Writing a book has been on my to-do list for a long time, or better said, in my wish-to-do list. I’ve never thought (or should I say yet?) about a novel, but I’ve always been fascinated by technical books. Especially lately they changed a lot, moving from huge and boring user guides to shorter and quickly consumable documents about a specific topic. So, I thought for a while about writing one: I’ve been looking around for the last 4 years probably for nice topics and some free time to start writing it, as I’ve always seen this as a natural step after blogging. After all, I thought, it’s like writing multiple blog posts one after the other, until I reach the length of a book, right?
Oh, how I was wrong…
I’ve never had a lack of topics to write about to be honest, but I’ve soon realised (at that time I was not working for Veeam yet) that having enough content for a book is a total different world than blogging about the same topic. Even when I’ve written a series of posts on the same topic, like my 11 parts about Ceph, the total result would have been enough for a whitepaper. Not really for a complete book.
So I parked this idea for a couple of years, and worked on different things. I wrote many whitepapers meanwhile, even at 40+ pages length. One of them was about Veeam Cloud Connect v8: it was the first step towards this book, but I didn’t know this at that time. I simply put down on a document all the information, ideas, concepts that i had about that topic, and by the time I completed the paper, it was almost 50 pages. I realised for the first time that, instead of counting the pages to properly fit in a “whitepaper” length, I was simply putting all the information I thought would have been useful for my readers, and the final result came out by itself, simply at the length that it was at the end.
The next step started at the beginning of 2016: we had just released Veeam Backup & Replication v9.0, and the new Veeam Cloud Connect Replication is a huge part of it. For this reason, and because I know the topic very well having been involved since the development phase, I immediately started to work on the updated version of the paper, but I found out soon that it was not going to be a simple update. Many new topics, ideas to be updated, better ways to explain the same concepts, tons of information to share.
In the three months it took me to work on the document, I’ve learned that a book is on a totally different level compared to a whitepaper: you need to focus on the topic for a longer timeframe, be aware of all the related links and references inside the book, be consistent on the topic itself (things like “did I wrote already about this part in the previous chapters?”, “did I wrote two conflicting statements about the same topic in two different paragraphs?”), and if it’s a technical book, have a lot of time to work on the lab part, because the book needs to be accurate and have a lot of screenshots where even things like IP addresses and server names needs to be meaningful.
This is the first lession I learned: you may have named your lab resources after your favorite tv show or sport players, but it’s not that great to show names like those on a book. So, I also built from scratch a new lab just for the book, thanks to the guys at PhoenixNAP who gave me this powerful vSphere cluster you will see in the book, plus all the networking a a subnet of public IPs. The final goal was to run a lab that was as close as possible to a real production environment, beause especially the networking part had to be done right. So no nesting, no home computers, but something that would be good to be used by small /but real) service providers.
Second, the flow of the book and the tools you need. As for the previous paper, I just started to write, take notes of new chapters that came to mind time after time, and complete every possible topic I felt it has to be part of the book. At the same time, I switched from MS Word to Markdown, and it was a saviour for my sanity, as I would have never been able to write the entire book using Word! Thanks Preben for giving me some basic training on the topic!
So, after the technical review and the creative team had fixed the drafts, here we are, the book about Veeam Cloud Connect is completed, and everyone can download it and read it:
(A printed version is in the works, so if you’d like to have a physical book, look for additional news in this post in the future)
Finally, thanks to my family. I’ve spent many many hours on this book, and this time has been taken from the time spent with them. Now the book is out, also thanks to their patience.