Just yesterday I was trying to answer a guy on facebook who was asking “why do you use twitter?” He, like a lot of people, “got on it, and didn’t see the point.” Well, let me describe my day and you tell me how I would have accomplished what I did without it.
Yesterday I was confronted with an alleged Windows-and-backup-related limitation of VMware — one that has been present since the early days and one that I was completely unaware of. It couldn’t possibly be true. Could VMware have been pulling the wool over my eyes all this time? Then i started wondering if Hyper-V had a similar limitation.
I started by calling people I knew at Microsoft. One of them was very helpful in sending emails out to this person and that person who did their best to answer my questions. But it was frustrating as I was at least three degrees away from the person I probably needed to be speaking to. But still it was better than nothing. I needed to understand how VSS worked and how it worked with applications like SQL and Exchange. But in a company as large as Microsoft, how do you get to the right guy?
24 hours passed. Then in desperation I threw out a tweet: “Any Hyper-V super geeks out there? I need to dig deep in one particular area. Anyone? Hello?” Right away I started getting help from random people out there. Some of them were following me. Others, like me, were using apps like Tweetdeck that lets them run constant searches on things they’re interested in, like say, Hyper-V. Even though they weren’t following me and had no idea who I was, my tweet showed up on their desktops as soon as I typed it! Next thing you know I’m having public and private tweets, emails, and phone calls from people all around the world.
And then I hit gold. Jason Buffington, who just happens to be the Senior Technical Product Manager for Microsoft’s Data Protection Manager sends me the following tweet: @wcpreston If you are still looking for a Hyper-V backup geek, I think I can help there (Mister DPM) :-) It’s less than two hours between my tweet and this message. In less than two hours I’ve cut through 10s of thousands of Microsoft employees to get to the exact guy who would know definitive answers to my questions. He followed me so I could DM him, I DMd him my phone number and voila! I was talking to ‘DA MAN. This guy knew his stuff and actually knew VMware’s stuff pretty well too.
How would I have done this in the past? I could have blogged about it I suppose. And days, weeks, or even months later when the right person who knew a guy who knew a guy who knew a guy read my blog and forwarded it to Jason, I might get an email from him. (I’m assuming the Senior Technical Product Manager of DPM has better things to do than read my blog.) Or maybe I could have called the analyst relations person for MS (who changes every time I try to contact them) and asked them for a contact. And I doubt that I would have gotten directly to someone who would would have helped me as much as Jason did.
But by using twitter, I threw my need out there. A guy who was interested in what I was curious about was running a search on it and next thing you know I’m talking to him.
Now that’s just awesome right there. I don’t care what you do. Props to twitter for coming up with such a great idea and props to Microsoft for paying Jason’s paycheck.
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Written by W. Curtis Preston (@wcpreston). For those of you unfamiliar with my work, I've specialized in backup & recovery since 1993. I've written the O'Reilly books on backup and have worked with a number of native and commercial tools. I am now Chief Technologist at Druva, the leading provider of cloud-based data protection and data management tools for endpoints, infrastructure, and cloud applications. These posts reflect my own opinion and are not necessarily the opinion of my employer.