I had the opportunity to meet Chad Sakac (vExpert, popular blogger, and EMC SVP) at the last MB VMUG meeting. As a follow-up to the meeting I had a conversational chat with him and asked him a few questions. The discussion is summarized for VMUG members and virtualization enthusiasts.
Topic 1 – What do you think is the biggest problem affecting faster adoption of virtualization by the SMB sector
Chad – Cost: It is clearly more efficient to use virtualization but there is a step up cost. Even for a two node cluster and storage there is cost associated with that. VMWare and EMC are working to solve this for the SMB sector primarily in the areas of backup, storage, and security. For e.g. VSA was released in vSphere 5.0 and all other features were designed to bring down not only TCO but initial costs as well.
If we think of businesses that are two to fifty employees or 2 – 3 ESXi hosts, we need to find one technical administrator who has domain expertise or favourably has expertise across different technology areas (like storage, networking, vmware). We need someone young who loves playing with technology. Many job entrants happen to stumble on their first IT job in the SMB. They can use this opportunity to very, very rapidly increase their value by being a VMware administrator but keeping those people in that job is hard. That’s because their expectations change as they get more experience. However, this is a very good career path.
Topic 2: If there is one message that you would like to offer IT executives to ensure a faster adoption of virtualization, what would it be ?
Chad – I have a very simple message for IT executives – have no fear. The virtualization technology from VMware is very mature, and is running massive mission critical workloads.
If you are afraid of something be afraid of not doing your job. The job of IT is to support the business and provide efficient services. If you are unable to act as the driver then you are the problem. You are not leading your organization fast enough. It’s alright if you are bad at it because the business has other choices – cloud computing or they will bypass internal IT.
The choice you have is to become the best service provider you possibly can be or have the users or business cut you out of the equation.
Topic 3: From the perspective of design and architecture, do you consider lack of experience or lack of vision to be a bigger issue.
Chad – To be honest, the infrastructure layer faces lack of experience. Literally, the infrastructure beneath vSphere and vCloud suite is pretty much a cookie cutter. Whether you choose EMC or its competitors, or Cisco or its competitors these are all vendors. vCloud on top of vSphere can look quite similar. We can argue as to what can be better but the core is pretty calm – working well, stable, and performing well.
Lack of vision – To me I would call that being silly. All of those things using distributed switches, automated DRS, storage pools, storage drs, using VMware HA, FT – that’s equivalent of being in 2010 and deploying physical servers. That’s short sightedness. Even things like stretched geographic clusters in the span of 2-3 years have gone from being rare to widely deployed and standardized models.
EMC and VMware are collaborating to use vPlex like technology that could just become part of how VMware operates. Standard vSphere deployments are pass, and you need to use latest features.
Topic 4: How should VMUG’s operate in your view ?
Chad – In my opinion the best VMUG’s are characterized by having customers as primary speakers. The worst VMUG’s are characterized by having vendors as primary speakers. The quid pro quo is that VMUG’s do not have funding and need vendors to sponsor. You can ask your vendors to sponsor but get their speech delivered by a customer. What vendors miss is that the commercials are not the right way to communicate. The most powerful thing at VMUG is the interaction between users. Had I been thinking about it longer and frankly, I asked the audience who are EMC customers – it would have been far more helpful to ask the audience about what technology products they use.
Keep the presentation informal and we need sponsors to sponsor. Sometimes you are going to have a vendor and say that this is what we are thinking – that you get a customer to share their experience. The other options are panels, hands-on-labs, interactivity – people should connect, exchange, and learn.
Topic 5: How should someone approach VMware with a technical design feature
Chad – I know all the product managers and can just walk down the garage at Palo Alto and I am interested to see ideas shared directly with myself. VMware runs interesting things like ‘Meet the Engineers’ so attend those online meetings. Go to VMWare Technology Network (VMTN) – vmware product teams are on VMTN. Another thing is to approach some prominent VMware bloggers – Duncan, Frank, myself, and various others who can basically hookup with a product person in a heartbeat. It’s just about making a connection.
VMWorld is a great place to be at!
Chad Sakac (firstname.lastname@example.org) is an EMC SVP in Canada and very well known in VMware circles. Chad is also a vExpert and runs the popular blog – http://virtualgeek.typepad.com
You can get in touch with Chad via Twitter at http://twitter.com/sakacc and he was invited as a guest speaker at the last MB VMUG Meeting.
This interview was conducted by myself through a phone conversation.