Tag Archives: role

First week with VMware and Cloud Foundry

Hello, VMware.

Well – that was bracing!

I don’t expect to be posting “week notes” like this on a regular basis, but as a one-off it seems like a nice way to encapsulate just how much happened in the first week of my new role.

Tuesday

Joined VMware. Met new colleagues in London office. Started to look at the User Account and Authentication component in Cloud Foundry. Ran samples against cloudfoundry.com, modified the documentation. Issued first GitHub pull request :-)

Wednesday

More hacking on samples. Updated the Cloud Foundry Google+ page. Agreed to present Cloud Foundry at the London Real-Time hack weekend for the RabbitMQ guys. Watched (and tweeted) the live webcast of the Cloud Foundry first birthday event in San Francisco – very exciting news! “more clouds, more community, more code“, including a broader range of partners, a new governance process around the cloudfoundry.org Open Source project, and the announcement of BOSH being released to the community, too – multi-cloud deployment, here we come!

Thursday

Trip to the VMware Frimley office for some HR stuff. First call with full Developer Relations team for event planning. Briefing with the two directors I work for. Nothing to see here, move along…

Friday

Setup new laptop (custom order from Apple so there was a small delay). Prepped for demo at London Real-Time. Started making a lot of noise on VMware Link (aka Socialcast, the social sharing/discussion platform) internally :-)

Saturday

My first speaking gig – a Lightning Introduction to Cloud Foundry, taking Chris Richardson’s much more comprehensive Boot Camp presentation and cramming the essentials into ~15 min including a live demo, for a bunch of hackers at London Real-Time.

Oh, and it was caught on video.

Four or five of the hacks ended up running on Cloud Foundry, too, which I think was rather nice :-) I was also interviewed on realtime and the importance of cloud at the event, but I’ve not seen that video appear just yet.

Monday

More laptop setup, HR stuff. Prep for Scala Days. Started to improve a sample app (Ruby/Sinatra) I’d used in the past by adding Twitter Bootstrap and restructuring the code.

Tuesday/Wednesday

Scala Days in London – helping to man the sponsor stand talking about Cloud Foundry, answering questions, and meeting many new colleagues from the US who were presenting on Spring, Scala, and Cloud Foundry (including an announcement that Play 2.0 framework support and standalone apps are coming to cloudfoundry.com Real Soon Now). Recorded a podcast interview with Uhuru about what a Developer Advocate does.

Summary

I’m pleased that I was able to be so productive so quickly. I’d had a little previous experience with Cloud Foundry but it’s a testament to how quick it is to learn the basics and get moving that I was able to rapidly start playing with a bunch of code. It was also exciting to be out on Github on my first day – not something I could have done in a former life… it’s nice to be working in an organisation that is innovating with Open Source at this level.

There’s much to learn, and to be honest, a couple of the key aspects of Cloud Foundry actually make it more challenging (and interesting) for me to get to grips with. It’s open, and with BOSH, can potentially target different IaaS offerings (initially vSphere and the beginnings of AWS support; a hackathon yesterday aimed at adding OpenStack to the list) – so suddenly I need to know about those. It’s a polyglot platform, which means I need to broaden my language knowledge – I’m already making a start on Ruby and node.js, to complement existing Java and PHP knowledge.

It’s also exciting to learn more about what VMware does, the layers of technology that they offer, and their vision. My previous experience has primarily been with the desktop virtualisation technology, but there’s a huge and vibrant community around the server-side virtualisation tools, and products like Socialcast, Sliderocket and Zimbra in the collaboration space too.

There’s a lot of exciting stuff happening in this space. It’s thrilling to be here. Thanks to all of my new colleagues for a warm welcome and support – looking forward to working with you!

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My next steps – joining the Cloud Foundry team

I’m very excited to announce that, from April 10th, I will be joining the Developer Relations team for Cloud Foundry at VMware.

This is a thrilling opportunity for me for a number of reasons.

  • from a technology perspective: Cloud Foundry is very, very, very cool. In my opinion, it really comes from a different set of thought processes than the other Platform-as-a-Service offerings out there, which make it unique and compelling.
    • the operating system stuff gets out of the way (why should it matter?), but multiple language runtimes and backend resources are available for easy scaling. Seriously, the first time I walked through the command-line tutorial and scaled a Ruby app to 6 load balanced instances with a single command, I was instantly impressed.
    • it is Open Source. The code is on Github. You can run your own cloud if you like. You can add support for your own languages and frameworks, much as AppFog have done for PHP, Tier 3 and Uhuru have done with .NET in Iron Foundry, and so on. This provides a huge amount of flexibility. Oh, and of course mobile and cloud go hand-in-hand, so last week’s announcement of FeedHenry providing tools to develop HTML5 apps to deploy on Cloud Foundry was really significant, too.
    • you can take your cloud with you using Micro Cloud Foundry – so the development and deployment model remains the same whether you are online or offline. I love this idea.
  • for me, personally: it’s a natural evolution of much of the work I’ve been doing over the past few years – focusing on developer communities and promoting technology adoption, as much as top-down solution selling. As my good friend James Governor is fond of saying and as his colleague Steve O’Grady wrote, developers are the new kingmakers – and with trends like mobile, cloud, and devops, nurturing those communities is more important than ever. You don’t impose technology on a community – you explain it and earn your place and reputation.
  • I’m looking forward to more speaking, more writing, more mentoring, and more online community building. These are things I’ve grown to enjoy (and in the case of the latter, appear to do naturally).
  • I’ve followed Patrick Chanezon, the Senior Director of the team, since he was setting up the developer advocacy programme back at Google – I have a lot of respect for what he’s achieved and the way he operates, so I’m delighted to have the chance to work closely with him. I’m excited to join everyone in the team, of course – I have spoken with most of the group already and I’m really looking forward to learning from their diverse range of experiences and backgrounds.

Between now and April 10th, I have a few things planned including a vacation (!), heading to EclipseCon to talk about MQTT and M2M topics, and some other speaking engagements. After I start the new role, I expect I’ll join in on the Cloud Foundry Open Tour and start to meet folks. I’ll also be on the team for the GOTO conference in Aarhus in October – exciting times ahead!

When “end of an era” doesn’t cover it

This week, I tendered my resignation at IBM, after 10 years and 4 months, to a manager who has been my team leader and friend for the past 3 years. I can honestly say that it was a really hard moment; but also the right moment to make this particular transition.

As I’ve repeatedly written over the past few years – IBM has been a company I always aspired to work for, and once I had the chance, one that I’ve been immensely proud to represent. It’s a company that has endured over a century, and one that I was able to spend time with for a tenth of its existence – it was really the age of both WebSphere and the rise of IBM Software Group, and I’m grateful for the opportunity to have been there.

I have brilliant memories of the past decade. IBM is an amazing company and I will always value the chance to be a part of it, particularly in a wonderful location like the Hursley Lab. The people I’ve worked with, and with whom I’ve formed what I believe will be enduring friendships, have been simply outstanding. There were so many opportunities to do great things, not only in “the day job” but also as a BlueIQ Ambassador and social collaboration advocate, with IBM developer communities, in the universities programme representing IBM at careers fairs and as a guest lecturer in degree programmes, and the schools and community programme as a BlueFusion volunteer and mentor to kids at schools in deprived areas. I’ve also loved the chances to learn from others formally and informally, and to act as a mentor to others.

This will sound like a total paean, but it’s very true that there are amazing talents around IBM. In 7 years in IBM Software Services, and more than 3 years representing the development, strategy and product management teams in the lab back out to the field, I amassed a list of friends and colleagues from across continents, business units, and brands. It’s amazing to think of the broad reach of my network and I can’t help but be grateful for that.

My next steps are still forming; but I’m looking forward to spending more time with Open Source communities, with developers, with new technology, with connected systems and the Internet of Things, and as a speaker and writer. I’m also grateful to a range of friends for their support, particularly in taking over initiatives like eightbar, and in enabling me to remain involved in strands like Eclipse and MQTT.

Thanks for following me, reading my blog, sharing my thoughts, and joining the journey. I hope what comes next will be a continuation of the path I’ve been on; and an exciting next step in developing the direction I’ve been headed in.

Job titles are irrelevant – what is your brand?

Increasingly, I’m convinced that corporate job titles are obsolete. Let’s face it – in many cases an individual can label themselves with any title, and it may or may not have any meaning either within the context of the organisation, or in comparison to similar companies. The head of a major corporation can be described as CEO, but Joe Normal can be CEO of his own one or two-man band company too. It’s perfectly valid. Many organisations have champions, evangelists… job titles are morphing (conversation architect? social media marketer?)

I’m frequently asked what I do, as if a title can cover and explain my role in a couple of words. The first answer is that I work for IBM. OK, but that’s a very wide field, if you know anything about the company – it could be something in hardware, software, consulting services, research, management. So I was then able to narrow it down by using the word “Consultant” – one of those titles so broad that it covers all kinds of activities. So then I’d say I’m a software consultant working with WebSphere Integration products for IBM in the UK. But, of course, that wasn’t everything I did, if you factored in my social software and virtual worlds “hats” and additional interests. Recently my formal job title has become even less useful in describing what I do to people outside the organisation.

IBM also has a formal professional development careers path linked to The Open Group and British Computer Society – in that, I’ve moved from being a Senior to a Consulting IT Specialist. Unless you know the structure of the profession, you may not know the difference between Senior and Consulting levels, or what an IT Specialist does in comparison to an IT Architect or Software Engineer or whatever else. “Consulting IT Specialist” is a reasonably useful label, but still doesn’t go far enough.

So if job titles are dead – what now? I’m finding that my personal brand as social bridgebuilder | photographer | techie is as useful a label or as a starting point for a discussion as anything. I recently updated my About page and moved my technical background further down the bio. As organisational structures shift and morph to new models (you should take a look at Gary Hamel’s excellent book The Future of Management to read more on this) it is becoming more important to maintain a personal brand – linked to a corporate identity – and to be able to explain what you do and can offer in a concise manner.

Storytelling. Visual CVs. Skills. The rise of the real-world avatar. Non-traditional ways of presenting oneself through tag clouds and visualisations. All of these things are replacing the job title. Don’t tell me your corporate title. Tell me who you are, and what you do.

Side thought: as I write this, and some of my other recent entries on paper, I ponder – am I a “writer”? a blogger, a writer of prose, an architect of ideas, or what?

Update #1: I realised, thanks to Paul’s rather brilliant point in the comments about context, that I should probably explain where this post came from. A couple of inspirations, really. Firstly, a couple of months ago I was talking to a colleague at work and he said “so what is it you do all day, social bridgebuilder or something?” and I had to explain that no, my day job is something specific and related to WebSphere software. Secondly, last week I was introduced on a conference call as having a “really cool job title” and again, I noted that it was James Governor who gave me the label / reputation as social bridgebuilder as a result of what I do, rather than it being a formal title.

Update #2: I’m interested in a couple of the related posts links that WordPress has put in for me. The first, Your Personal Brand IS NOT a Job Title, kind of makes the same point… I suppose… I suppose it is saying that job titles still have a relevance within the context of an organisation. The second, A Rose By Any Other Name, also has relevance here – I particularly liked the line When your staff are asked, outside work, what they do how easily can they simply quote their job title? which is something I’ve struggled with in the past. Nice work on the automatic links I think!

Time to make a change

It’s time to move on. Maybe there’s something in the air, since Roo left recently, and Dale has just written about his switch to new things.

A seven-year itch?

Almost exactly seven years ago, I was offered my current job with IBM. I left what used to be the Post Office IT Services, took a month off (during which I was supposed to visit New York and Washington… never happened, sadly), and then started consulting on WebSphere for what used to be IBM Software Group’s London Solutions Practice. When I joined the group I was young, single, and figured I could “do the consulting thing”. Looking back, I was a good techie but fairly green as a consultant… I think I’ve matured and improved! :-)

I’m still in the same role today. Working in IBM Software Services for WebSphere (ISSW) has been an absolute blast. I’ve had the opportunity to develop my industry experience across a whole range of sectors: finance, media, manufacturing, retail, public sector; deepened and broadened my technical skills; mentored newcomers to our team; and watched the group – and indeed, IBM’s WebSphere brand and Software Group – develop and grow.

I’ve also had the pleasure and privilege of working with the most talented individuals I’ve ever come across. IBM Software Services is a truly great group. Some of the ideas that my colleagues have come up with have been completely mind-blowing (hint: the simple ones are always the best), and influence software architectures I’m seeing everywhere today. Maybe it isn’t all rocket science, but several people in my team actually could be rocket scientists, and in my opinion are simply geniuses. Thank you, everyone – it’s been an honour.

I’ve spent a total of eight or nine years learning IBM’s messaging products (particularly WebSphere MQ and Message Broker) in detail and they really are fantastic pieces of technology. I’m not going to be leaving those alone any time soon.

If you follow my blog or other online presences at all you’ll know that my interests go way beyond WebSphere, connectivity, transactions, integration and messaging systems – essentially, I’m into that stuff, but my passion extends out to the bleeding edge of technology, the frontiers of the enterprise and more fundamentally, how those in the real world – users – want to use and interact with technology and new concepts.

What’s next?

So, to borrow a phrase from Roo, what’s next? Well, I have a new role – still at IBM, and starting full-time next month.

I’ve built up a lot of experience in how our products are used, and I now have the opportunity to take that back to our Development labs. I’ll be providing a direct link between product development and customers… feeding back what is out there, what our customers want, and influencing future products. Refining product usability based on real experiences, and acting as a “customer champion”. It’s a role with worldwide scope, and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into it.

One thing I don’t expect to change is my wider interests – Web 2.0, virtual worlds, and communities. I’ll still be engaging with folks in all kinds of places – part of what I do as a “social bridgebuilder” (props yet again to James Governor for that description). It’s in my online DNA, I guess.

I’m not going far from my roots, but this is a significant change for me.