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My First 60 Days at VCE

March 3, 2011 5 comments

Everyone seems to post a “My first 30 days” type article so I figured I would be lazy and wait 60 days.  What’s it been like?  Crazy.

 

Let’s start with some organization structure.  All the glory hounds, ahem, people you probably know are in some sort of sales/services group.  Names like Aaron Delp, Kendrick Coleman, Steve Chambers, and Ken Hui come to mind.  Those guys are customer facing.  They get all the training and they do all the partying, er, traveling.

I, on the other hand, am under the umbrella group known as Platform Engineering.  This is the development side of the Vblock. It’s doubtful that I will ever meet a customer unless it is at a trade show or a customer advisory board meeting.

Platform Engineering itself is broken down into three general groups: hardware, mgmt. & orchestration software (think UIM), and virtualization.  I’m in the virtualization group, where we are responsible for all things VMware in a Vblock.  My specific position is Principal Program Manager, which basically means I am a project manager.  I am also the technical relationship manager between VCE and VMware.  Notice I said “technical”.  I am not involved in the business relationship.  Instead, I coordinate with my VMware counterparts to get the VMware technical resources folks at VCE may need.  Part of this relationship management requires being the keeper of roadmaps, license keys, grantor of access to partner websites and materials, and so on.

Now every development company has their own version of a product development lifecycle process.  It just so happens that VCE formalized its process a few weeks before I started.  Since my project was the next to start, it gets to beta test the new process.  So what is my first project?  It’s a doozy.  I am managing the development/integration of the next major vSphere release into the Vblock.  It’s so high profile due to it being the first to follow the process and it’s subject matter (vSphere) that more than half my project team is made up of observers.  I would categorize project team members into three groups: folks with deliverables, folks just watching to see how the process goes, and folks who just want to be aware of our vSphere work.

You would think that it would be as simple as installing the next release and saying it’s done, but it’s not.  Decisions have to be made about what features to turn on/off, how they are to be configured, upgrade processes/procedures, etc.  It really is a lot of work.  Then all that has to be tested and documented.  At the same time, sales/services (including support services) staff needs to be trained, and marketing materials need to be developed.  All that has to be tracked and coordinated and that’s where I fit in to the picture.  Yes, I herd cats.

It hasn’t been easy because I don’t really know who all the players are.  Every week I get at least one email telling me I left so-and-so off the project list.  Part of the issue is growth (people changing positions), the other is based on organizational structure.  Some groups in VCE have names that sound like they perform internal work only and wouldn’t be interested in vSphere.  Nope, many are actually customer facing and perform technical work.

Once the first project is done, we (meaning myself and other project mgrs. in VCE) will have a better idea how things will flow.  Kinks in the process will be worked out, roles will be determined, etc.  It’s nothing that other fast growing companies haven’t experienced themselves.  In that regards, I am lucky because a number of people I am working with came from fast growing startups so I have their experiences to draw upon.

What else has happened in the first 60 days?  Acadia became VCE, which required all docs, websites, presentations, business cards, etc to be updated.  EMC released VNX.  Cisco released new UCS firmware.  VCE became participants in some of VMware’s beta programs.  The list goes on.

 

One last item to note: my last post touched upon the personal reasons I joined VCE.  Lisa Caywood said I was giving myself a personal stretch assignment and she was right.  I referred to myself as not very socially adept.  What I really should have said is that I do not get personal.  I can walk into room and strike up a conversation with no problem.  You want to talk computers, politics, or economics; easy-peazy.  Just don’t ask me if I am married and I won’t ask you.  I don’t know why, I just don’t get personal.  It’s not that I don’t care, because I do.  Heck, I don’t even know my wife’s favorite color, favorite song, etc.  Well I wanted to change that.   And I have.  I know the marital status and family setup of my immediate co-workers.  I even know some of their hobbies.  When I talk to people, I ask how they are doing and I mean it.  It hasn’t been easy getting into the habit of doing this.  My monitor is adorned with Post-It notes reminding me to be personal.  The good news is that I am starting to ask these question without the reminders.

I also mentioned my desire for order and control; two things I do not have at VCE.  I’m getting used to it now and it’s spilling over into my home life.  This is a positive because I don’t get annoyed as much when things are out of place and I don’t get as frustrated when things in my personal life go awry.

I am still working on recharging myself.  I didn’t expect it to be instantaneous and it hasn’t.  I am getting there though.

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