So about time I did a post about my first book – Data Storage Networking…..
NOTE: this post is split in two. First bit talks about my book. Second bit talks about the experience of writing it….
So………… If you're already a legend with storage, then this book may be isn't for you. If you're not already a storage legend, then it's definitely worth you spending a couple of minutes finding out if this book's gonna be any good for you.
Still here? Then I'm assuming you don't consider yourself a storage legend… at least not yet. And this book is here to to change that. Seriously!
I honestly think if you're an IT person, or an IT wannabe, and want to get a rock solid understanding of storage… then this book is perfect for you. Why? Read on…..
First up. I'm a big believer in books. They've been an important part of my career and learning. I took Mark Minasi's 1,500 page Mastering Windows 2000 Server on my honeymoon, and read it at the pool, the beach, pretty much everywhere. Yep I'm one of those really exciting live-life-to-the-full type of guys 😉 That book was massive in my career. And at 1,500 pages it was just… well… massive 😀 . Anyway, when I took on this book project I was passionate about creating something that would be a positive influence on other peoples careers!
Second up. I hate books that are boring, badly written, have typos (blogs are different, they're supposed to have typos 😉 )… and holy cow, if they contain technical errors then it drives me mad! So I was insane about getting the technical detail right in this book. A massive thanks to my technical editors on that front – Howard Marks and Ron Singler. Awesome job gents! Couldn't have done it without you both!
Third up. Im a massive believer in sharing knowledge. That's a major reason why I blog, and why in the past I've done education/learning style podcasts (which I'll be starting again shortly). I'm not one of those guys who's scared that you'll end up being better than me – in fact I'm pretty certain you will end up being better than me – it just doesn't scare me. So there was no holding back with this book. I unloaded everything I know about storage into the book. Scary that it's only 600 pages then 😀 Now you could think "well hell, you obviously don't know that much about storage if it fits into 600 pages". You might be right. Personally I like to think I cut straight to the chase in the book. No waffle. No wasting your time. Straight to the point, explain it clearly, and try and make it readable with some humour. So it's accurate and should be fun to read. Granted not as much fun as Harry Potter, but more fun than most technical books!
Sooooo….. if you wanna learn and get from novice to a solid understanding. Seriously…. I spent 11 months of my life working my but off writing the best book on the market for that. Seriously. When I started writing the book, I was only ever gonna put my name against something that was the best! And after 11 months of blood, sweat, and a ton of fun, I truly believe this is the best book on the market for learning storage.
And just in case you're not convinced…. below are a few comments about the book from Twitter and Amazon –
And the following from the books first Amazon review (its 5-stars, and no, I don't know this guy. I didn't bride him, and have literally no idea who he is. But check out the other things he's rated 😀 But I'm sure the book review is legit as it's an Amazon verified purchase and he quotes from the text…)
…. So far, the book has been enjoyable to read. When I say 'enjoyable,' the book is not boring and not written for an English professor IQ to read and understand. Normally when I read IT books for about 15 minutes, I need tooth picks to keep my eyes open. Not this time. The author explains concepts in plain English and gives an easy to understand definition for someone who does not have any knowledge is data storage. ….. the author adds some humor in the text for example, "Flash memory, on the other hand, is like greased lightning…"
I am looking forward to continue reading this book and to gain more knowledge in data storage. As stated, this book is enjoyable to read.
Now then….. if you're interested in knowing what it's like writing a Sybex book, stick around while I tell you a bit about that…. Otherwise thanks for stopping by, and I hope the book is good for you!
OK, so the story of writing the books starts back in October/November time of 2012. Yeah a long time ago!
So around that time I get an email from Sybex via my website. Only thing is, most of the mail that comes from the contact-form on my website gets categorised as spam. Result, I don't see the message for a week or two. Anyway when I do finally see it, I'm like "hell yeah I wanna write that book!". So I scribble a response as fast as I can and wait to hear back. They come back really quickly, but saying pretty much "… thanks for your response and interest Nigel, but Chris Evans has already responded and is filling out the Proposal document… but if he changes his mind we'll be right back in touch with you". Gutted. Chris is a top guy and knows his stuff so I figure I missed my chance.
So what's my surprise when on Nov 30th 2012 I get another email from Sybex saying pretty much "Chris is gonna pass on the opportunity and am I still interested?". Am I still interested? Errrrr is the Pope Catholic? Like hell yes I'm still interested! So the ball starts rolling.
Speaking to the Boss (my wife)
Jeff Kellum at Sybex runs me through what's involved and suggests I talk to my wife about it. So I go talk to Jen and the conversation goes something like this….
Me: Hey babe, Sybex came back and want to know if I'm still interested in writing the storage book.
Jen: Great, have you said yes?
Me: They said I should talk to you
Jen: Oh right. Yeah go for it!
Me: OK…. just so you know…. I've read a lot of tech books in my time… and every one of them has this bit at the front that says "Thanks to my amazing husband/wife and kids who haven't seen me for the past 12 months"
Jen: Errr OK. But its a great opportunity. Go for it. (may be she thinks it's a good thing not to see me for 12 months 🙂 )
Me: You sure?
Jen: Yeah definitely
From that point on, there was no looking back.
I gotta say that when Jen told me to go ahead with it despite the "you won't see me for 12 months" thing I kinda laughed to myself and thought "she hasn't got a clue how hard this is gonna be". But I wasn't about to give her a chance to change her mind – I wanted to do this. As it turned out…. it was me that didn't have a clue how hard it was gonna be! As you'll find out, it was HARD!!!
Anyway. First up I had to fill out proposal documents outlining chapters, topics and how content would be ordered in chapters etc. Map them to the CompTIA Storage+ exam objectives (BTW its not a study guide, but does map to CompTIA exam objectives), set chapter delivery dates and all that shenanigans. Really boring stuff. I mean really boring. I'm personally a lot more of an agile/scrum type of worker. I don't like to meticulously plan like that.
So the planning stage was a necessary evil.
Picking the Team
Next thing was to pick my tech editors – these guys are vital. I was determined to get the right crew together. Three guys immediately came to mind – Ray Lucchesi, Howard Marks and Ron Singler. Ray couldn't do it, but Howard and Ron could. So these guys came on-board – Howard as main technical editor, and Ron as the tech editor that got to see the final product and make sure there was nothing Howard and I had missed or got wrong.
Planes Trains and Holiday Villas
Anyway, by the beginning of March 2013 I started work on the book. And pretty much worked on it every spare moment I had. Keep in mind I had a 9-5 job – as head of storage and Linux for a financial service org in London – as well as a wife and three young kids. To cut a long story short, I worked harder in 2013 than I'd ever worked in my life – and I can't stress that enough. I worked myself within an inch of my life and wife. I worked on the train, on aeroplanes, I even spent about 3 hours per day on my laptop during our family summer holiday! Oh and not to mention Christmas Day. So after we'd gotten rid of the 20+ family we'd had over for Christmas dinner, and put the kids to bed, I sat on the floor of my lounge – amid the carnage – and spent 2 hours writing up part of the glossary! There's no rest for a technical author!
In some respects I was lucky that my 9-5 job came with 3 hours of train commuting every day – perfect time for writing the book I thought…. and yeah…… it was great. But…. I kid you not when I say it nearly killed me! I'd work on the book for those 3 hours per day on the train, get home at 7:30pm spend 30 minutes with my kids and then work on the book until 11pm. Now when you consider I get up at 5:30am 4 days a week, it'll be no surprise that some days I just had to sleep on the morning train.
Weekends, What Weekends?
Weekends were no better. Nearly every Saturday for 10 months I worked on the book for about 6 hours. Sundays were off limits for the book, and just as well, otherwise I'd probably have burned out and had a breakdown 😀
Oh And While Im Not Busy Why Not Do This As Well….
Oh and in 2013 I also did a 12 hour training video for Trainsignal/Pluralsight. So with my 9-5, the book, and the training video, 2013 was the busiest year of my life! Great rewards at the end of it all, but not recommended. It did nearly kill me 😀
Anyway, I'm still alive and still have a family. Plus I now have a new child – a 600 page book called Data Storage Networking! And just like with my three amazing daughters, I'm extremely proud of this book.
Many thanks to Hu Yoshida, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer at Hitachi Data Systems for writing the forword to the book. I've met Hu several times and respect him as one of the best and most experienced storage people out there.