Deep Dive: Phil Guerin – Technical Sales Consultant – Systal Technology Solutions

Deep Dive: Phil Guerin – Technical Sales Consultant – Systal Technology Solutions

Phil Guerin – Technical Sales Consultant – Systal Technology Solutions

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

My most memorable achievement was deploying two data centres for a client in the Nordics as well as providing a full migration network between the legacy estate and the new. This interconnection enabled five different existing networks to be connected over the same infrastructure whilst ensuring complete tenant segmentation and separation. Using technologies such as VXLAN and BGP EVPN we were able to provide a simple migration path whereby no IP address changes were required and applications could be moved between old and new seamlessly.

We built a lab to mirror the production environment and this enabled us to test various failure scenarios in advance, in addition to providing full automation and orchestration of the initial deployment and subsequent BAU changes.

I learned a lot from this experience that enabled me to talk to customers about how they could adopt a similar approach to migrate in future.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?

I was always fascinated by computers from an early age (my first computer was a Commodore VIC-20 in the early 1980s) and I have been an avid user since, so it seemed inevitable to me that I would have a career in IT. I initially worked at IBM on network management systems and spent many years setting up the various elements to make sure the network ran smoothly, without ever understanding what the ‘bits and pieces’ that made up the network were. It was a location move that helped me get experience in setting up switches and routers for a large campus/datacentre for our European helpdesk. At the time that helped me to get involved with data centre deployments and best practices and I worked in that technology space for 15 years!

What style of management philosophy do you employ with your current position?

My philosophy is always to help others to understand technology even if it’s not something key to their role. If a PM or Service Manager has a better awareness of what is going on it helps them to ask the pertinent questions that help projects run smoothly. I try to simplify the difficult concepts so that all the IT complexity of too many acronyms and competing technologies can be more easily understood.

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

In recent years we have all seen the move from on-premises data centres to cloud-based and are now in a position where most customers have a hybrid model requiring both environments to run smoothly. As a result, I’ve seen customers with a mixture of tools that don’t offer the same level of visibility across both environments leading to gaps in how the estate is managed. Centralised toolsets with full API integration with both environments are key to resolving this as well as integration with their trouble ticketing systems to reduce the amount of manual intervention required. AI and ML play a part here in delivering this approach as it’s just not possible to do this with manual operation – there are too many data points and correlations required without the help of machine learning.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

I like to get outside as much as possible as IT doesn’t leave a lot of room for this typically, whether it’s walking the dog or going for a hike.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

I see more and more security integration as part of any proposals we are asked to deliver – in the past, this was often seen as a separate workstream but now is part of an overall network strategy for a client. Customers need better security solutions that don’t require many different complex products and services that cover their entire estate. Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) is an evolution of SD-WAN with the added cloud-based security that is a big area of interest for many clients right now. The traditional data centre was always key in providing that ‘castle and moat’ type of security model, whereby users and sites all backhauled their connections to the data centre where the security policies would take place before accessing applications. With the move to direct internet access and SD-WAN, having security everywhere is now key and SASE helps to provide this.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the coming months?

My job role has become more business-goal focused in the last year – understanding what clients need and their pain points are the driving factors in what technical solution I propose. Previously it was always technology first – designing the correct environment and then deploying with leading vendor hardware, whereas now it’s really ‘what is the customer trying to achieve’ and aligning that to the right blend of products and services that helps them meet their goals.

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