Alan Garcia on The MVP Show

Alan Garcia on The MVP Show

Alan Garcia
Microsoft Business Applications MVP


  • Alan Garcia talks about his experience selling PCs to businesses in the 90s, his exposure to the dot-com explosion, and his transition from networking to software development. He also shares how he discovered Microsoft CRM 1.0 and how it changed his career path. 
  • Alan talks about his latest passion, the Power Platform. He shares how he discovered the platform and how he was drawn to its capabilities in sales and service.  
  • A discussion about how Alan is currently using the Power Platform and how it helps their customers automate their backup and recovery processes. 
  • Alan shares his insights on a career in business applications, particularly in Microsoft's business applications and how important it is to keep up with the latest technology trends and to continuously learn and improve one's skills.  
  • Alan also shares how excited he is about the future of business applications and how he sees them becoming more intelligent and connected in the years to come. 
  • A conversation about the various components of the power platform, such as Power Apps, Power Automate, and Power BI and explains how each of these tools can be used to create efficient workflows and analytics solutions. 
  • Alan shares his thoughts on the benefits of the power platform and how it can help startups and small businesses. 
  • The episode concludes with some tips and advice for those who are just starting their MVP journey or considering using the power platform. Alan encourages listeners to stay focused on customer needs and feedback and to leverage the power platform to build scalable and efficient solutions. 
  • Alan talks about his thoughts about the MVP Program. 

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Thanks for listening 🚀 - Mark Smith


[mark_smith]: Today's guest is from California in the United States. He works at own back up as a principal solution in. He was first awarded M V P. in twenty twenty two. You can find links to his bio, Social media, et cetera In the show Notes for this episode Alan, welcome to the show

[alan_garcia]: Hey Mark, it's great to connect and appreciate you having me on.

[mark_smith]: Before we get started. Always like to find out a bit about my guests. And of course you're from sunny California. Tell me a bit about food, family and fun. What does that mean to you when you're not working?

[alan_garcia]: Well, food, food is the spice of life for me. So coming from a Filipino American family, I love the Asian food, but then married to an Indian woman, I get the blessings of all the great Indian foods as well. So constantly cooking, constantly eating, it is my downtime in the kitchen. So I like to explore and have fun there. Yeah, so food is everything, family is even more. And fun is, you know, at this point in career and life, fun is getting a chance to disconnect and to not have electrical devices so that I can spend some time in the kitchen cooking or some time in the yard gardening or just out running or whatever it might be

[mark_smith]: I love it and hell's things in California At the moment. We've seen so much crazy stuff and the news over the past year. What's it like living there at the moment?

[alan_garcia]: It is springtime, so things are coming from brown into green. It's actually quite lush and beautiful. We here in Northern California, we've recently had some storms. So we're getting some rainfall before the hot season hits. So it's actually nice. It's a beautiful time. It's a rebirth that we get to see here that, you know, I grew up here. So this is the most comfortable place I could be.

[mark_smith]: I love it. What was your journey into technology and step us through from kind of the inception through, right up to your involvement in the Everything Microsop business applications. What's it for you?

[alan_garcia]: That's a long story. I started way back in 94 and I started with hardware. I started as just a person selling hardware. The world was simple. We had, you know, PCs were were in extravagance in the home and they were becoming mainstream in the business. And, you know, we had Dell Gateway and Micron and I was at one of the big three. So it was nice. It was interesting to me. So I was expecting the wonderful world of creativity and academia was what my expectations were in a career. But to make ends meet, I landed in technology. So it was quite fun. I went from hardware into networking because once I sold to businesses, I had to understand the networks. And then we went into the dot-com explosion happened. you know, we went into this world of data centers and hosting and all of this stuff. So it kind of forced me into the world of software. And so then I moved into a company where I went to an ISP and I had to learn the database side of things, which was quite the shock for a hard work guy with an English degree. But it was great because it took me down this path of self-learning where I had to teach myself how to write code, I had to teach myself what the best practices were, what to do, what not to do. Language after language, what I found was that the English degree help, because it's entirely about syntax. It's entirely about how you use those verbs. It was an interesting progression, soft not so long ago and it was I think maybe the best company I could have ever been at in my company. So yeah, that's how I got here. I was just I was a hardware sales guy who ended up Learning how to do the software stuff along the way.

[mark_smith]: How did you get into the power platform?

[alan_garcia]: Funny thing is, is I actually was a gold mine administrator at one of my companies. And we had this thing back in the day that the partner community had called an action pack subscription, which gave us every month. We got every month. We'd get a box full of CDs.

[mark_smith]: I remember it. That man.I remember those cities going through. What can we? What can we try? You know.

[alan_garcia]: Yeah And. And those of us with a little bit of a type A personality like me, I cataloged them, you know, and so alphabetized and cataloged. And I found this one, Microsoft CRM 1.0, and I said, hey, I wonder if that's anything like goldmine. goldmine, we had goldmine plus heat for sales and service, and we replaced it with one skew and it was it was just so amazing to me on 1.0 that I bet my entire career, and entire career on CRM 1.0.

[mark_smith]: Is that twenty years ago?

[alan_garcia]: That was 20 years ago this year.

[mark_smith]: I know it because I started at one point two, which was, which was just November of that year.

[alan_garcia]: Right. Yep, yeah, that was the entry point for the, and I'll use air quotes here, since this is just audio. Beloved Outlook client that we had to go a long road down before we got the goodness of server side sync.

[mark_smith]: wow, Wow, So that's an interesting path And I didn't even realize, So you were six years in microsopt.

[alan_garcia]: Yeah, six years there. Again,best company in the world. I would go back out of retirement to go be with the people there because the minds and the spirit is incredible.

[mark_smith]: that's awesome Incredible but you spent the last year at Owen, so own back up and I find that very interesting so it's obviously assessed provider of some sort.

[alan_garcia]: Yeah, so what we're doing at OWN Backup is we're providing backup and recovery services as a core service for key SaaS providers. So we started out eight years ago on the Salesforce platform. You know, for those of you who don't know Salesforce really has no backup and recovery option, just a bunch of CSV files. like Dynamics, like ServiceNow, and some others. And so I came on board to help us launch that into the Dataverse API so that we could actually provide extended backup recovery services into the platform.

[mark_smith]: Well, well, that's incredible. So then how did you become an MVP, Because you're pretty, actually came out of microsof and you become a MVP very quickly. How did that work?

[alan_garcia]: Well, it's funny because we, you know, one of the biggest parts about our nuanced service is that there's a lot of education that needs to happen. So we did the Ignite, we did the Inspire, we did, you know, MPCC, you know, lots of educational stuff that we put out there, you know, blog content, webinars,you know, the whole nine yards. of things, which is the concept of the shared responsibility model. Right? So, you know, again, for those of you who don't know the nuances there is that while Microsoft is extraordinary in all ways, that SLA is, you know, it says that they'll keep the lights on in terms of the service availability. But the data is the onus of the customer. So, you know, if a While Microsoft support is awesome and they will help you best they can, it's not contractually what they're there for. So that's a hard education to put out there, you know, with our customer base and our community. It's tough because, you know, we've had, you know, a journey, we'll say, moving from the on-prem days into the cloud. And now it's a low-code, thorns along the way.

[mark_smith]: it's It's an interesting concept, so I take it you your organization and I don't normally talk about the companies that V P. S work for. But are you saying that you back up data from data Verse, or you're backing up data to data verse

[alan_garcia]: No, we actually take the backups from the dataverse. We're doing a snapshot. Yeah, yeah,so we do a snapshot.


Fantastic man,Over my career, I've had many customers ask for that type of service About from about six years ago we started coming across it and of course it, just there wasn't an option from from in the cloud, right,

[alan_garcia]: Yeah, yeah, well, you know, and again, along this education process, we're finding that there's these compliances that are coming through and they're moving targets. One thing happens in the industry. I mean, shoot, this week we saw Silicon Valley Bank and that's a big ripple in the financial services pond. So do we think that there's gonna be some additional compliance that will come from it? You betcha, right? those things happen and you're strapped with seven days on a sandbox or 28 days on a production for your retention of backup. It's difficult for a customer to kind of move with the ebb and flow of compliance requirements.

[mark_smith]: so back to so, I take it was off all that content creation then that you got awarded the V, P.

[alan_garcia]: Yeah, well, I think I got awarded because, you know, being an X Microsoft person when I left, you know,these are friends for life. And so they kept in touch with me and and they heard and they saw what I was doing. You know, and that's where the the

[mark_smith]: nice

[alan_garcia]: nomination came from. Obviously, it's going to be either an employee or

[mark_smith]: Rect a hundred per cent,

[alan_garcia]: another MVP. So,this message needed to get out there.And yeah,that's how we came about.

[mark_smith]: What's your involved like? Are you? do you join things like the P. G, S and the various bits and pieces? Are you? what? What part of the V P program then are you using now to benefit what you do in the day to day and also benefit the community?

[alan_garcia]: So we're doing a handful of things. You know, I like to get out and, you know, I like to give the articles, I like to give the content out to the community. So I'm starting to write up, you know, more blog posts and reusable information, just sort of have to repeat myself a million times, right? But we also get heavily involved with like the user group community from that side of things because of the roadmap. So Dataverse has a beautiful roadmap. If you haven't talked to James Olnick recently, he's got a master plan that is, I think the customers are going to love it when it all rolls out.

[mark_smith]: I had him on about towards the end of last year,

[alan_garcia]: Yeah, so like they've really done some really great things investing in that from a data platform. And like Purview, Purview is a great example, right? We're gonna see that this year. What a great thing to incorporate. So I wanna be involved there so that I can help customers maximize the use of all the goodness throughout these tools, right? Oh, shoot, I've got a rogue integration or oh shoot, I've got a novice user that that, you know, exported to excel, did a bad formula and re imported a bunch of corrupt data. Right.

[mark_smith]: what. I'm really interested, because you're in such a unique position, Been inside Microsopt and then being in V P. going back into. you know the connections with Microsopt, You. you have a unique view on this. What? What did you understand about the V P program when you were in Microsopt, As opposed to what? did anything surprise you? Once you became an V P. That I didn't realize that, or I didn't realize that.

[alan_garcia]: Um, well, I mean, I was part of fast track for a while. And so, you know, our engagement with the MVP community was very, very close. You know, so, you know, in fact, the last time I saw you, I think in person was the MVP 2019.

[mark_smith]: A long summit time ago,now, a long time ago,different world ago.

[alan_garcia]: So, yeah, we were all sitting in a, yeah, we were all sitting in the back room,world and what not.

[mark_smith]: Exactly. That's our job to do right.

[alan_garcia]: But yeah, exactly. That's exactly right. But one of the things that on the Fast Track team, one of the things that was a heavy lift for us was to take the community feedback and to either abstract it into something that was a broader scope and magnitude so that it could elevate in the backlog. or narrow it down to something so finite that it can then become a hot fix. And helping the product managers on Charles's team really own those, instead of just saying, yeah, yeah, yeah, and putting it in the meeting notes and then having the MVPs have to keep following up. Right. So that was one of the things that I took a lot of pride in was working with

[mark_smith]: Nice, my last question because running out of time, the I have is that you have been in marks through a very interesting period and observed, you know, from sermon days a massive transition around you had had visibility through that before you joined Markrusofft into what was happening with a product team. You know, I've seen a lot of. I've seen all James Phillips predecessors, multiple of them. and you know, over my time Gagement, what was the? You know? What did you see created the biggest impact over the last. you know. let's say six, seven years with the technologies with you know, going from a fifteen hundred strong Org to a you. now ten thousand strong Org, You know when it comes to head, counter Marcos, what were the big kind of pivot points that you observe

[alan_garcia]: From a leadership perspective, I think it was really Satya just going all in. Satya had so many conversations. He was and is still known for being the biggest cheerleader for the dynamics brand and for the power platform. I think the chemistry between Charles and Satya is very rich. and have a common vision together and have the same excitement levels. That's when you see the magic happen. And so luckily we as customers get to see that and benefit from it today because what I think is like Charles and Satya together is dynamic duo. They're pretty tough to stop.

[mark_smith]: Get you to speculate and you can say I don't want to answer this one. M. M. You know, everybody seems to roll over through around the three to four year mark, You know, in their team their career progression, they got lives, et cetera, Charles. how long have we got him? Is he going to take over? Is he going to take over Scott Goose Rule

[alan_garcia]: So I will speculate. Yeah, so that's my desire. I mean, I've seen and I've actually spoken with Charles many times. His technological prowess is really unrivaled.

[mark_smith]: Unrivaled totally totally.

[alan_garcia]: And yeah, and like if I had my druthers, he would allow Scott to retire in peace and harmony once and for all, right?

[mark_smith]: Hundred percent No, no, yeah,

[alan_garcia]: that that so I would say 10 years minimum that's what I would say Charles, if you're listening, that's an official request.

[mark_smith]: interesting. interesting Allen, as I would hope so, I would hope so Alan has been a pleasure talking to you. I feel like we might need to have another longer conversation. One of my other shows outside the MVP. show. Thanks so much for coming on.

[alan_garcia]: I love it. It's great always Mark to talk to you and hopefully I'll get down there sometime we'll get out and see each other face to face.

Alan GarciaProfile Photo

Alan Garcia

Alan Garcia is a seasoned technology architect who has been delivering Microsoft solutions since 1994 and business applications solutions since Great Plains version 6.5 and CRM (D365 Customer Engagement) since beta version 1.0!

As an ex-Microsoft employee, Alan continues the mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. He accomplishes this with modern tools provided in the Power Platform including first-party applications built and delivered by Microsoft (like D365 Customer Engagement).