In my career I was a late starter and fast riser. It wasn’t too long ago I was plugging in monitors and crawling under desks (a job I still highly respect). I owe a lot of my success to my supportive Wife who while she was raising my children, let me spend hours reading complete histories of LAN switching or reference book on WAN protocols. Not to mention every RFC under the sun. I owe a lot to my aggressive nature of never losing a fight whether it was an annoying Outlook bug, or an 801.X config that wouldn’t work right. But I also owe a lot to the technologies that I invested my time and effort behind who ultimately made my career. I bet on certain companies and technologies and they came through for me time and again. And so in this short blog post, I want to say thanks. So here are my thanks to the top 4 companies that have made me valuable by staying valuable in the information technology arena.
My first experience with VMware was very early on from listening to a Dell solution architect talk about where they were going. This was back when vMotion was just a rumor and still seemed impossible. I went on to work for a company that did a big virtualization shoot-out. At the end of the shoot-out my recommendation was VMware. I was strongly impressed by their focus on stability and running at the enterprise level. Unfortunately, the company chose another virtualization product(I left shortly after). After I left they found out the hard way what an enterprise virtual product needs and within a year they switched to VMware after going through a very painful experience with the other product.
The next company needed me for specific skills but when problem arose with their *free* virtual development solution, I pitched an idea to convert everything to a VMware platform. I must have had to pitch it a hundred times and I even called one meeting with every development team in one big room to explain how VMware works. After selling it for months I finally got the funds and approval. It was a complete success and allowed me to move production infrastructure services like Exchange, LCS 2005, SQL servers, data warehousing, and file servers down the road. I was able to be the guy that got my company from 15% to 80% virtualized within three years. When we needed to be agile with environments or cheap(aka consolidated) with hardware purchases I had changed the culture to make this possible. But I owe my thanks to everyone at VMware for not only maintaining a stable product, but having incredible support, education services, aggressive improvement cycles, and strong community support. I would not be where I am now without the guys and gals at VMware doing what they do.
Whether it was their servers, switches, or workstations I have been involved in Dell shops since my first IT job. They have been consistent with their excellent documentation, strong support, and great product. My favorite part about Dell is their consistent commitment to integrating with major players like EMC and VMware. When it came down to solutions that needed to work with SAN and virtualization options I had, Dell had already put in the work to make sure they were the logical option. I have had a very difficult time not choosing Dell in datacenter projects that involved VMware. I recently made my first trip to a Dell Executive Briefing and left very impressed with their commitment to really providing value and not just selling a product. Dell for me is a company designed to be invested in the long-term benefits and not short-term margins.
My first praise for Cisco is that their certification programs still really matter. In a world of paper certs the Cisco network programs are still are a great way to prove your worth and actually study for comprehension. I could go on about stable and feature rich routing and switching but the one place where Cisco really paid off for me was their ASA firewall line. I put my reputation on the line pushing to change my current employer’s firewall devices to Cisco solutions. The things I was able to do with multi-tier VPN, securing site-to-site tunnels, network segmentation, troubleshooting, and improving security blew all expectations out of the water. Shortly after I was able to implement unified wireless solutions that solidified Cisco as an integral part of our infrastructure. It is tough to be at the top and still provide consistent value over many different business lines. Cisco gets kudos for giving me tools to be productive.
While not the cheapest storage option at first glance EMC does bring one consistent thing to the table every time, you can bet your job on it. I have never met people from company where they passionately believe in their product like the EMC folks I have run into. And EMC is definitely in this list for the early adoption of VMware (in integration and corporate stock) which made it a de facto choice early on. Every time I have a design to build, I evaluate a product for what it can do for me. And EMC consistently provides storage products that not only do what is needed but open up possibilities that you hadn’t thought of. Similar to Cisco this is a company that could very easily surf on market-share. But they are aggressive at staying on top and in turn has paid off for me.
So just to clarify, I am not paid by any of the above. I am just thanking these firms for making my investment in them pay me back. And I know that someone could argue that X firm could have done Y for me in the same place. But, in my particular case I have benefited greatly from four companies and just wanted to say thanks where no one else might have.
Who knows what tomorrow brings? Maybe VMware will start giving free licensing to Osama Bin Laden or EMC starts stealing candy from orphan babies in Calcutta. But at least right now these guys are on my list.