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.
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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