My name is Tom MacKay. I am a Staff SE for VMware and colleague of Scott and Aaron and have worked closely with John B. (vTrooper!) for a few years now. In fact, John was my customer at one time (remember that John?), and Aaron was my “mentee” when he joined VMware. So I have been around at VMware for almost 5 years and seen a dramatic transformation from the days that there were only two of us SEs in the Ohio territory trying to explain to customers why virtualization was a good thing to do!
Aaron and I recently traveled to Santiago, Chile as part of an initial VMware “SE Exchange Program” to present at the VMware vForum there, and Aaron asked if I could add some of my impressions of the trip to the blog. So that no one is confused on this point, I am new to blogging and tweeting, and the other social media aspects of the current scene, so I generally don’t hit the blogs very often. I have a few friends and colleagues you all might know (Duncan, Mike D., etc.), in the blogosphere who do a fantastic job, so this is my attempt at adding my thoughts and input in such a way that might be helpful in some way to the readers.
Aaron and I made this trip to help support the vForum event. We initially thought that the event would be a “small” affair, involving a few customers and partners. Boy were we wrong! Chile is a vibrant country with great customers and partners who are determined to virtualize as rapidly as possible. Part of the impetus for this is the natural disaster of the February earthquake that shook the region. Chile was rocked with an 8.8 magnitude quake, and that made many business owners re-evaluate their BC/DR strategies!
While we were there, we had an opportunity to visit several customers and collect their feedback on their “virtualization journey” as it was. Customers generally seem to be at the point that many U.S. customers were 2 or 3 years ago, but without the reluctance of “virtual buy-in”. In other words, they had the demand to consolidate, but also the confidence that VMware was a globally proven solution to the problems they had of too many physical servers, rapid expansion of workloads, and the need to protect critical business data in protected “earthquake-proof” data centers. We toured one of the most advanced DCs I have ever seen in the Solint “Green” data center. Heavily HP centric, they have the ability to host 60,000 VMs in a highly redundant, individually rack-cooled, incredibly advanced monitored DC. So they are ready to roll!
Aaron made a great point in our summary to VMware management:
Many of the customers we spoke with are fairly advanced in their mindset, in that they “get” our message and have a need to get to the Business Agility phase of the Customer Journey ASAP. However we also found, somewhat ironically, that while they have an advanced mindset, many of them do not have the training or experience required to get them through their journey as fast as they would like. So many of the challenges we face as SE’s in North America, such as hesitation to virtualize and fixation on CapEx, are not necessarily the same challenges the LATAM SE’s are facing. Instead, because of the overwhelming demand and the large geographic area they must cover, they are challenged with trying to touch so many customers thirsty for knowledge.
Unfortunately, there seems to be a shortage of experienced, proven partners and resources to service the demands. This is NOT to say that the partners and resources that ARE there are not quality, competent teams. On the contrary, everyone we met was great, and very eager to help accomplish the work, but there are simply too few folks for the size of the country. Our host, Gustavo Ossandon, is the VMware SE in Santiago. He is a great resource and person, but he is only one guy! So we have some work to do there to add to our resource base … (and all of you consultants reading this have a new market to explore!)
Overall, our experience was priceless in talking about virtualization in another culture to people who were warm and welcoming to us. We will continue to promote the program to enable other SE teams to travel abroad and also have the teams from Latin America (and other places around the globe) to come to the U.S. to visit and talk with our customers as well.
Though this first entry is not “technical” in nature per-se, we thought it important enough to relate to the readers for an exposure to a larger, global virtual ecosystem experience. It certainly opened our eyes.