It is hard to believe this Fall will be my 7th year at VMware! Looking back, it has absolutely been an amazing ride.
For the past six years, I have been very fortunate to have been part of an amazing team of solutions architects working within R&D as part of the Integrated Systems Business Unit (ISBU) at VMware. In the early days, we were known as the Integration Engineering team, most well known for designing, operating and running the original VMware Hands on Lab at VMworld which used to also include on-premises hardware! This team also served as Customer internally for a number of VMware products. In addition, this team also ran the customer on-site Alphas and Betas for vSphere. I still remember building the very first vPod for what eventually became vSphere 6.0 🙂
Over the years, the team had built up a wealth of knowledge in how to build, run and operate the VMware SDDC at scale. A large part of the team had came from either the field or from a customer with past alumnis including Duncan Epping, Cormac Hogan & Paudie O'Riordan to name a few. We wanted to bring these learnings and best practices to our customers and the VMware Validated Design (VVD) was born. What customers most appreciate about the VVDs is not just the Day 0 guidance, but also the prescriptive Day 2 operational guidance (patching/upgrading, maintenance window scheduling, monitoring, disaster recovery, etc) which is not something VMware had historically provided. Customers can then consume the VVD in several ways: build it yourself (DIY), PSO engagement including Automation or through VMware Cloud Foundation (VCF) which codifies the VVD into an integrated hardware/software offering. I am very proud of what the team has built over the years, it was not an easy road and not compromising on our design principles has paid dividends as we continue see the VVD adoption accelerating in our customers environments as the fastest way to deliver a VMware SDDC.
For the last couple of years, I had also been driving an internal project within ISBU called the Enterprise Readiness Initiative (ERi). This effort is focused on ensuring that we have a consistent set of capabilities across Lifecycle, Certificate & Configuration Management for the VMware SDDC. These capabilities must also be exposed programmatically for our customers and partners to consume. One example is the recent Install/Upgrade vCenter REST APIs that was made available as part of the vSphere 6.7 release. There is still plenty more work to be done including other ERi workstreams, but the team has made some great progress and hopefully you will be seeing more of the results in the near future.
As you can see, there is no shortage of oppournitites at VMware and being able to work with so many talented and passionate colleague to help solve our customer challenges is what I wake up every day for. I wanted to take a moment and thank one of the best managers I have had the pleasure of reporting to, Phil Weiss. Not only has he been very supportive of my career development, but has also been a mentor to me over the years and I have learned a tremendous amount from him and about myself. Phil is also occasionally involved when I get called into the lawyers office 😉 I also wanted to extend my thanks to both John Gilmartin (ISBU GM) and Jayanta Dey (ISBU VP of Engineering) who were both extremely supportive of my decision to move on.
So what is next for me, you might ask? Well, I am not leaving VMware!
I was recently presented with an amazing opportunity to go back to my Customer roots which I have always enjoyed. Today, I am thrilled to announce that I will be joining the VMware Cloud on AWS (VMC) team within the Cloud Platform Business Unit (CPBU) at VMware. In this new role, one of my responsibilities will be driving VMC’s Customer initiative and help provide early feedback on the usability, design and architecture of new VMC features and capabilities. I will also be working closely with Engineering & Product Management on developing new ideas and integrations to VMC and/or extended to our on-prem customers. It should be no surprise, but Automation will continue to be an important focus for me. I will be spending even more time with our API architects along with our amazing Product Manager, Alan Renouf, to drive forward our API strategy at VMware. One way we are achieving this is part of an internal API Review Board which I have been a part of for a couple of years now on an ad-hoc basis, this will now be something I attend on a regular basis. On this board, in addition to code review, the team which is made up of folks from various BUs help product and feature teams design and develop their APIs to ensure it aligns with our API standards. Our goal is to provide a consistent API user experience that spans both our Cloud Services as well as our on-prem software and we have been making some great progress here and this will only continue to accelerate.
I am really excited for this new role and although my focus will be on VMC, I will still be fighting for our on-prem customers. In fact, what most customers are not aware of, is that VMC actually plays a significant role in shipping to on-prem. All new features are delivered to VMC first and only until they reach certain milestones, are they then considered for an on-prem release. This ensures new features have some time to “bake” but it also allows us to be much more agile in responding to customer feedback. Customers can easily take advantage of new VMware SDDC capabilities in VMC without having to touch their on-prem environments, which can be a huge benefit for new or dynamic workloads. Customers also have the opportunity to explore upcoming features in the form of a Tech Preview and based on feedback, enhancements can be delivered on a more frequent cadence (months or even weeks) compared to updating traditional on-prem software.
Lastly, from my own personal observation, the biggest positive change that I have seen is from our Engineering teams who now have a new perspective and empathy of what it takes to run the VMware SDDC at scale by providing that as a service rather than a collection of products. The teams developing the software are also the exact same set of folks who are intimately involved in all aspects of running and operating the VMC service, which in my humble opinion, is quite significant. This has forced us to solve some of the challenges that our customers have been faced with for some time such as greater backwards compatibility of our software. Since VMC will always be running newer versions of the software stack, we have improved vCenter and Site Recovery Manager to no longer be tightly coupled when it comes to interoperability across different versions of the product. Another area that has been completely re-evaluated is our software lifecycle management, which includes programmatic interfaces (API) as well the form factor we use to deliver our software. Take the Disaster Recovery (DRaaS) offering from VMC as an example, Site Recovery Manager (SRM) in VMC was re-architected to run as a Virtual Appliance. It literally takes a few minutes to deploy/configure and is up and running compared to the traditional version which requires a Microsoft Windows OS. This is just one of the many examples of how our on-prem customers will directly benefit from running the VMC service and yes, SRM as an appliance is something that will eventually be available to on-prem customers. As you can tell, I am very optimistic for our on-prem customers and I believe VMC will play a huge role in delivering a true hybrid cloud experience while continuing improving the experiences of our on-prem software that large majority of our customers still rely on.