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!!

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July 6th Citrix UK User Group Meeting – A Rimmary

I’ve known the committee members (Neil Spellings, Andy Wood and Jim Moyle) for a long time but with my prior volunteer role as a UK VMUG leader, it never felt ‘right’ that I should attend a Citrix User Group. So I was excited to attend the meeting in London on 6th July to a) learn but b) to see how it was on the “dark” side 🙂

My client, Liquidware Labs, is a platinum sponsor of the UK CUG, but is also a founding sponsor of the CUGC launched at Synergy in 2015. I’ve long harped on to anyone that would listen to me at Citrix – I specifically recall a discussion at IPExpo back in 2013 with Julian Wood, Andy Wood and the then NE Marketing Director Nick McGrath – that a user group needs the support and focus from the vendor to be successful. The UK Citrix User Group has been running for a number of years prior to a formal CUGC being launched. Support required isn’t necessarily financial, but does need to be supported by key technical team members. So it was great to see Simon Frost and Craig Hinchliffe in attendance. And it was great to witness a formal Citrix User group first hand!

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Andy Wood opened proceedings with a welcome and thanks to sponsors, of which there are 3 Platinum, 4 Gold and 4 Silver. As mentioned prior, Liquidware Labs is a Platinum sponsor and one of my other (previous) clients, PernixData is Gold. However, due to the current “situation”, PernixData was not in attendance 🙁

It was funny to hear Andy mention that they’d stolen  borrowed [updated as per comment below] “another VMUG idea”, tipping a nod to me, of a quiz (aka passport to prizes) to encourage members to visit each sponsors’ stands to garner the answer to company specific questions to then be entered into a prize draw for a very nice wireless Bose speaker, sponsored by AppSense. Interestingly – given they were recently acquired by LANDesk – their question was “What company was AppSense born out of?”!!

Then we had an overview of the Citrix announcements at the recently held Citrix Synergy, delivered by a customer, Dave Holborn of Aviva and a partner, Chris Marks of Esteem. As I’d watched the live stream of the keynotes, there wasn’t anything new, but I liked the way Dave and Chris made the session interactive by asking the audience what they thought about the announcements. This produced some great dialogue and, frankly, they needed more than their allocated 45 minutes.

Next up was Andrew Innes from Citrix talking about Federated Domain Logon: Flexible Auth for Windows Delivery in XenApp 7.9. Following Andrew was a sponsor 15 minutes presentation from UniPrint. After a coffee break, Dan Bolton and Jim Moyle presented a community session on Numecent’s JukeBox, now named CloudPaging – an app delivery application. Then followed a CTA (Citrix Technology Advocate) session on the Mysteries of FTA’s by James Rankin. The last session prior to lunch was the 15-minute sponsor session from Peter von Oven of Liquidware Labs, talking about User Login Process.

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After the community was fed, thanks to Liquidware Labs, I had to leave.

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It was a great first time meeting for me, informative and interactive and also great to catch up with some old and new friends; Yuri Pasea, Roger Baskerville, Ian Jones, Steve McElfatrick and Sharon Munday in the “old” camp and Rachel Berry of NVIDIA and Jane Cassell from TFL in the “new”.

If you’re a Citrix user and don’t know about this user group, you should sign up and attend for sure!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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TechnologyUG and TechUnplugged Events – a Rimmary

I recently attended the TechnologyUG in London as I’d recommended one of my clients to sponsor it.  As a previous VMUG leader, I’d never attended the TechnologyUG as I’d felt it would be a conflict of interest 🙂  Whilst I’d argue it’s not a user group in the truest sense of the term, it is a broader church than a VMUG and the attendees are reflective of this with more managerial level attendees than perhaps a VMUG.  It was interesting to see previous London VMUG speakers, Chris Kranz and Craig Kilborn, speaking at the event; talking about modern storage and Azure site recovery respectively. I maybe biased but I didn’t feel the community passion I always feel is present at a VMUG, but I highly commend the dedication of long term serving TechUG founder Gav Brining and organisational and communication skills of Mike England, TechUG COO. It was an interesting day and great dialogue with the attendees for my client, Liquidware Labs.

Peter von Oven, Director Systems Engineering, Liquidware Labs

Peter von Oven, Director Systems Engineering, Liquidware Labs

Then yesterday, May 12th, I attended the 2nd TechUnplugged event in London, organised by Enrico Signoretti.  It was a very educational day for me personally, although heavily storage biased, the opening session by Giuseppe Paternò on bridging the gap between virtualisation and cloud with OpenStack was a great learning experience for me.  Plus, I got a copy of Giuseppe’s book, Openstack Explained (which you can also download off his website.  Then followed a preso by Rick Vanover of Veeam who provided an excellent overview of protecting your data and vulnerabilities from an ‘agnostic’ view point versus banging Veeam down our throats.

Chris Mellor of The Register fame, then shared his thoughts with us on winners and losers in the storage arena.  Despite his acerbic reporting style, his presenting style was informative, interesting and humorous and he was clearly nervous at presenting to an audience!

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Another London VMUG presenter, Greg Ferro of PacketPushers fame gave his usual engaging presentation style on Upgrading your WAN to Internet, 2 key takeaways for me where to look at 5G to solve my (lack of) broadband issues and also it’s cheaper to provide your employees with smartphones than implement a VoIP telephone system!

Nigel Poulton, as always, gave a great presentation on clouds and containers and did a demo of AWS and Docker deployments, against the timer for AWS deployment (2 minutes) and against Martin Glassborow eating 5 biscuits (he only got to 4). What an entertaining preso!

Nigel Poulton's demo gods offering of choccie biccies

Nigel Poulton’s demo gods offering of choccie biccies

Storagebod timer #managainstbiccies

Storagebod timer #managainstbiccies

Interspersed with the industry presentations were vendor sponsor presentations from HGST, Violin Memory, Caringo, Cohesity, who fielded their evangelist Nick Howell of datacenterdude.com fame – was great to see Nick over this side of the pond and he gave an enlightening presentation on Hyperconverged Secondary Storage – and LoadDynamix.  The vendor presentations were not really of interest to me, sorry! However, most were interesting and good speakers.  One, however, read from the slides! What a big no-no and they were proceeded to be quizzed by the audience post-presentation, mainly on “why” regarding their technology #fail.

Enrico kindly let my colleagues from WhatMatrix give a 10 minute overview of their community comparison initiative just after lunch.  I hope the exposure will lead to more contributors signing up as well as more vendors getting involved. The final industry presentation I attended was Chris Evans, another previous London VMUG speaker. Given the other industry presentations had focused on technology, Chris took a different approach of discussing real world storage and dealing with scale, operational complexity as well as users and bosses.  The key takeaway for me is highlighted below:

chrisevans

Was also great to catch up with old industry friends Arjam Timmerman (NL VMUG Leader and co-host of the event) Alex Galbraith, Julian Wood, Chris Dearden and Rose Ross.  An excellent networking and educational event, thanks Enrico!

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Decoupled – Abstraction Revisited?

Not since Gwyneth and Chris announced their ‘conscious uncoupling” in 2012, have I noticed so much use of the word decoupled in some vendors’ messaging. Is decoupling the new abstraction?

This 2006 whitepaper from VMware states “The term virtualization broadly describes the separation of a resource or request for a service from the underlying physical delivery of that service. With virtual memory, for example, computer software gains access to more memory than is physically installed, via the background swapping of data to disk storage. Similarly, virtualization techniques can be applied to other IT infrastructure layers – including networks, storage, laptop or server hardware, operating systems and applications. This blend of virtualization technologies – or virtual infrastructure – provides a layer of abstraction between computing, storage and networking hardware, and the applications running on it.”

According to Computing’s glossary, a decoupled architecture allows each component to perform its tasks independently of the others, while also enabling structural variations between source and target.

So, is decoupled a 2016 buzzword variation of the 2006 abstraction? Let’s take a quick look at some vendor messaging:

Arista: The goal of Network Virtualization as an overlay network is the decoupling of the physical topology from the logical topology.

Velostrata: Velostrata moves production workloads to the public cloud in minutes with a unique architecture that decouples compute from storage.

Liquidware Labs: ProfileUnity FlexApp is a leading industry user virtualization and application virtualization solution, that allows you to de-couple user profiles and applications from the Windows Operating System.

PernixData: PernixData optimizes storage for virtualized environments. By decoupling strategic storage performance and management functions from the underlying storage hardware, our software maximizes VM performance, delivers predictable scale-out growth, and minimizes storage costs.

For me, the word decouple conjures up freedom, as in you’re being freed from something you’ve been tied to – guess this is where Gwynnie and Chris were coming from 🙂 Whereas from an IT perspective it appears to denotes flexibility. Thus, decoupled must be the new layer of abstraction, as virtual infrastructure has been providing flexibility since waaaaay before that 2006 white paper was published!

 

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hiviz-marketing is 10 years old!

When I decided to leave my role as Director EMEA Marketing at VMware in January 2005, I didn’t envision 10 years later that hiviz-marketing would still be going so strong!

I took the decision to “go down a gear” after having spent 2 years, as employee number 2 in Europe, building the VMware brand.  Flying all over Europe convincing partners and customers that virtualization was the way forward, building a team of local marketers and being part of a cult-like movement was invigorating, challenging and exhausting!  Having done much the same for the previous 5 ½ years at Citrix, it was time for a change.  Telling my EMEA VP that I was leaving was a bit like asking my husband for a divorce – we’d worked so closely both at VMware and previously at Citrix – it was very hard to leave him, my team and the company.  But the world of consulting beckoned and I was looking forward to spending more time with my family, dogs and horses (not necessarily in that order by the way!).  hiviz-marketing was born in February 2005 and by the end of that month I had secured my first two customers – Platform Computing and VirtualizeIT (that was subsequently sold to Virtustream).

I have been lucky, and privileged, to have worked with some amazing technology and some fantastic people.  My criteria for working with clients is 3-fold; 1. I have to believe in the technology, 2.  I have to like the people and 3. They can’t compete with another client – as a “me, myself and I” business I can never have conflicts of interest or anyone questioning my integrity.  The thing I love about what I do is that I continue to learn; when working for one company you sometimes get sucked into the corporate culture that involves drinking the kool-aid, along with the bureaucracy and politics.  In my role, I ensure I don’t get involved in that and remain objective.  By working with different companies and technology I get a much more holistic view of our industry and can offer advice and guidance with objectivity; versus the subjective view you generally get when being an employee.

The companies I work/have worked with have primarily been US start-ups entering the EMEA market and, mainly, within the VMware eco-system.  Many of them have gone on to be acquired (Vizioncore by Quest, then Dell, ScriptLogic by Quest,) some have disappeared off the radar (PanoLogic) and some continue to disrupt and provide immense value to their customer base (Liquidware Labs, Nutanix, PernixData).  I’ve witnessed many technology movements and my role as a VMUG leader also provides me exposure to many new technologies that sponsor our meetings and annual user conference.  The other clear movement is the advancements made in storage during the past 10 years.  A techie friend said to me in the late “noughties” that he didn’t see longevity for companies like Atlantis as SSDs would negate the need for their solution, which goes to show there is space for differing solutions.

With a rear view mirror, many of the disruptive innovators in those early days are now major players, with billions of dollars in revenue.  VMware is obviously the main one.  Some people today think that VMware was an easy sale, a “no brainer”, but creating a market, changing mindsets of IT managers and CIOs is an uphill and a constant challenge.  Brian Madden recently wrote an article and claimed:

“The same is true for VMware in server virtualization in the early early-to-mid 2000s. …… This stuff was obvious, it was necessary, and it sold itself.”

I HAD to post a comment on this article because this is such a typical view of someone that wasn’t involved in the hard slog and just sees the results of a successful company and puts that success down to “an easy sell” – WRONG!  Looking in the review mirror, yes it’s obvious, yes it was needed, but it took a lot of technical, sales and marketing resource to make it so!

So entering into the next decade of hiviz-marketing, as a 10th anniversary present to me, myself and I, I’ve invested in a new website, please take a look and I hope you like it.

Finally, to all my clients, past, present and future, thank you for giving me the opportunity to work with you – it’s been fun and I look forward to continuing to work with leading-edge, disruptive companies with the most amazing people!! I wonder what the next ten years will bring……….

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