Tuesday, August 20, 2013

10 Questions: With Johan Arwidmark

Note:  This is (hopefully) the kick-off segment to an ongoing series I want to do on interviewing some of the most influential geeks I've had the honor and luck of meeting or conversing with.  I hope you find these both entertaining and informative.  Thank you!


If you work in a place where there are a lot of Windows-based computers, chances are you have an Systems Support Team, or maybe an IT Department, that supports them.  If that team is focused on efficiency, chances are they try to automate as many of the computer and software installations as possible.  If they are *really* focused, chances are they are using Microsoft Deployment Toolkit (MDT), or System Center Configuration Manager "OSD" (operating system deployment) to handle the heavy-lifting. And, if they even know what those tools are, they know the name: Johan Arwidmark.

Johan Arwidmark is the Chief Technical Architect at Knowledge Factory, a consulting firm based in Sweden.  You can find his articles on Microsoft's Channel9MyITForum, Deployment Research, TrueSec, and probably a dozen other sites. You can also find his daily happenings on Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, and several other social networking sites.  With his crazy schedule, it makes it hard for anyone else to claim "too busy" as a reason to not post a status once in a while.

While Johan was born and raised in Sweden, his name is known around the world as a trusted, valuable source of useful information for IT professionals.  A renown speaker, author and winner of nine (yes 9) Microsoft MVP awards, it is indeed difficult to search for information on things like MDT, OSD, USMT, WinPE, Config Mgr, or even "Windows Deployment", without seeing his name pop up in the results.  Often seen with his colleague, Mikael Nystrom, these two are great reasons enough to attend Microsoft's TechEd and MMS conferences every year, where they consistently pack the room.

I asked Johan if would be willing to do a ten-question "interview", and he agreed.  This alone is amazing for two main reasons: (1) I'm obviously *not* a famous magazine interviewer, and (2) Johan's schedule is insanely busy.  In any case, I am honored and happy to present this short interview for you to enjoy...

The Questions

Dave: When did you first try to customize or modify a computer? Can you recall what you tried to accomplish?

Johan:  I don't know if it really counts as customization, by I recall adjusting the 1530 tape drive head alignment  Next stop was probably soldering midi-contacts for my Amiga 500.

Dave: What does MDT mean to you from a personal aspect? How has it changed your life?

Johan: MDT drastically changed how I worked with windows deployment, before BDD/MDT I used to develop my own deployment solutions, and after BDD/MDT I have focused in customization rather than building from scratch.

Dave: Where do see MDT in five years?

Johan: Pretty much the same (I fear)…  In a dream scenario, MDT functions would replace OSD in WDS, and be part of core Windows.

Dave: In the course of your world travels, what trends do you see that might surprise most of us who only see our immediate surroundings? In other words: do you feel that IT professionals in the Middle East, or Spain, favor certain products or features than those living and working in Australia, Sweden, Canada, Japan or the US?

Johan: IT Pro’s work pretty much the same all over the world… I don’t see that much difference.

Dave: If you were given absolute control over Microsoft for one year, what changes would you like to insist upon?

Johan: Haha, first I would make MDT and Windows Setup into one single deployment solution, add some serious resources to the team, and remove all other setup solutions except OSD in ConfigMgr.

Dave: You mentioned that Phoenix is one of your favorite places to visit.  What things do you like most about that city and the surrounding area?

Johan: Phoenix? I don’t recall saying that...  My favorite spot right now is New York, for being a place where it appears the entire world has gathered.

(Dave's note: I must have missed my coffee on the question above.  I think I got crossed-up with someone else.  My apologies)

Dave: What's your favorite, or most critical, "freeware", or open-source software utility?

Johan: MDT, no doubt

Dave: Have you read any good books, or seen any particularly good movies this year? If so, which ones?

Johan: Plenty, I’m both a book and movie nerd. My latest favorites are the Game of Throne books and the “Now you see me” movie.

Dave: Which airport is the most pleasant to get through, and which one do you dread thinking about?

Johan: Copenhagen airport is like a second home to me, and always give me a warm and fuzzy feeling. Charles De Gaulle is the probably worst airport, ever….

Dave: If you hadn't gone into the IT world at all, what do you think you would be doing for a living today?

Johan: Yee, that’s a hard one, I have been an IT guy since I was ten year old... I would probably have been a musician (I used to play electric guitar) or a writer of fantasy books.


If you enjoyed this brief interview, or you didn't, I still encourage you to visit the links below to explore more of the things Johan has influenced for the better.  Thank you!

Deployment Research
Amazon Books
Vimeo Videos
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