VMUG Insights from the Netherlands: How to Thrive in Our Ever-Changing Industry

Netherlands VMUG UserCon opened my eyes to how important it is for us in the VMUG community to take notice of how rapidly our industry is changing. Across many of the presentations I attended at UserCon, the necessity to evolve was a universal theme. Here are some of my insights from those sessions.

The Keynote: VMware’s Transition to an aaS Model
Kit Colbert, CTO, VMware Cloud Platform Business Unit, delivered the keynote presentation about VMware’s transition to an “as a Service” (aaS) model. This is a big change that is affecting VMware and its customers, and I appreciate their efforts to be more transparent about this restructuring.  

With the move to an aaS model, we as vAdmins must be open to changes. During the keynote, Kit made a powerful statement, “No one wins by managing their VMware environment well. You win by differentiating yourself from your competitors.” I tweeted this out and it started a conversation throughout the worldwide VMUG community about how the new aaS model will change vAdmins’ career paths.

One approach vAdmins can take is to become more focused on a Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) role, a term coined by Google. Kit shared the Site Reliability Engineer (SRE) charter that states, “Provide the horizontal platforms/tools, operational processes, and operational response needed to maintain the desired customer experience with minimal toil.”  

It will take both horizontal platforms and operational processes to prepare the IT departments of the future to deliver the desired customer experience. This conversation brings to mind an instructive moment from many years ago when I was responsible for my company’s internet during the era of T1 line expansion. If you can imagine, back then our data center had baker racks of about 40 14.4 and 28.8 bps modems. If we didn’t prepare for the imminent changes of T1 internet, we would still be stuck with dial-up.

We are at a similar stage as a community now as I was back then. At the time, the modems worked for us, but we still changed our operational processes to take advantage of the new technology, and this is exactly what vAdmins in the VMUG community need to be willing to do today.  

Hands-on Labs: The Balance Between Experience and Uncertainty
In addition to the keynote, I attended a session by Doug Baer and Dave Rollins on Hands-on Labs. My biggest takeaway was that we all have a certain level of expertise and uncertainty. These, in balance, are good things. As you evolve in your career, the balance will shift between the two. What’s important to remember is that regardless of where the balance is, be confident in your journey.

These presentations were very popular among VMUG members. If you are interested in these topics, here are a few places to get started:
Hands-on Lab Portal:  http://labs.hol.vmware.com
Hands-on Lab Blog:  http://blogs.vmware.com/hol
Documents Site:  http://docs.hol.vmware.com

The final and most important takeaway is maintaining the desired customer experience. If we do not do this, the proven and cost-effective cloud model will lead companies to look towards an external provider instead of IT departments. I think we all agree that we prefer for it to come through IT. For this to happen, we must adapt.  

By attending events such as VMUG UserCons, reading industry blogs, and talking to peers, you can continue your journey of learning in the ever-changing IT landscape.

See you at a VMUG,


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