Nutanix’s acquisition of Frame

Well, this news lit up my Twitter feed late last night/early this morning. From a technology perspective, I think this is a good move by Nutanix – it will, however, be interesting to see how the Street reacts when it wakes up in a few hours. While the news hit my attention, what grabbed it more was the commentary by a certain exec at VMware.

A few years, after an acquisition that VMware made, an individual that came over in that acquisition started to use Twitter as a platform to convey his rather inflammatory opinion about the competition. I was always surprised that VMware allowed this level of derogatory remarks to other industry players – and indeed people too – but he was just branded a bit of a renegade and maverick. He wasn’t super high up in the food chain and has, subsequently, left but I was always mystified as to how a publicly listed company allowed employees to express such venomous views. He is now a CEO of a small start up and he has certainly ‘toned down’ his tweets!

Certain employees of Nutanix are well known for being bolshy and posting controversial social media messages, but I’ve never witnessed its leader, Dheeraj Pandey being anything other than business like and to the point. Therefore, I was impressed by his composure on Twitter earlier in response to Sanjay Poonen’s tweets…… Why do executives of publicly listed companies lower themselves to ‘tit for tatting’ spat tweets? Why? It’s just not necessary, it’s not professional and it’s not acceptable in my view.

I always advise to take the high ground, don’t stoop to others’ levels of unprofessionalism – don’t be a keyboard warrior, if you wouldn’t say it to their face, don’t put it out on social media. This really is social media 101 and to those that infringe it, you make me cringe every time I read your tweets, so please, please grow up and stop throwing stones in the playground!

 

 

Tech volunteering – why do it?

I was at a horse show this weekend where they had this sign up on the wall of the secretary’s office:

“Volunteers are not paid. Not because they are worthless, but because they are priceless.”

 This got me thinking about the aspects of volunteering I’m involved in our industry and the reasons behind why any of us volunteer.

Personally, I am involved in VMUG and WhatMatrix. As a VMUG member I am no longer a leader, but still volunteer my time in some ‘behind the scenes’ aspects, such as speaking, helping local groups secure sponsors and being on the committee for the new board selection process.

I’m also a community board member of WhatMatrix. If you’ve not heard of – or used – WhatMatrix, you don’t know what you’re missing! WhatMatrix is the independent technology comparison and analysis site. The site is the first crowdsourced-powered IT comparison community and all involved are volunteers, from the board to the category owners and contributors.

There are other communities, such as Spiceworks, “a professional network for the Information Technology industry”. Many people contribute to the Spiceworks community, while as an organization Spiceworks’ revenues are in excess of $91M. So even when an organization is making money, volunteers are still willing to contribute – for nothing.

I remember at London VMUG the chair presenting a slide for VMUG Advantage and declaring he wasn’t a sales person for VMUG or VMware, but that the deal you get from VMUG Advantage is well worth the investment. Sometimes there is a fine line between being a volunteer versus being seen as a mouthpiece for the technology you’re involved with. As long as your involvement is for the benefit of the community then you’re going to get a buzz from being involved. There is the aspect of ‘paying it forward’ by being involved and, of course, it raises one’s own visibility. I think we all want to be involved for the betterment of technology use versus being a particular vendor fanboi.

So, if you were considering being a volunteer in tech, I’d encourage it. The rewards are different for being a volunteer in a charity aspect, but the tech community is a great one and one that needs continued volunteers to – perhaps – keep the vendors honest too!

Being a community volunteer can yield a higher profile, but the biggest benefit for me has been observing my involvement being seen as a contributing factor to others’ career progression and success. Recently a tweet was posted about my VMUG involvement to encourage a VMUG member to apply for vExpert status:

For me, this epitomises the “priceless” part of the original quote in this post 🙂

 

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!!

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!

 

VMware President, Carl Eschenbach, departing VMware

When I started at VMware in 2003, Carl was heading up North American sales. The rise of his career within VMware to President and COO is a real success story in my opinion. During the span of his 14-year tenure at VMware it, and the industry at large, has morphed/evolved/changed dramatically, as has Carl’s position in the company.

What strikes a chord with me is Carl’s versatility. From the ‘humble’ beginnings of being a sales guy, he stepped into the big shoes of what was traditionally – for me anyways – Steve Herrod’s day 2 keynote at VMworld in 2013, delivering a great session, along with Kit Colbert, then a senior principal engineer now VP & CTO, Cloud-Native Apps, followed by more banter with EMEA CTO, Joe Baguley. You can read my summary post from VMworld 2013 here. I know of a few techies that might still categorize Carl in the ‘salesman’ bucket, but his understanding of technology, relating that to both customers and partners, is a huge part of having driven VMware revenues from $10M to over $6BN during his tenure.

I think his departure, along with Martin Casado’s, is a big loss for VMware. Both Carl and Martin will, apparently, remain as advisors to VMware, but their presence will be missed and, for me, particularly on the VMworld stage.

me-and-carl

Me and Carl at VMworld 2013 vExpert/VCDX party

I have very fond memories of working at VMware in the early days and Carl is a big part of those memories. He really understood the power of sales and marketing working as one team and I still have an email from him stating I’m his favorite marketing leader ever 🙂 Despite the drain on his time being president and COO at VMware, Carl always rapidly responds to my emails – whilst at VMware and ever since – not many executives do that. In fact, the only other one I know is Mark Templeton – another influential person in my virtualization career. Both great leaders and both now in new chapters of their lives. I wish them both continued success – and happiness too.