Inside “The Crucible”

“Setting the stage for important conversations.”

 That line from The Warehouse Theatre’s website explains Rick Gregson’s decision to have Convergent Technologies support this energizing organization in Greenville, SC. Rick became a Warehouse fan years ago during tougher times when he needed to engage his children. The conversations sparked by plays confirmed his choice of live performance over other options.

 Recently, I was privileged to attend a sponsor preview of Warehouse’s current production, The Crucible. The big question among theater patrons was not why a tech guy would fund the organization. Many companies and individuals favor the arts: some do it because they simply like the theatre; others, because they simply need to itemize deductions at the end of year. The question was why a company defined by technology would ask people to devote three hours to pondering the Salem Witch Trials. A play doesn’t have to reflect the occupation or personality of its sponsor—but the Arthur Miller classic is not exactly the feel-good comedy of the year.

 So, why would Convergent Technologies associate with such a production? As the former editor of New York Theatre magazine and someone who knows Rick well, I may have a circuitous but suitable explanation.

 In a 2012 article in Harvard Magazine, accomplished actor John Lithgow elaborated on his decision to do a play rather than accept a lucrative offer for a TV series. “The whole notion of entertainment is confused and diffused,” he said.

 Video games, reality shows, and streaming TV have contributed to the ADD culture that has miraculously refrained from destroying the cultural arts. One definition Merriam-Webster provides for “crucible” is, “a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.” In the digital age, the act of sitting through a poignant three-hour production might be more closely related to the Marine Corps definition of “crucible,” as a modern audience endures a few hours of self-examination sans smart phones.

 Coming full circle with this point, the people behind Convergent Technologies deal with complex technological problems on a daily basis. Given enough time and effort, the technical solutions are not that difficult—provided we’ve set the stage for important conversations. That’s when we can not only change but truly develop.

We here at Convergent Technologies specialize in simplifying the seemingly opaque. We have helped many organizations of various scales implement sensible data solutions. Let us help get you there.

The Crucible runs through October 13, 2019; reserve your seats today, observe an amazingly talented cast, and get in on the conversation: https://warehousetheatre.com/ 

 

Talk About TED

My first meeting with Rick Gregson, founder of Convergent Technologies, told me I’d found a kindred collaborator for communication strategy. His demeanor and candor were not what I had expected from someone whose profession involves terminology such as IT ecosystem and Active Directory Migration. Part of that stems from the fact that those terms were new to me; the rest comes from Rick’s contagious enthusiasm to look at things in new ways. This means he’s open to ideas, which makes him an ideal sponsor for TEDxGreenville.

For those who aren’t that familiar with TED and don’t know what he’s talking about—TED is actually a nonprofit organization that began in 1984 as a conference focused on technology, entertainment and design—more specifically the convergence of those elements. You see where we’re going with this: Convergent Technologies has more in common with TED than semantics. Rick is always seeking innovation and looking to include more voices in the conversation. His daily work involves organizations and systems that are coming together, coming apart, or facing complicated transition. His approach to organizational change—which is sometimes less than pleasant—is tactical and practical but always carried out with people in mind.

Since the ’80s, topics have expanded, as has the TED organization, to communities around the world where events are held and speakers are chosen to deliver short, powerful “talks” on their “ideas worth spreading.” In Greenville this week, 11 speakers participated in a “salon” event in honor of the Upstate organization’s 11th anniversary. Each one had exactly three minutes to present. The audience scored them, ultimately producing top contenders for potential spots on the local TEDx conference stage in 2020.

Three speakers were acknowledged by the voters, but more than 11 valuable ideas were spread exponentially. After the conference, for example, I pictured the speaker who talked about college admissions following up with the one who presented on eSports. There was an abundance of opportunity for connection; perhaps ideas worth sharing are worth pairing and bringing to fruition in ways no one originally expected.

Rick Gregson, along with all of us who are associated with Convergent Technologies, LLC, is proud to support the efforts of TEDxGreenville, and we encourage everyone to find a local organization, get inspired by a TED video online, and speak up when you have an idea worth spreading.

We here at Convergent Technologies specialize in simplifying the seemingly opaque. We have helped many organizations of various scales implement sensible data solutions. Let us help get you there!

Make-A-Wish South Carolina Strikes Again!

Convergent Technologies is excited to announce that Make-A-Wish South Carolina  has been able to grant yet another wish locally in our community. We enjoy hearing that the organization we adore and know so well is able to grant these life changing wishes to kids with critical illnesses.

Jenna, a 10-year old little girl, was able to reveal her wish at the Wish Ball. In less than a year, her wish came true and she was able to go on a European cruise with family and friends. While they soaked up the sunshine, Jenna and her family made stops in London, Barcelona, and Gibraltar. The trip gave her unforgettable memories with the people that mean the most to her. With her wish being granted, Jenna found strength in herself that she thought she had lost through all the treatment. Now that she has found a new sense of independence and empowerment, we know Jenna will be able to enjoy new adventures soon to come.

Stories like Jenna’s are so heart-felt to read about, but when you see the action come alive it is truly amazing. Make-A-Wish South Carolina  is an organization we are so proud to be a part of!

Pride and Prejudice

“Pride and Prejudice”, will be held at The Warehouse Theatre starting this evening through the end of the month. This play, sponsored by Jackie and John Warner, will be held weekly: Sunday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

As a proud sponsor of The Warehouse Theatre, we’re excited to see the action come to life on stage! The play is based on the novel by Jane Austen. Enjoy the story of Elizabeth Bennet as she faces the pressure of societal norms to find a husband. With everyone bugging her about it, Elizabeth finds herself pondering whether marriage is what she wants out of life. After meeting the charming, Mr. Darcy she can’t help but to doubt herself. Figure out how Elizabeth comes to terms with all of this and join us for an evening at The Warehouse Theatre this summer. Hope to see you guys there!

PS: If you just can’t wait to see what the night consists of, here’s a cool sneak peak!

How to: Active Directory Migration Discovery

So I’ve mentioned this in several posts now.. A well-planned migration comes in phases:

  1. Discovery
  2. End-User Compute
  3. Applications and Services
  4. Cleanup & Closure

So what does a migration discovery actually consist of? What level of privilege should I request in the environments? These are some of the more common questions I’ve been asked.

For my clients, I use a set of custom scripts to extract data from each directory. There are also a number of COTS toolsets available that you can use if you choose. I prefer gathering information in CSV (comma-separated value) or TSV (tab-separated value) formatted outputs so I can easily review the datasets and gain some feel for each environment of interest.

On first-pass, I like to produce a taxonomy of objects for each directory. I use this for high-level discussion with the client and it helps me to visualize and size a level of effort for an upcoming migration.

My typical taxonomy would include:

Users

  • Count, Total v Disabled
  • Normal (but really, who’s normal these days??)
  • Service Accounts
  • Stats regarding logon scripts assigned, home drives assigned, etc.

Contacts

  • Quantity, location/s

Computers

  • Count, Total v Disabled
  • Workstations (OS versions)
  • Servers (OS versions)
    • Domain Controllers, Sites, Subnets

Groups

  • Security Groups (breakout w count by group type)
    • Mail-enabled
  • Distribution Groups (breakout w count by group type)

OU Structure

  • Count, observation (mature, greenfield, etc.)

GPOs

  • Count, observation (mature, greenfield, etc.)

Trusts

  • Count, enumeration

Schema Extensions

  • Count, enumeration

To gather this sort of data, you should request elevated permissions in both the source and target environments. Although active directory is read-only by nature, some things may be restricted. In a single forest single domain implementation, domain admin is usually sufficient. When working with root and child domains in the context of a forest, enterprise admin would be most effective.

When a client refuses, which sometimes happens due to security requirements or organizational complexity, suggest that someone with the appropriate privileges execute whatever discovery tool/scripts you need. If it’s too much hassle, they may grant you permissions after all; otherwise, they run the scripts for you and make the data collected available. Either way, you’re a winner!

After the collections are ran, and the taxonomies are generated, you’re ready to perform some readiness assessment – reviewing users and groups for name collisions, selecting available service attributes for Quest migration manager, and making a determination if you will want to configure object filtering in the toolset.

These types of analyses aren’t so bad if it’s a single domain organization coming into a relatively pristine greenfield; it gets a touch more complicated if you need to collapse multiple domains, or collapsing multiple domains into a well-established active directory environment.

“Measure twice, cut once.” is a mantra I try to impart to my clients. If applied it will help bring some peace and serenity to an otherwise complex and challenging project. Mitigating chaos and risk, that’s why you bring in experienced professionals to help lead the charge. 😊

We here at Convergent Technologies would love to be your partner in change. We’ve assisted many organizations with Microsoft Active Directory projects including assessments, segmentation, consolidation, as well as other forms of migration projects. How may we help you?

Lunch with the Artist

Tomorrow, join Artist in the community while exploring the gorgeous Downtown Greenville riverfront at, Lunch with the Artist. This event is hosted by Foothill Foodie Tours LLC and is held every Wednesday at 1:00 PM. It gives locals and tourist the opportunity to learn the history of the Historic District of Downtown Greenville. While stuffing your brain with knowledge, you can enjoy the beautiful Reedy River Waterfront area, and meet with Artist on Artist Row. This allows you to build relationships with the people in your community while sharing stories and experiences.

The fun doesn’t stop there! The tour ends with a stop at Limoncello, a popular Italian Bistro in town. This is where you will enjoy a delicious Italian dessert and beverage to complete the tour experience. The tour begins in front of the Gunther Theatre, so, be sure to enjoy your to break away and enjoy Wednesday on the river!

25th Upstate Shakespeare Festival

Yesterday evening, was the start of the 25th Upstate Shakespeare Festival, presented by Blue Cross Blue Shield of South Carolina.  This festival season will host, “Romeo and Juliet” and “The Tempest.

The Upstate Shakespeare Festival is funded through the Metropolitan Arts Council, which receives support from local companies in the area. All of the performances showed are free admission and are performed in Falls Park by the Reedy River.

The tragic love story we all know and adore, Romeo and Juliet, will be performed May 22-June 16. While, The Tempest, a performance about a mysterious boat ride, will be showed July 11-August 4. Each show starts at 7:00pm Thursday-Sunday each week. So, go out with family and friends, forget the real world and dive into Shakespeare’s!

#yeahTHATgreenville

A Day in the Life

So as a small business owner, especially in this fast-paced gig economy, you don’t know what your day is going to hold.

I wake, make my coffee, then catch my first round of the daily news. Forewarned is forearmed, right? Alexa is one of my tools and my briefings include the latest bits from Wired, the LinkedIn Daily Rundown, Reuters, and the local weather. I emerge about 20-minutes later sorta ready to start the day. Anyway. .. Here we go!

Checking email is next, and working with so many companies, each wants you on their own mail system; this is a pain.. I scan each mailbox and apply some subliminal heuristic, weighing project, initiative, person, and impact. From there, I begin responding to items as the day takes hold.

Usually around mid-day, I have my bearings and things are in-motion. I take a break to meditate, shower, and go have some lunch; often heading Downtown afterwards because sometimes sitting at home can be too distracting in it’s isolation. I have a few favorite haunts in Greenville, generally coffee shops with consistent WiFi. I’m well-known (a well-known security principal) at several.. Sorry, Active Directory humor.

While I’m here, I use the white noise of the background to focus on the work tasks at hand. Hours go by – conference calls, emails, instant messages, water cooler conversations, strategy, tech sessions, and a sharing of stresses and successes turning colleagues into friends as you lean on each other. Just the way Enterprise projects run.. Never simple, but teamwork makes the difference.

When you don’t have that, it’s awful. When you do, you stand a chance.. As Consultants, we’re here to guide; as SMEs (Subject Matter Experts), we’re here to be deep experts (inch-wide, mile deep) with certain bits as well as help put all of the pieces together. We rely heavily on the client, however, because no one knows their organization (people, processes) like they do.

Working together, we get things done. .. And, sometime in the afternoon/evening, I get a chance to take my foot off the pedal and let the engine slow. I know there are things needing to be done, there’ll always be more to do. You run hard. You rest. You play.

As an Entrepreneur, I believe that we have to seek balance. I’ve went years wide-open. I’ve had, and will continue to have, technical employees to assist with project deliveries; but right now, I am finding the most benefit in having an Admin Assistant. I can’t cover it all so having the extra person helps me immensely. Especially this year, since I’m more focused on achieving a balance.

That’s one of the cool things about being an Entrepreneur, you have more of an opportunity to influence what you want your life to look like; it becomes more choice and intentional design. For me, this speaks to Freedom and I’m grateful to be here.

 

Upcoming Performances at The Warehouse Theatre

As a proud sponsor of The Warehouse Theatre, Convergent Technologies is excited to give you a sneak-peak into their upcoming performances. We are excited to attend and support to the following performances: “The Crucible”,“Hedwig and the Angry Inch”, and “100 Saints You Should Know”. The Warehouse Theatre is a local award-winning converted textile warehouse located in Greenville’s Historic West End District. Every year they challenge us to foster growth and unity in our community. With each performance, the warehouse allows individuals to dive into cutting edge topics, making for great conversation starters.

The Crucible is a story of the Salem witch trials held at the Province of Massachusetts Bay from 1962-1963. The play was written as a metaphor for McCarthyism, during the time the United States government had oppressed people who were accused of being communists.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch is a rock musical about Hedwig Robinson. While suffering from a fumbled sex-operation and being the daughter of U.S Army Major General, Hedwig combines songs and monologues to describe her life. The performance shows how she managed her lovers, her life, and her career.

Last but not least, 100 Saints You Should Know is all about Theresa, a cleaning woman, trying to learn how to pray. During her cleaning career she meets a priest named Matthew who is struggling with talking to God himself. While he tries to remember and she tries to figure it out, they enable each other to find faith and identity.

Each season The Warehouse Theatre puts on six performances and these are just a few that Convergent Technologies is excited to be apart of. We look forward to seeing you there!

Save the Date!

Friday, August 23rd, we would like you to join Convergent Technologies for a night out at the Alchemy Comedy Theatre. Not only will we be there to enjoy all the fun, but Rick Gregson himself will be participating.

This comedy show is all about improv and sketch comedy shows! The guest speaker tells four or five stories about themselves, and the local performers act out their interpretations of each story. Besides being a great laugh, these shows are a fun way to get the community together. While enjoying the company of other like-minded individuals in the area, we hope to see you there!