World-renowned, Esteemed International Authority on Information
This week, Stephen
Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Rand Morimoto,
President of Convergent Computing, a 17-year old, 65-person
information technology (IT) consulting firm headquartered in
Rand has been in the IT
industry for more than 25 years. As a Premier-level member of the
National Speakers Association (NSA), Rand is world renowned for
public speaking and authoring books on networking and communication
technologies. Translated to over eight languages and sold in 21
countries around the world, Rand is a top-selling author for SAMS
Publishing and Osborne McGraw on information technologies. In the
past year, Rand has traveled to over 17 countries and spoken at more
than 70 conferences and conventions on topics ranging from
electronic commerce, network security, electronic messaging, mergers
and acquisitions, and the future of the Internet. In addition, Rand
is the host of Windows Resource Guide, a weekly column on the
Due to his unique
standing as a global expert, Rand is also a special advisor to the
White House on cyber-security and cyber-terrorism. Moreover, he is a
Ph.D. Candidate in organization and management.
His book credits include
the topics of Windows 2003, Security, Exchange Server, Biztalk
Server, Remote and Mobile Computing. Garnering substantial
attention, and amongst his most recent book credits is, “Microsoft
Exchange Server 2003, Unleashed.”
Q: Rand, with your global
standing as a foremost expert in information technology, we are
fortunate to have you do this interview—thank you!
A: Thank you Stephen;
it’s a pleasure to participate in this interview.
Q: You have a most
formidable and impressive background. Please detail how you got into
computing and your journey to your present position. Share your top
five valuable lessons.
A: I started in the
computer industry in the mid-70s when I helped sweep floors and
clear out punch card machines, got to know the computer equipment as
well as the day-to-day operators, and started doing programming and
systems maintenance. When Apple Computer came out with their first
Apple computer, my mother bought me my first personal computer. Ever
since then, I’ve been hooked into the industry.
The top five valuable
lessons I’ve learned in this industry:
1) Don’t ever think you
know everything. Technology changes too quickly to get complacent,
so learn, learn, learn.
2) Computers can be your
best friend and your worst enemy, sometimes both at the same time.
3) It’s not what the
computer can do from a technology standpoint that is most valuable,
it’s what you can make the computer do “for you” that brings out the
real value of computer technology.
4) If you replace your
computer (and reinstall all your software) every few months, the
likelihood of a computer crash is greatly minimized.
5) Garbage in; garbage
Q: How did you get
involved with the National Speakers Association? For those in our
audience who also want to get into speaking, how does one go about
becoming a speaker, and what tips can you pass on for effective
A: I’ve been doing public
speaking on computer technology for over a dozen years. It was at
one speaking event that a publisher saw me speak and asked me to
write a book. A dozen and a half books later, I’m still writing; and
because I write, the conference companies want me to speak at their
events. I joined NSA to broaden my reach of speaking beyond just
technology conferences, but to other venues as well.
For someone who wants to
become a speaker, it’s all a matter of being good at public speaking
(ie: comfortable in front of an audience with a topic that interests
the audience), and connections with someone who can give you a break
to speak at an event. The more you know and the better you can
speak, the better chance you’ll be able to convince someone it’s
worthwhile for them to add you in as a speaker to their event.
Q: You travel a
considerable amount going to almost 20 countries in the past year
alone. Share some valuable experiences from your travels.
A: Public speaking around
the world is somewhat of a perk of the job, and also part of that
vicious circle/cycle. I speak around the world; publishers want me
to write for them because I’m a world renowned public speaker. As I
write more books, worldwide conferences invite me to speak. Part of
the arrangement I have with the speaking organizations is if they
want me to speak, they have to pay for the travel of my whole family
(wife and 2 kids). So our 3-yr old and 5-yr old travel around the
globe a dozen or two times a year. Our 3-yr old was the youngest
United Airlines 100,000-mile (“1k”) traveler attaining that level at
10-months old. Our 5-yr old will hit the million-mile mark by the
time she’s in 3rd grade. What’s not to love about traveling if you
like to have crepes in Paris one day, and Chinese food in Hong Kong
Q: Give us your top
predictions or tips in each of the following areas: electronic
commerce, network security, electronic messaging, and the Internet.
A: Electronic Commerce:
1) All the benefits of
the dotCom boom are now happening. Wait until the holiday sales
reports come out, people are going to be shocked to see that online
retailing is now a MAJOR part of consumer spending. Watch out
2) Concerns for online
privacy and security is going to make e-commerce more difficult in
the near future.
3) Sales tax will start
being common on e-commerce transactions making online purchases not
as attractive as it has been.
4) “Shipping and
handling” will become a big issue as consumers are going to realize
they’re paying a huge chunk of money in this misc. expense making
many online consumers to rethink whether they’re really saving
1) It’s the #1 thing
people talk about, and the last thing organizations spend money on.
Kind of like insurance, you only worry about it when you get in an
2) We’re only scratching
the surface on cyber-crime.
3) Remember Max Headroom
and the whole concern about cyber information? Online privacy,
identity theft, information security, etc. will create a whole
series of laws that lawmakers will enact (without really knowing
what they’re doing) that’ll slow down the advancement of online
technology. It’ll get ugly before it gets better.
4) You think weapons of
mass destruction is a nightmare, wait until cyber-crime crosses
international boundaries when we’ll try to prosecute someone in
another country stepping on a lot of political toes along the way.
1) Spam will get the
better of us in making electronic messaging a functional tool like
it was before spam was prevalent.
2) E-mail will always be
email no matter how much organizations will try to make it into a
chat / discussion folder / contact mgmt / etc. type environment.
Vendors will get back to the basics that email is email, and that
the “other stuff” will be other stuff.
The future of the
1) It’ll be a pull and
tug on the privatization of the Internet by the big onramp companies
(like SBC, ATT, Comcast, etc.) where they’ll have so many customers,
they’ll try to throw their weight around as “leaders” of the
operation of the Internet against the purists that believe the
Internet should remain free and open.
communications will make the Internet even more accessible to more
3) Trying to do too much
over the Internet (ie: voice over Internet, TV/Video over the
Internet) will create a huge bandwidth problem.
4) IP v4 still has the
limitation on the # of IP addresses available. Although not as big
of a concern as it was a couple years ago when it was predicted we’d
be out of IP Addresses by now (thanks to the dotCom bust that
cleared up a few extra address spaces), but it’s still limited.
Q: As President of
Convergent Computing, describe your company’s vision, mission,
strategies, values, and goals.
A: Convergent Computing
has been around for 18-yrs and our expectation is that we’ll be
around 18-yrs from now. Our current value to our clients is our
ability to be involved in technologies 2-3 years before they are
released to the public in very early beta programs with vendors like
Microsoft so that we can help organizations plan 12-18 months before
product release so they can be skilled and start their
implementation when the product releases. It’s the only way large
organizations can “keep up” is to be ahead of the game, and our team
of industry experts (27 of my 65 consultants are published authors,
technical writers, and contributing writers to major technology
books) provide organizations the expertise to keep them ahead of the
Our long-term strategy
has always been to be 2-3 steps ahead of the competition, work
smart, work hard, and show and provide value.
Q: Where do you see
yourself and your company in five years and how will you get there?
A: The technology
industry is reaching maturity; it’s no longer a hobbyist industry
where you can have kids running the IT operation of the business.
Organizations depend on IT and the business of technology will be
the lifeblood of an organization. They either make it or break it
based on their skill at running a successful IT operation. Over the
next 5 years, Convergent Computing will help our clients build (or
strengthen) their IT operations to not only be data centers, but
reliable, dependable, predictable centers of business excellence
that the CEO and everyone in the organization can truly rely on.
Q: You have a reputation
for excellence. What ten attributes makes for effective leadership?
A: 1) Lead by example.
2) Work hard by giving
3) Have knowledge by
learning and using what we learn.
4) Have smart and hard
working people around you.
5) There’s no such thing
as “it can’t be done”, with the right about of time, effort, and
money, anything can be done.
6) The day ends when the
job is done, even if that’s several hours or days later.
7) Solve the problem
first, make the customer happy; we’ll worry about getting paid for
the work later.
8) Be appreciative we are
asked to work hard for our money, the alternative is called
9) If you’re the best in
the world, and you can solve problems no one else can, there’s very
little debate over billable rate or value of the services you
10) Work smart, and know
when to ask for help. A person that spends 10-hours to do 1-hour of
work is wasting time and money. Knowledge sharing among experts is
valued by everyone involved.
Q: You host a weekly
column, Windows Resource Guide. How did you get involved with
InformIT and provide some tips from your column?
A: InformIT (http://windows.informit.com)
is associated with my publisher, Sams Publishing. They had an
opening for the host of the Windows section of their site and asked
if I would do it. It’s a whole lot of work, but the goal was to
provide value to people visiting the site. Many times our clients
want a copy of a whitepaper we wrote months ago and we spend hours
digging up information and emailing the stuff to our clients. Now we
just post that stuff up on the site, and our customers can visit the
site, search the site, and find tips, tricks, best practice
information that we come up with. The site is paid for by people
buying our books, so it’s our hope those to get value from the site
will buy a book or two to pay the bills.
Q: Detail your Ph.D.
A: I’ve always believed
that knowledge was the foundation of everyone’s success. I did my
MBA 10-years ago and felt the academic side of my brain was getting
mush, so I started to seek out Ph.D. programs. I found one with
Capella University (http://www.capella.edu),
an online university where I was able to take classes at night and
on weekends around my day job. The program usually suggests 2-3
classes a quarter, but I’m never one to do things the slow method
(plus I get bored quickly), so I took 4-5 classes each quarter
(16-18 units), which is a full time student load. Figured up my
coursework in 18-months, completed my Comprehensives (which ended up
being a 150-page research study), and I’m working on my final
dissertation. I submitted the first 3 chapters of the 5 chapter
Ph.D. thesis, so I see light at the end of the tunnel.
My studies are in
Organization and Management, which tie in nicely to my role as
President / CEO of my company.
Q: What processes led to
this role as cyber-expert? Describe your work as a special advisor
to the White House.
A: Every couple of years
I speak at a big global conference where there’s some politician as
the keynote speaker. One year, I spoke at the conference where Al
Gore was the keynote. When we were waiting to speak, we chatted
about this thing called Y2K (this was back in around 1997 when it
was still not something on the top of everyone’s mind). Al asked if
I would join President Clinton as one of the Y2K advisors for the
country, I accepted. A few years later, I spoke at the same
conference on security where Dick Cheney was the keynote, and in the
ready room, I was talking about cyber-security and how I wrote a
book on Internet security. A couple months later, 9/11 happened and
I got a call from President Bush asking if I would be one of his
advisors on cyber-security and cyber-terrorism. Didn’t take long for
me to accept the invitation.
As an advisor on
cyber-security to the President, I help translate technology talk
into plain old English that the President can understand and make
decisions on. I also help communicate to Congress what is and is not
possible with technology so that some Senator doesn’t get some weird
idea that the best way to stop email SPAM is to “shut off the
Internet” (and there are members of Congress that really don’t
understand technology, so trying to relay information in a manner
they understand helps with public policy on difficult technology
Q: What attributes have
led to your success?
A: My father’s motto and
something he instilled in me was “Effort: Try your hardest at
everything you do. Succeed or fail, you can never be disappointed if
you did your best”. So I work hard, and try my best at what I do.
Success comes, sometimes it doesn’t. But at least I gave it a shot,
and more times than not, I succeed.
Q: You have many book
credits. Which books are you most proud of, and share your top tips
from each of them?
A: I am probably most
proud of my first and the last books I’ve written. The first book
because it was one heck of a challenge to finish the book. I’m not a
good writer, I’m a technologist. In fact, it took me 3 times to
finally pass English 1 in college. My 8th grade English teacher told
me “Rand, leverage your knowledge of math and science, you’ll never
succeed as a writer….” I remember that day vividly, and it was to
prove her wrong that I worked my tail off to finish that first book.
I signed and sent her a copy of the book when it was finished. Most
rewarding thing I’ve ever done.
And now, it’s the latest
book that I’m most proud of. After writing a dozen and a half books,
you kind of lose track of the ones in-between.
Q: Who should read your
latest book on Exchange Server 2003? Why would our readers carefully
study your book and what uniquely differentiates it from others in
A: My latest book,
Exchange Server 2003 Unleashed is targeted at any IT Professional
that manages, administers, or supports the Microsoft Exchange e-mail
system and the associated Outlook client desktop systems. The book
is over 1000-pages long and covers the topic from soup to nuts. How
to migrate from Exchange v5.5 or Exchange 2000 to Exchange 2003. How
to automate the installation of the Outlook client software. Tips
and tricks on how to improve the security of the messaging system.
Daily, weekly, and monthly maintenance practices that should be
performed on the Exchange system to keep it running in tip-top
It’s unique in the
marketplace because it is one of the first and only books on the
topic right now. Most books on the subject won’t be out for another
3-4 months. This goes back to our working with the technology 2-3
years before it’s released. We’ve been helping organizations plan,
migrate, implement, and support Exchange 2003 (codename Titanium)
months before the product released. We’ve written this book based on
those real world experiences. So it’s not a re-hash of information
that Microsoft says you can or should do, but real world best
practices on what we found actually works and doesn’t work to help
organizations get an edge on their administration, management,
upgrade, and support of the system.
Q: What future books and
projects are you working on?
A: I’m working on several
books due out in the next few months. A couple of our consultants
are writing a book titled “SharePoint 2003 Unleashed” that covers
the latest document management and portal product from Microsoft.
I’m writing a book on other future products that I can’t talk about
yet, so keep visiting the various book seller sites and look up my
name. Usually a month before the book ships, it’ll show up on the
various book seller sites.
Q: Please share your tips
on migrating to Exchange Server 2003 from v5.5 and 2000.
A: There’s an easy way
and a hard way to migration from Exchange v5.5 and 2000 to the new
Exchange 2003. I have NO idea why anyone would do it the hard way
other than they just don’t realize there is an easy way. Goes back
to knowledge, if you know how to do something, you can do it in a
fraction of the time. The key to migrating the easy way is to
prepare the environment for the migration (which can all be tested
in an isolated lab to ensure it works before doing it in
production), add in an Exchange 2003 server to the existing Exchange
5.5 or 2000 organization, and simply drag/drop mailboxes from the
old system to the new system. You can actually migrate mailboxes in
the middle of the day ALL without user interruption. You can
literally migrate an entire 500-person organization in a week or
less without having to touch a single desktop. We’ve had 2000-person
organizations migrate their entire organization over a weekend
without any user interruption. I cover it all in the book, there’s
no reason for a migration to take a long time as they frequently do.
Q: Comment on designing
for mobility in Exchange Server 2003.
A: Mobility (ie: using
your mobile phone or your PDA) as your e-mail client system is one
of the new enhancements in Exchange 2003. Rather than having to be
at your desk to get your emails, you can be walking around town and
have your mobile phone dial in to the Internet and bring down your
email messages, calendar appointment bookings, attachments, etc.
real time. With the new Windows Mobile devices, the enhanced
security, better access to attachments and other typical Microsoft
Outlook functionality is all built-in to the mobile device systems.
With Exchange 2003, you never have to be “away” from your email if
you don’t want to be.
Q: What is most important
about implementing mobile synchronization?
A: Mobile synchronization
is the concept of having your mobile device always keep up to date
with your network/office system. That way when you take your PDA
with you, your secretary or assistant isn’t booking you for an
appointment at the same time you’ve committed to meeting with
someone with your disconnected device. Mobile synchronization
ensures that when changes are made at your office, your mobile
device reflects the change as well; and vice-versa that when you add
in a change to your mobile device, the people back at your office
see the changes. Mobile synchronization also makes sure that
important emails get to you when you need them so you don’t have to
stop, plug in your laptop to a phone, and “download” emails, but
rather emails cover over a wireless network (either mobile phone
network, or wireless LAN network) real time.
Q: How can you be most
effective in securing an Exchange 2003 environment?
A: Security is one of the
other things Microsoft built in to Exchange 2003. There’s no reason
for emails to be insecure, both in their transmission as well as in
their access. Encryption as well as information security is all
built into Exchange 2003 and simply requires an upgrade to Exchange
2003 and enabling the functionality to get the confidence that
communications are secure.
Q: Share your expertise
on managing and maintaining Exchange 2003.
A: Exchange 2003 is the
easiest Exchange messaging system to manage and maintain to date.
Exchange 2000 was also a huge improvement over earlier versions of
Exchange. An Exchange v5.5 administrator that spends 4-5 hours a
week managing each Exchange v5.5 server today can spend 1/5th the
time on their Exchange 2003 server. Database maintenance is
semi-automated now, even tracking of lost messages or other daily
administrative tasks now take a fraction of the time to do with
Exchange 2003. Funny how you spend a little time upgrading to save a
lot of time managing and administering.
Q: How do you get the
most out of Outlook?
A: Exchange 2003 does not
require users to change their Outlook client to continue to operate,
so if an organization upgrades to Exchange 2003, existing Outlook
2000, Outlook XP, or even Outlook 97 continue to work uninterrupted.
However, for organizations (or users) who want more functionality,
an upgrade to Outlook 2003 is a definite improvement over previous
versions of Outlook. Outlook 2003 has a number of functions to view
multiple calendars at the same time, ability to setup rules and
filters for spam or junkmail, ability to access email while
traveling without the use of special VPN connections, etc. Outlook
2003 is night and day better than previous versions of Outlook.
Q: Describe the
implementation of fault-tolerance and optimization technologies.
A: More and more these
days, organizations are saying that Exchange messaging is their #1
mission critical application in their organization. Email must be
reliable! Exchange 2003 has technologies to keep the email system
running reliably 24x7x365. While most people think of clustering as
the solution to get fault tolerance, there are actually cheaper ways
to get just as reliable and sometimes even more dependable messaging
and uptime. Exchange 2003 has the technology built-in; it’s really a
matter of people understanding how to leverage the technology and
make it work for them.
Q: Comment on
implementing group policy management for Exchange clients.
A: While an organization
may have a dozen email servers, they may have several thousand email
users, so the biggest challenge is to manage the user client
systems. There are several technologies built-in to Exchange 2003
that help administrators not only manage updates and patches on
Outlook client systems, but also to even do away with the client
software altogether. The new Outlook Web Access provides a web
browser interface to Exchange email that looks like the full-blown
Outlook email. By using the Outlook Web Access, many organizations
no longer have users with “client software”, but just simple dumb
terminals or browser systems to access their email.
Q: What additional tips
can you share from your book?
A: There are over 30
chapters in the book focusing in on everything from server
management, client software update and installation, fault
tolerance, and administration. We cover tips, tricks, and best
practices on the various topics in each chapter. Most of the best
nuggets of information are in the highlight “tips” or “notes” that
are spread throughout each chapter.
Q: Give your views on
experience versus certification versus an academic degree.
A: An academic degree
means a person is book smart on a topic. A vendor certification is
the same thing on a technical topic. Most people used to say that
they didn’t care whether someone had a degree or certification, that
experience really counted, which is true, I’d rather have someone
with experience than someone with just a degree or certificate. But
as I tell the consultants that work for my company, it’s a
combination of both the degree and certification ALONG with the
experience that counts. If you really are knowledgeable and
experienced, you should be able to walk right in to a testing center
and pass the exams to get certified. If you can’t, then do you
really know your stuff?
Experience many times
just says you know what you know, and it’s the things that you don’t
know you don’t know are the biggest problem. So experienced people
go out and do it the way they’ve always done it before because
that’s the way they know it. A textbook smart person might know 2-3
ways of doing something because they know the various textbook
options. The best person is the one that knows there are 2-3
options, knows how to do them all, and picks the right option for
the right scenario.
Q: What are the most
compelling issues facing network administrators, system integrators,
and developers today and in the future? How can they be resolved?
A: 1) Need more budget:
get a better economy.
2) Need more time in the
day to get work done: need to hire experts that know the shortcuts
to do it smarter and better.
3) Expectations of
users/mgmt are that the network can never go down: need to reset
expectations that proper network maintenance and management REQUIRES
periodic downtime to do preventative maintenance to minimize
4) Old technologies are
no longer being supported: time to upgrade.
5) Can’t upgrade to the
new stuff before there’s no time in the day to do it: if you only
upgraded, you can save a whole lot of time fixing something that is
more prone to break.
Q: List the best
resources for IT professionals.
A: 1) Microsoft’s TechNet
Q: What kind of computer
setup do you have?
A: Sony Vaio laptop with
1GB Ram and 80GB hard drive. I take it everywhere with me.
Q: If you had to do it
all over again….?
A: I don’t look back nor
do I waste time pondering “what could have been”. I figure out what
I can do in the future, and I just do it. I can move forward faster
than I can worry about how to fix the unfixable past.
Q: What drives you to do
what you do?
A: I want to be
successful at the things I do, and I want the people that work with
me who care just as much as I do about things to also be successful.
Everyone should be able to realize their dreams. There’s no ceiling,
there’s no limits. Be the best you can be, and good things will
Q: If you were doing this
interview, what questions would you ask of someone in your position
and what would be your answers?
A: Q1: Why did you spend
so much time doing this interview?
A1: I’m hoping that the
information can be put together to provide great information and
value to those who read it.
Q2: Where would you like
to see this information published?
A2: I’m hoping the
information provided from this interview can be crafted in a variety
of different ways and published in a variety of different places.
Not only people looking to buy books on Exchange, but even places
where there’s a human interest on how to work hard and succeed, or
in technology publications that stress the need for a mix of
certifications/degrees/experience as a foundation of one’s success.
Final commentary: Rand,
we enjoyed your many insights and thoughtful answers. Thank you
again for your time, and consideration in doing this interview.