Armenia. Home of vR Ops

Most customers, and a good part of VMware own team, do not realize that vRealize Operations is developed out of Armenia. Who would have thought? Armenia is not as well-known as other cities in terms of software development. As an IT professionals, you may travel to India (Bangalore), China (Shanghai), US (Silicon Valley), but not Armenia. In this post, I hope to raise awareness, as I think it’s worth knowing. On a personal note, it’s worth visiting!

vR Ops is developed in 3 cities: Palo Alto (Silicon Valley), Yerevan (Armenia) and Bangalore (India). Yerevan has the bulk of team, with over 100 R&D engineers in 1 office location. Bangalore does most of the management pack and Endpoint Operations. The lead of vR Ops product management, Monica Sharma, is based in Palo Alto. She works closely with Sunny Dua, who is also based in the same building with her (I think they are in Prom E building). In US, we also have our PMM (Product Marketing Manager) and TMM (Technical Marketing Manager) team. Awesome folks such as Taruna Gandhi and John Diaz are part of this marketing specialist team.

Armenia actually does more than vR Ops. Part of Log Insight is also developed here. Stephen Flanders (whom you should know if you use Log Insight) is a regular visitor to Yerevan.

As part of development, you need QE. vR Ops integrates with many products, as all these testing needs to be automated. The ESO (Engineering Services Organisation) has developed an end-to-end automation. This enables the daily build to be tested. The product is automatically deployed and configured. It adds a number of vCenter servers automatically, performs various tests and reports the result. It tests various adapters too.

Karen Aghajanyan is the Director in charge in Armenia, and the sponsor of my Take 2. I wrote sponsor as he paid for it (I’m honored that R&D considers it worthy to fly me there). Take 2 is a cool program in VMware that allows you to take 2 weeks off your current role and do things that you normally do as your night job. In my case, it was 2 weeks stint in Armenia, working on the next release, code named Aria. It was intense, working with many developers, brainstorming the best way to improve the product while maintaining backward compatibility. On Day 1, Karen assembled all his management team and asked me to present an overview of the areas for improvement. Once we agree on the areas of work, it’s straight to collaboration with the respective developers. It’s both a pleasure and an honor to work with the developers. They are passionate and have code-level knowledge. If there is a part that they are not sure, they just open the source code! Years of working with vR Ops helped me, else I’d not be able to keep up with the depth they are expecting. Other than depth, you also need breadth, as you need to know the impact of the proposed changes. In fact, maintaining backward compatibility is more complex than adding the features, and we spent a lot of time deliberating to make sure customers can safely upgrade. I learned about the inner working of the product, which makes me appreciate it even more.

John Yaralian is the Product Owner, and my host. He was the one requesting my manager (Kamau Wanguhu) approval for my 2 weeks stint. As the Product Owner, John acts as the single contact to the R&D team. If you are hoping to do Take 2 in Armenia, John is also your contact point. John was also the lead for the inaugural vR Ops Boot Camp. It’s a 2-day event, where attendees get to spend time directly with the developers. We ran 5 tracks, each repeated 3x. Each track is capped to <10 people, so you got ample time for discussion. There is also open house, where booths are setup. The booth covers specific topics, such as UI, super metrics, scalability, and upgrade. You get to ask all those burning questions!

My Take 2 was part of overall planning session for project Aria. Monica and Sunny were also there. If you use vR Ops, you’ll come to know that Sunny is my fellow partner in crime. We respect each other deeply, and argue a lot! Shannon Klebart from VMware Office of the CTO calls us her Batman and Robin. For 2 weeks, including weekend, we discussed the solution for Aria in-depth. We brainstormed many parts of the products. Usability is top of mind for me. As a customer facing engineer, working closely with paying customers who use the products, I care a lot about usability. IMHO, usability goes beyond the UI. It starts before you even deploy the damn thing. What if sizing is hard? What if deployment architecture is complex? You won’t use the product as you don’t know how to do enterprise deployment.

On the UI part, we also developed mock up for the next generation UX. We looked at dashboard life cycle in details. We went through each widgets one by one, looked at the areas of improvement. We were mindful of keeping them consistent yet unique. Vahan Tadevosyan and Tigran Avagimyants, the 2 lead developers for UI, were passionate in bringing as much enhancement to their work.

I won’t steal the thunder from PM and PMM, so I will just say as an Engineer I’m excited with Aria. Stay tune!

Working with R&D will naturally involve patent. It’s inspiring to meet someone much younger than you but holds >20 patents! Naira Grigoryan and Nina Karapetyan reviewed a patent idea I shared and we’re collaborating on the submission. For me as an engineer, I think it’s just uber cool to have a patent under my name 🙂

Armenia isn’t just work. I was stunned by the rich history. It’s fascinating to learn the story behind the old churches. The monastery is also located in a remote place, so it’s solitaire. You’d enjoy the surrounding view and spaciousness. I came in June, so the weather was good, and air was fresh. In winter, it will be snowy. Not something I’d personally enjoy 🙂

Other than history, Sunny and I got a chance to see scenery too. This blog post profile photo was Jermuk. Picturesque, isn’t it? Robert Mesropyan, and Arthur Aghabekyan, drove 400 km on Sunday to take us there. Sunny and I were simply blown away by their kindness. It is a humbling experience. What’s even more amazing is this kindness is displayed by all the developers. 5 of them came out, on weekends, to take us to see their beautiful countries! Gagik Manukyan, Arshak Galstyan, Sevak Tsaturyan took 5 of us on Saturday. Talk about hospitality! We did a short video to thank the entire team. You got to see the first part, which has blooper, so hope you enjoy it.

Here is a place I want to see first hand in my next trip. I didn’t get to see it. It’s Lake Parz at Dillijan.

The city of Yerevan is relatively small. I live in Singapore, a modern metropolis, so I enjoy the striking difference. It’s also on a hill. You can walk up the cool open stairs of the Cascade, and see the city from a high vantage point. Just like Singapore, the city is safe. You’re not worried about pick pockets and personal safety. There is no Uber, but there is a local company called GG that provides similar service. There is no train, and I didn’t get the chance to try the buses. Next time I’m there, I might rent a car. It’s pretty easy to drive as traffic isn’t bad.

I hope the short blog gives you an appreciation of the software we’ve come to know and love. I’ve been using the software since 1.0 many blue moons ago, and the best is yet to be!

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