This time around, we’ve got one of the Microsoft UC community’s great pillars of technical excellence. He’s come up in the first two results in basically every OCS search term I’ve ever put into Google and helps countless techs in need on the TechNet forums.
He hails from Chicago, USA, love his beer and knows the score when it comes to Polycom. Please welcome to the Interview with a UC Pro series, Lync MVP Jeff Schertz.
- What’s your technical background? How did you end up where you are today
I had exposure to computers at a young age, back when very few people had any personal computers at home. My father was a teacher and was able to bring home Apple computers over the long summer breaks, until we could afford to get one of the original Apple //e systems. From there I grew up using the entire Apple platform through many generations of Macs, moving into the educational workforce operating both Macs and PCs. I eventually moved into PCs full-time with Windows NT and advanced from helpdesk jobs into networking and systems administrations positions for Enterprise-level organizations. After a 5 year stint as an enterprise consultant at PointBridge I decided to join a friend over at Polycom to work in the exciting growth area of video conferencing and its integration into the Microsoft Lync platform.
- You’re our first interviewee from Polycom. Can you tell us what part of the company you work for what your position entails?
I work in our sales organization although on a daily basis also interface with both support and engineering teams on current issues and future solutions. As a Microsoft Solutions Architect I help customers, partners and even employees understand how our solutions integrate within Microsoft’s UC platform; from feature capabilities and end-user experience to low-level architecture and design. I also assist engineering personnel with troubleshooting advanced integration scenarios, as well as maintain a Microsoft environment used to demonstrate product integration to customers and partners alike. In short anytime anything from Polycom interacts with a Microsoft product then our group is typically involved in some way or another.
- What first made you get into UC and specialising in Lync?
After joining PointBridge and seeing the amazing level of talent among my peers I looked for ways to move away from being an overall solutions generalist and instead try to attain advanced knowledge in a specific Microsoft product. By joining the UC team there was already a wide-range of expertise in AD and Exchange but OCS 2007 had just been released so I saw an opportunity there to start on the same page as most everyone else in the industry.
- What’s your favourite thing about Lync?
The way it simplifies business communication and allows me to work from home, a hotel, or just about anywhere else that is outside a traditional office with the same (and something even better) level of efficiency.
- If you could think of one feature you’d like included in the next version of Lync, what would it be?
A full-featured mobile client that supports video and content sharing 😉
- What do you feel is your area of expertise, where you’d consider yourself a bit of a rockstar?
Since moving to Polycom I’ve fine-tuned by skill set even more specifically within the Communications Server and Lync products into the audio, video, and content sharing modalities and moved away from the traditional telephony-only scenarios that were more popular with traditional consulting projects. But regardless of the topic it seems that my value to the community stems from an inherent ability to clearly and thoroughly explain concepts in ways that readers easily understand them.
- Your blog is known for being a great resource for address book and Phone Edition issues among other areas. When did you start it and what direction has it taken?
I started blogging at PointBridge as way to meet quarterly goals and to provide another outlet for my documentation skills outside of customer-only content that was not always read very much (or sometimes at all!). As the articles are a reflection of what I do in my day-to-day work the blog content has transitioned primarily over to the audio and video collaboration topics. I still try to find topics not already addressed or things that may not be covered in much detail within the actual product documentation.
- Whereabouts in the USA are you from and what do you think makes your hometown/city great?
Born and raised in the Chicago suburbs and although I’ve travelled a lot I’ve never found anywhere I’d want to move to permanently (within the U.S.). The Midwest offers a nice mix of everything from weather to activities, with Chicago itself a great destination city rooted in history.
- When you’re not dishing out quality technical know-how, what do you do on weekends for fun?
Since it depends on the seasons around here, lately it has been weekend trips with my fiancée to local farms and orchards to pick our own produce for home cooking or visiting local breweries and beer festivals in the Midwest.