Global Systems and Network Engineer by day, Small Systems and Network Engineer at night.

Reminiscing on the late 90’s I started thinking about how I love what I do and do what I love.  I remember the first time I got to walk through a Microsoft Datacenter and see thousands of servers connected providing services to users all over the world.  It was awesome to think that a machine sitting in Redmond, can be rendering a service to someone sitting in India, Fiji, or Germany.  How electrical current on a wire or pulses of light on a Fiber Optic cable, moves information from one point to the other point instantly.

I was a work-o-holic back in the late 90’s when my then manager Changhui, hired me to work in this new secret team at Microsoft.  It was a small group, but we grew very fast.  The team was still trying to figure itself out, and we had many roles to fill, giving me the opportunity to put on several hats.   Not only was I a Software Engineer, but I also participated in operations, and became the Team’s Lab Manager.  We minimized how many teams at Microsoft we interfaced with since the product we were developing, directly competed with other vendors who were on campus.  We didn’t want the news of what we were doing, getting back to the vendor/competitor.

The Lab Manager role suited me well being a fresh transfer from the Microsoft Windows Division and the team needed someone that could build Windows Server’s, setup test domains, create trust relationships with Microsoft internal domains, etc.

Building a network inside Microsoft was fun, and I had an annual budget of 65 million to spend.  These were the days when Compaq Computer Corporation still existed and had not yet merged with Hewlett-Packard.   We built a Lab it was awesome and provided all the infrastructure we needed from inception/vision to architect, development, testing, and pre-production.   I was quite proud of myself and the accomplishments I made here.  To put this into perspective, this is the Windows 2000 days.  I did have a couple of NT4 machines I built in our test environment, and that was fun.

So what did I do, I went home, spec’ed out four servers and created a Windows 2000 Domain in my closet.  I wired the entire house, connected the several workstations throughout my house to the domain, and even connected it to this new service called @home.  This was the Cable Internet service in the beginning of time.  RCA provided the cable modems. And I found a picture I’m sharing which shows you one of the first models of modems.

In the world of Windows 2000 and Active Directory, your domain was what we call fqdn or fully qualified domain name.  I was thinking and thinking of what to use. In the end, I came up with which was available, cheaper than .com and in those days domain names cost north of $80.00 per year.  This was super exciting.

I built my Domain Controller, Exchange Server, Files Server, and backup Domain Controller, integrated the printers in our house within the domain sharing them out to all computers, etc.  I could walk upstairs into the kitchen, login to the computer in the kitchen, read my email, log off, walk downstairs to my office bedroom, and log in, and have access to all the same resources.   This was just brilliant.

My wife, on the other hand, tolerated it.  While she thought it was cool,  having just a couple computers in the house in her mind was sufficient instead of several.  In these days, most people had one computer maybe two.   I know we had around ten.   I wish Hyper-V or VMWARE were around back then.   In any case, I would go to work and play in a global network, and then come home and play on my little network.  Both needed management and maintaining.

It’s not every day someone can say they go to fun and not to work.  I got to go to fun every day, and it was fantastic.

William J. Nelson

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