I’ve been incredibly fortunate over the past several years to have worked with many VMware customers as the Virtualization Practice Manager at Clearpath Solutions Group, as a leader in the Washington DC VMware User Group, and at industry events like VMworld, EMC World, VMUGs, VTUGs and VMware Knowledge Series. As I have engaged with customers large and small, I’ve seen the realization of the real, tangible benefits of VMware’s virtualization solutions to IT organizations and the businesses they serve. I also began to see customers become increasingly interested in solutions beyond vSphere – desktop virtualization to enable end-user mobility with VMware View, cloud management and automation with vCloud Automation Center (vCAC), unified and intelligent operations management and monitoring with vCenter Operations Manager (vCOps), and leveraging the hybrid cloud to place the right workloads in the right cloud, for the right price at the right time. These folks understand the power of the Software Defined Data Center as the key to enabling IT as a Service.
At the same time, I’ve been quietly asked by customers, peers and pundits if VMware’s act is up. They suggest that with competing hypervisors, beefier servers that can do more with less ESXi, the year of VDI – again, maybe, someday, a perceived brain drain, and ‘cloud’ cutting in on VMware’s sales, that maybe the past decade’s monumental shift from physical to virtual courtesy of VMware’s innovation is it for the company. And then they point out (and I indeed did witness) that with pressure to consume public clouds, customers had begun investigating alternatives on on-premise infrastructure. What I saw was that often these investigations turned to evaluations, which turned to running a production workload in a cloud (like AWS). Pop the cork, let’s celebrate – we’ve checked off the ‘To the Cloud’ checkbox. But when the fizz wore off, it became clear that nothing more was accomplished than making something run ‘there’ instead of ‘here’ (kinda like ‘I lift things up and put them down‘?) with no real strategy developed to actually support, manage, monitor, or migrate that workload going forward. Putting something in the cloud for the sake of not putting it ‘here’ accomplished little and more often than not, saved nothing.
And so as I reflected on the current state of things I had a decision to make – is VMware a one-trick pony with little potential for the cloudy future, or are we on the cusp of another major shift in technology where automation, seamless management, and intelligent placement of workloads (here, there or anywhere) running in a data center whose boundaries are defined in software, not by the physical infrastructure underlying them. If the former is true, I had better unhitch my horse and ride off into some cloudy sunset. But if the latter is true – and I believe it is – the Software Defined Data Center will provide the framework and strategy necessary to manage evolving workloads, changing business demands, increasingly mobile users and morphing infrastructure technologies (hyper-converged server/storage, flash, etc.) in a truly revolutionary way. As I surveyed the landscape, I saw that no company has done more already to contribute the technology, mindshare, and momentum to the Software Defined Data Center than VMware. And with that my answer was easy – no one trick, not a single act. VMware is driving the future, and I want to be a part of it.
So I put my mouth where my money is and joined VMware in December as a Sr. Technical Marketing Manager for the vCloud Suite, the rapidly evolving suite of tools needed to build, manage and orchestrate a true SDDC that enables hybrid cloud and secure mobility for tomorrow’s data centers. My decision to join VMware has been validated repeatedly over the past two months as I have moved from a long standing member of the community (partner, vExpert, VMUG) to an employee in a company with outstanding individuals (brain drain my ass – try brain gain), an amazing culture of values and dedication, and a ton of exciting innovations just waiting to be released. At the risk of sounding like a vFanBoy, I am ecstatic to just be on the team, playing my small part as a stage hand in VMware’s exciting second act.
My role at VMware is a bit of a change for me – leaving the always on-call, firefighting and hands-on building that I’ve done for the past decade as an engineer, IT Manager and consultant. I’ll be drawing on my experience as a partner (I did consulting, engineering, troubleshooting, pre-sales engineering, and a touch of marketing at Clearpath) to focus on helping VMware’s partners and SEs successfully communicate, demonstrate and accelerate SDDC technologies. Where most of the kick-ass technical marketing team is focused on a specific piece of the technology stack (eg. Availability, Storage, Security, vCenter, etc.), I’ll be paying special attention to how we can help partners and VMware’s field teams easily deploy Proof of Concept (PoC) environments of the vCloud Suite, and be better prepared to help customers realize the benefits of embracing a SDDC mindset through adoption of the vCloud Suite. I’ll also be contributing to VMware Product Walkthroughs, updates to concept and getting started videos, Technical Papers, blogs, the VMware Mobile Knowledge Portal (Apple and Android – seriously, check it out) and some cool partner focused tools that the tech marketing team will be showing off at PEX.
If you are a VMware partner (or customer for that matter), I’d love to hear from you about your challenges in deploying PoC of the vCloud Suite. What works, what hurts, what do you think we could do or build for you to help with PoC deployments, or training that you need to be more successful in communicating VMware’s SDDC vision. I’ll be at VMware Partner Exchange (PEX) next week – grab me if you’re there, I want to hear from YOU!
Before I sign off, I wanted to give a quick word of thanks to Clearpath. The opportunity I had as Virtualization Practice Manager was outstanding as I was able to work with so many amazing customers on a huge variety of projects, was priviledged to speak at VMUGs, VTUGs, and other events in Virgina, DC, Baltimore, Boston, Philly, Atlanta, and Connecticut, and got to work with some top industry talent at Clearpath.
I’m going to miss seeing many of the great folks I’ve met in Boston during my many trips there, but with such talented individuals and top partners in the area I’m sure we’ll be in touch. My blogging on this site will probably not be as frequent as it has been over the past couple years (says the guy who hasn’t posted since August – to be fair, life got a bit crazy as my wife was back in the hospital and then on a lengthy bedrest due to her chronic CSF leaks) as I’ll be posting on VMware blogs, but don’t unsubscribe just yet – I’ll still share some of the cool things I learn along my journey on VMtoday.
I couldn’t be more excited and honored to be on a great team at a great company at such a unique time in the industry, happy to play my little part painting the set, setting the stage, supporting an all-star cast of team-mates and customers, and spell-checking the script in VMware’s promising second (and certainly not final) act!