understand the bill that comes with it versus keeping it in there. So I think for me, that’s what excites me the most, getting that cloud native SIEM and all of the AI and ML capabilities that come with it have been awesome to see. So I can’t wait to keep diving into that more.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah. That’s a good point about the hybrid story. Microsoft’s done a really good job of enabling hybrid scenarios with so many different services, Sentinel’s wall. It’s going to be interesting to see how that plays out. For somebody that’s completely brand new to that, maybe hasn’t looked at it, because you’re right. I honestly don’t see a whole lot about it out there very much unless I’m really talking to people like us, where they’re really into Azure. Most other people that are newer to Azure probably haven’t even heard of it. So what’s kind of the big picture if somebody is completely brand new to that?

Derek Smith:
The big picture from a Sentinel standpoint, if you’re brand new to it, it’s a cloud native SIEM and the advantage of Sentinel is its SIEM as a service. So if you are an organization or you are a security team, and let’s face it, we know there’s a massive shortage of security professionals within the IT space right now. And security threats are popping up left and right these days. It’s a struggle for a lot of people to keep up, so we’ve needed the AI and ML to help augment a lot of the security capabilities and Sentinel was built around that philosophy.

Derek Smith:
It’s like, “Hey, look, we understand that there’s no one sock that can do everything. So how do we make a service that helps augment their capabilities with AI and ML learning models, right?” And then on top of that, because it is born in the cloud, it can auto-scale based on your demand. Whereas if you’re running a more traditional SIEM, like a Splunk or a LogRhythm or an ArcSight, if you need more capacity, you have to go buy that. Sentinel, you don’t have to buy that. You just say, “Hey, you know what? I said I’ve told you I was ingesting a hundred gigs of data a day. I just want to bump that up to 200.” Good to go. You’re not going to run into any capacity constraints, so I think that along with its …

Derek Smith:
… the constraints. So I think, that along with its rich integration across the hybrid landscape, like you talked about, is the final component. If it doesn’t have an API connector to it, it supports the Common Event Framework. So if you can get it into Seth, Sentinel will take it. So that’s probably even the next powerful piece of it.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Definitely time to start looking at that. I’m glad that it’s on the Easy 500 because I was kind of surprised that it took so long for it to be on there, I’m like, “The security test doesn’t have Sentinel on it?” Kind of a… But now is the time. It’s gotten enough traction at this point and it’s on the test so it’s time to like start really paying attention.

Derek Smith:
Yeah, it’s definitely [inaudible 00:24:45] to start paying attention to it. I think security is a big focus for Microsoft this year, FY21 coming out on July, a lot of their talk was, “Hey, security, security, security.” And rightfully so, right? We’re all working from home more now, more devices in the world so how do you keep your employees protected when they’re either BYOD or they’re using your corporate device at home versus inside your corporate network. Traditional networking, we talked about Cisco traditional networking, right? So the edge is gone, your traditional edge that you think about, and so now that edge is the user. And so how do you leverage something like Sentinel with some of the other security capabilities and protect that person where they’re not under the four walls of your corporate world?

Mike Pfeiffer:
It’s an interesting world that we’re living in, man, in IT.

Derek Smith:
It’s a very interesting world, yes.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Let’s see what happens. Though, yeah, it’s an interesting time for sure. On the career side, just as we start to kind of get to the end of this episode and wrap things up, obviously you’re staying on top of a ton of stuff because your full-time job is all about Azure, what would you recommend for people listening that are trying to keep up but they feel like they’re just overwhelmed with information?

Derek Smith:
Okay. So, I’m going to be honest, I keep up by doing. Even for me, it’s a fire hose. You talk to any other Azure professional too or other cloud professionals, it’s a fire hose. I give mad props to the folks that have the 10 Azure certs, the 10 AWS certs and the five Google certs, for me, there’s just no way that I have enough time to get all that done. So, my hats off to them, their thing. But if you want to, pick a focus. For me ultimately, breadth in all, depth in one, and that’s kind of been my mentality. So my depth is in networking and security but I still have a breadth within Azure. I know a little of Google, I know a little AWS also but ultimately don’t expect yourself to be the expert in every little piece of Azure and or any other cloud provider. Know enough to have at least a conversation and then if it goes beyond that, bring in somebody who’s got that expertise outside of yourself and then stick in what you know best or what you choose to know best.

Derek Smith:
So if networking really interests you, focus on networking. If web apps or dev ops interests you, focus in on that and really hone in those skills so people turn to you and say, “Hey, I need to get this done. I know Derek can knock networking out of the park so I’m going to go talk to him, and I don’t need to have a second conversation of bringing somebody else in.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Yeah, that’s solid advice, man, I love that. All right. One more question and then we’ll wrap it up. So, what’s the best career advice you’ve ever gotten?

Derek Smith:
Under promise, over deliver has been the best career advice I’ve ever gotten. An old manager at Best Buy told that to me once, “If you promise the world, people are going to expect the world.” And I think, especially in today’s world, that’s hard to do. Know your expectations, meet them there and then over deliver on those expectations. Don’t set the bar so high that you’ll just never get there because perfection is never going to be achieved so you’ve got to temper down those things. Yeah, yeah, that’s been the best advice I think I’ve ever received from a career standpoint.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I love it man. Because people can feel it when you’re over delivering, they just know and they’ll understand. Even if you’re messed up a little bit, if you’re over delivering like truly, they’ll appreciate it. So, that’s awesome advice.

Derek Smith:
Yeah. When you’re talking… I know it’s me and you, but if I were sitting across the table from a customer, right? If they asked me a question and it’s obvious that I don’t know, they’re going to know.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Right, exactly. Yeah.

Derek Smith:
Some people might be able to fake it really well where they might question it, but people have gotten smarter enough these days to where, you know, just be honest, say either, “I don’t know.” Or, “I need to go find out.” Or, “Hey, that’s not really my area, let me go find somebody else who it is.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
That’s a great message to underline, it’s come up a couple of times on this show. And I’m the same way, I don’t know everything, I’m trying to keep up too. We all have the challenge of trying to absorb this material, nobody’s ever going to get it all, right? So we just have to accept that and then be honest about the stuff we know, work hard on that and then be honest about the stuff we don’t know, nothing wrong with that.

Derek Smith:
No, nothing wrong with that. Think about the cloud providers, there’s a reason why there’s specialty certifications for a lot of areas, right? They understand that there are people who are going to specialize in that, but even behind the scenes internally, they’ve got teams of people that work on just one thing. And so you as a professional, don’t expect to compete with teams of people, just be the best who you can at where you want to focus in on. And it’s okay if you don’t know a lot of the other stuff, there’s other people who do. Don’t be afraid to ask for help or bring other people in.

Mike Pfeiffer:
There it is you guys. Everybody listening, relax, take it easy, it’s going to be okay, cloud’s not going anywhere, we just keep showing up every day, putting our best foot forward and everything will take care of itself. Derek, I know you share a ton of stuff on LinkedIn, we’ll put that in the show notes. Anywhere else we should send people?

Derek Smith:
You can send them to Instagram @dsmithseo5., that’s my Instagram handle. I don’t do Twitter, so I’m sorry.

Mike Pfeiffer:
You on TikTok at all?

Derek Smith:
My wife is, I’m not. So if you guys want to go check out her videos, absolutely. I will say privately, I’m a little bummed Microsoft lost out on TikToK, but-

Mike Pfeiffer:
I know.

Derek Smith:
… it is what it is. Ultimately I’m glad it worked out, Oracle’s buying it, kudos to them. Ultimately, no, TikTok is just not my cup of tea.

Mike Pfeiffer:
I was on it last night and [inaudible 00:30:32] my daughter was doing videos on there. So I’m looking at it and I’m like, I’m really getting old, I’m really out of touch here. But maybe we could find a way.

Derek Smith:
What are you talking about? She’ll show me videos where it’s like, “Oh, can you name these '90s songs? Can you name this?” I’m like, “Oh yeah, totally, I can do all this stuff.”

Mike Pfeiffer:
Oh, maybe you haven’t spent enough time on there then.

Derek Smith:
Yeah, yeah. You need to start digging in more. But yeah, if you guys want to go check her out on TikToK, please do, she does some awesome stuff. And I will promise you, and she’s even told me, I will be participating in some of those videos, so we’ll see what we’ll line up for me to make some guest appearances on her TikTok.

Mike Pfeiffer:
Interesting. I might have to throw my hat into the TikToK ring at some point, I don’t know yet though. But we’ll put your links into the show notes. Everybody, go follow Derek, he’s working on some really cool stuff, he’s sharing a lot of cool stuff that I’ve seen on LinkedIn. And, Derek Smith, thanks man, really appreciate the chat.

Derek Smith:
No, appreciate it, Mike. Thank you.

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