Ken Hui and I started with VCE roughly at the same time in mid-to-late 2010.  We were both able to participate in the EMC vSpecialist on-boarding as part of Team05, and he quickly emerged as one of the leaders of the VCE team Team05for that week.  We also had to give an “About Me” presentation on the first day, that none of the VCE folks were told about until we arrived, and Ken’s whiteboard overview of how his life has been defined by taking risks and then holding on to the outcomes with everything he had really affected everyone in the room.  You’ll never meet a more positive guy, despite all of the times he’s been knocked down.  Oh, and he’s easily one of the best vArchitects VCE has ever had, so he’s got that going for him too.

Ken has really committed himself to being a content creator over the last few months, and put out a couple great blog posts about our launch on the 21st.  This one, titled Because Infrastructure is Boring, went up yesterday, and I retweeted it with a picture attached:

infrastructure is boring

This was a keynote that I gave at the Omaha VMUG in June of 2010, and it’s notable for one specific reason.  It was, to my knowledge, the first time we publicly outed what has finally been formally announced as the VCE Vision Intelligent Operations software.  Of course I had to be sneaky about it, and we couldn’t come right out and announce things.  I’m working on another blog post around the story of how VCE Vision came to be, so we don’t need to dig into the details here…

Using a “Unicorns and Rainbows” slide as my disclaimer, I shared the first ever screenshots of the now public vCenter and vCenter Operations Manager integration.  If you remember, in June of 2010 VMware hadn’t announced vSphere 5.1 or the next-gen client yet, so even putting up a disguised screenshot was a pretty big deal at that point, especially at a VMware event.

imageThe response that Jay and I got from the attendees was great.  Lots of people furiously trying to think through what it meant, and how it could be leveraged, lots of polite deflection from us and promises to release more info when we could while insisting that it was real…

In late April of that year I went out and gave the overview of that VCE Vision could be to Colin McNamara and the Nexus IS team.  In May, at EMC World, Trey Layton and I showed Colin the first cut of the vCenter plugin demo video, and his response was priceless and borderline inappropriate (which isn’t all that surprising if you know Colin).

Part of the charter of our OCIO team is to bring a new context and message about the role of infrastructure to the market, not in a “coming down from the mountain way, it’s a much more grass roots effort.  Jay Cuthrell, the dearly departed and fondly remembered Steve Chambers and I spent more than a year going out and trying to change the conversation from the bottom up, knowing that at some point people will get the value of what we are doing, and start expecting it from all the players in the market.  As of yesterday, that gauntlet has clearly and publicly been thrown.  It’s not, however, a job with a lot of instant and immediate feedback, and so you have to trust yourself, the message and the team, and hope you see results over time.

You can see it happen when pieces of the message start showing up in the presentations and blog posts of people you respect.  When you hear sales people telling customers that no application user has ever cared what fabric switch, another quote I used in those early presentations.  When you see the competition franticly trying to align themselves with a market that your company pioneered, desperate to be classified in the same segment even if there’s no way they could ever make the investment that VCE has in how we do business.  When you see people you have an incredible amount of respect for, like Ken, using the message you put out almost a year earlier, and not even remembering where it started, that’s when all of the effort and travelling and time are worth it.

Like the Queen Mary II, our industry is huge and lumbering and takes a long time and a lot of pushing to change directions, but it can be done.  Every once in a while I look up and see that the wind is blowing from a different direction, and the stars have shifted.  That’s why I love my job.

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