We Are IT | Meet Chris Cloud
Who enjoys learning new technologies, is obsessed with Excel and plays trombone? That would be Chris Cloud, systems manager for ITS. Chris, who recently celebrated 10 years with ITS, chose IT as a career path while pursuing his third master’s degree. He now helps manage all Microsoft server technologies at FSU, including the university email system. Outside of work, Chris still fuels his passion for music through his family’s involvement in his church’s music ministry.
Where are you from?
I was born and raised in Orlando. I grew up on the south side of town.
Where did you attend school?
I went to one of the oldest high schools in Orlando, William R. Boone High School. (I am yet to meet anyone else in ITS who went to the same high school.)
After high school, I studied at Appalachian State University in Boone, North Carolina, where I earned a bachelor’s degree in music education, a master’s degree in music education and a second master’s degree in trombone performance.
After my wife and I moved to Tallahassee, I went back to school and earned another master’s degree in library and information studies at FSU.
I really enjoy school and being in a continuous learning mode.
And you would be surprised there is more in common between music and information technology than you think.
Why did you choose to work in technology?
I love working with computers. When I was younger, I was either tinkering with computers or making music. So, when I was in high school, I was on the fence about whether I wanted to study music, go into engineering or do something with computers. I chose to study music, but ultimately was not able to find employment as a music educator. When I finished grad school for the first time in 2010, my wife and I decided whoever landed a job first, that was where we were going to move. She got a job as a music therapist in Tallahassee, so we moved, and I got into IT while pursuing my third master’s degree at FSU.
How long have you been at FSU?
I finished my degree at FSU in December 2012 and started working for ITS in January of 2013.
What is your role at FSU?
I am a systems manager on the Collaboration Infrastructure and Security team. We manage Microsoft server technologies—the Azure tenant, Windows servers and Microsoft server applications such as Exchange and Active Directory.
I would say the most significant application my team manages is the email system. We have an email security system called Proofpoint where we spend a lot of time stopping bad stuff from coming in. We equate it to a game of Whac-A-Mole, and there is always something to keep us on our toes. There is always something going on that we need to investigate and address when it comes to security.
What do you enjoy most about your job?
The people I work with on the Collaboration Infrastructure and Security team. I had the wonderful opportunity to join this team several years ago and have been able to learn quite a lot about a diverse set of technologies. We have a lot of synergy. We stay busy, I never stop learning and there are many opportunities to innovate. I constantly feel like I am in a learning mode—like when I was in college—learning new technologies, learning new systems, trying to figure out how to put things together, which is very rewarding and keeps my mind engaged. It is good food for the brain.
What is the most rewarding project you have worked on at FSU?
The most rewarding project would be some of the email migration projects—both the email migrations for departments and the email tenant consolidation. I enjoyed those the most because they allowed me to take on a bigger role in managing our email system, especially when we were migrating departments into our email system. My predecessor taught me a lot of the ropes, and I got to learn the process from a technical standpoint. Those were the most rewarding projects because I feel like I learned the most.
What is your favorite app?
Excel. It is pretty much open all day on my computer. Excel is my go-to app while working with and reviewing reports. And I am always amazed at what Excel can do. I really like looking at data and evaluating it, seeing what kind of charts and pivot tables I can come up with. I enjoy pulling reports from our system and seeing what kind of numbers we have. It can be eye-opening sometimes and helps inform us where we go next. I have had a lot of fun with it.
If you were to invent one piece of technology, what would it be?
I would try to invent something that enables humans to take better care of our planet for future generations. I wish we could approach living without having such a large carbon footprint and being so wasteful. If we could figure out a way to better design cities so we don’t have to drive so much, or have a better long-term plan for technology replacement, or a better way to recycle the stuff we have. I wish I could invent something that could change our approach to the way we live.
It would also be nice to invent something that allows us to have a four-day workweek. We invest a lot of money into tech that is supposed to make our lives better, but I still see people working 50-60 hours a week and staring at their phones on weekends and stressing out. I would create something that makes work easier.
What is a fun fact about you?
I am a musician and play and sing a lot. My primary instrument is the trombone. I started playing in middle school and stayed super involved in high school and was in the band. I was involved in the youth orchestra in Orlando and would go to Cannon Music Camp, a month-long summer music camp at Appalachian State University, when I was in high school. I can also play some piano, and I used to play the Irish button accordion. I can even play some steel drums.
Talk a little bit about your family.
My wife Jessica and I have been married for 15 years. We met in college at Appalachian State University. We have two children. Katie is eight and just finished second grade. James is 6 and just finished kindergarten. Both our children are very active. Katie is in Girl Scouts and James is in Cub Scouts and both are in gymnastics. We keep them busy, and they keep us busy. We also have two Siamese cats, Sandy Lynn and Julius Charles.
What do you do in your free time?
I am pretty involved with music in general. I still play my trombone. My wife and I sing in our church choir and play handbells. We also play solos from time to time during service. We are very involved with our church’s music ministry.
My wife and I are crafty people and like to take on projects around the house … though sometimes I feel like we get in over our heads.
I also play the occasional video game. I sometimes jump on and play online games with some of the guys from work.