Solution Architects (SAs) are experts who serve an essential function at ZAG, taking on complex projects that help our clients improve their technology infrastructure. Whether they’re looking for network security and configuration, migrating to a public cloud infrastructure, or virtualizing key applications being used in a business, SAs architect solutions that provide the best possible outcomes for the client’s business.
Meet David Bristow, who has been with ZAG since 2008, and is the company’s first practice lead for SD-WAN. His knowledge and expertise in network security and networking allows ZAG to deliver high levels of client strategy and technology consulting.
Bachelor of Arts, Finance, University of Colorado.
Where do you currently live (area or city)?
When did you get started in the technology industry?
Admittedly, I’ve always been a “techie nerd,” but that wasn’t a “cool” major in the 80s, so I joined the U.S. Coast Guard. While I was in the service, there was an opportunity to be trained and work on computers, and when I got out, I continued down that path. I started working for a geological consulting firm where I conducted programming on their finance system and helped write an invoicing/billing system. I later went to work with Novell, a software and services company that was dubbed as THE coolest place to work at the time. It was here that my career really launched.
Why did you decide to join ZAG?
While working at Novell, I met ZAG President Greg Gatzke, CTO Jim Hunton, Technical Account Manager Karl Braun, and Client Operations Manager Austin Ahern. I worked with them at various points in my career, and when you know good people, you stick with those good people. When the company I was working for was sold to IBM, I knew that working for a large company wasn’t for me. I reached out to ZAG and it was the right time for them to bring another Solution Architect. I joined ZAG in 2008.
What are the responsibilities you have in your role at ZAG?
I’m a practice lead for networking technologies at ZAG, so most of the projects that I work on involve networking, network security, and telecommunications. We’ve recently introduced a concept of practice leads, and I’m leading the first one as a practice lead for SD-WAN.
What are some of your accomplishments?
I have been involved with SD-WAN since it was a new concept as far back as 2014 and have watched and learned as this technology has evolved. Blending that knowledge with my almost 30 years of networking experience, I have been able to build a framework for designing, implementing, and managing SD-WAN that will allow our clients to succeed – from adoption to operations and everything in between. Our success with SD-WAN has attracted the attention of Cisco and allowed ZAG to become a go-to partner for SD-WAN engagements as part of the Cisco DSI Program.
Who has supported you in your role?
Greg and Jim have been great support systems over the years. Our values and morals line up, there’s a high standard for professionalism, a loyal team, and a group of employees/positive people who work well together and that’s the formula for success.
And for some personal questions …
Do you have any hobbies or interests you’d like to share?
Beyond technology, my passion is seeing and appreciating this amazing planet we live on and the diversity in nature and culture. I am an avid photographer, sailor and SCUBA diver and want to see as much of the world as I can while I can.
Where is the first place you want to travel once it’s safe to do so again?
Patagonia – and I’m already making arrangements! Before COVID, I traveled to Peru with a few of my kids and to Ecuador the year before.
What is the last good book you read or movie you watched?
I recently read Ship of Gold in the Deep Blue Sea: The History of the World’s Richest Shipwreck. It’s a true story about a salvage operation looking for a Spanish ship that sank in the Caribbean and it has some really great stories about teamwork and perseverance and how nature can be a force.
What piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
To develop and maintain professional relationships even when you move onto other companies. For engineers, this can be difficult, so that relationship-building is sometimes out of people’s comfort zone. But in the long run, it will make you happier and you’ll have people to talk to, learn from, and lean on.