Interview with a Microsoft Integration MVP and TechNet Wiki author - Tom Canter

Tom Canter  and I go back awhile and we share a passion for integration. During one of my visits to Seattle, where Tom and his lovely wife JoAnn live I asked him a few questions.

Picture of Tom, JoAnn and myself during our interview,

Questions readers of the Interview series are familiar with.

  • Who are you, and what do you do?
  • How did you become an MVP? Do you have any suggestions for other community members who hope to eventually become MVPs?
  • What do you do with TechNet Wiki, and how does that fit into the rest of your job?

And here is his story around those questions.

I still think myself as someone who is ready to do all the jobs I held in my early years -- dish washer, truck driver, telephone operator, nuclear power plant operator, submariner, appliance repairman. However, I was always drawn to some kind of computer role. In 1977 my father had a programmable calculator that took up to 127 programming steps. I spent hours programming on that computer. He still has it today; it takes a lot of batteries.

After I joined the navy, I was stationed in Hawaii for few years, and my Dad sent me a Commodore 64 computer. I was allowed to take it with me on the submarine. I spent all my spare time learning how to use that computer. I took the hardest programming books I could find to sea with me, and I had to figure out how to program with no input from anyone for six months at a time.

When I left the Navy after the first gulf war in 1992, I wanted to become a big computer guy in Port Angeles, Washington. After a year there, I fortunately met my wife, JoAnn, and she convinced that repairing appliances while trying to start a computer business in a small town in the middle of nowhere was not going to work out. I moved to Seattle.

Shortly after moving, I was hired by Attachmate as a software tester. I spent the next 10 years doing software testing. My last test job was with Sybase, as a Quality Architect testing IBM WebSphere MQ Integrator. At Sybase, I extended my platform experience beyond the mainframe, Linux, and Windows to include HP-UX, Sun Solaris, and AIX.  We wrote a massive parallel processing test engine that had over 800 KLOC of Korn Shell and 15,000 test cases.

About this time, Eric Swift, who I had worked with at NEON/Sybase, moved to Microsoft and he joined the BizTalk Server team. He convinced me to bet my future on BizTalk. After a few years, I managed to get on a BizTalk HL7 project. When the lead architect left, I took over the project and deployed my first BizTalk HL7 project into production.I attended one of Marty Waznicky’s first BizTalk Bootcamp classes (with Richard Seroter teaching!), and was tapped to do the first ESB Project. Brian Loesgen and I built out that first ESB (Brian did the architecture; I did the infrastructure). When I moved back to Seattle in 2006, Marty picked me to be part of the BizTalk V-TS team (now called the P-TSP team).

After a few years doing nothing but BizTalk, I was hired to work on the Microsoft Retail project for the Microsoft. I helped to build out the first four stores and led the initial System Services center for the stores, until Jim Travis took over. I have some of my closest friends from that project to this day.

I returned to Healthcare and deployed a HIPAA 5010 project with BCBS of Louisiana. Following that project, I moved to a P-TSP connection at Microsoft to the Healthcare team, reporting to Hector Rodriguez.

At this point Craig Erickson, who I worked with on the Microsoft Retail project introduced me to some crazy Dutchman that happens to love the Seahawks. That guy took time during several trips to get to know us (JoAnn and I) and finally invited us to meet some other crazy integration people….

Suddenly, I wasn’t working alone as much anymore, I know that there were many experts in the field, but my focus had been primarily with the internal Microsoft teams and hadn’t looked outside that much. I certainly didn’t have the knowledge to be an MVP and never thought much about it. Another crazy Dutchman talked us into attending the BizTalk summit in London and then Sydney. We returned and suddenly things starting to fall together, got to know more MVPs and found many like-minded people. At the next summit in London, some Viking from Norway looked at me and said “hey, why aren’t you an MVP”. My name got submitted and before I knew it (thank you Mark Mortimore!), I was attending my first MVP summit.

Here is a list of some of Tom's articles on the TechNet Wiki:

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   - Steef-Jan Wiggers