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Konstantin Spirov, Sr. Software Engineer on his IT Journey and Driving What’s Next in the Software-Defined Data Center at VMware

VMware employees contribute their best work to imagine, define, and deliver the future of IT through transformative products and solutions that enable customer agility, efficiency, security, and fault tolerance in the Cloud era. Take a look at Konstantin’s story on discovering his passion for technology in the 1980’s to collaborating with his VMware colleagues on the next game-changing technology in the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC).

 

Name: Konstantin Spirov

Job title: Senior Software Engineer, vCenter Orchestrator

Years at VMware: 3

Office location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Favorite tech gadget: My ergonomic keyboard with angle adjustment capability and my “Pomodoro” kitchen timer.

 

How did you get started in software technology and what led you to where you are today?

In the late 80’s (the last years of the communist regime in Bulgaria), the eastern clones of Apple II and IBM PC XT became extremely popular in our country. And because of this, a new generation of IT specialists were born within the mathematical gymnasiums and universities. I was among this generation. We enjoyed connecting through FidoNet, hacking and supporting BBS-es and writing computer viruses and E-ZINES. At the end of the day, it was this generation of IT specialists that decided to make a change and help drive what’s next.

Several of my friends became the founding fathers of the first ISP in Bulgaria. And because of this, two decades later, Bulgaria has one of the most well performing national Internet backbones. I decided to grow in a different direction by pursuing software development. My professional career as a software engineer began almost 20 years ago. SOClass, one of the projects I started as a lead developer, is currently used as a platform for electronic documents in custom offices of more than 30 nations worldwide (and counting). Now, in my role at VMware, I enjoy working on a product suite that powers a large number of data centers around the world.

What is a typical day at VMware like for you?

I spend a majority of my time for planned work, while also attending to other responsibilities such as the maintenance of products, job interviews for new VMware candidates and service requests. From time to time I use my kitchen timer to practice the Pomodoro Technique too. My timer rings so powerfully, that it can wake up the entire floor…which can be quite entertaining.

Tell us what it has been like to help drive the Software-defined Data Center (SDDC) initiative?

It’s a great challenge, but also a great responsibility! The opportunities are numerous, but there is one larger danger and that is to provide inconsistent solutions. The most important battle is the battle against the complexity. It should be easy to manage virtual data centers.

What do you think is the greatest barrier to wider adoption of SDDC?

It’s a subject of time, nothing else. What is the adoption of the tape recorder today? I maintain my MP3 collection in the cloud and I don’t bring any cassettes or tapes with me. We won’t convince everyone if we talk about abstractions such as SDDC, IaaS, Layer 1 and Cloud. The important thing is that the Software-Defined Datacenter gives us an opportunity to solve everyday problems. For example, the live migration of running virtual machines was a game changer and the benefit is now clear to everyone. Could it be done without virtualization? Another good example – the ability for antivirus programs to offload the memory and process scanning from the VM – and now the fundamental problem with the rootkit detection looks quite differently.

What is your favorite VMware memory?

I appreciate moments of “small victories”. For example, a meeting that I had with a customer that was planned for two hours, but only lasted 15 minutes because we were able to resolve all outstanding issues was great. I also like to travel (but only moderately), so I remember very vividly my business trips to other VMware sites.

Innovation is a core part of VMware’s culture. Share an example of how you, a coworker, or a group of employees pushed the boundaries to allow for new thinking and ultimately helped define what’s next in IT.

At VMware we have freedom to innovate, but we also have great responsibility to execute on our ideas. This can be seen in the vCenter Orchestrator team through our Innovation Days tradition. During these days, we set out to work on projects that are not in our everyday work plans. However, there is one catch. We only implement the projects through peer programming. If you are unable to convince at least one person from your team that your idea is meaningful then your idea will not move forward at that point in time. This process allows individuals to step back and realize that their idea might need to be thought through more thoroughly. The system really works for our site. Some of the official product features such as SNMP Plug-in (now used by vCOps for auto-remediation), workflow version control (one of the top features requested by the customers, enable backup/restore and staging), auto layout in the GUI designer and Wavemaker integration started from these innovation days.

Do you have a thought leader or person you admire in your field or industry? Who and why?

Leaders who are brave, have vision and push for transparency inspire me. Jonathan I. Schwartz, the man who open sourced Java and led the battle for survival of Sun Microsystems (the happy-ending is not always mandatory) is one of those individuals. Former VMware CEO, Paul Maritz, with his vision for the Cloud and the way individuals write software, which is now a market reality in 2013. I’ve also had the opportunity to work with great leaders who have inspired me in my own career growth at VMware.

What advice would you impart with those interested in growing their careers in the IT space?

Learn how to focus, how to plan and how to execute. Cultivate the capability to ask strict questions and give strict answers. As the landscape is constantly changing, be brave and not afraid to challenge yourself. Yes, sometimes we can be very intelligent, but sometimes we are unable to see very trivial things, things obvious to the people around us. That’s why every professional should not be afraid to ask for feedback (not only from his or her coworkers, but from family members too). If you don’t like your job, find the reason, and if you like your job too much, try not to let it ruin your work life balance.

What’s next for you this year?

My close plans are connected to vCenter Orchestrator (vCO). I enjoy vCO’s ability to work in complex environments, integrate the different tiers quickly, and its ability to coordinate the exchange of information. Last year the market adoption of vCO exceeded all expectations. This brings with itself new challenges, so my team must optimize the way we test, support, and get the tasks done. Our customers trust us and we should always respond with great respect.

 

 

 

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Kristine Dahl Steidel, VMware Norway Country Manager shares the paths and people that have shaped her both professionally and personally

International Women’s Day (Friday, March 8) is a global day commemorating the economic, political & social achievements of women past, present and future.

To celebrate, we are recognizing nine VMware women (three a week for the next few weeks) who are helping to drive what’s next for the company and the IT industry by their everyday contributions Today we hear from Kristine about her ever-evolving career, life at VMware and the women that have inspire her to grow!

 

Spotlight on: Kristine Dahl Steidel, Country Manager

Years at VMware: 7

Office Location: Oslo, Norway

Personal mantra or favorite quote: Carpe Diem

 

How did you get started in software technology and what led you to where you are today?

In 1997, I was studying social sciences at the University in Oslo, and planned to apply for the professional clinical programme in psychology. At that time the programme was full and they would not admit new students so I got a job while waiting for an opening, and came over a position as a junior sales consultant in a small start-up company called Lantec. The energy in the company, the highly motivated people working there and the speed of change in the industry really attracted me, so even though I first signed up as a contractor I soon realized that I wanted to stay in this business. Eventually, I signed a permanent contract, with the clause that I could finish a Masters Degree in Management and Organizational Behavior at the Norwegian Business School. Even though that meant working full time, while pursuing my Masters Degree for almost 7 years, I never regretted that decision!

What is one of your major career goals for the year?

My primary career goal for 2013 is enhancement of my expertise in Business Administration and Finance. I plan to attend lectures at the Norwegian Business School on the weekends as a part of a long-term plan to get an MBA degree.

In three adjectives, how would you describe your experience at VMware so far?

Exciting, inspiring and just fantastic!

What is your favorite VMware memory or pastime? Why?

I have so many great memories from having worked here for seven years so it is hard to pick one. I have to mention two. First, listening to Carl Eschenbach at new hire training in 2005. His energy and enthusiasm – and great presentation skills – really convinced me this was a great company to work for. Second, Diane Green’s (former VMware CEO) keynote at VMworld 2006 about how we make the traditional operation system less important. That is when I realized that VMware could change the industry forever.

What attracted you to VMware? Is it the same thing that motivates you today?

When I started, VMware was a small start-up company and somewhat reminded me of the first company I worked for. For me, that was a chance of re-experiencing that energy and motivation I felt back then and to evolve and develop my management skills. I soon realized that this company would change the industry. That has motivated me ever since.

Do you have a thought-leader or person you admire in your field or industry? Who and why?

I could mention several people here, but in light of International Women’s Day, I have to say Gro Harlem Bruntland. She has been one of my top role models since I was a child. Gro Harlem Bruntland was Norway’s first female prime minister, and when she appointed her second government (in 1986) 8 of the 18 ministers were women, which were a world sensation and paved the way for women’s participation both in subsequent governments as well as in business.

Do you have any tips on managing the demands of your career and the other parts of your life?

I think it is all about deciding what is important in your life, and keeping that in mind in all decisions you make. I love my job and I love VMware, but my family is always the most important. How my decisions will impact our life, as a family is always what counts the most.

Is there one thing that compels you as being part of the VMware community? If so, can you tell us more?

VMware`s ability to change, evolve and lead the way into new eras as we grow is unique. This is all due to the people working here, and I feel so fortunate being a part of this community. The team I work with in Norway is a fantastic example of this and we truly drive the development together.

 

 

 

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Sreelakshmi Bylahalli, Sr. Manager of ESX Patch Testing Team at VMware shares the paths and people that have shaped her both professionally and personally

International Women’s Day (Friday, March 8) is a global day commemorating the economic, political & social achievements of women past, present and future.

To celebrate, we are recognizing nine VMware women (three a week for the next few weeks) who are helping to drive what’s next for the company and the IT industry by their everyday contributions. Today, we hear from Sreelakshmi about her career path, the people that inspire her to do her best work, her work passions and her plans to develop and grow in the year ahead!

 

Spotlight on: Sreelakshmi Bylahalli, ESX Patch Testing Team

Years at VMware: 2 years, 7 months

Office Location: Bangalore, India

Personal mantra or favorite quote: “The true nature of anything is the highest it can become.” -Aristotle

 

How did you get started in software technology and what led you to where you are today?

I completed my undergraduate degree in Electronics at a time when software technology was booming in India. Because of this, I decided to do my post-graduate degree in Computer Application. Since then it has become one of my life’s passions. My biggest passion is people, so this encouraged me to take on management role. I love my current job because it allows me to be in touch with technology while working with people as well.

Do you have a thought-leader or person you admire in your field or industry? Who and why?

Yes, I do have many thought-leaders that inspire me to do my best work. I admire our ex-CEO Paul Maritz for his strategic leadership, Steve Herrod for the passion he has towards innovation and technology, Steve Jobs for the kind of vision he had about the market and his customers, Bill Gates for his attitude towards “giving back to society” and our VP of Global Sites, Yanbing Li for her dynamic leadership and passion towards technology. There are many more that I could add to the list.

In three adjectives, how would you describe your experience at VMware so far?

I can attribute my love and passion towards VMware technology and VMware with many adjectives, but the main adjectives I can give are related to feelings – proud, zealous and lively.

Do you have a favorite VMware product or technology? If so, what is it and why?

VMware vSphere! I have been working on this product since the day I joined VMware and even in my previous job. I always feel happy and proud when I see the customer feedback about the product. There are three main reasons why I love vSphere – The vast customer base for this product, the technology challenges and the great people I get to work with on a regular basis.

Do you have a favorite group, hobby or interest that you are active in at VMware?

I am part of “VMware Leading Women” group, which helps and encourages diverse perspectives in the company. I have lead this group for the past two years. We look at the challenges in attracting and retaining top female talent and help HR identify relevant policies. The VMware Foundation is another initiative that I have passion for at VMware.

Do you have any tips on managing the demands of your career and the other parts of your life?

Time management is the key. The way I handle the challenge of work life balance is through planning. I am a mother of two toddlers and my family life demands a lot of time, but planning and working as per the plan at both office and home helps me in keeping with the pace. Obviously, it requires a lot of support, and because of this, I a have a strong support system at home. My husband and my parent-in laws support me to achieve my goals in my career.

At the workplace, building trust within the team is also very important and I believe in teamwork. In the 15 years of my career, I have always been lucky to work on a great team!

What is one of your major career goals for the year?

I am looking forward to successful releases for our 2013 and 2014 products. I will do this by working with my team for readiness and streamlining the processes to find defects early. Based on all of the previous release reviews, we have come up with a strategy to do this. Adapting to the technical challenges and having internal tech talks and knowledge sharing sessions within the team to fill the gap is key.

 

 

 

Search all our open positions worldwide

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