Fireside chat with Marsha Cipollone, Van Dalen IT engineering advisor

Q&A with IT engineering expert, Marsha Cipollone

Solutions architect specialized in data center architecture, DR, storage, converged and hyperconverged infrastructures

Learn more about Marsha Cipollone! Marsha ventured into the tech realm and became a senior level engineer/architect. Three years ago, she decided to enter the pre-sales realm, which she’s found that she loves.

We had a fireside chat and discussed recent engineering projects, insights for future women in tech, and her favorite movie!

What do you love most about your job?
What I love most about my job is that every day is different. It’s an adventure. It’s a challenge. So, I really never know what I’m going to face each day, and projects come up, or designs, or obstacles, and that’s why I do what I do. I love that.

What’s the coolest tech solution you’ve engineered?
A very recent one I’m working on now. I haven’t implemented it yet, but the design is done. This customer has one main data center and they have a secondary data center, which they put a lot of money into to bring up to speed as their DR site. However, the director wants to see that DR site be better utilized, so rather than a cold or warm site, he wants it to be an active-active type situation so they can better utilize the hardware they have. This is a trend within the industry, people want to use secondary sites. Now, with faster speeds, connectivity, and hardware, there are easier and more cost effective ways to do that.

Nina, the OG dog in the fam

So, the challenge was, he had already bought some hardware; they’re actually a grocery store chain. They have vendors they work with they want to present the solution to, in order to access all the apps they use to order various products. He wants to have this active-active solution with the hardware he already has and figure out a way to do all this.

Basically, we had to take the underlying storage and find a way to do real time replication and lay a layer of software on top of it that can aggregate all the resources and stretch everything across those locations, and bring it all up to a global load balancing scenario, where no matter where you are in the world, you can always get access to their apps. You’ll enter whatever their URL is, depending on where you are, and workloads of different sites direct you to one location. If it’s down, the other location is going to be on in real time. It’s something that’s really cool because it’s becoming more and more possible to do those types of scenarios without being a huge enterprise and spending millions of dollars.

The difficulty is making sure that the data is always in sync across certain locations. That’s the hard part. There has to be less than five milliseconds between those sites in order to keep data integrity. That’s the hard piece, and it’s why this was so fun. I’m using tons of new technology, new VMware software, so it’s pretty much wherever you are in the world, you can get into apps.

What do you think about the cryptocurrency craze?
I don’t think about it much anymore quite frankly. The underlying technology, blockchain, has potential. And it’ll be integrated into different things moving forward. Crypto has plummeted, it’s trading at $3,000 right now. I don’t think it will take off, and it’s probably seen its peak. It was more so the blockchain that most people were after. That’s my opinion. I don’t think Bitcoin is going to be what people thought it would be a year ago when it was trading at $20,000.

What’s your favorite movie of all time?
Good Fellas! Because it’s got a little bit of everything. It’s funny, it’s dramatic, it’s action, I can relate to the character in the sense of the family life and the way we talk to each other and things like that. A great cast. And, there are definitely lessons to be learned, such as, be careful who you trust, don’t turn your back on your family and friends, things like that. A combo of so many different things, plus I’m a huge Robert De Niro and Ray Liotta fan. And it’s based on a true story which is pretty cool, too. His wife is a real badass, and a strong woman, so I really like her.

Dinner with the daughters

What advice would you give to women who are looking to break into engineering and working in tech?
I’d say, be strong. Be confident. Trust in your abilities, even when they’re questioned. Always be learning, because you have to in this field. Things change on the daily, pretty much. Always be learning, learn from every source you can, listen when people are explaining technology because you can learn a lot from colleagues, even if it’s the wrong thing to do. Just keep pushing forward. Don’t settle. Don’t let people undermine your confidence.

Get the full scoop on Marsha and how she helps our IT clients effectively position themselves in the market. Watch Marsha’s intro video and take a look at her profile!