New Year Kicks off! New Projects, New Book, New Awards

January has gone as quickly as it arrived after the Christmas break! I’ve just had an analyst call and wished him a belated Happy New Year and it occurred to me that I only had time  in January to write one post. So this post is a summary of the last 6 weeks since beginning of January.

January saw the first London VMUG of 2017 being held. Many posts have already been written on the success of the day but it was a great event and a pleasure to attend as an attendee instead of committee member 🙂 I attended the Cohesity session and Alex Galbraith and Chris Porter’s AWS community presentation. Alex and Chris’ slidedeck can be found here, highly recommended taking a look. It was also good to catch up with many long time VMUG attendees and supporters; Ricky el Qasem (who’s double session received tremendous feedback), Alex, Chris, Sam MacGeown, Amit Panchal, Gareth Edwards, the committee of Simon Gallagher, Chris Dearden, Dave Simpson and Linda Smith, plus many more! I also had the pleasure of meeting with Stanimir Markov from Runecast for the first time. Runecast has been making quite a name for itself in the VMware community and will be sponsoring the April London VMUG. More about those guys at the end of this post 😉 It was great to see the committee continue with the community awards and it was fab to see Alex, Ricky and all the Opentechcast crew receive recognition of their contribution to London VMUG for 2016.

I’ve also been working with the WhatMatrix team on plans for the future development of the platform from a marketing perspective. I’ve also submitted them for an award in a datacenter innovation category. Once the finalists are announced, and I’m hoping WhatMatrix be one, voting will start, so I shall be canvassing you all for your votes, fingers crossed!

I am also pleased to announce I will be a judge in the newly launched Tech PR Star Awards, launched by my good friend and industry colleague, Rose Ross, of Tech Trailblazers fame.

Another project I’m involved in has been copy-proofing a very exciting new book – obviously not from the technical aspect, it’s already been peer-reviewed before it gets to me! But just ensuring it’s all proper English, like! I’m not mentioning authors or the book at this time as it’s pretty much under wraps but am excited to be involved, even if in a very small way.

I’ve also been asked by TECHunplugged team to help them secure sponsors for their 2017 events, so any vendors reading this, if you want to sponsor this very unique format event, just let me know!

Finally, two awesome things have topped off today for me personally. One, I’ve been awarded vExpert for the 7th year running; you can read the full list here. And two, I am very pleased to announce that I just signed a new client, Runecast! I believe their solution to be a totally relevant “must have” for any VMware vSphere estate and I’m looking forward to working with the team. As Stan is a VCDX and other team members are fellow vExperts, I might also learn something along the way 🙂

 

Whew, I’m exhausted just writing about what I’m currently involved in but am super excited for what the coming months will bring for me and hiviz-marketing and our involvement in these many fab initiatives. Stay tuned!!

755 total views, 13 views today

Happy New Year!

December kind came and went and I just realized I didn’t post during the whole month! There was a twitter conversation/debate going on about females in tech that I observed and had a couple of DM conversations about. At the time I thought about posting my viewpoint but, as I say, December just zoomed past.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 17.28.38 My firm belief about “women in tech” is that we’re all just people in tech. There are many industries where you could argue they need a “men in tech” movement yet we don’t witness this – or at least not to my knowledge.

I agree that at many tech conferences the majority of the audience is male but my view is that any kind of imbalance or gender stereotypes begin in the home. We as parents, not the tech industry, are responsible for any kind of pre-conceived ideas as to what is a “pink” job or what is a “blue” job. Frankly, there are certain pink jobs that women are better at and certain blue jobs that men are better at, for a variety of reasons. We should focus our efforts on ensuring EVERYONE has the access to education and job opportunities that best suit their own strengths and abilities, not their gender.

So with that rant over, what else happened in December? Well, I attended the SVC (server, virtualization and cloud awards) with my client Liquidware Labs. They won their category last year but this year only made runner up. It was a great night and was a good industry networking event too.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 17.59.11 Violin Memory filed for Chapter 11.

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 17.47.50Many moons again I worked for Hayes Microcomputer Products – remember those guys? The inventors of the AT Command Set and the leading modem manufacturer. They mis-read the market and US Robotics ate their lunch in the SoHo (small office, home office) market. Hayes thought they could continue to command a premium price for a premium product and eventually went into Chapter 11. This status is voluntary and is aimed at helping to protect the company from creditors whilst they try to resurrect their business. Hayes did eventually come out of Chapter 11, but is was a shadow of its former self – in my humble opinion – and I left. It was a great learning experience, but one that I do not wish to ever experience again! During the Chapter 11 protection, I had a baby – that I took 2 days off work to have – and worked my a**e off to help the company out of this situation. I am sure my efforts were appreciated by the management of the time, but it took its toll on me and I resigned my position to take some time out. Hayes was subsequently sold and then disappeared, along with many other comms companies of the time. So, I wish the folks over at Violin good luck, whatever the outcome.

Another event that took place in December was the ending of Mariano Maluf’s presidency at VMUG. Mariano has been a driving force as President of the VMUG board of directors to “navigate” between VMUG as a not-for-profit organization and VMware. I was very honored to receive the President Award in 2013 from him for my services to the London and UK VMUG chapters. Thank you for your service Mariano and good luck in your future endeavors. And, of course, I wish his successor, Ben Clayton, much success in filling some very big shoes.

 

Screen Shot 2017-01-06 at 17.46.11So, we’re now in January, and lots of great things on the horizon. There is the first London VMUG meeting of the year on January 19th, you can register here. And of course, February 8th will see the first half of 2017 vExpert announcements for those of us that have re-applied and for the new tranche of entrants – good luck everyone!

Wishing everyone a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017!!

1,012 total views, 13 views today

The 6th Annual UK VMUG UserCon – A Rimmary

Having been a VMUG leader for the past 5 ½ years, I was very much looking forward to attending the UK National event as an attendee for the first time. In some ways I was a little apprehensive. Ever since Jean Williams asked us (the previous London VMUG committee) back in early 2011 to put on a UK-wide VMUG event, I’ve been part of seeing the UK VMUG event grow and expand in terms of content, attendees and sponsors. When Al, Stu and I announced at last year’s event we were all stepping down as the London and UK VMUG leaders, handing over to the new committee, chaired by Simon Gallagher, felt a little like handing over ‘my baby’. However, I registered once registration was open and Simon asked if I’d do a mezz session on Social Media, so I was in!

It was a great night the evening before at the vCurry – was a pleasure to attend and not have to worry about anything. The team did an awesome job this year, with Chris Dearden’s vQuiz – assisted by James Kilby – topping even Stu’s humour and ridiculous questions at times! Was great to hear one of the general knowledge questions being about my other community involvement, WhatMatrix! The question was along the lines of: With the Great British Bake Off being such a hit, what industry bake off website was launched this year? Great question Chris, thanks! Our team, The Remote Shirkers, was placed second, winning £5 Amazon vouchers. A good summary of the evening can be read here, compliments of Christopher Lewis. There was a great turnout and a fun evening, kudos to the committee for having an open bar this year!

At registration the following morning, there was a great improvement on previous years, with the new VMUG Europe team, led by Esther Westerweele, enabling registration with a scanned QR code – all very smooth. It was an early start, but with the keynote being conducted by Joe Baguley the turnout was great. It was a pleasure to bump into Keith Norbie of SolidFire/NetApp fame at the keynote, his first time a UK UserCon. I think his tweet sums up the power of Twitter and the networking value of VMUG:

 Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.03.29

As ever Joe gave a compelling talk, reiterating VMware’s strategy and the evolution of their vision. My key takeaways were:

  1. Aligning IT to the Business is the wrong strategy,
  2. Start with the user and
  3. Traditional Business = Digital Business.

joe biz priorities

vmwarevision

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amanda Blevins, director of technology, Office of the CTO, gave an extremely informative preso on OCTO and what they all do – it’s a lot!

AmandaBlev

After the keynote I spent time in the solutions exchange and it was buzzing. Had a quick chat with Nick Furnell and hopefully provided him some useful input to managing UK Veeam User Group events. Had a good old ‘chinwag’ with my long time industry friend Tom Howarth and stopped by the SolidFire/NetApp booth and got my socks, thanks Keith! I also caught up with Trevor Cooper from Cohesity, who gave me my Cohesity vExpert backpack that he’s been holding onto for me since VMworld Las Vegas, thanks Trevor!

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.54.58

I attended the StorMagic presentation; where I bumped into Arthur Bojilov, long time London VMUG attendee. StorMagic is a great solution for ROBO and is an interesting UK company, headquartered in Bristol.

 

stormagic

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then it was a very early lunch, which was very tasty and served in handy sized bowls to allow for eating ‘on the go’. It was also great to catch up with Stu and Al in the refreshment area – been a year since we were all together, do you think I was a bit excited to see them?!

oldcrew

After lunch and more networking, I had my Social Media 101 mezzanine community session. Was honoured to have the likes of Barry Coombs and Tom Howarth attend and whilst I had some slides, it was a great roundtable discussion, with all the attendees contributing to the conversation. Thanks to those that attended!

 

mezz


Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.35.16

And thank you Megan for your kind words!

There was an unexpected fire alarm right in the middle of my session, and thanks to Craig Dalrymple for this awesome and totally appropriate tweet!!

 

Screen Shot 2016-11-18 at 11.36.37

My last session of the day was Massimo Re Ferre’s Cloud Native Buzzwords Demystified (for Dummies). Clearly it was the words in brackets that applied to me, and it was a great session, I learnt a lot. Massimo presented this earlier in the week as a keynote at the Italian VMUG UserCon and was a cut down version of his presentation from VMworld.

 

Massimo

I then had to leave, so missed the closing keynote from Julian Wood, but as I know it was being recorded I look forward to viewing it next week. My twitter stream lit up during it, so it was clearly a great presentation and very well received! It was fab to see that the committee was presenting 4 VMworld trips again this year. I saw one winner tweet about winning, so congrats to him and the other 3 lucky winners!

I know what it takes to deliver this event so extend my hearty congratulations to the UK VMUG committee, Esther and her event team for an awesome job. I now know my ‘baby’ is in safe hands; it was a great community event, well delivered and executed – Thank You!!

Don’t forget all presentations and recordings will be posted here in due course.

2,090 total views, 15 views today

GTM via a Channel – Insights for Startups

In a meeting with a startup this week, we discussed the EMEA channel and it got me thinking about what startups should consider when entering a market via the channel and compelled me to write this post.

I’ve always worked for, and with, companies that go to market 100% via a channel. For startups, in particular, a leveraged sales model via a channel (whether single or two tier) is the most effective and expedient way to enter a new market and scale at speed. I’ve always applied the same thinking to channel marketing; leverage your marketing dollars by co-marketing with your engaged channel partners too. However, there are many caveats to that, especially in today’s vendor saturated market. No longer can you just take a product message to either distributors’ target resellers or resellers’ target customers. Solutions that deliver upon customers’ business challenges will garner greater interest versus just a technology message. And, of course, vendor channel programs – margins, rebates, MDF, etc. – need to appeal to resellers as much as the technology before they’ll consider adding you to their portfolio.

Vendors entering a market seriously need to consider whether to implement a single or two tier distribution strategy. The days of true value-add distribution are long gone, mainly due to acquisition and consolidation of distributors. If your product/s is/are run rate and mainstream, then two-tier can make sense. If, however, you’re focused on the enterprise, with a long sales cycle, there are typically far fewer resellers to target. Why, in this scenario, would you engage with a distributor, when you can sign resellers direct and provide a higher margin return for both them and you? One could argue that distribution protects vendors from bad debt risk and provide an operational service. But you can get factoring organisations to conduct this role for less than you have to provide in margin to distribution. Vendors really do need to investigate this alternative in my opinion. However, distribution certainly continues to play a key role for many vendors. The large distributors, at least not in the UK, do not, in my experience, best serve startups that require focus – and that don’t have $100K upfront for a funded head. However, some of these larger distributors do have some exceptional product managers, who are used to bringing new technology to market and continue to have a startup ‘mindset’. These product managers do a sterling job in many instances of grasping how the technology fits into their overall portfolio ‘stack’ and can take the combined message out to the reseller channel. These individuals tend to have their background and heritage in the former VAD that has, ultimately, been acquired. Unfortunately, these are very few and far between.

Most, if not all, the companies I have worked for and with have created demand and sold directly to the customer, with fulfilment via the channel. Depending upon how much ‘skin in the game’ the channel has put, should depend upon their return – blanket discounts just don’t create the right sort of behaviour any longer. Back-end rebates work well to drive the right behaviour by paying for specific KPIs or deliverables. Marketing should always play a part – preferably larger than smaller – of these back-end rebates. For companies that provide a % of revenue for MDF, the control and management of these funds is of paramount importance to the success of implementing these funds. I have seen distributors take the accrued marketing dollars to the bottom line as they’ve ‘expired’ and accounting will not let them utilise the funds due to their financial practices/controls. In an ideal world, channel marketing will work with the vendor channel manager and the distribution/reseller marketing manager to implement a quarterly plan to utilise the funds. The opposite extreme of this is where large vendors expect a plan to be put in place 6 months in advance, which really can only consist of ‘placeholder’ activity that far in advance. The key is to drive utilisation but maintain a level of flexibility – all whilst operating within financial and corporate governance guidelines!

There are still a few VADs out there that continue to help vendors create a market, they’re just harder to find and more selective about whom they add to their portfolio. Remember, for them, investing in you as a start up is a risk – they will invest in your technology with sales and technical support and will spend marketing funds on creating awareness and demand. Then what happens? You get acquired before they’ve had a chance to get a real return on their investment and the acquiring company already has one of the large distributors and so you terminate your VAD, leaving a bad taste in the their mouth.

As with any go to market strategy, you need to identify your key goals and what type of partners will best serve and deliver upon those goals. I am still convinced that a channel GTM strategy will deliver in most cases, it’s just whether your choose single or two tier that will remain a key question for you.

 

 

2,247 total views, 14 views today

PernixPro is Dead, Long Live the Pros…….

PernixPro_2c_rgb-128x128

Well, the news that we were expecting was delivered last night by Angelo Luciani, Community Manager at Nutanix, with a brief ‘interlude’ with ex-PernixData CEO, Poojan Kumar – the PernixPro program will expire in December 2016. It was nice that both Angelo and Poojan thanked Frank Denneman and I for our ‘stewardship’ of the PernixPro program. This was really Frank’s baby and I just helped ‘kick start’ the program again earlier this year but I loved being part of the PernixPro community and feel sad at its demise.

As PernixPros, we are invited to apply to join Nutanix’s ‘community expert’ program, Nutanix Technology Champion. However, as was pointed out on Twitter later, the companies are very different – let alone the technology.

Screen Shot 2016-10-12 at 11.14.27

Speaking of technology, everyone, but EVERYONE, on the call wanted to know about the future of FVP and Architect, particularly as some on the call were customers and many are using the products in their home labs. Calls were made in the chat window for existing Pros to have a lifetime license key so they can continue to run FVP and Architect in their home labs. Unfortunately, there was no response to this ask other than “we are not making comments on the product, this call is about the PernixPro program.”

Whilst a few on the call are also NTC’s (apparently), I think Nutanix underestimates the passion that PernixPros have for the solution and need to know, urgently, the fate of FVP and Architect – particularly the customers that are running it in production and also the committed, dedicated partners that are – or have been – selling it.

Come on Nutanix, ‘fess up and put people out of their misery. The Pros are dead, we can only assume FVP and Architect will suffer the same fate……………… but when?

3,722 total views, 14 views today