Robot Wars, Internet Community and Going Autonomic!

Having always been a Robot Wars fan, I’ve been riveted to my TV on a Sunday evening now that it’s finally back on our screens after a 12 year hiatus. What makes it even more compelling viewing is the fact that one of the robots, Storm2, is sponsored by VMware and one of the team is from VMware, Ed Hoppitt. Unfortunately, they were defeated last Sunday, but the show was great viewing and spotted a few fleeting shots of Joe Baguley! Ed was wearing a Cloud Native Apps t-shirt in one of his interviews, so a good bit of branding! What was also interesting to me was the interview with one of the judges, Dr Lucy Rogers, when she spoke of the camaraderie between the teams and how the Internet has created a great community. Dr Lucy recommended, “Get involved, get online.” She also mentioned the Internet allows discussions to take place anywhere in the world. Which reminded me of the great community that I am part of – we’re all here for each other when needed, even if we work for competing vendors (caveat: as with most generalisations, they’re generally true, but there are some exceptions to this rule, as observed at times on Twitter 🙂 ). You can view episode 4 of Robot Wars here on BBC iPlayer.

Speaking of competing vendors, I found the news this week that VMTurbo has changed its name to Turbonomic fascinating. I worked with them a few years ago (2012-2013) to assist in raising awareness and creating demand in the UK. Although I’ve not personally used their product, I’ve seen it in action and spoken to many customers that rely on it on a daily basis. Plus, I believe their patented economic scheduling engine to be very innovative. I’ve always seen it more as a complement to VMware, but many view it as a competitor to vROps. There are overlaps, of course. However, in my opinion, the main area of competition is not specifically technology, but more budget. If $$ are limited, organisations are not necessarily going to purchase both solutions.

I think a name change has been on the cards for a while but hats off to the marketing team in executing a pretty smooth transition to the new name and the new messaging. My only critique is the new logo, but only from a nit-picky and possibly subjective perspective. When you have a list of sponsors of an event listed – with the same sized real-estate for each logo – the smaller the width of the name, the more prominent a logo looks. Given the length of the new logo, Turbonomic will not be as visible in the first instance. As this example from the Gold sponsorship list from VMworld demonstrates, but guess you could argue the green “on” is pretty prominent!

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Since Eric Wright joined VMTurbo, oops, Turbonomic, I’ve witnessed their commitment to the community develop considerably. They also have an online community forum, Green Circle.

Turbonomic has gone from being intelligent workload management, to a software-defined control platform, to now being an Autonomic Platform. I wish them continued success under the new brand!

Well, that was the week (and a bit) that was!

There are 5 things that occurred in the past 10 days that have really shocked and, in some instances, saddened me.

  • Nutanix “wheel” debacle
  • Brexit outcome
  • Euro championship outcome
  • Top vBlog 2016
  • Rumours of Nutanix’s acquisition of PernixData

Let’s start with the 2nd one; I don’t ever discuss politics or religion on social media and, frankly, the EU referendum wasn’t about polictics, albeit the politicians did a fab job of completely effing it up! Demonstrating, along the way, that they’re all lying toe rags. I won’t delve deeper into my personal thoughts as I think my tweet summed up my thoughts!

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Status: Sad. Right, that’s that one out of the way.

The 1st one; this is the second time Nutanix has been accused of being sexist.


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The first time was 2 years ago with their competitive marketing campaign, nixvblock,that contained a series of videos of “Vicky Block” demonstrating some eclectic dress sense and mental issues. This was the first time Nutanix fielded a woman to post a blog to apologize, however, this post seems to have disappeared from their website, albeit Laura is no longer with Nutanix.

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Frankly, the outcome of both situations elevated Nutanix’s visibility, Howard Ting apologized on twitter and Julie O’Brien appeared on The Current Status podcast, so all will blow over. My view, in general, is men are wired – emotionally – different to women, we should all be seen as people in tech, a homogenous tech world wouldn’t be much fun and times change, we need to move with the times.

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Status: Sad.

The 3rd one; What a bunch of wankers! When we really need our boys to step up and lift the nation after the turmoil of BREXIT, they proved they’re an over paid bunch of individuals who cannot play as a team. Nuff said. Status: Sad.

The 4th point; I am so incredibly chuffed to have my Rimmergram blog even listed on Eric Siebert’s Top vBlog list. To have been voted 181 and received 29 votes is just thrilling, I am ecstatic beyond belief. Thank you to all that voted for my blog. STATUS: Shocked but in a good way!

Finally, number 5. The El Reg post is, at time of posting, just a conjecture. However, I have been informed PernixData no longer requires my services. This makes me truly sad, I’ve loved working with the team, totally believe in the technology and have met some awesome people as part of my role and have thoroughly enjoyed managing the PernixPro program over the past few months. I am sure the real facts and details will emerge during the coming days/weeks of the future of the company. STATUS: definitely both shocked and sad.

So, what a turbulent week, I’m pleased it’s Saturday – off to ride the horse now!

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.

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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.

A Rimmary of VMworld Europe – Ready for Any

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Further to my disgruntled post about not attending VMworld San Francisco, I am immensely pleased I saw the “error of my ways” and attended VMworld Barcelona! I was privileged to receive a pass as an attending VMUG leader, so many thanks VMUG and, of course, VMware who provide VMUG with passes. I am also very grateful to PernixData who very kindly funded my flight. Tip: I managed to secure a combined flight and hotel via British Airways, which was way more cost effective than booking a separate flight and accommodation via the VMworld registration.

 

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View of the Sagrada Familia from my hotel roof terrace

My 3 main goals for attending VMworld this year were –

  1. To do stand duty at the VMUG booth to sign up new members,
  2. To do stand duty at PernixData’s booth and
  3. To network with many from the vCommunity

Goal 3 started on Sunday evening with attending the vRockstar party hosted by Marco Broeken and Patrick Redknap and sponsored by Atlantis, Brocade, Cisco, EMC, Hytrust, Simplivity, VMUG and Zerto. On entering the Hard Rock Café though, I thought I’d been transported to San Fran, as there were some of my US tweeps in attendance, namely Lauren Malhoit, Damian Karlson, Josh Atwell, Jase McCarty and Scott and Crystal Lowe! I hadn’t seen Lauren for a while and it was lovely to catch up since we last spoke when she interviewed me for her AdaptingIT podcast. It was fab to see so many of the London and VMUG members attending – too many to mention.

Monday was registration day for me and then spending time in the hang space. There was an Alumni lounge, where I received a very nice gift of earphones. I bumped into a few channel partners in there as Monday was Partner Day, including my old friend Paul Casey from CC, who once told a colleague that introduced me to him, “I’ve known Jane for years, we’ve shopped for diamonds all over the world!” I then had a meeting with Andreas Groth as I’ve been providing input on the launch of WhatMatrix.com – a great community comparison/curation site. ! I also bumped into Matt Steiner in the HOL, clearly loving his job 🙂

 

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Whilst sitting in the lounge the news of the rumoured Dell acquisition of EMC broke, with a link to the 7am EST CNBC TV interview with Michael Dell and Joe Tucci. This set the scene for the main topic of conversation for the next day or so! Interestingly, some people thought it was bad timing, with the opening of VMworld Europe the next day. I thought otherwise, usually all the “big” news breaks in San Fran, Europe had clearly trumped the US for major news this time!

Monday night was hectic with 3 parties; vExpert, VMUG and PernixData. Was great to see Mike Laverick, Ricky El Qasem, Julian Wood, Barry Coombs, Alex Galbraith, Corey Romero, Eric Nielsen, Tony Dunn, Sandy Bryce and many others there. It was also awesome to finally meet Andrew Morgan! After just an hour here, Mike and I convinced Sandy we needed to go to the VMUG party. On entering the nightclub, we were concerned to be the only ones there, I think Sandy was about to turn tail, when I remembered from last year, there was a roof terrace. Everyone was there – all the VMUG crew, many European VMUG leaders, many of the vCloud Air team – including Dave Hill and Richard Munro – along with Joe Baguley who gave a short intro, making a humourous mention to the Dell/EMC news and reconfirming “BAU” for VMware. After a couple of hours there, it was time to move to the PernixData party. They had continued their San Fran Star Wars theme of the Data Center Awakens, with the show hastag of #DCAwakens, along with giving out an awesome tshirt and a home data center up for grabs. The party was packed, as this was, to my knowledge, the only vendor party taking place Monday (albeit there were a lot of channel events, such as Azlan, Arrow, etc.) The Star Wars theme was definitely allowing everyone to ‘get their geek on’ and the open bar certainly helped to fuel a fab evening! It was also great for me to finally meet Ulf Schade of CC Germany, who had recently been very helpful in attending a PernixData press event for the launch of FVP 3.0 and Architect that I’d been involved in arranging. It was also great to meet up with my very old friend, Joachim Guth from Arrow DE – who’d I’d last seen same time last year at this very same party!

 

So Tuesday was the first official day, the new VP EMEA, Jean-Pierre Brulard opened up the day, and I was pleased to see VMUG get a shout out, as Jean-Pierre welcomed over 2300 VMUG members.

Moving on with a keynote from Carl Eschenbach, Carl’s keynote included a video from Michael Dell commenting, again, on how it would be BAU for VMware. Carl hosted a panel with two customers, Novamedia and Telefonice – it’s always good to have customers tell their story of technology innovation and how it drives their business. It was then onto Cloud with Ray O’Farrell (new CTO) and Kit Colbert (CTO CNA) and then Bill Fathers. The roll out of execs then continued with Raghu Raghuram discussing SDDC and joined by the enigmatic Yangban Li to announce vRealize Automation 7.0

 

It was then onto the VMUG lounge in the hang space for booth duty. They had a really cool photo booth, great espresso and some great massage chairs. I also had the chance to sit down and chat with Brian Graf, tech marketing for PowerCLI, and someone I’d only ‘met’ on Twitter, was great to meet him IRL! He also gave me this PowerCLI superhero sticker – glad to see he produced a female heroine as well as a male one!

 

 

It was then a quick tshirt change – from VMUG Leader to PernixData – to go to the vBrownBag TechTalk stage where they were hosting the TechTarget Best of VMworld Customer Awards. It was great to see Alastair Cooke of the vBrownBag crew, albeit briefly. The awards in Europe differ from the US ones, where they’re focused on vendor technologies, the European ones focus on customer implementation. I had submitted Uniserver for their implementation of PernixData FVP to drive better storage performance for their customers. It was great to see them listed as a finalist, unfortunately Caroline Donnelly (editor of ComputerWeekly) announced another customer, Shared Service Centre, Zwolle, as the winner.

 

Then it was onto the PernixData booth to support them during the busy Hall Crawl, that went on until 19.00 – their tshirts were a massive hit with over 2500 being given out during the 3 days of the Solutions Exchange. They were also running a competition to tweet a picture of the PernixData logo, along with the hashtage #DCAwakens and the words “The @PernixData Home Data Center Rocks” – I have to say the winner was very inventive!

 

 

Tuesday evening was also multiple parties, but I decided to go to just one, the VMware UK&I welcome party. It was somewhat of an initiative test to find the location and en-route met up with some customers, one of whom did not have an invite – so, as in previous years, I called in a favour with peeps on the door and he got in 🙂  Was great to meet up with fellow London VMUG Leader Stu as well as London VMUG members, Steve Bruck and Linda Smith.

Day 2 keynote started with Sanjay Poonen bounding on the stage – a great enthusiastic welcome to the day! Sanjay announced the acquisition of Boxer to the Airwatch product stable. Rory Clements then joined Sanjay on stage for some pretty impressive demos:

 

Then up was Martin Cassado, bringing on stage a customer, Schuberg Phillis, to discuss their NSX implementation. The gentlemen presenting not only had THE best jacket on from the whole event, but oozed passion and enthusiasm! Key takeaway from Martin’s presentation for me was NSX spanning multiple clouds – awesome!

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One thing I noticed throughout the keynotes that included customers, there were many Dutch and German, but very few UK. I think the UK is no longer using technology to innovate business in the way it did a few years ago when it really was an early adopter market.

Last, but by no means least, Pat Gelsinger gave the same closing speech as he did in San Fran, focusing on his 5 imperatives for digital business.

  1. Innovate like a start up, deliver like an enterprise
  2. Unified hybrid cloud is the future
  3. A renaissance in security has arrived, Carpe Diem
  4. Automate everything, predict (almost) anything
  5. Taking risks = lowering risks

His “back in the day comment” about the artificial intelligence marketing guy warranted a tweet from me 🙂

A colleague said about watching the keynotes from the hang space, but for me watching the keynotes live in the hall is such a buzz – I watched the San Fran ones over the live stream and there is nothing like being in the room for the keynotes. Apart, maybe, from day 2 when Sanjay Poonen tried to get the audience singing “EUC will rock” with accompanying drummers – the Europeans are far too a conservative audience for this type of audience participation!

It was then a mad dash to the VMUG Leader Lunch, where I knew we would be having a special guest Q&A. This is what made VMworld for me. So, given all that had been going on since the news broke about Dell and EMC, Pat had been to Portland, onto Boston, back to Palo Alto for an all-hands and then over to Barcelona. Pat arrived, showered, keynoted and then came to the VMUG Leader Lunch – what other CEO would put the community before anything else? We had an open dialogue with Pat and it was awesome to have an ‘un-edited’ account of the past few days, although Robin Matlock, CMO, was in attendance to keep Pat in check if needed 🙂 Pat shared some great career advice with the assembled VMUG leaders. His two career imperatives are:

  1. Knock it out of the park and be distinguished in what you do and
  2. Prepare yourself for the next job you want

He referenced the fact that he’s an engineer, yet during the past few days he’s had to be a financial wizard in discussing tracking stocks and such like with analysts and the media!

 

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Pat then had to leave us as he was headed onto Amsterdam then Sofia, and so the leaders had lunch followed by an interactive discussion led by Brandi Collins.

It was then on VMUG lounge duty, but most of my slot was taken up with an interview with Caroline Donnelly and Mariano Maluf, VMUG President. Caroline and I had been discussing prior to the user awards the impact of the Dell/EMC news on the customer. She asked me what feedback I’d had from VMUG members and I’d mentioned very few felt it would impact them as VMware users, but it might for those that are EMC and/or Dell customers. Given Mariano’s ‘day job’ I felt he was an ideal person for Caroline to speak with. We spent nearly an hour chatting about VMUG in general and VMware, so I hope the interview gets published! [Update 16th October – interview published here!]

I then caught up with long time London VMUG Member Scott Vessey, now of VMware, he’s not had the chance to attend a VMUG lately so I forced him to put November 19th in his diary and hope he gets the time to attend!

The day ended with the VMworld party and Faithless was the band playing – I recognized their songs if not their name, but spent most of the evening chatting with my old colleague and friend, Vicky Reddington. We were at Citrix together and Vicky has done extremely well in her career and is now Director, Partner Strategy VMware, EMEA.

This is what VMworld (and VMware) is about – community, networking and learning. Let’s hope the acquisition doesn’t dilute this in anyway!

NB: For anyone I’ve neglected to mention or any memory I’ve forgotten to share – my apologies!

Next up is the UKVMUG UserCon November 19th, have you registered yet?