Returned Home!

An interesting title you may be thinking, and one that I have changed several times while writing this post, but a comment from a Fench Canadian friend of mine and it has stuck in my mind. (I know French Canadian friend, go figure)

So for the past 4 weeks I have been on Garden leave from EMC after handing in my notice, I was shocked to be put on Garden leave due to the workload I had but apparently no choice given I was going to a competitor.  Plenty of time to write this post and others you may be thinking but actually not really, I have had plenty to do and my wife can testify to that :)

So the immediate questions you may well be thinking:

- Why leave EMC?

- Where have I gone?

- Why is this post called “Returned Home”

In this post I will endeavour to answer the 3 points above but if you are reading to see if there is any juicy reason why I left then I am afraid you will be disappointed.

Why leave EMC?

When I first joined and had my interview for EMC, I was sold a vision of working on clients and helping with the bigger discussion and not just selling storage as anyone who knows me, knows I am not a storage guy, I am a vision and strategy guy.  So the idea of doing that attracted me to EMC along with where I could see the company going; and while there I enjoyed having the vision and strategy discussions with clients.  However there wasn’t enough of that and there was a lot of the storage discussion and this is a large part of why I left. 

Where have I gone?

In a way I have returned to what I love doing and that is a role that allows me to have the broader discussion and vision and blue sky thinking that drives me and excites me.  I always said that HP gave me that and in some ways maybe I shouldn’t have left but I learnt a great deal; not just knowledge but also about myself and my aims, but also about other people.

Why is this post called “Returned Home”?

When I told a friend of mine (the French Canadian) he said well you are coming home and actually it did feel that way when I accepted the role at HP, as I never left out of necessity and to be honest I regret having left when I did as I enjoyed it.  There where things about my role that I wasn’t too keen on but you get that everywhere, some niggle.  But the bottom line was I was happy and enjoyed my work and the company I worked for.

So this next chapter in my career is gonna be something I will throw myself into 110% and without a doubt as I do feel in a way I am returning home then this next phase at HP will be a lengthy one and enjoyable.

Just to finish I will still blog and if I do attend industry events I will certainly have posts from them also, and there may even be photos as in some of my other posts.

What will 2014 bring!

It’s a time of change for me currently and one that I will post an update on in a few weeks time, but for now I have had this post bubbling for a while now and thought I should finish it.

Always annoying when I know I have drafts sat there and just need to motivate or find the time to complete them, but then I suppose that’s the same for most bloggers and the more you write and the more practice you have, the more accomplished you get at churning out posts on a regular basis and the more polished they become.  

I was told in 2013 by Chuck Hollis that I should have plenty to post about given what I work on at EMC and that the more I do so, the more polished my posts will become, and the easier it will be to post on a regular basis.  So let’s see how well I do in 2014 as in 2013 I had huge spells of no posts.

Anyway so 2014, most bloggers have already placed their stake in the ground as to what they think this next year will bring in the world of IT, and I think my views are not going to differ hugely from some of the ones already out there.

This next year I am going to broadly place under 3 headings:

- Converged

- Realisation

- Adapt or Fail

Converged

This has been bouncing around for a number of years now but I feel that 2014 will be a year when more companies look at converged infrastructure and take that leap and I see VCE and HP taking leaps in this space and outpacing the other offerings in the market.

Converged Infrasturcture allows for flexible and agile IT and which will help drive a business forward and I feel that more people have started to realise this in 2013 and I see 2014 as a real key year for this technology.

Realisation

Towards the end of 2013 I saw this start to happen after discussion with numerous individuals at events I attended in the latter half of the year. A lot of CIO’s and executives are starting to realise that they tried to shrink IT spending and ignore to a certain extent things like Big Data but that they need to now reassess their strategy.  The business goals need a flexible IT infrastructure that can adapt to changing market conditions and help drive a companies revenue upwards, to enable this needs IT spend and the business to embrace ideas such as Big Data.

Adapt or Fail

This is going to be the most contentious of my theories on 2014, but I have eluded to it in earlier posts I did in 2013, but this one doesn’t just relate to the customers it relates heavily to the vendors as well and I count EMC In this list of companies that have this issue also.

For the customer it’s simple, their IT Strategy needs to be flexible and able to adapt to changes in the market and be very agile in that if they continue to build legacy style IT Infrastructure then this will lead to failure and ties in with my converged topic of this being the year for converged infrastructure.  

For the vendor like EMC and others this relates not to the company as such as I feel they have built portfolios that are broad and target the key points needed for agile and flexible IT, this relates to the sales and presales individuals of those organisations.  I said in my “2013 – The Year That Was” post, that anyone can sell a storage array and this leads nicely into what I mean on this whole subject.

The workforce needs to adapt to understand the huge portfolio a vendor offers and I don’t mean understand in detail every single aspect as that would be impossible.  But they need to be able to articulate the value proposition at least around the different areas of the portfolio and adapt their discussion with clients as needed.  I still don’t think that a large number of sales and presales people have that capability and I see 2014 as a year of adapt or fail mentality in those vendors, long gone is the time when a legacy sales or presales invidudual could hide in a company quite happily selling just storage.  It’s an exciting time if you are willing to adapt but a worrying one if you aren’t and only time will tell if my theory on this is correct, I could be completely wrong.

Again just to finish all the opinions expressed in this blog are my own and not related to company views.

2013 – The Year That Was!

Well as 2013 draws to a close tonight and people around the globe celebrate, am I really here writing a post? Well actually no this was drafted a few days ago I am not that sad!

So what did 2013 bring us?

Without a doubt for me there are several key takeaways from this year:

EMC World 2013 – I stand by my post on this at the time, this year EMC World was different and a success for the CIO people and low key for the true storage techie.  But for me as a strategist it was a great conference and one that was a huge success around the messages that came from the event.

ViPR (A nearly there product) – This was a slightly disappointing moment for me and many others, we expected so much more from ViPR, and it never really met expectations at launch.  Don’t get me wrong this product will grow and become a key part of the EMC portfolio, I just don’t see it as being there yet.

ScaleIO – This product sneaked in towards the end of the year, but I can see great things for this product in 2014, and I can think of many great use cases for it.  The emerging products area in EMC in 2014 is going to really excel and ScaleIO and other products coming out of this area will really come into their own in 2014.  But that’s another post as I have a 2014 expectations post due to release in the next 7 days also.

VCE – A good year for vBlock with regards to converged systems and some great new speciality systems such as SAP Hana and there are more coming.  But also some great competitive products out there with the rebranding of the HP converged systems as well, these really do offer a great alternative to vBlock.

Personal Takeaways!

For me I got a lot from 2013, not just some good social events and networking opportunities that I have posted about.  But also I feel 2013 has developed me as a person not just from being at EMC but having the opportunities I have had this year to interact at all levels from the storage guy, right through to CIO’s and business people across industries. It’s been a great year for lengthy discussions on Cloud and enabling a business through IT, and that’s the thing I enjoy doing.

Someone told me a while ago that:

“Anyone can sell a storage array, but it’s selling the vision and how can you help a business deliver on its goals and strategy, that’s the real challenge”

That statement is oh so true and I have met a lot of people this year who can sell that storage very well but who then struggle on the bigger picture, but it’s that bigger picture discussion that drives me in what I do.

So here’s hoping 2014 gives me more opportunity to do what I enjoy doing!

Happy New Year

EMC Forum Dublin – Thoughts!

Well another Forum done and very different to the London one but similar in some respects, so just a short post really with a few thoughts.  It will only be a few and a very short post.

There is a certain tallish Irishman reading this post now thinking “He better be kind in this post” and mentioning no names Gary you will need to read on to find out. :)

Seriously though the Dublin Forum was very different to the London one I attended, I didn’t actually see any of the freebie grabbers at this Forum.  Lots of people interested in the keynote and the breakout sessions which is great news.

A steady stream of people in each breakout session more in some than others but that’s to be expected really, you can’t have large numbers in all breakouts.

There where no demo labs at Dublin but I don’t think that was really missed, this Forum really was for the people who wanted to listen to SME’s passionate about their topics.

So a success?

Still not convinced this is the right format and I feel “Rapid Fire” that was run previously in Ireland and the North of England is a better format and one that people gain more from, but once again that’s only my opinion.

The next big forum event for me is probably going to be the Big One – EMC World 2014 Vegas!

Another EMC Forum – Dublin 2013

Well after the London Forum a few weeks ago, I didn’t think I would be asked to assist at a Forum again after my post about how I felt the Forum went.  But I was wrong as received a call this week asking me to book a flight to Dublin on Monday 18th November to assist with the Forum event there.

Looking forward to Dublin and before anyone thinks “Of course he is, night out” you would be wrong as flying there and back in the day so 4am start tomorrow and back home around 11:30pm ish! A very long day indeed.  

No I am looking forward to it as I have been to several events in Dublin before and they are always very good and not so many of the freebie grabbers and more people who actually want real discussion.

I also have been looking at my blog recently and I am hoping that tomorrow will give me the inspiration to complete a number of posts I have had sat in draft format for some time, as I know the guys in corporate will at some point ask me why my blog looks neglected.  So need to finish some posts before they tell me!

So if you happen to be at the EMC Forum in Dublin tomorrow then stop by for a chat, in London 2 people actually did that after reading my blog, one of which wanted a very deep discussion on Security Analytics and healthcare.  

We don’t just do Storage at EMC we can discuss lots of things from Security Analytics right through to Cloud and ITaaS and many more topics, so take advantage if you are at the Forum and ask lots of questions.  

It’s not just an event for EMC and partners it’s more an event for customers or potential customers to gain insight into how we can help and assist along your journey in enabling your business!

After 14mths was I right to move!

Just a quick reflective post while I am on annual leave this week.

Well it’s been just over 14mths actually since I joined EMC in August 2012, and I have been doing some reflection of late as to what has happened in that year and in hindsight was it the right move for me.

2012 – HP
If I look where I was in 2012, I had a great role as a Solution Architect for HP in their Cloud Infrastructure team within Consulting and had been placed on the Talent Management Program as well so not a bad time.

2013 – EMC
Now at EMC as a Senior Systems Engineer working in Presale’s in Enterprise North in the UK. I have a link to my blog on emc.com and have been nominated several times for EMC Elect 2014. (Will I get it not sure but will see, always good to be nominated)

Has it been a good year?
If I had to answer this after 3mths, 6mths, 9mths then the answer would have been different each time I think, whether that’s a good thing you can draw your own conclusion there. There have been certain things that I don’t think have been good but then there has also been a lot of good stuff.
The one thing I can say about EMC is that you do meet some fantastic people out there around the company and not just in the UK, and there are a lot of very talented individuals around EMC willing to help fellow employees.

The Road ahead!
As 2013 is drawing to a close and its annual self-appraisal submission time again coming round, I do feel that will help me map out the next year of my EMC life. So it’s an important time for me over the next few months to make sure I complete that process to identify my goals for the next year, some ideas I already have but need to form them a bit more.

I always said at HP that it never felt like the right company but did feel like a good role and reasonable fit for me. At EMC I think yes the right company and have thought that through considerably over the last few weeks in great detail. As for the right role, I am still torn on this one and completing my end of year review will help me fully answer that, but at the moment yes I think it is 75% there or thereabouts the right one.

EMC Forum London 2013 – A Success?

This is going to be a very brief post as I don’t want to write lots of words for the sake of it.

Was the London Forum a success, well as I posted in an earlier post that depends on how you measure success:

Number of Attendees
In all honesty I don’t think you can measure success on number of attendees as this really just means people registered and then turned up, it doesn’t actually mean they all got value out of attending and will then lead to follow up business or meetings.

Number of Badges scanned
Badges scanned isn’t really a success either as people will get a badge scanned to get a free T-Shirt or key ring and that was very apparent at the Forum, with people going round collecting all manner of giveaway items but not actually wanting any real discussion.

Number of discussions had that will lead to further meetings
This for me is the best measure of success, if you have meaningful discussion that then leads to followup meetings this by far is the best measure of success for an event such as this.

What do I think, was it a success?
In all honesty I am not sure it can be claimed to have been a success but then again I don’t work in marketing or PR and a good job some people may say. From what I witnessed from 10am right through to the close of the day, I don’t see how anyone could say it was a huge success and I say that for the following reasons:

- The EMC stand was in the wrong place and people didn’t really approach the stand apart from to obtain a free ViPR shirt and give their details to get that. But people giving details to get a free shirt does not mean you are going to get any followup discussion with them. The sorts of people that just go straight to the marketing girls to get a free shirt and not even want to discuss or chat to someone about anything are not the people you are going to hear from after the event.

- The labs we had for people to try out the products we sell I think again where placed in the wrong area right next to the coffee stand and far too noisy to concentrate on a demo.

- The after show drinks is normally a good way to tell if people liked the event to see how many are still left at the end of a long day and want to chat over a beer. This was mainly full of staff and partners from the other stands and not that many attendees.

For the 7hrs I was there, I had 3 meaningful conversations that will result in followup meetings and I witnessed another 4 with other people so roughly 1 per hour so not a great average. But then some customers did have conversations behind closed doors with more senior people and they may have proved very productive discussions.

Conclusion
The conclusion is obvious I feel from what I have said so far, I don’t think in my opinion that the London Forum can be seen as huge success, there where far too few meaningful conversations had from what I saw. Unless of course I was stood in the wrong place, but I discussed this with 4 of the partners who had stands there also and they have the same conclusion as myself. For next year 2 things definitely need to be addressed:

- The labs should not be placed right next to a coffee area and should actually have their own room and area away from the noise.

- The location of the EMC stand needs to be a lot better rather than in the middle of a room surrounded by food and drink stations, very bad placement in my view.

An event like this should be a great opportunity for EMC and for attendees to really have some great discussion and networking opportunities, but I do worry that the UK mentality is wrong for these such events but maybe I am wrong!