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Monthly Archives: February 2013

National Engineers Week Spotlight: Xiaoyun Zhu on Innovating at VMware

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Xiaoyun about her contributions to the innovation culture at VMware, the people that inspire her, her favorite product launch and much more!

 

Name: Xiaoyun Zhu

Job title: Staff Engineer

Years at VMware: 4

Office Location: Palo Alto, California

Favorite Tech Gadget: iPhone

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

My mom was an electrical engineer. When I was little, she often took me to work with her at a university lab. It just seemed like a really cool place to work with all the equipment and gadgets lying around. When I was seven my family got our first ever TV set, which was completely assembled by my mother in her lab. I thought that was so amazing and decided very early on that I would become an engineer as well so that I can make really cool things myself.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

The industry-wide initiative on building computing systems and data centers that can manage themselves and deliver capacity on demand inspired a lot of the work that I have done in the last 10 years.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

VMware vSphere 4.1. I was working in the Performance Group at the time focusing on improving DRS and DPM performance. I was also driving the team effort to put together the first technical white paper on VMware vCenter Server Performance and Best Practices, which was published in Aug. 2010. This release involved significant performance and scalability improvements in vCenter Server. For example, the maximum number of VMs per cluster increased from 1280 to 3000, and the maximum number of hosts per vCenter instance increased from 300 to 1000. Not only was it an exciting product launch, but it was also the first release after I joined VMware where my own work had directly contributed to the performance enhancements in our resource management products.   

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

Intense, fun, rewarding.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

I work in the Distributed Resource Management Team that has developed industry-leading RM technologies such as DRS, DPM, and SDRS. Most of the existing RM solutions focus on system-level metrics such as resource utilization. I’ve been working on an advanced development project with my colleagues and interns to develop new resource management solutions that can automatically meet the service level objectives of the virtualized applications with minimum human intervention, using a combination of machine learning, control theory and optimization.

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

The status of VMware as a market leader in virtualization technology, and its potential to develop many more innovative management solutions that empower customers to make the best use of their virtualized environments. And yes, this still motivates me today!

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

Yes. Dr. Joseph Hellerstein, IEEE Fellow, who used to work at IBM Research and now at Google. He was the industry pioneer in bringing control theory and a rigorous methodology for designing feedback-based systems into the field of computing systems management. He inspired many researchers and engineers from both industry and academia, including myself. Their work resulted in many innovative solutions in performance management, resource management, and power management.

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

I’m excited about the product release in the coming year for which I’ve been actively involved in designing DRS enhancements that can leverage the new Unified vMotion technology made available in vSphere 5.1 while providing better resource management support for a variety of important use cases.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

I’m looking forward to continuous contributions to VMware’s existing product roadmap as well as opportunities to convert some of our early-stage research prototypes into real products that can be delivered into the hands of our customers.

 

*Photography by Michael Dunn

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Fanny Strudel on working on the Horizon Suite and innovating at VMware

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Fanny on the innovations that have inspired her, the product releases she is most excited to be a part of and much more!

 

Name: Fanny Strudel

Job title: Staff Engineer in Mobile R&D

Years at VMware: 4

Office Location: Grenoble, France

Favorite Tech Gadget: The Samsung Galaxy S IV

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

I pursued a career in engineering because I have always enjoyed learning new techniques and studying scientific subjects. It is very exciting to create new products that are state of the art and can influence the future of IT.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

Virtualization on a mobile device. I started to embark on this area in 2005 at a French startup and from there I’ve been continuously learning virtualization techniques as well as the entire mobile ecosystem.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

The Horizon mobile launch of course, since we’ve been trying hard to deliver a perfect product since 2005!

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

  • Satisfying: I’ve been learning lots of new technologies and ways to work thanks to the company and the colleagues I’ve worked with here at VMware
  • Rewarding: VMware is the only company I’ve known that takes special care around employees career paths and rewards
  • Instructive: I have learned a lot in regards to strategy and management thanks to coworkers in product, sales and marketing who have always been there to share their insight

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

We always try to learn from the outside and from one another. Listening to my teammates’ experiences is always beneficial as each person to bring new ideas to the table that we can grow and develop from.

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

I do like to read Martin Fowler’s blog since he shares good ideas and principles on software design and agile methodologies. I have also learned a lot from managers at VMware since joining the company in 2008. Srinivas Krishnamurti showed me why and how you can change or adapt a strategy to address the biggest market for your product. The mobile market is definitely not an easy market, and Srinivas has been able to understand it and to focus our development team on the important features. Steve Deasy, on the R&D side at VMware is a great manager. He always listens to his team members and takes time to communicate since people among our team work at different VMware site locations. I think he has played a significant role in our mobile team’s success by being a clean interface to the business team and empowering us to innovate and drive the business forward.

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

Horizon Suite is definitely the one that I am most looking forward to since it will gather all the end-user computing products in one place. VMware Teams around the globe have been focused around this release, so it has been exciting to be a part of something so big.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

I would love to learn more about managing products and strategy by working at VMware headquarters in Palo Alto, California. I will also make sure I improve myself in my day-to-day work and stay at the state of the art. And last, VMware has always considered its employees as the core value of the company, and put in place a culture of innovation; I hope it will continue in that direction for the coming years.

 

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Andrew Lambeth on being a part of the virtualization journey

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Andrew Lambeth on his path to becoming an engineer, his early days at VMware, a look into networking virtualization and much more! 

  

Name: Andrew Lambeth

Job title: Principal Engineer

Years at VMware: 2001-2010, 2012-present

Office Location: Palo Alto, California

Favorite Tech Gadget: Mechanical wristwatch

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

I don’t think I ever made a conscious decision to do so. I was studying chemistry in college when I stumbled into a summer job at a network security software startup in the early days of the commercial Internet boom. I was immediately hooked on the excitement of working in a rapidly evolving industry.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

I guess it’s cliché to say “virtualization” here, but if you’ve been in computing for the last 10-20 years and that isn’t in your top three major impact innovations, then you just aren’t paying attention. Back when I joined VMware in 2001, I actually considered virtualization just a cool fun niche technology to work on, and to tell the truth, I wasn’t altogether sold on how useful it would be outside of the obvious test/development scenarios people were using the VMware Workstation product for in those days. I’m happy now to admit how shortsighted that initial impression was. Very quickly I came to understand how the data center was fundamentally changing as a result of what we were doing. This shaped my view that software will take over pretty much everything but the most basic of bit shifting/slinging/storing. I believe that this is a fundamentally good thing because it supports and catalyzes further innovation.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

I think VMware ESX 3 was the first release where I really felt like we had completed a critical mass of what had been the initial vision for data center virtualization. Though getting to completion of that release was desperately messy and painful, the final result was a very solid enterprise class product built around revolutionary compute and IO virtualization technology. In the networking stack we’d done a full rewrite that gave us a foundation that we felt very confident in building on for years to come, and we have in fact been able to do so. At that time the future looked so bright, and in retrospect, it was and is bright. That’s a really pleasing thing to look back on and draw confidence from as I look forward now.

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

Challenging, rewarding, lucky.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

I think it’s mostly about looking at the data center and questioning everything that isn’t primarily done in software, and then looking for the opportunities that open up once hardware development and business model constraints are out of the picture. This has obviously been going on for a while now for servers, and more recently to some degree for storage, but networking has been a long holdout and so there is a huge potential there for disruption. Right now, in the NSBU, we are purely focused on that disruption and expanding the reach and capabilities of our platforms, while much of the rest of the networking industry is back on its heels trying to figure out what it all means. That’s a great enabler for innovative thinking and looking out far beyond incremental improvements.

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

For me, the draw to pick up and move across the country back in 2001 (for what was then still basically a startup with no certain future) was 100% about the team that I met when I interviewed here. I learned something really interesting from nearly every engineer I spoke to during my interview, and was just really excited at the possibility of working closely with those folks. That remains true today in the teams I interact with at VMware, and I’m happy to have rejoined them along with the rest of my Nicira colleagues.

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

While I’ve had many great influences and mentors over the years, I think Mike Nelson’s (former VMware employee & Fellow), ability to be pragmatic and creative at the same time is probably the one that most consistently inspires me.

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

I believe the 2013 releases of our networking virtualization platforms, vCNS and NVP, are going to give us a real foundation that will allow us to repeatedly leap ahead of the rest of the networking industry as it is transformed from hardware focused to software focused.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

I’m looking forward to continuing to ride this wave of change as the networking industry goes the way the server/OS industry did in the last wave. I’m also looking forward to being a part of VMware’s transition into the next phase of maturation as a company, becoming the kind of lasting force that will shape the industry for decades. It’s a rare chance we have, and an interesting challenge.

 

*Photography by Michael Dunn

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Natasha Gude and her passion for Software-Defined Networking at VMware

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Natasha on her contributions to the innovation culture at VMware, the people that inspire her, her passion for software-defined networking and much more! 

 

Name: Natasha Gude

Job title: Senior Staff Engineer

Years at VMware: 6 months

Office Location: Palo Alto, California

Favorite Tech Gadget: The iPad

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

In college I just realized engineering was something I genuinely enjoyed. I loved being approached with a problem, thinking through the different tradeoffs in designing a solution and finally following through with an implementation that would bring that solution to life. Making a career out of something I enjoyed seemed like the logical next step and I’m very happy my younger self made that choice.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

Software-defined networking (SDN) has literally defined my career from the beginning. I’ve spent the past 5 years designing and building SDN controller platforms for remotely programming network switches. Outside of that I’ve designed various applications, but again, all for SDN networks. The advent of SDN has brought with it a wealth of questions as to how it can most effectively be leveraged to further innovate in the networking space, and I’ve enjoyed spending my career thus far tackling those issues.

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

Invigorating, enriching, fast-paced.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

Software-defined networking is a relatively new implementation model with a lot to prove, and yet we’re attempting to harness its capabilities to provide true network virtualization. Doing so would revolutionize the industry, allowing for an entirely new way of both thinking about networks as well as innovating on top of them.

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

I’ve always thought of VMware as a cutting edge systems company, pushing the bounds of what the world thinks is doable in software. Coming from a view where I think the same can be proven in the networking space, I feel as though I’m working at the perfect place to help make that happen. I’ve admired VMware’s technical contributions from day 1, and am excited to play a role in the contributions it makes in the future.

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

The perhaps obvious answer for me is Martín Casado, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer of Nicira by VMware. I’m convinced Martín knows just about everything there is to know about everything in our field, and if there’s ever something he doesn’t know, my guess is he’ll know by the next day. He’s been able to perfect and articulate an incredibly innovative vision in the face of much skepticism – something I admire tremendously, and feel very lucky to have watched firsthand over the past few years. 

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

I’m most excited to see VMware deliver on its Software-Defined Data Center vision, and am particularly eager to contribute to the networking aspect of that vision. I look forward to Nicira’s technology being a part of this initiative, and how it, combined with VMware’s vCNS offerings, will provide users with a complete network virtualization solution.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

I’m most looking forward to growing as an engineer and learning as much as I can from all of the talented people I’m fortunate enough to have the chance to work with. Being surrounded by such a wealth of experience is something I’ve already benefitted so much from and I know I will continue to do so for the foreseeable future.

 

 

*Photography by Michael Dunn

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Rean Griffith on the power of creativity through engineering

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Rean as he shares his perspectives about his team and how they continue to tackle hard problems, why he became an engineer and much more!

 

Name: Dr. Rean Griffith

Job title: Staff Engineer

Years at VMware: 2

Office Location: Palo Alto, California

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

Engineering is one of the most creative things a person can do. When people usually think of engineering, they focus on the fact that much of it is grounded in mathematics, physics, statistics, etc. Those disciplines provide a certain set of rules (and in some cases the limits or things conventional wisdom considers limits). Creativity comes from working with and around those rules and (perceived) limits to do/create something novel.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

The proliferation of the low-cost communications (the Internet et al.) made an already small world even smaller. Technical communities have always been small (highly-connected), despite spanning large geographical distances. Today the Internet continues to connect today’s great thinkers and ideas by but a few clicks and a “send/chat” button as well as hasten the pace of realizing and connecting with tomorrow’s great thinkers and ideas.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

I’ve been here for so short a time that I’ll say “all of them”, mainly because of the excitement around teams seeing the results of their work and the resulting impact.

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

Fun, exciting, challenging.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

We identify hard problems and hammer out solutions. Many of these problems have no known or accepted solution or are new problems resulting from shifts in how things work or are done, which makes them all the more challenging and rewarding to solve.

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

I came to VMware to work on interesting, hard and technical problems. So far there’s no shortage, so the motivation is the same today.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

Interesting times. We’re about to move further down the path of the software defined everything (datacenter, networks and storage). This opens up tremendous possibilities and presents many interesting problems in (distributed) systems and machine-learning (for resource management, automatic scaling, control, optimization and large-scale analytics) where my interests lie.

 

*Photography by Michael Dunn

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Yang Yang on his journey at VMware through Workstation, Cloud Foundry and SDDC

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they do to make the world work better.

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Yang on how he got started in engineering, who inspired him and his journey at VMware through Workstation, Cloud Foundry and SDDC.

 

Name: Yang Yang

Job title: MTS

Years at VMware: 1

Office Location: Shanghai, China

Favorite Tech Gadget: Glasses with any advanced features (video recording, navigation, etc.)

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

Pursuing a degree in Electronic Engineering was shaped by my love to play with robots as a young child. In high school I joined a robotics group and the mentor of this group taught us a great amount of knowledge surrounding the hardware composition of the robots. We also learned how to program some of the advanced functions for the robots. I was totally attracted by the fact that through the combination of software and hardware, automation work could be performed for human beings.

What innovation inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

The development of Internet and Cloud Computing. The idea of Internet has greatly changed the way people live. We have learned to interact with people in a totally different way. And the derivative of Internet and cloud computing will allow us to use computing resources through the Internet in a more convenient way. Enterprises will also benefit from the agility, reduced cost, security and enhancement brought by Cloud Computing. Individuals will have a better experience when using Software-as-a-Service that is provided by different Cloud service companies.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

Cloud Foundry. I have been working on Cloud Foundry since I joined VMware. It is the first open source Platform-as-a-Service in the industry and working on open source projects is always challenging but interesting. I am learning new concepts and technology virtually every day through tackling tough problems. The services team I work with is always keeping a healthy momentum in integrating different types of services into Cloud Foundry, which has been a rewarding experience to be a part of.

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

Eventful, inspiring, challenging.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

Our team is in charge of all the services on Cloud Foundry. Besides integrating different database services, messaging services, storage services, etc., into Cloud Foundry, our team stays up-to-date on the latest technologies by sharing insights with one another and researching the latest IT advancements so that we can keep Cloud Foundry as a cutting-edge open source PaaS in the industry.

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

VMware Workstation. One of my classmates recommended VMware Workstation to minimize the cost of switching between different operating systems. I was totally amazed by the technology of desktop virtualization and its feature of limiting resources and network configuration.

When I was applying to the software engineer position at VMware, I was totally attracted by how VMware’s vCloud Suite was facilitating the automation of IT management. I think VMware is the leader in Infrastructure-as-a-Service (IaaS) and has started to provide a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS) in order to utilize its overwhelming advantage in the infrastructure layer to further ease the development of applications. It was this ambition that motivated me to join the Cloud Foundry Project.

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

Joe Tucci, CEO of EMC. Joe has transformed EMC’s business model through the successful acquisition of VMware and RSA, as well as the accelerated delivery of IT as a service for EMC. These successful business operations have enabled EMC to amass diverse products in storage, virtualization, security and big data. Overall, Joe has provided a more sustainable future for the company and I admire him for his leadership, persistence and vision to grow and shape the IT industry.

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

Enterprise Cloud Foundry. Cloud Foundry has been a successful Public Cloud product and has been adopted by many companies as its core Public Cloud platform. However, there has not been a release of Cloud Foundry that has actually been customized for enterprises to use as its private cloud, with customized resources, services and run times. Also there is no optimization of Cloud Foundry on VMware IaaS Products like vSphere. So, I would be really happy to see if Cloud Foundry would also prove its success in the area of Private Cloud PaaS offering.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

The realization of the Software-Defined Data Center (SDDC). VMware has always been a leader in regards to the virtualization of IT infrastructure and the provider of IaaS. The next step for VMware is to take advantage of existing resources and accelerate the automation of service provisioning, to shrink the cost of computational power and redefine Cloud services. VMware has already been on the right position to perform the revolution and redefine IT roles. So I am looking forward to see how the SDDC will be implemented.

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Savina Ilieva on product development and customer perspectives at VMware

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they  do to make the world work better. 

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Savina on how her early tinkering days shaped her engineering career choice, her passion for quality engineering and product development and much more!  

 

Name: Savina Ilieva

Job title: Staff Engineer

Years at VMware: 5

Office Location: Sofia, Bulgaria

Favorite Tech Gadget: My Smartphone and my Notebook

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

I am a third generation engineer and I had the chance to grow up playing with PCs from the 8bits times. When I was a child I was more interested in taking toys apart. I still remember my mum saying, “How can you break everything with just a single touch?” Once when I was 12, I dropped our home phone. It was broken and I could not call any of my friends and I was afraid to tell my parents. Then I just opened it, noticed the disconnected conductor and fixed it with a soldering iron. Beside my skills to fix devices, I actually focused on how things work and how to invent creative ways to break them. I tended to search for some room for improvement afterwards. That’s how I decided to become a Quality Engineer more than 9 years ago.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

When I started my career as a Quality Engineer, I was keen on everything related to Test automation and increasing the Regression tests efficiency. I have been part of VMware since its acquisition of Sciant in 2007. During this time, I have enjoyed the Virtualization Journey with VMware embracing a variety of top of the shelf technologies and products. I am currently focused on the Cloud Management Providers context and the trend for ultimate Cloud Orchestration.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

This is a really tough question since I have been part of more than 20 product launches – from a general platform releases to a variety of plug-in releases. One of the most remarkable events was the opportunity to take part in VMworld 2012, when VMware vCloud Suite was announced.

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

Inspiring, amazing, beneficial.

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

There are series of innovation initiatives, which happen on a regular basis not only at a team level but companywide. People are encouraged to present and work on their innovative ideas, and transfer them to new products and features.

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

One of the biggest motivators for me was the friendly and open atmosphere and the possibility for daily collaboration with dedicated and innovative professionals.

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

Pat Gelsinger, Steve Herrod and Paul Maritz – Remarkable leaders, visionaries and eloquent speakers.

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

During the past two years I have been participating in variety of customer-facing initiatives: presenting our products at User Council groups, On-site Beta activities, as well as Partner and Customer events. These events have provided me with the opportunity to gain valuable customer insight, which in return can be incorporated into VMware products making them go from very good to great.

I am currently transitioning into a Product Management position and am keen on stepping into this new role. This opportunity for me to develop into a new role is just a small example of how VMware provides employees with the platform and resources to not only to develop their skills, but allows them to play a strategic role in the product development process.

 

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National Engineers Week Spotlight: Kit Colbert on holistic engineering, solving complex technical problems and having fun at VMware

Let’s celebrate awesomeness during National Engineers Week (February 17-23) where engineers, engineering students and technicians are recognized for all of the innovative things they  do to make the world work better. 

At VMware, we are taking this opportunity to share the special stories of our very own people. Today we hear from Kit on his passion for solving complex technical problems, collaborative innovation, continuous learning and having fun doing what he loves!

 

Name: Kit Colbert

Job title: Principal Engineer

Years at VMware: 9.5

Office Location: Palo Alto, California

Favorite Tech Gadget: iPad.  Love it.

 

What made you decide to become an engineer?

Growing up I always liked tinkering with computers. I eventually started programming and discovered I could create all these cool programs. I was like, “wow, I can do anything here, this is awesome.”  I knew I wanted to continue learning, so I took computer classes in grade and high school and then continued studying computer science in college. I got into kernel programming and systems work, which eventually lead me to VMware.

What innovation has inspired you and/or shaped what you do in your career?

The original iPhone has inspired me to change how I think about product development. While the original iPhone was definitely a great device loved by its users, it was missing a ton of features. It didn’t have cut and paste, 3G, GPS, and many other features we’d now be shocked if a phone were missing. In fact, even then, there were issues, but the iPhone got the web so right that it didn’t matter.

I learned two lessons. First, while we engineers always aspire to create a “perfect” product, the reality is that we don’t need to. We need to find that “one thing” (the web in the case of the original iPhone) that’s most important and make that awesome. Everything else can be less-than-perfect and it’ll be ok – you can eventually get to those other things. We always wring our hands about features we can’t get in or functionality that’s not there, and I can only imagine how excruciating it must have been for the iPhone developers to not include, say, cut and paste in that first release, but they were able to maintain a big picture view and knew that a great web experience was enough. I now try to maintain that big picture view as well so that I can better judge tradeoffs and decide which features should go in.

The second lesson was that great products are not due solely to technology. The web experience on the iPhone was great not just because of the giant screen and real web browser, but also because AT&T created a simple unlimited data plan for a flat rate. Previously data plans were confusing and could be very expensive if you went over your limit. Thus people were less inclined to surf on their phone for fear of overage charges. By removing that concern, Apple ensured that people would embrace web surfing on the iPhone. The takeaway for me was that I needed to think holistically about product development. We engineers are responsible for getting the bits right, but there are a thousand other pieces that need to fall in place for the product to be a success (e.g. documentation, pricing and packaging, training of the field staff, enabling partners, etc.). I now work closely with people from all of those groups to ensure that my products are successful in the marketplace.

What is your favorite VMware product launch you’ve been a part of? Why?

Definitely the VMware vSphere 4 launch. It’s my favorite for a couple of reasons. First, it was a huge release and the launch was a big event attended by many big names in the field. (I remember Michael Dell walking around escorted by his bodyguards. Crazy!)  It was this release that really seemed to distinguish VMware as a major player in the enterprise software market. It was an exciting time at the company.

Second, it was also memorable for me because I got to participate in it! They had this idea to use the shot from Chariots of Fire where the guys run along the beach to the classic theme music from the movie. In our version, we were a group of developers running with the “golden bits” for vSphere 4 to deliver them at the launch. I was chosen at the guy who got to carry those golden bits, which was represented by a “golden CD” atop a torch. So I got to run up on stage during the launch event carrying the golden CD, symbolically delivering vSphere 4 to our customers. It was a lot of fun!

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

  • Exciting: It’s been quite the ride. When I interned at VMware, we were around 150 people in size.  Now we’re pushing 13,000+. During my internship, we released VMware ESX Server 1.5 and vSphere (which includes ESX Server), which is now at version 5.1. The company has grown dramatically during the last decade, we’ve gone through a number of shifts in strategy, and seen a lot of changes. It’s been an exciting ride and I can’t wait to see where we go next!
  • Continuous learning: I originally joined VMware to work on hard problems. I was narrowly focused on these core problems and over time I’ve learned more and more and broadened my scope. Whether it’s gaining a deeper understanding of engineering issues, like coding languages, performance analysis techniques, or networking and storage innards; or an appreciation for business concepts, like how to create a comprehensive platform or increase attach rates; or software development problems, like how to organize 4,000+ engineers to productively produce a product; or marketing issues, such as the subtleties of positioning or thinking through the go-to-market strategy; I have a much broader understanding of how we produce and sell software. The funny part is that even though many of these things may seem completely unrelated to engineering, the reality is that having a good understanding of them actually makes me a better engineer. For instance, knowing the business allows me to make more informed architectural decisions; working with product marketing allows us to send a more technically correct message to our (very technical) customers. I am constantly surprised by how much I’ve learned here and I am excited about continuing to learn.
  • Fun: While we work hard, we also have a lot of fun. In fact, when my team was evaluating itself as to what, as a team, we did well and what we could do better, “partying” came as one of the top items we did well!  (There were also a couple of work-related things like “execution” and “product quality”, but that’s not important here…)  Whether it’s release parties, go-karting at Angel Island, a mid-day game of ultimate Frisbee, or bashes on Friday afternoons, we always find time to relax and have fun. Fun is an important part of our culture and something I really cherish about working here!

How do you or your team continue to innovate and challenge the status quo?

For our team, innovation is driven by the need to solve hard problems. I think most people believe that innovation is all about some lone genius somewhere coming up with great ideas. But that’s rarely the case. Innovation is best as a collaborative process, where mistakes are made frequently and lessons learned quickly. Indeed, learning is a cornerstone of innovation. You’re presented with a hard problem and there’s a thousand different ways of going about it. Which one do you choose? How do you know you’ve chosen the best one? Usually it’s impossible to reason your way to the optimal solution – while you can weed out some obvious wrong paths, many options remain open. The only way to know the right path is to try a bunch of different options.  You can do so with minimal prototypes that test the concept to see what’s feasible and what problems you haven’t thought of yet. The best measurement of progress in innovation is not whether you’ve found a solution, but if you’re continuing to learn more and are “honing in” on a solution. So long as you’re testing, trying out ideas, you’re moving closer to the right solution and you’ll eventually get there. We’ve organized our team around these concepts. Small sub-teams go after hard problems and measure their progress by how much they’ve learned. It’s challenging work, but also a lot of fun!

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

I joined VMware for two reasons: tackling hard systems problems and the people. First, the hard problems. I was really into the low-level kernel stuff and VMware was the only company doing truly unique work in that area. The technology we produced fundamentally changed IT and how it operates. However, we only solved part of the problem. There are still very big challenges IT faces and VMware is well positioned to solve them. So the challenge that motivates me today is how to realize the larger vision we now have to truly revolutionize IT.

Second, the people. I joined VMware because I was amazed at how many ridiculously smart people worked here. My hope was that a little bit of that intelligence would rub off on me! It’s really quite humbling to think back and realize how much I have learned from the people here.  But not only are they smart – they’re also fun to be around. The people here motivate me to push myself…

What is the product release you are most excited about in the coming years that you can discuss?

I’m really excited for the first release of Horizon Workspace. It’s a push into a new area for VMware – enterprise-grade support for the new multi-device world. Today our “workspace” is essentially the desktop of our PC, with its different installed software and data that resides on disk. As we move to a multi-device world, that paradigm no longer holds. Applications need to run on all our devices, regardless of form factor. Our data should be accessible on any of these devices and synchronized automatically across them. While some solutions exist for these issues today (e.g. Dropbox for data sync), it’s completely invisible to a company’s IT department and so critical business data is randomly dispersed on laptop hard drives, Dropbox, Amazon S3, etc.  Horizon Workspace is all about realizing a new type of workspace for the multi-device world while allowing IT to maintain some level of control and data protection. It’s an important area and I’m excited to see where it goes!

What are you most looking forward to in the years ahead as you continue your work at VMware?

The great thing about working at VMware is that after almost ten years here I’m still learning new things. We have a ton of smart people and a broad range of products and there’s never a shortage of new challenges. I’ve found that every four years or so I like to move to a new group to learn about a new problem domain and challenge myself to step out of my comfort zone. And I’m actually in the process of doing that right now. I’m moving to the Horizon Team, which is building a suite of applications to manage users and their applications and data. It’s a bit different for me since I’ve historically focused on core infrastructure – classic enterprise software – and now in this new role I’ll be diving into a combination of enterprise and consumer software. So I’m very excited to learn the space and tackle the challenges here!

 

*Photography by Michael Dunn

 

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Devin Bhushan on Interning at VMware, Giving Back as a VIP and Developing in the Year Ahead

The VMware Internship Prodigy (VIP) Program promotes and encourages student advocates to share VMware technology, culture and product knowledge with peers on campus. And this is only possible through dedicated, dynamic and inspiring people that make up our Internship Program. Take a look at Devin’s story as a VMware Intern, how he gives back as a VIP and what he’s looking forward to in the year ahead.

 

Devin’s Unique VMware Experience

It was a real pleasure working at VMware during the summer of 2012. A combination of things made my experience so impactful – my intern project, the Management Platform Team that I worked on, the intern events and the overall upbeat environment.

On my first day at VMware, my team presented me with several choices of possible projects. After some discussion with my manager and mentor, we were able to take my skillsets and interests and pick a suitable project for me. My project was to develop an asynchronous AMQP-based transport layer for one of my team’s products.

While the beginning of my internship was definitely intimidating, adjusting to the environment was made easy because of the people around me who were extremely willing to share their expertise and experience when I got stuck on something. Everyone at VMware is really receptive to interns. I always felt included and, as a team, we ate lunch together and got to know each other pretty well over the course of the summer.

The VMware University Relations Team organizes some wonderful events for the interns to relax and socialize. Since I was local, I lived at home (as opposed to intern housing) so these events played a major role in getting to know my fellow interns. As a die-hard Giants fan, the Giants game with all the mentors and interns was definitely my favorite event. All the events encouraged teamwork and made us feel like a big family.

Taking on exciting challenges

Currently I am pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC).

In terms of projects, I’ve been working on a few different things. My friends and I are working on a social Tower Defense Android game – I’m hoping to get this out the door by this summer. I’ve also been poking around with some data visualization for a python project to see if I can find any patterns in data about books and their publishing location. My dataset for the analysis is every book contained in the Library of Congress.

One of my older projects is almost ready to publish – as a big baseball fan, I spent some free time last summer (after work) making a website that aggregates baseball metrics and datasets from different resources across the web. This website is aimed to be a one-stop-shop for the average fan to look up stats, rumors, tweets and biographical information on any player who has ever played professional baseball. As you can see, I tend to work on many projects at once during my free time, but I try to get them all done eventually!

Becoming a VIP and Giving Back

I decided to become a VIP because I wanted to impact and help grow the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) representation among VMware Interns. I knew for a fact that there were many talented people at UIUC that would be a great fit for working at VMware. All that was needed was a little more marketing and advertising of VMware.

When VMware was on campus, I helped out at the vFabric Workshop & Hackathon, the Women in Computer Science (WCS) Lunch, Corporate Connections After Hours, and the UIUC Fall & Spring Career Fairs. The Hackathon had a great turn out and was a lot of fun. Students showed up and learned about Groovy and Grails and then were asked to complete a challenge as quickly as possible. I helped advertise the event on Facebook in the CS@UIUC students group page and also helped out on the day of the event with set up and organization.

At the WCS Lunch, we had a round table style discussion with a group of Women in Computer Science members. I was one of three VMware representatives at the event; I helped answer students’ questions about VMware internships. Both career fair events were very entertaining – the VMware booths were pretty busy so I helped out in collecting resumes from students and answering general questions about VMware and my internship experience.

VMware People and Culture

I have many reasons to come back to VMware. Not only is VMware a pioneer and leader in its field, but it is also one of the most innovative companies in the world. I love the environment – I was always challenged intellectually and enjoyed meeting the unique and innovative personalities that make up the culture.

However, one of the main factors for my return is the Management Platform Team that I interned with last summer. I really became attached to these people. They are fun and intelligent people to be around and I felt like my mentor and manager were looking out for me. They have given me great advice; even since my 2012 internship has ended.

The VMware culture is open and free, with people who are passionate about work. On numerous occasions my teammates and I took a break from work to go play Frisbee. These same people were also some of the most intelligent and hard-working people that I’ve ever met. This gives you a good idea of how work and fun factor in together at VMware.

Takeaways for Future Interns

Make sure to take the initiative to do projects on your own! Doing this shows that you’re motivated and interested in what you’re learning at school. You can have a great GPA, but not everyone is passionate enough to apply what he or she has learned at school during free time outside of class. I think companies tend to notice students more when they go above and beyond what is required of them. 

Growth and Development in the Year Ahead

Over the next year, I’m planning on finishing up my degree and pursuing several upper division courses that have interested me. Up until this point, I’ve been taking the required upper division courses and have not been able to explore the vast number of other Computer Science (CS) classes offered at UIUC. I’m very interested in taking more courses that expand the reach of my knowledge in CS. I also plan on spending more time on my outside of class projects and getting more of them out the door – including those I mentioned above!

 

 

 

About Devin:

Devin is currently pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC). During the summer of 2012 he interned with the VMware Management Platform Team and worked on developing a asynchronous AMQP-based transport layer for one of his team’s products. He will be returning to VMware to intern with the Management Platform Team in 2013.

 

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VMware Employee Spotlight: Eva Klaudinyova on Service Learning in Kenya, mentoring with TechWomen, conversing in the VMware German Club and much more!

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. And this is only possible through the dedicated, dynamic and inspiring people that make up our company. Take a look at Eva’s story on how she gives back and grows herself and her team.  

 

Name: Eva Klaudinyova

Job title: Sr. Manager, Globalization Operations

Years at VMware: 5 years, 2 months

Office location: Palo Alto, California

 

1. In three words or phrases, how would you describe your experience at VMware thus far?

It’s been a never-ending whirlwind of challenges, opportunities, changes and growth.

It has been challenging – change is constant, the work never ends, you solve one problem only to be faced with another. However, it has also been very rewarding – I have grown a lot and very fast during my time at VMware, and not only professionally. And it has been very interesting – I really like learning and there are many opportunities to do that at VMware, I have met people from all over the world and visited our offices on three different continents, and represented VMware at many international conferences.

2. What ignites your passion to do your best work every day at VMware?

On one hand, it is the fact that I really like what I do and I very much enjoy having a global role. I manage an international team in three different geographies and almost every day I get to work with people all around the world. It is very rewarding to know that my work, and the work of my team, helps so many people and teams in so many other countries to be successful, regardless whether they are VMware employees, partners or customers. On the other hand, it is the ever-changing nature of what we do. It can be very tiring at times, but it allows me to learn new skills and grow not only professionally but also personally.

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

It’s not really official, but for a couple of years I have been meeting with a small group of other VMware employees for lunch, as part of our own VMware “German club.” Each one of us comes from a different country but we all happen to speak German. We discuss, in German, various topics, ranging from different international cuisines, our favorite books, education systems in the United States and around the world, holidays in our respective countries, current events, etc. and sometimes just exchange work gossip and have a German equivalent of a “water-cooler conversation.” It is one of the great informal ways how I, as “a marketing person”, can stay in touch with my colleagues from the R&D team.

4. Among other values, Giving Back More Than We Take is a core part of VMware culture. How has this value come to life for you at VMware? 

The concept of 40 hours of paid service learning time to help others has always been one of the major attractions of working for VMware. Two years ago, I used that time to go to Kenya – I travelled on an international volunteer trip with Me to We, a Canadian social enterprise, and spent some time in rural Kenya volunteering to help build a school with Free the Children, an international charity and educational partner. The experience was life-changing and I felt I got much more from that trip than I gave. This particular trip and associated fundraising program called Imagine Educating Everyone was started by three enthusiasts at NetApp. Africa is where I saw firsthand how important it is for us to take time and lend a helping hand to those that need it. It also made me appreciate the life and opportunities I have here in Silicon Valley so much more and I am really glad that I could share my time and energy and help a community in the developing world.

Last year, I stayed closer to home, and used my service time to mentor an emerging leader from Morocco through the TechWomen program, an initiative by the U.S. Department of State, based on “smart power diplomacy,” utilizing technology and innovation to create opportunities for greater understanding between nations. TechWomen brings emerging women leaders in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) from the Middle East and Africa together with their counterparts in the United States for a professional mentorship and exchange program. TechWomen supports the next generation of women leaders in STEM fields by providing them access and opportunity to advance their careers and pursue their dreams by connecting them to mentors in Silicon Valley, as well as providing access to many educational and networking opportunities.

Finish this statement: Giving Back Together means setting aside your own needs and giving your own time and energy to improve the life of those who are in need of your help.

5. Share the biggest lesson or takeaway from your Service Learning experience with TechWomen. Is it what you expected?

The TechWomen cause is an initiative that’s very close to my heart, and not only because it is global and has the international aspect. I am a strong advocate for women trying to compete in the traditionally male-dominated tech world and I am a co-founder of a global professional organization called Women in Localization. This organization has partnered a couple of times with TechWomen, and I also served as a TechWomen mentor. Last year I met 41 emerging women leaders from 8 countries in the Middle East and North Africa. There were also about 80 mentors assigned to the emerging leaders and even though the mentors were all based in Silicon Valley, not all of them were Americans – there were also Europeans, Africans, Middle Easterners, South Americans and Asians.

Yet despite the fact that we were all coming from different cultures, had different skin colors, spoke different languages, had different beliefs, ate different food and even dressed differently, we set aside all our differences and united around a few basic ideas – we wanted to teach and learn, we wanted to make a difference, we wanted to grow, and we wanted to use what we learned to help others. It was a powerful experience, and even though my dream is quite idealistic (and possibly even somewhat naïve), I really wish that politicians could realize that if people unite around a common cause, they can make it work among themselves. I wish those in power would try much harder to find ways to unite people and whole nations around a common cause. Cooperating on elimination of poverty, intolerance and prejudice is, I believe, one of the best ways to bring nations together in a spirit of togetherness and cooperation.

6. What can people do if they’re interested in using their skills to give back?

My experience has shown that all it takes is to make a start somewhere, and then opportunities to help others will start popping up by themselves. It’s like the Laws of Attraction, “like attracts like.” You can help within your own community, through a local school, church, or volunteer organization. You can join a professional organization that’s focused on your area of interest and volunteer there. You can choose a cause that’s close to your heart – helping the poor and homeless, helping children in schools or through tutoring, fighting against diseases, helping developing countries, etc. There is an endless list of worthy causes and each one of them needs more support. There are many opportunities out there; you just need to spend time to do a little research to find a cause that’s close to your heart. Or ask your friends and colleagues, and maybe you can join them in their efforts to better the world. If you’re interested in any of the causes I’ve mentioned above, you can find more information about them by clicking on the provided hyperlinks.

7. What advice would you give to someone looking to pursue a career at VMware?

VMware is a company that’s a leader in its field; it is fast growing and successful. It is a company that requires a lot of dedication, energy, hard work and flexibility. It is a company for people who are self-starters, who can handle changes and challenges with aplomb, who want to grow and contribute, and who are good team players. In return, it offers many opportunities for growth and employee perks. It is not the right place for people who want a stable, routine, process-driven or manager-driven nine-to-five job.

8. How do you plan to grow and develop yourself professionally in the New Year? 

In my 5+ years at VMware, my team has grown from one geography and 4 people to three geographies and over 20 people. For the past year and a half, I have been focusing on improving my leadership and communication skills, not only through the courses offered internally at VMware, but also attending external webinars, workshops and conferences. I would like to continue in this trend, and keep developing my leadership skills.

I am also very active in my chosen industry (localization and globalization), as a co-founder and Executive Board member of a professional organization and a speaker at many industry conferences. I plan to continue acquiring more knowledge in my professional area of interest. I have also started participating in several cross-departmental initiatives that are geared towards better cooperation and improved tools and processes between various organizations at VMware. I am hoping to learn a lot through these initiatives, and contribute my knowledge and expertise towards better cooperation and increased efficiency at VMware.

 

 

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