Q&A: 12-Year MVP Hilton Giesenow Shares His Expert Insights

At the MVP Award Blog, we’re on a mission to highlight the amazing work of our MVPs: Hilton Giesenow – who are truly some of the best technical experts around. So now, we’ll be regularly publishing insightful Q&As from some of our top community leaders!

These are meant to be a platform for MVPs to share advice, give insight into their open-source projects, recommend reading material and talk about what it’s like to be an MVP in different parts of the world, etc. We hope the posts will inspire our readers in their technical ventures, as well as encourage collaboration among MVPs globally.

To get started, we spoke with Office Services MVP Hilton Giesenow. Based in Cape Town, South Africa, Hilton’s been recognised as an MVP for an incredible 12 years! Check out what he has to say about his time in the program, his new open source PowerShell project, and what the tech scene’s like in Cape Town.

You’ve been an MVP for 12 years now. Why do you think you’ve been awarded again and again?
It’s clearly a flaw in the renewal process! Really though, I’ve been involved throughout my career in community engagement. I’ve always believed it to be a critical part of my own development. By explaining what you know and sharing it with others, it cements your own knowledge and helps clarify understanding and thinking. And I think the re-awarding is an acknowledgement of this.
I’ve been involved in blogging, speaking, editing, podcasting, video-casting, open source projects and a few other things over the years. And for me, that’s really what the MVP program is about – the contributions one’s made in sharing knowledge and experience.
I do want to add though how thankful I am for being part of the program. As well as for having the chance to engage in amazing interactions and opportunities, for meeting truly outstanding people across the globe and for being part of networks and conversations that shape aspects of our field.

What advice would you give to newer MVPs about participating in the community?
Well, to some extent if they’re MVPs already, then they already understand how valuable it is to be part of a community, and they have been regularly contributing time, energy and expertise. They’ve already learned how much it benefits others, of course, but also how much it benefits themselves. The old true-ism is correct – we learn far more from ‘teaching’ than just from doing!  They’re also aware of how important it is to our craft that we share and develop with one another. So I guess in short my advice is: “keep it up”.
Tell us about your open source PowerShell project. Why should MVPs contribute to it?
Like many open source projects, this one grew out of a need I had at the time, combined with years of thinking about the problem. It’s bits and pieces of code I’ve built up, that now have a home on GitHub and PowerShellGallery.
The project is called PoShMon. It’s a completely open source and 100% PowerShell based monitoring tool that’s ‘agent-less’ (no server installation required), supports daily and ‘critical’-level (e.g. 15 minute) monitoring, can send email, push and ‘chat-ops’ notifications and provides a basis for ‘self-healing’ operations (i.e. you can use the output of the monitoring to auto-correct specific issues that regularly occur in your environment).
It’s a pretty new project right now, but so far it provides monitoring for the base Windows operating system, simple web sites and a lot of SharePoint-specific monitoring. I’ve had some great feedback so far and it’s certainly fun to work on.
There are a few contributors coming on board already, both MVPs and non-MVPs, but I’d love to have some real PowerShell experts join in to improve the ‘core’ offering, as well as other product ‘domain-experts’ to add specialized monitoring for things like Exchange, SQL, CRM, Azure, and so on to make PoShMon worthwhile to a lot more people. Even Linux is now something we can explore, as PowerShell is available there!

What are your top 3 favourite blogs right now?
Scott Hanselman’s blog has always been a great source of info of all kinds, so that’s definitely on there. Tesla is kind of changing the world in many ways, so you have to keep your eyes on their blog too. And finally, if I can include a podcast as a blog, I’d say .NET Rocks is a tremendously valuable and enjoyable source of information.

And out of curiosity, what’s the tech scene like in Cape Town?
Well, we’re literally at the ‘bottom of the world’, and sometimes it feels like we’re figuratively there too. But really, it’s a tremendous place to be, for tech reasons and otherwise. It’s not well known or advertised, but I’ve heard that a really large piece of Amazon’s cloud was initially built here, so to an extent Cape Town’s actually been a key part of ‘Cloud Computing’ since virtually the beginning! It’s considered a top travel destination. And it’s definitely a place of natural beauty, tremendous creativity and some real rock-star technical people – I’d urge everyone to come for a visit, have a great time and meet some top-notch geeks.

Microsoft. (2017). Q&A: 12-Year MVP Hilton Giesenow Shares His Expert Insight. [online] Available at: https://blogs.msdn.microsoft.com/mvpawardprogram/2017/02/06/hilton-giesenow-qa/ [Accessed 7 Jun. 2017].

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