musc@> $

"Corporate" Blog of Daniele Muscetta, Premier Field Engineer.

What do I actually do for work ?

I am a TASE, which is the acronym for “Technical Account Support Engineer”. I work for Microsoft in the Premier Organization, Services Division. I am part of the worldwide group of people who are in charge of Customer Support and Satisfaction.

Basically my role is that of a Support Engineer who is pretty much dedicated to a specific customer (but I won’t get into details about who my customer is).
This means I am very often at the customer site, and seldom in the office, often connected through extranet and VPN if I need accedd to corporate resources.

But this especially means that I am the first line with this customer in everything: I am already there, so they usually first ask ME if something is doable and how.
I *am* Microsoft for them, and that brings expectations on their side and responsibilities on mine. Which is fair enough, and they are usually happy with what I do: I am a tech person, so I mainly solve their problems, but in a broader fashion, with which I mean that a “problem” does not have to be strictly seen as a MALFUNCTION.
A problem might well be a pain of a customer who’s got everything working fine but he can’t decide on his own which approach would be best to do something, with the technology he already has. So I also help them to better understand the value of the technology they are using: how to use them better, how to get most out of them, how to PREVENT problems. PREVENT: This means that my role is not quite reactive as it is PRO-Active. In fact, I constantly try to spot where issues MIGHT arise, BEFORE they actually can have a chance to do it, and I suggest and implement solutions and workarounds as well as I push the use of best practices to AVOID problems in the first place.

While the classic reactive support person usually is evaluated on the basis of how many TOUBLEs he managed to fix, I get considered ass doing a better job when customer DON’T actually have ANY trouble. At least, no big trouble. For my managers, “no news is good news” in a way. This does not mean they don’t care, of course! Nor it does mean that problems aren’r there at all; sometimes is not possible to anticipate or prevent everything. But even when I don’t manage to ANTICIPATE the problems and prevent them from happening in the first place, at least I fix them quick while on-site, when they are little, before they explode or grow bigger, before there’s a need for escalating them (to one of the reactive engineers mentioned above).

This also means that I need to know a bit of everything of the amount of products Microsoft produces,  that I don’t follow any specific technology in particular: I use them ALL.
It is not uncommon though that I solve things myself while on the frontline (“in the Field” as you might say).
This might be REALLY anything: any technology on every platform. You have some days where you do the most diverse things: you have to optimize the configuration of a connector in Exchange, prepare that backup plan for a sQL Server, fix a piece of ASP.Net code, find out that fix for that silly outlook behaviour, help the IT manager of the customer in defining operational policies, configure that rule in ISA Server, know the impact of the Security Patches and Bulletins that have been released and explaining them, roll-out Service Packs… whatever, really.
…basically I get to use nearly every product we ship, and provide advice on all of them.

Does this by any chance clarifies the title of my blog ? (Ref.: “a security enthusiast Tech Support Guy at MSFT… doing everything else as well when needed :]”)


At the same time, though, I don’t have to be a GURU in any of them specifically: when a SERIOUS problem arises I can escalate to the structure that’s behind me in this amazing company, where you have all sort of specialists, vertically and specifically skilled in depth on just one OR another technology in particular.

Basically I act as as someone who FACILITATES the Operations at the customer site, keeping the infrastructure running at best, and helping driving its satisfaction to high levels.

My proactive tasks sometimes include some support to developing custom solutions that are too small to be considered a “project” (which would otherwise be dealt by Microsoft Consulting Services) but that nonethless requires implementing new things, new code, new stuff, as well as coordinating people, setting schedules and this kind of things.

And also, someone might be thinking: “WHY didn’t I move the blog from MSDN (developer-centric) to Technet (IT pro-centric)?”. Many colleagues did so.
Well I got two answers, the first is very simple: It has maynly been lazyness.
The second is as follows: I know I might sound more of an “IT Pro” than a Developer (an probably am)… on the other end I have to do with System Administration and Operations stuff, but also it is not uncommon to write small scripts and procedures, deal with SQL Server and SQL Reporting Services, checking web applications for security issues…. how does it qualify ?
I never liked too-stricly-defined drawers and categories, and I am afraid of those too clear specializations: I never fit in any of them really, I tend to see myself as someone who likes to SPAN multiple categories.

For example, together with the customer I created a whole bunch of cool reports on the usage of email in the company, pulling data out of MOM, where MOM was not natively providing that kind of reports out of the box.
The same day I am testing the impact of a service pack on the operating system. YOu never know, every day is different, every day you learn something new, every day you got new things to tackle, or old ones to repeat. It really depends.

Why do I tell you all of this ?
Firstly, because I have not been blogging (here) in a while. I did blog on my PERSONAL site instead, but they were personal stuff: they were just personal rants, so they are probably not interesting for anyone here. And the last post HERE was so old that it started stinking 🙂

Second, because I thought it would be interesting for at least someone tou know WHO I am and what I do, and I think it is an important thing to know who are you talking to.
Otherwise, bear with me.
But…. if you read till here and it wasn’t of interest… why did you read it then ? 🙂