Careers: Interviews
Rising IT Company

This week, Stephen Ibaraki, I.S.P., has an exclusive interview with Stu Sjouwerman, President of Sunbelt Software, one of the fastest growing companies in the North America, ranked # 409 in the 2001 Inc. 500 List ; Editor of W2Knews with more than 500,000 readers every week; and best-selling author of several books (http://www.w2knews.com)

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Q: First of all, thank you Stu for agreeing to this interview. What does your family think about your career as a noted author, editor, and president of one of the fastest growing companies in North America?

A: They are thrilled and proud. And of course they are now telling me they'll be here for a month at Christmas time and lounge in our new pool.


Q: Can you detail your personal history, the decisions you made, the jobs you have undertaken, and the roles you have played to get to your present position as head of Sunbelt Software? Which areas will you be targeting in the future, with your company?

A: I have been 22 years in IT, mainly in sales, then marketing, then management and finally business owner. We are sticking to what we know, System Management Utilities for the Windows NT/2000/XP and soon .NET market


Q: It rare to have a best-seller, it’s even rarer to have a best-selling technical book. Can you provide a quick overview of your past, present, and future books? And, can you provide five key tips you could share with the audience?

A: We leveraged the Internet right from early 1995. Built a very large (actually the world's largest) database of opt-in email addresses of people managing NT/W2K and looking for add-on tools. 5 Tips? Easy:
 
  1. Build an email database
     
  2. Provide useful information that educates in a peer-to-peer fashion and generates website traffic/downloads
     
  3. Ask people to tell their friends.
     
  4. Provide excellent and instant service.
     
  5. Goto 1

Q: You have built-up your newsletter over the years to take a leading position. Share your secrets on how you did this remarkable job? And, how did you build your company into it’s current position of one of the fastest growing companies – can you provide tips?

A: We started early so our timing was right. And we saw the potential of the net early. I have always believed in email and never in banners. So we built an email address database first.


Q: Look into your crystal ball and tell us where technology is today and where is it going?

A: Evolutionary. More into wireless but slowly. I see no wild disruptive events. Here is the Crystal Ball issue for this year:
http://www.w2knews.com/index.cfm?action=view&issue=141


Q: What are your views on top four programming environments and their future?

A: I have to admit that my viewpoint to a large degree is limited to the Microsoft environment, so the two things I see are Visual .NET and XML as THE major two winners for the next couple of years. But there is a saying. "This is so obvious it's like kicking in an open door".


Q: For those relatively new in the computing field and for seasoned veterans, which 10 areas should they target for future study, what are the high-growth areas, and can you provide specific advice?

A: They are:
 
  1. Network Security
     
  2. System Security
     
  3. Physical (site) Security
     
  4. Biometrics
     
  5. Wetware Security Policy and enforcement of it
     
  6. High Availability and Redundancy
     
  7. Windows 2000 and Cisco Security certification
     
  8. SANS Security Certification courses
     
  9. Windows 2000 and Exchange 2000 System Management
     
  10. People Skills are getting more and more important for techies like us.

Q: What would you do different if you started again, having gone through this authoring experience over the years?

A: Our run in with the anti-spam community was no fun. I'd have liked to not have that experience: See this link
http://www.sunbelt-software.com/rbl_story.htm


Q: What would be your recommended top references for the serious developer? For the serious system administrator?

A. Out of the "How Are We Doing" survey came some other very useful info. These were the most popular other technical sites apart from Microsoft MSDN/Technet and Sunbelt-software.com. High on the list were:
 
  • ZDNET: 50%
     
  • CNet: 44%
     
  • TechRepublic: 40%
     
  • Brainbuzz/Cramsession: 25%
     
  • PCworld: 19%
     
  • SearchWin2000: 17%

Q: It’s a blank slate, what added comments would you like to give to enterprise corporations and organizations?

A: Our recent market research points to the fact that corporations have woken up to the fact that security and high availability need way more attention and budget. It's time that everyone gets going on this. It is our mutual IT responsibility to keep things going and protect our business and economy.


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