Category Archives: People

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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.

Should our children do IT for a living?

[13 Feb 2017 update: a similar article appears at Wired for the Application Developer job]

Ask any Infrastructure Engineers or Software Developers, whether their young kids should follow their foot step, and you may get a No answer. Maybe you get a Yes, but I think it is no longer as firm as it was 2 decades ago. Back in early 90s, the answer was a resounding yes. As an Infrastructure Engineer myself, I do not want my kids (12 and 15) to follow my footsteps. Don’t get me wrong. I love what I do. It’s just that I think the party is coming to an end. It will last long enough for us to enjoy, but not for our children. We are in a once life time change in IT Industry. There are megatrends, and it’s interesting to see them unfolds as they overlap.

If we look at IT, there are large sub-industries. Each has billion-dollar vendors (with market cap >$10b) jockeying for positions as they all want to get bigger. The greedy nature of capitalism means growth is the only factor that matters. If your market cap is $10 billions, then grow to $50b. If you have reached $100 billions, then grow to $1 trillion. It is indeed greed. The father of Greed is Fear. The thinking goes something like “if you do not grow, you will die.” As human, we know we cannot be satisfied with money, but our fear of losing the money makes us want more of it. This “dog eat dog” mindset contributes to tectonic shifts we’re seeing in our industry.

We can categorize the IT Industry into Application and Infrastructure. In fact, the IT Department in some large organizations typically means just the Infrastructure or common applications (e.g. Database, Email, and Directory). They have also turned into internal Service Providers.

We can also categorize the IT Industry into Personal (Retail, Consumer, B2C) and Commercial (Enterprise, SMB, B2B). The Rise of the Individual helped propel Apple to be a giant in the industry, even though it had a relatively tiny presence in the commercial space. The Personal-Commercial categorization can also be viewed using Core-Edge category. The Core physically resides at Data Center. The small core may only be as big as a few servers inside a rack. The Edge physically resides with the Individual. The first instantiation was PC, which has evolved into notebook, tablet, smart phone, gadgets. Recently, it starts to show up on machines, giving birth to Internet of Things.

Here are the forces that I see, in no particular order:

  • Cloud Computing
  • Mobile
  • DevOps
  • Container
  • Storage virtualization
  • Network virtualization
  • Edge Computing
  • Internet of Things
  • The Rise of the Individual

Here are the areas the areas that are already declining as a result. Again, in no particular order:

  • UNIX
  • Mainframe
  • PC
  • FC and FCoE
  • Physical storage
  • Current UX or UI

I will provide my 2 cents on the above trends. We can analyze each of them and how they impact one another. But that’s a subject for another blog post 🙂 In here, I want to focus on our children, not us. My timeline here is 15-20 years, not 5-10 years. What does IT look like around the decade of 2030? A 15-year old teenager today will be 30 year old adult by then. He is probably holding a mid-level position. What does the job look like? What does the industry look like? What jobs that will be important in 2030 and do not even exist in 2015? Will he work as independent freelancer? A 5 year old kid will be 20 year old in 2030. Should she be pursuing an IT degree? If she does, can she utilize her hard-earned degree for 2 decades? That will take us to 2050!

You may say that 15 years is too long to predict. I agree. It’s much easier to predict 5 years. But that’s not a prediction actually. It’s just a projection. A projection has no or minimal element of surprise, as it’s just along the trajectory. You have a historical data, and you’re merely moving along the line. The other reason is IT changes slowly, especially the mission critical, core system. The mainframe, the oldest among IT technology and it has celebrated its 50th birthday, will still be around in 5 years. In fact, they will probably be around 15 years later.

You want to know my prediction of IT in 2030-2050? At the rate innovation is going, I think there will be a super intelligent system. It spans the globe, connected with high speed network. A fault-tolerant distributed system that is always available. It is life-critical, that no administrator can bring it down. The good news is… there is a role for human to play in 2050. The bad news is… We become the battery 🙂 🙂 No, don’t even think of getting out of your container. The robot dog and drone will kill you! 🙂 🙂

Let me know your thought!