We're wrapping up our “Meet the Team” blog series with SAS Solutions Architect Keith Renison. I was introduced to Keith earlier this year and was immediately impressed with his knowledge of advanced analytics and his enthusiasm for technology.
He describes himself best: “I’m a combination of a data visualization snob and an architecture geek.” And while that’s true (and he’ll explain more in his Q&A below), what he is NOT telling you, is that he’s AWESOME in so many other ways. Here’s what I know about Keith… He drives a Ducati Monster 796 (awesome), he likes good tequila (make-that-a-double awesome), and he’s an awesome dad. The only other guy with this level of awesome-ness is Chuck Norris -- thus, I hereby name Keith the Chuck Norris of Data:
- When Chuck Norris throws exceptions, it’s across the room.
- Chuck Norris writes code that optimizes itself.
- To Chuck Norris, everything contains a vulnerability.
(Find more Chuck Norris-isms here). See what I mean by reading my Q&A with Keith:
What’s your background and education?
I grew up in a small Central Oregon Mountain town known for its recreational culture, so mountain biking, snowboarding, waterskiing and the like were woven into my life at an early age. Today I still find myself participating in a disproportionate number of activities that require a helmet. I entered college a music major and came out a business major, earning a Bachelor’s degree in Business Management and Organizational Leadership from George Fox University. I loved the combination of leadership theory, sociology and business practices, as they’ve complimented the technical work I do.
What skills help you most as a solutions architect?
Definitely my creativity and perseverance. I came into SAS 15 years ago as a technical support analyst. Developing solutions requires a tremendous amount of creative thinking and an ability to stick with complex challenges until they’re solved. Technical expertise is of course critical, but I find that since technology is constantly changing, it’s better to nurture a sense of curiosity, and the technical bits make their way into your brain naturally. Being from Oregon, everything must be organic.
When did you figure out what career you wanted?
I discovered my affinity for technology while working at a small wireless startup just when mobile phones were exploding. Being a young company run by young people, we all had to wear a lot of hats. I ended up becoming the IT administrator for our newfangled Unix/Oracle ERP system, learning everything I could. I became addicted to implementing new aspects of the system which drove everyone around me crazy. “Hey, let’s turn on this feature…” was my mantra. It was a wonderful platform to practice what is now my current team’s philosophy: "Run until tackled!"
What’s your biggest accomplishment thus far?
Professionally, I was able to take some really cool consulting assets used for modeling customer profitability and, in collaboration with R&D, turned them into a full-blown SAS product in just a few months. I don’t know of any other company our size that provides that kind of grassroots-to-production culture.
On a personal level, my biggest accomplishment would be raising my two beautiful daughters, ages 12 and 8. I once had a colleague that was “Jeopardy-smart” but instead of offering his usual verbose advice on parenthood, he simply said, “Having kids will be the hardest and best thing you will ever do.” And he was right.
What’s your favorite new technology or app?
I’ve been immersed in the intersection of SAS and Hadoop for the last couple years, and I have to say, it’s been a fantastic ride. I see the convergence of big data platforms and advanced analytics as a brand new chapter in the world of computing. As open-source technologies like YARN and Spark begin to get more mature, I’m excited to see SAS right there taking advantage of them.
What are you most looking forward to at Strata + Hadoop World NYC?
There are a lot of people who aren't aware that SAS has been busy over the last several years staying ahead of the Big Data wave. I love going to the conferences to educate our existing SAS customers and people new to SAS on all the amazing things we’ve been up to. The message I deliver is: "This isn’t your father’s SAS." Minds get blown. I get happy. It’s a win for everyone.
What software/techniques are you excited to show attendees?
I’ll be showing a lot of pretty things, sitting on unbelievably powerful architectures. Because I’m a combination data visualization snob and architecture geek, I can’t help but talk about what’s happening under the hood as I show off SAS® Visual Analytics and SAS® Data Loader for Hadoop.
So there you have it, folks… our SAS team for Strata + Hadoop World NYC. I hope you’ve enjoyed getting to know:
Patrick Hall @jpatrickhall
Clark Bradley @aclarkbradley
Rachel Hawley @rachysuzy
Dan Zaratsian @DanZaratsian
Derek Hardison @dehardison
Keith Renison @keithrenison
Be sure to attend Paul Kent’s session on Thursday morning, Oct. 1: Patterns from the Future. Look forward to meeting you at Strata + Hadoop World! Please stop by the SAS Booth (#543) to grab a cup of coffee and chat with the team. Until we meet, Brooke Fortson – signing off. @brookefortson