Category Archives: People

Cover things such as career, soft skills, and community.

Tips for VMworld presenters

Thank you for all the “Congratulation!” notes we got after Sunny and I delivered our VMworld session. It was indeed humbling to receive a score of 4.38 in the first session. We took the feedback and the second session score went up to 4.77. There were requests to give tips for fellow presenters, so this blog hopes to address that. The tips here should apply to all IT events, as the evaluation criteria is quite generic.

From the feedback, the audience noticed clearly that we worked well together as a team. That did not happen without a lot of practice. We actually delivered the presentation 2x before that. We also rehearsed a lot, playing devil’s advocate to each other. It is better to get negative feedback from each other than from the audience. We actually review each other sentences. Yes, down to the choice of word.

We made a decision to have 2 speakers speaking like 2 friends sharing. Have you ever seen 2 friends sharing their common adventure that they clearly enjoyed? You will notice that they finish each other sentence. You can sense their passion as they speak, and their eyes lighted up as they recall the excitement.

Because of the above strategy, it cannot be the usual “your slide, my slide”, as one has to be idle standing while the other is presenting. I’ve done it before. It is not natural and it is not a good experience for the audience. We want the audience to see 2 buddies enjoying each other presence, and having a good time engaging with the audience. To achieve the above in a public speaking setting, it takes a lot of practice. The 2 speakers have to be in-sync, on every single slide. We know what each person will say on every slide.

The amount of practice is often makes the difference between a good presentation and a great presentation. How much practice? Read this for the guideline.

Let’s now move into VMworld specific information. The great thing about VMworld is it gives good information to the speakers. For a start, you can see all your sessions, and who registered for it. So you know how many people are planning to attend. You can also visit the room, so you have an idea on the size and setup.


Once you delivered your session, you can see who actually attended. You cannot see their name and contact, for privacy reason, but you can see the company, job title and country. It looks something like this:


You can also see the feedback, and this is where I want to show you. Click on the View Report in the Survey Result. If you have repeat session, you can see for each session. Our second session had a higher rating as we took the feedback.

Majority of the survey questions are the kind of questions you expect, but it’s worth knowing them. Look at question 2 below. It is quite specific. So your session:

  1. Provide practical knowledge that they can apply to their job. You only have 45 minutes of speaking, as you should allocate time for Q&A. Do not waste that 45 times with theory that audience cannot bring home.
  2. Have content that matches the description. I got penalized in my first session as some audiences were not expecting vRealize Operations.
  3. Have minimal marketing or sales pitch. This one should be obvious. There is no need to waste your audience time.


As the speaker, you are also being assessed. Again, it is quite specific:

  1. Are you good at the topic you’re presenting? Sunny and I blog extensively on the topic, I wrote a book about it, and we have a dozen engagements in the past several years. The Q&A session allowed us to show the audience that we know the topic.
  2. Do you encourage engagement? Do you ask survey questions, and pause to allow questions?
  3. Do you present it well? I spent a lot of time restructuring the deck. Humour can also help as it’s a dry topic. The audience wants to learn, but they also want to enjoy the session.


Question 6 below provides you area that you need to take care:

  • Speakers
  • Content. It should be logical and clear. It should also flow smoothly.
  • Demo. Take note of live demo. I’d record it for a smoother delivery. Be careful of font size as 16 points is what you want have. I think 10 point is simply too small.
  • Technical Level. Be very clear on setting expectation here.
  • Format. Make the slides interesting.


You also get feedback on areas to improve. I find this part very valuable. I listened back to my session to review it. I definitely spoke too fast.


I hope you find the tips useful. All the best in creating that lasting VMworld presentation!

Meet your VMware CTO Ambassadors at VMworld

VMworld is a place to learn and network. So it is great to see that around half of VMware CTO Ambassadors are sharing and contributing at VMworld. That’s very high for a group that is not part of any product Business Unit. We are field personnels and individual contributors. The high percentage shows the passion and capability of the group. Some of us are co-delivering the session with R&D and BU, showing the relationship that the group has. Other than presenting and facilitating, you can also find us at the Office of the CTO booth.

The following VMware CTO Ambassadors will be there: Adam Osterholt, Aidan Dalgleish, Amanda Blevins, Amy Chalifoux, Andrew Murphy, Anoop Jalan, Ben Lin, Charles Saroka, Christopher Cullingford, Christopher Knowles, Dale Carter, Donald Schubot, Eamon Ryan, Ed Hoppitt, Edward (Allen) Shortnacy, Edward Blackwell, Emad Benjamin, Eric Hardcastle, Gary Blake, Greg Mulholland, Iwan Rahabok, Jeff Whitman, Jennifer Green, Jerry Johanes, Jodi Shely, Jonathan Cham, Jonathan McDonald, Josh Gwyther, Julienne Pham, Justin Jones, Kannan Mani, Kim Jahnz, Martijn Baecke, Martin Banda, Michael Francis, Mike O’Reilly, Mostafa Khalil, Patrick Daigle, Peter Bjork, Richard Damoser, Roman Tarnavski, Ryan Pletka, Scott Carpenter, Sid Smith, Sunny Dua, TJ Vatsa, Tomas Fojta, Travis Wood.

Here are the list of sessions and workshops that we’re delivering or facilitating. See you there!


CNA4859 – Agility in the Datacenter – Workflows and Tools to Speed Application Delivery

  • Roman Tarnavski, CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Chris Sexsmith – Sr Manager of Field Enablement, Cloud-Native Apps, VMware

STO4525 – Architecting Disaster Recovery of Tier 1 Applications (SAP, Oracle, SQL & Exchange) using Site Recovery Manager and vSphere 6

  • Kannan Mani – Staff Solutions Architect – Data Platforms, VMware
  • GS Khalsa – Senior Technical Marketing Manager, VMware

VAPP4440 – Migrating Large Oracle Footprint to Vblock

  • Kannan Mani – Staff Solutions Architect – Data Platforms, VMware
  • Chandra Mukherjee, KBACE Technologies

VAPP4449 – How VMware Customers Build and Tune High Performance Application Platforms

  • Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
  • Wendy Zhao – Global Head of Middleware Engineering, Societe Generale
  • Alessandro Quargnali-Linsley – Systems Engineer, Societe Generale

VAPP4732 – Enterprise Application Architecture Influence on SDDC

  • Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
  • Jeff Quinn – Director or Virtualization & Cloud Converged Engineering at DTCC, DTCC

Cloud Native Applications

CNA5379 – Panel: Enterprise architecture for Cloud-Native Applications

  • Martijn Baecke – Solutions Consultant, VMware
  • Joe Baguley – CTO EMEA, VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Greg Andsager – VP, Cloud Native Applicaions, VMware
  • Chris Sexsmith – Sr Manager of Field Enablement, Cloud-Native Apps, VMware
  • Aaron Sweemer – Director of Field Strategy, Cloud-Native Apps, VMware

CNA5479 – Running Cloud-Native Apps on your Existing Infrastructure

  • Martijn Baecke – Solutions Consultant, VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware

CTO6659 – Ask the Experts – Cloud Native Applications

  • Emad Benjamin – Principal Architect, VMware
  • Joe Baguley – CTO EMEA, VMware
  • Ed Hoppitt – CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Robbie Jerrom – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Martijn Baecke – Solutions Consultant, VMware

vCloud Air

ELW-HBD-1681 – vCloud Air Workshop

  • Captains: Jodi Shely (CTO Ambassador), Cleavon Roberts, Tony Welsh

SPL-HBD-1681 – VMware vCloud® Air™ – Jump Start for vSphere Admins

  • Captains:  Cleavon Roberts, Jodi Shely, Patrick Mahoney


SDDC5260 – Reducing Costs and Increasing Availability in Healthcare: Customer Stories in The Software-Defined Transformation

  • Scott Carpenter – Staff SE | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Jordan Wise – Architect, Lancaster General Health
  • Dave Miller – IT Architect, Baystate Health
  • Kevin Holland – Senior Systems Engineer, VMware

SPL-SDC-1606 – Cloud 101 – Deliver your Infrastructure as a Service

  • Captains: Andrew Murphy, Kelly Montgomery, Danny Farber

INF4712 – Just Because You COULD, Doesn’t Mean You SHOULD – vSphere 6.0 Architecture Considerations from Real World Experiences

  • Jonathan McDonald, Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

PAR6411 – PSE: SDDC Assess, Design and Deploy 2.0 – What’s New?

  • Jonathan McDonald, Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

PAR6412 – PSE: vSphere 6 Architectural Design and lessons learned

  • Jonathan McDonald, Solutions Architect |CTO Ambassador, VMware

Business Continuity and High Availability

ELW-SDC-1605 – Business Continuity and Disaster Recovery Workshop

  • Captains: Paul Irwin and Adam Osterholt

SPL-SDC-1605 – High Availability and Resilient Infrastructure.

  • Captains:  Adam Osterholt, Paul Irwin, Nick Fritsch

STO4510 – When it Rains it Pours: Protecting Your VMware Based Cloud.

  • Aidan Dalgleish, VMware UK
  • Matt Vandenbeld

SDDC Management and Operations

OPT5519 – Nimble Automation in a Regulated Environment: Good, Fast, and Cheap. Pick Any Two.

  • Mike O’Reilly – Staff System Engineer, VMware,
  • Jase Machado – Architect, Infrastructure Automation, Blue Shield of CA
  • Jeff Shaw – IT Virtualization, Delta Dental

INF6108 – Something Broke, What Now? Managing and Troubleshooting OpenStack Environments

  • Jonathan Cham – Global Solutions Consultant | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware
  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware


NET5836 – OpenStack with NSX Architecture Deep Dive

  • Jonathan Cham – Global Solutions Consultant, VMware
  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassasdor, VMware

ELW-SDC-1620 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX Workshop

  • Captains: Ed Shmookler, Marcos Hernandez, Jonathan Cham, and Hadar Freehling

SPL-SDC-1620 – OpenStack with VMware vSphere and NSX.

  • Captains:  Ed Shmookler, Marcos Hernandez, Jonathan Cham, Hadar Freehling

MGT5471 – How VMware and Partners Bring Actions to Enterprise Administrators with vRealize Operations

  • Eric Hardcastle – Principal SDE Solutions Engineer | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Phil Smith – Staff Engineer, VMware
  • Michael White – Director, DataGravity Labs & Customer, DataGravity
  • Mike Kelly – CTO, Blue Medora

MGT4973 – Mastering Performance Monitoring and Capacity Planning

  • Iwan Rahabok – CTO Ambassador | Staff SE, VMware
  • Sunny Dua – CTO Ambassador | Senior Consultant, VMware


ELW-SDC-1627 – Software Defined Storage Advanced Topics Workshop

  • Captains: Mousumi Mullick and Martin Banda (CTO Ambassador)

PAR6407-BC – vSAN Workshop

  • Noel Nguyen – Director of Systems Engineering, VMware
  • Bo Bolander – Senior Systems Engineer, VMware
  • Mostafa Khalil – Technical Director, VMware
  • Greg Mulholland – VSAN Specialist | CTO Ambassador, VMware

STO4572 – Conducting a Successful Virtual SAN Proof of Concept

  • Cormac Hogan – Corporate Storage Architect, VMware
  • Julienne Pham – Technical Solution Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware


MGT5973 – Automate the Deployment of NSX and Micro-Segmentation: A Deep Dive

  • Justin Jones – Consulting Architect, Integration and Automation, VMware
  • Mitesh Pancholy – Principal Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMworld

INF4823 – Real World – Architecting a vCloud for NFV Platform for Success

  • Gary Blake – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware UK Ltd
  • Niklas Kånge – Consulting Architect, VMware

NET4468 – Defining Your Future With NSX Certification

  • Ben Lin – Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Chris McCain – Director NSBU, vmware

End User Computing

EUC5733 – Deep Dive on VMware Horizon 6 Cloud Pod Architecture Best Practices to Successfully Deploy a Highly Available Virtual Desktop Solution

  • Aaron Black – EUC Product Manager, VMware
  • TJ Vatsa – Principal Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware

SPL-MBL-1653 – Advanced Concepts of VMware Workspace Portal

  • Captains: Peter Bjork, Karsten Giesse

EUC5909 – VMware’s End User Computing (EUC) Strategy into 2015 and Beyond

  • Shawn Bass – Sr. Director, Strategy & Planning, VMware
  • TJ Vatsa – Principal Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Karthik Lakshminarayanan – Senior Director, Product Management, VMware
  • Harry Labana – VP Products, VMware

EUC5062 – Your Desktops Secured: What Can NSX Do for You?

  • Tristan Todd – EUC Architect, VMware
  • Jeff Whitman – Staff Systems Engineer | CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC4509 – Architecting Horizon for VSAN, the VCDX way – VMware on VMware.

  • Simon Long – Cloud Architect, VMware
  • Travis Wood – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC4630 – Managing Users: A Deep Dive Into VMware User Environment Manager

  • Michael Bradley – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware

EUC5516 – Delivering the Next Generation of Hosted Applications

  • Justin Venezia – Sr. Solution Architect – VMware Alliance, F5 Networks
  • Nick Jeffries – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware
  • Michael Bradley – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Mark Ewert – Architect – EUC Technical Competitive Team, VMware

PAR6426 – App Volumes Architecture and Delivery

  • Nick Jeffries – Senior Solutions Architect, VMware
  • Dale Carter – Senior Solutions Architect | CTO Ambassador, VMware


On being a VMware CTO Ambassador


While there are many folks who know and value their CTO Ambassadors, there are even more people who aren’t even aware of what the program is. If you are not familiar, do visit the official site here. Joe Baguley, VMware CTO for EMEA, shared at this VMworld 2015 videoAmanda, a fellow Ambassador, provides her thought here. In this blog, I want to give you my personal take on what being a VMware CTO Ambassador means to me.

Here is the definition from the official site, with added highlight from me: “The CTO Ambassador program is run by the VMware Office of the CTO. The CTO Ambassadors are members of a small group of our most experienced and talented customer facing, individual contributor technologists. They are pre-sales systems engineers (SEs), technical account managers (TAMs), professional services consultants, architects and global support services engineers. The ambassadors help to ensure a tight collaboration between R&D and our customers so that we can address current customer issues and future needs as effectively as possible.”

We are a virtual member of Office of the CTO, because our day job is on the field. This global group is led by Paul Strong (Global Field CTO), Matthew Stepanski (GTS), Joe Baguley, Chris Wolf (America CTO) and Shannon Klebart (Program Manager). They are joined at the Advisory Board by 5 CTO Ambassadors. Instead of calling them VMware CTO Ambassador Advisory Board, I just call them Jedi Council 🙂

The group is diverse, yet there is a strong commonality among the members. It’s easy to establish friendship as we are in the same “frequency”. Our thought is driven by customer requirements. We are all passionate about VMware, and yet we see things from customers view point.

What do we do?

The ~100 CTO Ambassadors do a wide variety of things. Here, I’m listing the things that I do.

We collaborate with the product team. We provide feedback on upcoming features. The feedback varies from strategic direction to actual screenshots. For example, I spent an hour on just 1 widget with the Architect and Product Manager of vRealize Operations. We can engage R&D at implementation level. Collectively, the Ambassadors bring both the breadth and depth to R&D. A lot of us work with customers at operations stage, not just architecture stage, hence we know what works and what doesn’t. Some of us actually get seconded to R&D on a short term basis.

We explain the VMware story. I am privileged to witness a once in a life time change in IT Industry. There are mega trends, and it’s interesting to see them unfolds as these trends overlap. VMware started, and became hugely successful, when it led the industry with X86 virtualization. As virtualization spreads into the rest of data center, and interfaces with changes at application stack, it becomes critical to explain the VMware story. It is far from a vSphere company that a lot of customers still perceive it to be. VMware is now a much larger company than what it was 5 years ago. Naturally, the business scope becomes wider as the circle of influence increases. What was server virtualization becomes Mobile Cloud. This is a more complex story to tell, hence the need for CTO Ambassadors. Customers ask me about industry trends and it is good hear first-hand that VMware story resonates. The complete story makes sense. It is just not what you think it is.

We specialize and take technical leadership. Many of us blog and it is great to hear feedback that it is useful to colleagues, partners and customers. Take Sunny Dua, for example. His blogs on vRealize Operations is probably #1 on the topic and he is one of the authority on the product. I wrote a book on SDDC Performance and Capacity Management, explaining the topic from customer view point as opposed to product view point. Contact me if you want to contribute in the second edition (due mid 2016). A lot of us are capable of delivering a Level-300 training on our areas of specialization.

We participate in beta. For customers who are keen, we get them into the beta program. There is a certain level of maturity required in beta program, and glad to say my customers appreciate the closer feedback loop you experience during beta.

We evangelize to and socialize with the virtualization community, both in physical world and digital world. One beautiful thing about virtualization is there is a strong community in this space, and friendship is born. We guide one another in our career, regardless of where we work. In digital world, you will find some of us on Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook, VMTN, etc. On Facebook, I founded this group to facilitate networking and discussion among VMware users. Glad to see it has grown to become one of the largest VMware groups on Facebook. Feel free to copy the guiding principle that I created, as it will help you in minimizing public conflict.

Internally, the Ambassadors champion the use of Socialcast. We are strong advocate of collaboration. I see this is as critical, because VMware is a multi-product organization. I used to be a big fan of mailing list. With Socialcast, we have granular control. I am a member of >100 Socialcast groups and it does not require me to create 100 folders in my mailbox. I’ve disabled all push notifications, as SocialCast online notification does a better job. Yes, no email at all. For search, I find the Socialcast search to be more powerful.

We bridge, both internally and externally. There are thousands of people in VMware, partner ecosystems and customers. It can be difficult to know who actually does what when you need help. Sure, there is an org chart. You know how accurate they are right 🙂 The bi-directional connection that the CTO Ambassadors have mean we can link you. A typical request from Product Manager or R&D to me is “I need a customer that meets this profile. Can you schedule a meeting with a person at the right level?” On the other hand, account team or partners normally ask for a specific engineer or person in Palo Alto that can help with a given issue or opportunity.

How does being an Ambassador change me in what I do?

By and large, nothing. And that’s fundamental. To be an Ambassador of any company, one should be doing it already. The formal appointment significantly amplifies and enhances your capability, but it does not alter the core. In this way, you won’t be wondering what you should do, as you’re already doing it! People should be able to see the Ambassador quality in you because of what you’ve done. This will also make it easier for the Advisory Board to decide on your application. The bar to become VMware CTO Ambassador is high.

I’m more aware of my role and duty. What I say, be it off-line or on-line, can be quoted. It can also be taken out of context. So before I reply to an on-line post, I ask myself “Will VMware say what I’m about to say?” I care about the image of VMware. Yes, I may be protected legally with all the disclaimer that this is my personal post. Practically, however, the damage is done, so I need to be careful. Some of my posts are taking 1 week because I am soaking it and also ask close friends to review. My little girl likes to say “Just in case!”.

I also see myself as an extension of the Product Team. When a product needs improvement, my feedback to them is followed by solution. There is no value in a conversation if I merely criticize. It’s easy to criticize. It’s hard to provide a solution. I contribute IP back to the product team, and it is a privilege to see my work makes it back to the product.

I hope that gives you a good summary of VMware CTO Ambassadors. If you are a technology vendor, I think you should establish one too. If you a large, global IT organization, you should also establish one too. I’m happy to share our experience on it. For those of you based in Asia Pacific, do reach out to your local Ambassadors here.