“I hate everything about you, why do I love you?” — I hate everything about you by Three Days Grace. A couple months ago I asked folks on Twitter if IT governance was helpful or a hinderance. You’d be surprised by the reactions, at least I was. Back in the day when I was a server hugger in my former life, I hated any form of governance that was going to slow me down. Ok, I need to level with you, I still feel that way. The operative phrase here is “slow me down”. There is something have come to respect over the past 5 years when I stopped focusing on what brand of processor or type of server to buy. I started talking to folks in the business who had loftier goals than I did which was moving the ball forward. I started to *get it*. It’s about moving the collective agenda forward.
I realized that you can embrace governance when you have all the key stakeholders involved and this means that you should be able to set up a framework and template for classes of IT offerings. Why does it mean so much to me? Because I’ve never seen this offered in a package that appeals to the CxOs and server huggers at the same time. A vblock (EMC storage, Cisco network and compute, and VMware) represent this union. Coupled with Unified Infrastructure Manager and some open api’s, we can start to realize a service catalog built around governance that provides the business a lot of agility. A huge benefit, albeit an uncomfortable one, is removing NRE or non-recoverable engineering from the technology cycle. I know it’s not perfect but now we get to focus on the important stuff.
There are some really cool sessions around Vblock and VCE at VMworld. You can find more info here.
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.
CloudCamp Cincinnati is here. It’s this Thursday, June 3rd, in Cincinnati from 4pm-10pm. Registration and session info can be found here. It’s being held at the MET Center which is supposed to be a pretty nice venue.
EMC is sponsoring and I’ll be doing a lightning talk on private cloud. If you haven’t been to a CloudCamp before, it follows the unconference format. CloudCamps have been extremely successful because of the user participation.
Here are some of the topics that have been covered:
Infrastructure as a service (Amazon EC2, GoGrid, Rackspace, Nirvanix, etc)
Platform as a service (AppEngine, Azure, etc)
Software as a service (salesforce.com, Yahoo! Mail, etc.)
Application / Data / Storage (development in the cloud)
Things change. I’m not talking about my wife, job or car. I’m talking about myself and infrastructure consisting of servers, storage and networking. I don’t want underutilized resources that take time to manage and don’t let me get things done.
Let me explain. I flew into Boston to give a couple of Executive Briefings on the Virtual Datacenter this week. Some customers saw exactly where I was going and others probably thought I was insane. I started at a high level and then went into the details but here’s the problem. When we talk about infrastructure becoming a pool of resources that you’re able to push and pull workloads into and out of, some people think it’s fairytale land. It’s not. I used to build my own computers but I don’t anymore. I buy one that has the most, not all, of the best technology and is good enough.
What they see:
Complex infrastructure with many moving parts
Legacy applications, some virtualization adoption
Thick fog that’s hard to see through
They think they’ll have to trust something new
What I see:
A multi-step process that takes time
Virtualization allows us to focus less on the boxes, cables and spinning platters
Platforms (Springsource with Azure, Amazon’s AWS also qualifying) enabling quicker development
We can make existing infrastructure and software better
Infrastructure AND platforms are both part of the “Stack” and “Cloud” conversation. It’s about businesses being able to let their most valuable asset (their people) work on deploying applications faster instead of provisioning servers. Yes, the “server huggers” and “IT pros” as Brian Prince (Azure Evangelist at Microsoft) calls them, will still be needed to make sure we’re architecting and deploying apps properly on the infrastructure.
Change is ok. Things aren’t perfect but continually improving. Most of us drive cars instead of ride horses and we buy clothes instead of make our own. People trust technology (network, shared storage, memory, etc) and build around its faults (RAID etc.).
Recently I was bluntly accused of spouting an EMC-centric view. As if other technology companies didn’t see it this way too. Guess what, it’s not just EMC, it’s many end-users and vendors both who share this view. The view of and challenges posed to enterprise customers is much different from those faced by sometimes smaller and more public-facing web service companies. I get it. There are still security challenges, management challenges, and legacy application challenges but before so quickly dismiss stacks and cloud, open your mind a bit.
Here are some notes I took during the keynote at the 2009 Microsoft’s Professional Developer Conference I attended months before joining EMC.
Session: Bridging the private and public Cloud
Move has been to get higher utilization
It’s about the applications and working to get them into the cloud
Build rich apps for the cloud while preserving app symmetry w/ the enterprise
Frictionless deployment across the spectrum
New breed of apps that span from on-premises to cloud
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:
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.
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.
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.
Chris Hofftweeted 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.
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.
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.
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.
You can do anything you want to do. I’m not kidding.
Find what your passion is and do it.
Pay it forward. If you’ve been given something, give back. It makes the world a better place.
If you fail, just get back up. What’s worse? Trying and failing or never having tried at all?
Update: I don’t know how it happened but I left the venerable Jason Boche (Boche.net) out of the original version of this. He’s always been one of the usual suspects although this was his first Tech Field Day.
In the past as a delegate I was focused on ingesting and analyzing information from the vendors. As a presenter, your responsibility is to *effectively communicate* a position to a small group. You might be thinking, “So what, I do that everyday.” The difference is that everyone is bent a certain way and they interact. We’d like to think that people check their religion at the door, but that simply isn’t the case. If you’re presenting something controversial, new and unclear you must be prepared. I didn’t want people to treat me differently than other vendors just because I had been a previous delegate and they didn’t.
The discussion was lively with a lot of very insightful questions. The delegates this time around were more diverse than before. They had backgrounds ranging from small companies to large enterprises and disciplines across the infrastructure spectrum. As everyone was participating, it was clear that they were trying to relate the message to what they do everyday. After I was done presenting I found out that Simon Seagrave was live-streaming the event and twitter was lit up like a Christmas tree with people going back and forth.
Some suggestions for current and future attendees:
Try as hard as you can to keep an open mind
Don’t beat the proverbial dead horse
Give vendors constructive criticism, it’s better for everyone
Some suggestions for current and future sponsors:
Bring your fireproof suit, sometimes the discussions get quite warm
Take the criticism and do something constructive with it
Keep the pace moving, be prepared to have half or a quarter of the time to present. The schedule is tight and it’s common for things to get pushed back quite a bit.
One universal that I discovered is this, “Just because you work for a vendor doesn’t mean you’re biased and just because you don’t work for a vendor doesn’t mean you’re unbiased.”
I was asked by some EMC folks if we should do these events in the future and I’d say that there is no doubt we get a ton of value for them. The only things I’d like to see different is that the schedule have some more flexibility built in so vendors get all the time they paid for. Towards the end of the last session I think everyone was getting worn down and I give tons of credit to Stephen and the attendees for sticking with it.
This may seem obvious to some readers but I haven’t seen a good list of considerations to help ensure a successful PoC project. Here are some training wheels to make sure you don’t crash and burn.
Lack of requirements – All key stakeholders involved should sign off on a detailed requirements document. It doesn’t have to be in blood, an email response with a “yes” will suffice unless there are contractual obligations. I hear, “We just want to see if it will work” all the time. When you’re doing a PoC, be as specific as possible in defining “IT”. Unless a solution is completely unbaked, think about how you would envision it working in your environment. Talk to people and ask them how it works in their environment as you come up with requirements. Be as transparent as possible with the vendor so there is no hidden agenda or confusion.
Lack of a leader – Designate a lead. I’d be rich if I got a nickel for every PoC that failed because of a lack of a leader. You need someone to keep track of the requirements, vendor involvement and testing. PoC’s are easy to get lost in the fray because there aren’t obvious penalties for the customer who doesn’t see a PoC through. Conditional PO’s instead of freebie PoC’s are becoming more common.
Lack of experience with the product – Let the vendor show you how a product was meant to be used. If you’ve never touched a product before, why would you want to run a PoC all by yourself? Seriously, your parents had to teach you how to velcro your shoes. Which leads me to the next point that comes after someone says “We couldn’t get it to work this way so we tried X, Y and Z”.
No documentation – Document your setup and any changes as they’re made. There are a ton of variables in your environment, document them. I can’t stress this enough. First make sure you deployed the product according to best practices. If you need exceptions then run them by someone who knows what they’re doing and note them.
Not asking for help – If you must, call and allow time for help. Yes, you might anger someone but it’s worth calling in for help before declaring a project a failure. I can’t promise that a white knight will come in and save the day as the deadline for your PoC approaches but call for help anyway.
When I come in to help out with PoC’s that are in trouble in their 11th hour, two things are usually immediately apparent. First, there was no leader or everyone went off in their own direction without accountability. Second, there was a lack of familiarity with the product. This list isn’t for my benefit, it’s all to help others have successful PoC’s. If you have suggestions, send them in!
Unbelievable. The image below shows an EMC Symmetrix that is still running after it fell over during the earthquake in Chile. We don’t have many details at the moment but our team got a pic of this DMX that fell over in the 8.8 earthquake that hit Chile.
On a serious note, our hearts go out to those in Chile who have lost their lives. Please treat this post more as utter amazement at what can happen during an earthquake from a technology perspective and not a slight at the human lives that have been lost or the hardship endured.
Some of you may know already but for those who don’t, I decided a bit ago to pursue some new challenges. I’ve joined EMC and the VMware Alliance team. My role as a systems engineer and virtualization practice lead at Network Storage, Inc has been extremely rewarding over the last 3.5 years. I got to build something from the ground up and work with some amazing colleagues and customers. I’ll be exposed to more challenges and the neat thing is being right in the middle of sales, marketing and engineering. We get to tell customers what EMC is doing but more importantly take feedback from customers and deliver it to engineering. The feedback loop is short so I encourage you to use us if there are things you need with regards to storage and virtualization that you aren’t getting.
The team I join is growing fast. Scott Lowe, Rick Scherer and John Avery have just recently announced that they’re joining the team as well. I feel honored to join a team with so many talented folks coming on board. If you’re interested in joining, let myself or one of the others know.
As others have posted regarding their blogs, this blog should not change much except for the espousing of EMC futures. Before I didn’t know much and I worked closely with Devang Panchigar but now I do know a lot more and can hint at direction but limit the specifics. I’ll continue to blog at GestaltIT.com and work with my peers just as I have in the past. I feel that independent voices are critical in the technology world. Also, this blog nor the opinions and information are mine and not EMC’s.
The GestaltIT Tech Field Day event just wrapped up and it was a very interesting event. Stephen Foskett and Claire Chaplais did a phenomenal job at keeping the wheels on the bus. I realized that the attendees were just as critical as making the event a success above and beyond the vendors. I learned so much from others who either knew more or had different perspectives. The genesis of this list comes from the question I asked myself and other attendees constantly which was, “What can we do to get deeper than a standard technical presentation or trade show booth demo.”
1. Ask yourself what you want out of it – Remember, some of your attendees have never heard of you but many know some of your pitch already. Figure out what you want to get out of the event ahead of time and ask yourself if attendees will walk away talking about your presentations the way you wanted them to.
2. Cover the basics and then get into the weeds – We love the weeds. Some of us do anyway. It shows us you know what you’re talking about. It separates you from your competition. Tell us your strengths and weaknesses. We are more effective when we are armed with more information.
3. Bring your best people - You want to bring your best and brightest because there will be people (like me) who will grind into the details. 3Par and Ocarina brought their rockstars and it was apparent to each and every attendee. They knew their stuff and didn’t push questions aside.
4. Think and re-think your demo or hands-on labs - Some of the ones we experienced were great but others weren’t effective. Demos and labs that cover the basics *aren’t* always the best. People who are following the event will say, “I could’ve done that. Show me something new and different.” Remember, some of us love the CLI and others could care less. Make sure your activity will keep people engaged. Data Robotics did this very well but a big reason is because their technology is *different*. They understood how to deliver an experience much like Steve Jobs and Apple does. Their CEO even did a whiteboard of their technology and he got into the weeds.
5. There is never enough time - Almost all the vendors were a bit over schedule. Don’t try to cram too much in if it won’t fit or get a bigger timeslot. Many vendors had this happen but kudos to them for rolling right through.
Remember that you will get both good and bad feedback but being in tune with your audience is what matters. The rules above are not a guaranteed recipe for successful but they’ll give you a good start. They are universal and apply whenever you are pitching anything, not just during a Tech Field Day event. Stephen will be posting the videos of the sessions, watch them and learn from what worked and what didn’t.