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I don’t know Joel personally, but some recent posts of his caused a stir within the community, and he seems like a pretty interesting dude… so that makes him a perfect candidate for a NINE Questions interview. Unfortunately, I never got a pic from him with this interview, so this placeholder pic will have to do for now. I know you’re all chomping at the bit to read my latest interview, so without further ado, I give you these NINE Questions with Joel Oleson, aka SharepointJoel.

Monty Python Holy Grail - Clip clop (300w) 1. Where are you from?  
I live in the Seattle area, not far from Redmond where I use to work for Microsoft.

2. Tell us a little bit about who you work for and what you do there. Give us the elevator pitch on their primary service or product...
I work for Quest Software.  They have primarily been in the database tools and management space like TOAD and Lite Speed, but have made significant investments in the Windows Management and Active Directory space.  My interest and involvement is with their product and services around SharePoint.  Quest has made some significant investments in the SharePoint space including acquisitions of Proposion (the best Notes to SharePoint tool) and Workplace Architects (web part solutions to accelerate application development).  As well, the Quest SharePoint team has designed a number of migration tools from file shares, eRooms, public folders.  There two best sellers are the Site Administrator for SharePoint, a farm reporting management and policy tool and Recovery Manager for SharePoint, a cheap tool for quick restore of sites and data right from the backup.

At Quest I am a SharePoint community evangelist, I lead our efforts on SharePoint Server 2010 and I work with the product managers across the SharePoint product lines on strategy.  The community at http://www.SharePointforall.com is one place I blog and share guidance and strategy to the community. We share betas, tips and tricks including mirrored feeds of our experts personal blogs.

3. You're obviously into community and blogging, so I'm curious... of all the technologies to focus on, why Sharepoint? What's the appeal and how did you become "SharepointJoel"?
SharePoint has been good to me.  I started with SharePoint before it was SharePoint, and I've grown with it.  Microsoft trusted me with designing the global deployments across the intranet and extranet including the first design for SharePoint online hosted service.  Sharing best practices and lessons learned from my experiences led me to global travel as an evangelist.

It was this thirst for global travel and connecting with community that led me to seek more flexibility and opportunity.

Why SharePoint? It has been the perfect match for me with my background in database administration and design, and hard core web engineering and architecture.

I am a huge blogging, Facebook, Twitter and social networking advocate.  I see how the world is evolving and I'm passionate to help steer the community and corporations to best take advantage of these technologies.  SharePoint is clearly still the best positioned in this space to provide both structured and unstructured spaces.  They are the leader in the corporate space.  I really enjoy the conversations with analysts around this.  I'm really looking forward to the SharePoint Conference in Oct in Las Vegas where SharePoint Server 2010 will be more publicly discussed.  Corporations will be very pleased with their investments in SharePoint.   

4. You've had a couple of recent blog entries that caused quite a stir in the MVP community. The first one revolves around an interesting concept which you are calling The Sharepoint Knights. Can you describe your vision of this organization?
I saw a gap in the community. A number of strong individuals with speaking, blogging, and an interest in serving the community.  My initial design was to help serve these people by connecting them where they could get better access to each other and more accessible to conference organizers and reward them for their hard work in the community.  The organization would ultimately be vendor neutral and ignore existing titles.

5. One of the things you mention in the Sharepoint Knights post is earning "galleons" through community work, and achieving levels as you reach certain numbers of galleons. This sounds a lot like Dungeons & Dragons. I'm guessing you were a big gamer as a kid?
I was trying to go after a system with reward and recognition.  It ultimately would be self monitored, but would encourage positive activities that promote the community. It has nothing to do with my role at Quest. This was simply based on ideas from talking to previous MVPs and people that I would consider overlooked and under served.

While I didn't get into dungeons and dragons I do know kudos and recognize reward systems in gaming and the ultimate respect that happens in games. 

6. The other somewhat controversial blog entry was about the MVP program itself. Some folks have said that your comments sounded a lot like sour grapes, while others have stepped up to support you. What was your motivation in writing that post, and how do you feel about the response you got?
From my initial post about about the community I was proposing. Many comments and follow up blogs suggested we already had a community, the MVP program, and I needed to explain what was wrong on missing before proposing something else.

I knew posting this I would be violating the unspoken rule that you never scrutinize the program or you risk being overlooked.  I recently passed my one year mark of my time as a non Microsoft employee and was nominated.  It was flattering to be nominated. As the date came for MVPs to be announced I was told the group had hit quota. I also learned they'd had budget cuts.  The answer explained they'd need to cut people to have room. It was upsetting, not about some type of entitlement, but about the people getting cut and those that couldn't be served due to economic or administration issues.  Again, this all likely will lead to me not being considered, which is a very important thing in the SharePoint world.  MVP and SharePoint expert go hand in hand in our world. If you're a top SharePoint blogger and speaker the community assumes you're an MVP and visa versa.  It is a common misconception.

The SharePoint MVPs are my friends and I love them.  I also love those that deserve the award, and intetested in helping those developing their technical, community and speaking skills.

Unfortunately due to these posts being so close, the group itself was tied to my critical feedback of the program. Friends were hurt and the community divided over the issue, so I pulled back asking that we hold off on community efforts as the MVPs regroup.  I appreciate the calls, emails, positive energy and prayers. There hasn't been a test on the community this great.  Clearly the MVP program feedback struck a chord and seriously offended members and leaders. My intention was not a lashing out or attack, but more an attempt at providing visibility around some sore issues. Apparently it has gotten visibility and the MVP program and community seeks to address these.  Love it.

Sorry for hurting my friends.  They saw the points in my post as personal, which was again, not intended.

7. I see from your blog you'll be speaking at TechEd. What's your talk, and when?
I'm speaking in the SQL track on 'Large Scale SharePoint SQL Deployments' on Tuesday in the early afternoon.  I haven't missed a TechEd since 2003, and usually hit a few strategic ones from Europe, Asia and Africa.  I've committed to TechEd Africa in early August. This year I've been very busy so far speaking in over a dozen conferences.   

8. So... we've covered a few aspects of who you are, what's something the world probably doesn't already know about Joel Oleson?  
I got my start doing Oracle database design, and working with Netscape Enterprise Server, Iplanet and Weblogic doing web development.  In the SharePoint world I'm known for my IT Pro skills, but not for my development experience.

This last SharePoint tour brought me up to 40 countries I've visited. Most of these were trips enabled by my SharePoint knowledge and experience.  They also come due to me seeking them out through networking.  It takes work to explain my accessibilty. Last year I was in Dubai for a SharePoint conference and visited usergroups in Jordan and Israel. The Israeli TechEd said I could have a session if I wanted it. I explained if I had been asked earlier I would have fit it in. They explained that of course I could speak.  Today that's the gap. I don't know what I don't know.

Outside of the SharePoint stuff, people don't know I grew up in a small town in Idaho, Declo.  There I had pet chickens, goats, rabbits, pigs, cows, and guinea fowl. It wasn't a farm believe it or not.  My friends who really were farmers called me a city slicker.

I milked cows and operated a pea harvester for work while finishing up high school.

Oh, and one last thing as a big fan of the show, I would love to do the Amazing Race with another SharePoint world traveler, Michael Noel.   

9. Last question got any interesting tattoos?
No tattoos, but if I believed it was ok, i would consider a SharePoint tribal tattoo.  That reminds me... I'll be in New Zealand doing the keynote at the SharePoint conference in July.

 

For this and other NINE Questions interviews, please visit http://www.NINEQuestions.net

Posted on Thursday, May 14, 2009 10:26 PM | Back to top


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