Industry Awards

I wrote this post back in March 2014 as guidance on writing industry awards. After posting it, Max Cooter – then editor of CloudPro – included a comment from me on their own guide for writing a successful entry for the UK Cloud Awards:

4) Business benefits Jane Rimmer (who wrote the winning entry for Databarracks) has some excellent advice on how to write a winning entry. “For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer”. Anyone writing an awards entry should have these words emblazoned on his or her forearm. The UK Cloud Awards are all about business benefits: yes, we like technological excellence, but it means nothing if it doesn’t deliver results for the customer. Too many entries that we read didn’t understand this simple rule. Similarly, for projects, there were a few that didn’t really set out what the aim of a project was. Most were spot on, but there were some that talked too much about the technology and not about the aims.

As we are entering the season of award entries, I thought I’d re-post this article in the hope that it may assist others. A final pointer, that many miss, is fully read the entry criteria. Failure to do so is highlighted by the recent Tech Target Best of VMworld awards in Las Vegas. Cohesity won the Data Protection category on technical merit but then had to concede the win as their product wasn’t GA, a key stipulation of entry. Read Patrick Rogers’, VP Marketing and Product, gracious blog post here to understand more.

Good luck on any awards you might be considering entering, and remember, you gotta be in it to win it!

I’ve cut and pasted the original article below:

 

Posted on March 5, 2014

All companies like to receive recognition, whether from customers, partners or the industry.  There are so many industry awards in the market today, that one could spend their whole time just writing award submissions.  But is there a receipe for a successful submission?

I’ve been fortunate over the years to have submitted entries for many of my clients that have resulted in either being a finalist or a winner.  For me to write eloquently about the product, project or service, I first have to really understand the benefits it has delivered to the customer.  Secondly, why is it different to the plethora of similar solutions/services in the market?  Thirdly, what has the company achieved in terms of thought-leadership and, perhaps, changed practices due to their innovation or being a pioneer in a particular segment?

This is why awards submissions are better coming from an external resource rather than within the company, in my opinion.  Because internal folk live and breath their company/product/solution and, sometimes, have drunk too much of the “Kool-Aid” to be totally objective.  When submitting an entry for any award, the first thing is to really read the entry criteria.  Put yourself in the judges’ shoes; they want a succinct overview fitting their criteria so they can ascertain in a few sentences, or paragraphs, the value of your entry.  Secondly, don’t just repeat features/benefits from the marketing collateral; really delve deep into the deliverables against the specified criteria.  Some awards don’t specify criteria, they just have categories and “submit 1500 words” – these are the harder ones to gauge.  In my experience, though, a compelling entry combines innovation, demonstrating value to customers, leadership and, where required, customer testimonials, as all these elements have to have supporting proof points.

There is nothing like seeing a client receive an industry award and knowing your entry helped them to achieve the recognition, particularly when they look as chuffed as the CEO of my client Databarracks, winner of the Best Cloud Business Continuity Service Award at the recent UK Cloud Awards, sponsored by CIF and CloudPro.

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Whilst all this might sound marketing 101, the obvious is what we sometimes forget and I hope this post serves as a pointer on what to focus on.

 

 

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.