Rich is based out of Cape Coral, FL and works as a Technical Solutions Architect in WWT’s Global Data Center Practice where his primary area of focus revolves around storage technologies. Rich’s accomplishments includes being awarded a patent in fiber channel technologies while at Cisco Systems, publically speaking as a storage expert for both EMC (at EMC World) and NetApp (NetApp Webinar) and receiving NetApp’s Innovator of the Year award (Americas).

Q&A with Rich Harper

Tell us about your background and how you got into technology.
While still in middle and high school back in the 70s, my father’s guidance was always to go into “electronics” (we didn’t even call it “tech” back then) because as he said, “There is no end to where things are going!” That led me to study electrical engineering at Indiana Institute of Technology. I quickly realized that even with a partial basketball and academic scholarships that this path was going to cost a lot of money that I didn’t have! I decided to leave the university and joined the U.S. Army. My initial testing showed I had an aptitude for electronics. I picked my Army “job” by going through a large phone book sized book of job descriptions and picking solely by jobs with the longest training courses and highest security clearances. While in the military, I specialized doing repair of advanced supermini computer systems, and once I got out of the Army in the 80s, I went to work for Gould Computer Systems Division, working primarily on the same systems. It was during this time I started to make the transition from hardware repair to systems administration and programming. Over time I went to work for Sequent Computer doing third level tech support. While supporting a very new Cisco Disaster Recovery RTP, NC site for Sequent, I was offered a job by Cisco that was too good to pass up. Over a 13 year career at Cisco I evolved from being an ERP Unix systems administrator (“I know this… It’s a Unix System.”) to helping  found Cisco’s Storage Team. Eventually I went from a storage administrator to a storage engineer/architect, prior to leaving Cisco and joining WWT.
What is your role at WWT?
Working on the Global Data Center Team, I have multiple roles including teaching a customer facing introductory classes on Cisco’s Unified Computing System (UCS) and Cisco’s MDS FC Switches, leading the Storage Virtual Team for the Sales Technical Team, leading the Object Storage Discipline within the Storage sub-Practice and providing technical sales enablement for the field.
What innovation is happening in your technology focus area that has you really excited?
Storage technology is continuing to rapidly evolve, and one area that I’m particularly passionate about surrounds object storage cloud which will eventually replace the majority of traditional storage arrays serving unstructured files. The amount of this type of data being generated has about a 60% year over year logarithmic growth, which is overwhelming traditional storage solutions. This challenge around management, functionality, accessibility, resiliency and cost are providing great opportunities to help customers understand, evaluate and transition to a new storage solutions.
Describe a recent interaction with a customer that led to solving a problem.
As the capacity issues continue to make themselves aware to our customers, I get to engage with them to educate them on what object storage is and isn’t, and then demonstrate which object storage solutions can help meet their needs. Low hanging fruit is often around current back-up and archive use cases which are rapidly turning into what has been given the moniker, “Active Archive.” However, these use cases are only the beginning. Large customers, such as service providers, are already eliminating traditional file arrays for “third platform” systems and solutions.