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DrupalCon: Content management, opensource and the enterprise

A couple of weeks ago Savvis we sponsored DrupalCon 2013 in Portland.  We’re known as an enterprise cloud provider so why did we do this?

A couple of reasons:

1) We launched some Drupal-specific offerings around hosting and cloud instances.

2) We want to get closer to developers, they’re important.

3) We can bring our experience running enterprise workloads to a disruptive CMS platform.

4) We built this city on rock’n'roll. Ok no we didn’t but we’re definitely continuing the process of innovating as we always have.

I was able to spend some time with Holly Ross who is an executive director at the Drupal Foundation and Joaquin Lippincott at Metal Toad Media.  It was interesting discussing the CMS market, disruption by opensource, governance models and a whole slew of other things like glitter dusted unicorns.  Have a listen if you’re interested in hearing more.

What’s exciting to me is getting closer to the application owners and developers.  They have a lot of importance in an organization these days.  As we continue to go after this market (developers in the enterprise and developers in general) I’d love to hear from you if you have an opinion about how service providers can service them better. 

Drupal is an extremely flexible platform but it takes a bit of skill to get it running and customized.  Holly said ease of use is one of the big focuses of Drupal 8.  We talked about how people get lazy and use what they know (e.g. WordPress) and then end up with something hacked together and limited in functionality.  

It’s obvious that opensource platforms need a good balance between the geeks who write the guts and people who know usability.

The Semi-regular What-Ed’s-Up-To Update:

It’s been awhile and a lot of change has happened since my last update.  I left Inktank back in February to pursue some interesting opportunities at Savvis.  My experience at Inktank was nothing short of lively.  For the first time in my career I had a non-technical focus as the Director of Alliances and Channels.  I helped put a program together and build partnerships with the likes of Intel, Alcatel-Lucent, Canonical, Suse and more.  I’ve worked on alliance teams before and have been in the reseller channel so I had a bit of exposure to both but I learned a lot trying to boot things from the ground up with some seeds that were already planted.  I got to spend time in the U.S. and abroad in places like Amsterdam, Barcelona and  Tel-Aviv.

Enter the next chapter at a cloud service provider.  I joined Savvis three months ago.  Yes, my former colleague and boss at Joyent, Jonathan King, had surfaced an opportunity for us to work together again at Savvis and I jumped at the opportunity.  I joined the Chief Scientist Organization, Ken Owens, as Director of Applied Research.  I’m doing the usual mix of roadmap and strategy discussions with customers but where it gets really interesting is the other stuff.  I’ve got responsibility for Competitive Intelligence, Proof of Concepts and User Personas.  All areas I’ve touched on before but never with this level of focus.  It’s been interesting being so much closer to the product and navigating the waters while we lead Savvis forward in the cloud.  I work with a great group of people and honestly it’s been fun adapting back into a large organization.  I feel like all of my skills I’ve developed over the years are being used simultaneously which is wonderful.  So here’s to the next chapter.

Where Am I Going? Inktank.

As some of you may have heard, I’m leaving Joyent.  I’ve learned a lot along the way and enjoyed the experience immensely.  Jason Hoffman and the team there have been incredible to work with.  We accomplished quite a bit while I was there including building a channel, starting an adoption program, deploying SmartDataCenter in major enterprises as both green field non-legacy clouds and internal IT clouds.  Telefonica just stood up their public cloud offering which is based on Joyent’s SmartDataCenter.  It’s been a great run.

So where am I off to now?  I’m headed to Inktank.  What does Inktank do?  Inktank delivers support and professional services for Ceph which is an opensource scale-out storage technology that provides object, file and block services.  Ceph is cloud platform agnostic as well.  Yes, I’m headed a bit back towards the storage world.  I’ll be working with customers and alliance partners to help them build and deploy solutions based around Ceph.  They’re based in LA and opening up an office in Sunnyvale so you’ll still see me around the Bay area a bit.

Agents of Same vs. Agents of Change.

I’ve been working closely with a large telco to deploy SmartDataCenter from Joyent and it hasn’t been much different from other journeys to evolve development, operations and IT in general.  What I notice most is the agents of change versus the agents of same.

There’s a constant fixation on the things an individual feels they control in their environment.  If I’m the network admin, I control everything around network connectivity, security and operations.  If I’m the storage admin, I control everything around information storage space the organization can consume.  When elements of change come into a person’s world there tends to be an immediate dismissal of the force of change.

Here’s the thing.  I’ve noticed that there are a handful of people who want to be agents of change and a handful of those who don’t.  The agents of change aren’t asking you to throw away all you know and give up the responsibility you’ve always had.  They’re asking you to be a part of a movement.

Why do I waste my breath on this?  Because people still need periodic reminders that we’re in one of the most exciting times in technology.  It’s important because being an “Agent of Same” has the potential to screw not only your organization over but your brothers and sisters in technology as well.

Dell Storage Forum 2011 – Storage and Social Media

I spent the a couple of days hanging out with Greg Knieriemen, Christina Weil and Gina Rosenthal at Dell Storage Forum 2011 last week.  The main driver was meeting people and doing Infosmack Live.

It was a lot of fun meeting many new faces and talking to Dell product and executive teams.  There were a number of things I was impressed with.  The first is that Dell is doing very well at is fostering a community.  The conference was small and Gina along with her team did awesome at pulling things together.  There was a lot of accessibility and comparatively more so than I had experienced with other vendors.

I got to do the Silicon Angle TV thing again and it was a blast.  John McArthur and Cali Lewis interviewed me about Cloud in general.  I spent a bit of time talking about Joyent and the things I’m seeing in both public and private cloud.  You can see the spot here.

Dell is doing well is not letting innovation with their acquisitions die.  That was evident in their FS7500 NAS release which integrates Exanet with their Equalogic arrays.  True to form, it’s easy to use just as Equalogic has been in the past.  I’m sure Dell will integrate this with their Compellent storage as well.  This will suit the markets Dell serves very well.  The other big theme was fluid data which continues the theme that data should be able to federate between storage platforms.  It will be interesting to see how this comes to market.

There are still some challenges in front of Dell though like selling all of their storage lines in a single sales motion instead of being fragmented.  They also need to ensure that Dell partners don’t cut out Compellent partners from their relationships with customers.

I spent 15 or so minutes talking to Michael Dell while we were at the Infosmack Live event.  The things that I tried to impress is that they need to keep innovating.  I also mentioned that they should offer a full stack play similar to Vblock, Flexpod or HP Matrix.  I know they’ve known about this for a long time but there still isn’t a Dell answer and there should be.

Overall it was great to be a part of the event and I felt like Dell wasn’t languishing even if you look at IDC numbers.  Now it’s up to them to execute.  Hats off to all the Dell people who pulled off a nice intimate conference!  It was wonderful to meet everyone.

Where have I been? Driving disruption.

I’ve been at Joyent for nearly four months now.  Time is flying.  It’s been busy.  What have I been doing?  I’ve been busy driving disruption and it’s a blast.  Everyone wants to talk to us.  Sometimes they understand immediately how we’re different and other times it takes time to sink in.

I’m meeting with a lot of the same customers I met with when I was at EMC.  Vblock’s and VMware solve challenges with existing legacy workloads and Joyent is there to help transition to the new way people are deploying applications.  The disruption in the enterprise has never been as evident as it has been now.  The innovation groups within enterprises want ITaaS and don’t care about the infrastructure sitting below because they’re designing high availability and scalability into their applications.  The IT groups struggle with this because they’ve spent years choosing standards, policies and procedures.  Joyent delivers a platform that delivers burstability, fast I/O and introspection.  That should be a requirement in any platform used to deliver applications, period.  Now add full-blown RESTful APIs that enable integration, orchestration and auto-scaling.  This means IT groups can integrate their processes while still giving true ITaaS.  It’s a powerful cocktail.

Enough about the product for now.  So where have I been?  I’ve been traveling a lot aside from the last couple of weeks.  A lot of customer meetings and then Interop in May.  Where will I be over the coming months?

June 5th-9th: Dell Storage Forum w/ the Infosmack crew

June 22nd-23rd: GigaOM Structure

August: Defcon

September: Bitnorth (Awesome crowd)

Another bridge crossed – Joining Joyent

One of my best friends, Erin Banks, and I always talk about how life is about crossing bridges.  I’ve just crossed another bridge.  With a lot of heartache and turmoil but much excitement, I’ve accepted the role of Senior Technical Director at Joyent.  I’ve always wanted to help guide cloud strategy and this puts me close to the driver’s seat.

The next chapter…

I can’t express how excited I am to join Joyent.  I’ve always been a geek at heart and have loved Solaris, Dtrace, ZFS and all of the insane innovation Sun Microsystems did back in the day.  Joyent built their platform on Opensolaris but have hired much of the innovators that were previously at Sun/Oracle on the core elements that matter. Years ago I started following the Joyent folks and I was always impressed at how they innovated and had a vision of what they saw cloud to be.  They have amassed an incredible amount of talent and I’ve always had a ton of respect for Jason Hoffman and David Paul Young for their vision.  Now I get to play a big big part in making that vision become pervasive.  There will be more coming as I get planted at Joyent.

I am so thankful for the opportunities that I was given at EMC beginning with Aaron Chaisson hiring me last year.  He’s a phenomenal individual who let me thrive in the beginning and helped me in any way he could.  I joined the vSpecialist team when it was roughly 24 people and it has grown to over 100 which is representative of the success the team has.  I learned a phenomenal amount from the likes of Chad Sakac, Erin Banks, Justin Lauer, Jonathan Donaldson, Tommy Trogden, Rick Scherer, Scott Lowe, Jim Ruddy, Nick Weaver, Sharon Isaacson, John Avery, Denis Guyadeen, Dennis Hoffman, Chris Birdwell, Kevin Zawodzynski, Ben Dunning, Wade O’Harrow and too many others to name.  I’ve mentioned this before and I’ll mention it again, you become part of a family and it’s an unbelievable feeling knowing that your brothers and sisters on the team will lay down on train tracks for you.  It’s been an amazing time and a pleasure working at EMC.  I’ll miss it but I’m looking forward to tackling some insane challenges ahead.

The story behind the infamous “Banana Bread”

Here’s the story to how the infamous “Edsai” and banana bread thing came to be.  Back in April, Vaughn Stewart of Netapp posted a blog entry about “blogging with integrity” that went right after Chad Sakac.  It created a bit of tension that frustrated a lot of people.  Instead of going negative I asked myself what would diffuse the tension.  I get this kick-ass toffee banana bread delivered weekly from FarmFreshDelivery.com that tastes so good when you warm it up and have it with a glass of milk.  I tweeted “@vStewed have some banana bread. and some milk. it shortens the lengthy blog posts. for me it does anyway.”  I decided I’d ship some out to Vaughn and anyone else who wanted some.

I received a number of replies and ended up shipping about 12 loaves across the country.  Actually, my wife did and I’m indebted to her for it as she’s done it on another two occasions.  I know I accomplished my goal because a number of people messaged me and told me they appreciated me breaking the tension.  Now I just do it because people love the banana bread.

I thought I’d give the back story because references to “Banana Bread” have found their way into EMC team training presentations, rap videos and other crazy places.

vExpert 2010

The vExpert 2010 announcements started coming out this past Friday and Today.  I received the award along with many of my peers.  I feel honored that John Troyer and crew selected me as one among a long list of very talented and giving individuals.

@maishsk has set up a twitter list of many of the 2010 vExperts here.

Thirty Years: Thank you

Warning: This isn’t a technology post but it’s worth your time.  It’s about a fire.

Do you feel like you could do something else that would make you happier?  Do you want to make a difference?  My answer was yes to both questions.  Even before having my daughter I’ve always had something burning inside that made me want more out of life.  It’s one of those things that drives you.  I feel like it’s a constant battle to do what I can to be better.  It’s probably silly but I want this for others too.

A couple of things happened recently that prompted me to write this post:

  1. I joined EMC as a vSpecialist almost 5 months ago.  The draw was the culture that Chad Sakac had fostered.  I felt tapped out in the role I was in at another organization and most importantly felt like I could make a *bigger* difference elsewhere.  It has been unbelievable.
  2. I read “Tribes” by Seth Godin.  The book hit me at the core.  It’s about being a leader.  What’s holding you back in life?  Most of the time it’s fear.  I’ve overcome so many fears in life by just taking the risk.
  3. I sat next to a lady on a plane who helped her son go after his dreams.  Her son decided he wanted to go to MIT before his teens.  She fed his never-ending desire to learn math and reading.  She took him to museums and lego robotics competitions.  Now he’s at MIT doing what he loves.
  4. Chris Hoff tweeted that he had donated to Kiva for the 83rd time.  Kiva does micro loans in developing countries.  Imagine if you could loan money to someone to buy a cow and that in turn helped out their whole family or village in a developing country.  With Kiva, you can do it.
  5. Wade O’Harrow (Director of vSpecialists worldwide) called me one morning to help me set up my iPad and we got on the subject about “smiling”.  Just smiling makes you feel better and makes those around you feel good.  Wade is one of those energetic leaders who knows what matters.
  6. Ade Olonoh, who I consider a best friend moved to San Francisco.  An idea he and John Wechsler (Formspring.me) had while running Formspring.com took off like wildfire.  I’ve known Ade from way back in the day when I interviewed him for a job (my peer) at the Indianapolis Star.
  7. I turned 30.

Seriously, I’m one of the luckiest people on the planet.  I’m surrounded by incredible people who have all made an impact on me  I could expand the list above for hours.  You’ve probably heard these tips before but it’s always good to be reminded.  It’s so easy to make a difference.  It’s the little things and they all add up.

  1. You can do anything you want to do.  I’m not kidding.
  2. Find what your passion is and do it.
  3. Pay it forward.  If you’ve been given something, give back.  It makes the world a better place.
  4. If you fail, just get back up.  What’s worse?  Trying and failing or never having tried at all?
  5. Read “Tribes” by Seth Godin.
  6. Smile.