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Getting to Know Bill Williams, Cisco Press Author of The Economics of Cloud Computing: An Overview For Decision Makers

Two Cisco Press books under his belt and available now, Bill Williams tells his favorite blogs, tips for success and more!

CompTIA Healthcare IT Technician HIT-001 Authorized Cert Guide   Bill's products include:
The Economics of Cloud Computing: An Overview For Decision Makers
The Business Case for Storage Networks

Bill Williams

Q. How did you get your start in the industry?
A. I had a background in arts and literature, but when I got out of school, there were very few jobs for arts majors. There were very few jobs period. It took another couple of years in academia and working in a library in the early 1990s to figure out what I wanted to do. Back then, if you knew how to code even a little HTML, you could get a decent job, and with a good technical book you could stay a few hundred feet in front of your employer. I remember contractors landing six-figure salaries because they had just bought a book on RDBMS. If they ran into a problem, they had to skip ahead a few chapters. Not that much has changed, really, except the rate of change has become exponential. Twelve-year-olds are programming iPhone apps, and many businesses can't run without their multi-petabyte Hadoop clusters. Back then, frames were a big deal; now half the startups and news portals in the country go down if Amazon has a problem.

Q. What certifications do you have, and are you pursing anything next?
A. I suspect my Netware certification has expired by now. I did get my VTSP certification (VMWare Technical Sales Professional) three years ago, but going back to the exponential rate of change, VMware's product line has evolved a great deal since then. I imagine my MBA is also getting stale as it celebrates its 10th birthday. The dynamics of doing business certainly are different since the crash of 2008. We need a certification on the calculus of technology change. There's no certificate, just a crystal ball.

Q. What would your readers be surprised to know about you?
A. I believe I already gave it away—I have a bachelors degree in painting. I was such a great painter that my adviser told me I should go work in a bank. So I went to divinity school. I have a U.S. patent for a PERL script I wrote in 2000, I've published a number of short stories in literary journals, and I just finished a novel based on the crash of 2008. It's a romance. Of these, I am not sure which surprises me the most. All of them I guess.

Q. What does your tech library look like?
A. There's not much left of it. I had a few books on Java and Linux, and a couple of books on Oracle and PERL. Now it's just a book on AppleScript and Lawrence Lessig's book on technology and law (Free Culture). I'm also trying to punch my way through Tim Wu's The Master Switch. Steven Levy's In the Plex. Does Philip K. Dick count? Okay, my list is getting longer already. I'd better stop now. There just aren't enough hours in the day to enjoy them all.

Q. Any favorite blogs or sites that you can't miss?
A. The Cloud Economy's pretty good, LOL (http://cloudeconomy.in). Economics of Information (http://www.economicsofinformation.com/) by Erik Brynjolfsson. Marginal Revolution (http://marginalrevolution.com/) by Tyler Cowen. Mashable. Tech Crunch. Brooklyn Vegan. I check The Drudge Report a couple of times a day and kick myself every time for not coming up with that one first.

Q. What inspires you?
A. Water. New York. Photography. Our children. Children in general, but ours specifically.

Q. Favorite author?
A. James Salter or Walker Percy. Salter for style and feel. Percy for the message. I was a slow reader growing up (I still am) and didn't really start reading books until I was 13 or 14. I am just now staring to get into Philip K. Dick, which feels like something I should have done 30 years ago. Too many books, too little time, as they say.

Q. Care to speculate on the next big thing?
A. People movers. Solar power. Global warming. Veganism.

Q. How has being an author changed you or has it?
A. Transforming the right idea, the perfect idea, into words is very hard. Sometimes I do it well; often I don't. So what has changed since publication? I now find I am always looking for the perfect phrase, the perfect way to craft an idea into a sentence, and to make a connection with the reader. I know that it's never really going to be perfect no matter how hard I try. Perfect, of course, is often the enemy of good.

Please give your readers 3 tips for success.
1. Break big problems down into little problems. It sounds simple, but you'd be surprised at how many people struggle with that.
2. If you want something, you have to make it happen. No one is going to do it for you. Even if the odds are greatly stacked against you, chances are if you want it enough, and you work hard enough, you will be successful.
3. Know your limits. I know this is counter to the second tip, but no matter how hard you may want to, if you jump out a window you won't fly. None of us are superheroes. (I don't think.)