Much like my trip to Copenhagen for VMworld 2011, it was very interesting to be able to support the VCE event marketing team at CA World to see how different groups of people respond to the VCE story. Most of the events we go to are, for obvious reasons, infrastructure focused, so it was very interesting to meet and talk to people who live further (sometimes MUCH further) up the stack than that. The takeaways were surprising.
First, both the CA team and the CA World event were absolutely top notch, The general session on Sunday evening with Bill McCraken (CA CEO), Michael Capellas (VCE Chairman), Vivek Kundra (First CIO of the US) and Randi Zuckerberg was outstanding. The level of discussion and the collective knowledge on the panel was excellent. I’ve never attended a kick-off keynote on a Sunday evening before, but this one was definitely worth it.
VCE occupied a very interesting place in this conference. First, we were the only infrastructure company to have a full converged stack on the floor, and thanks to our Platinum sponsorship we were right up front and center. The irony was that it seemed like most of the attendees were a little intimidated by the racks on display. Where as at EMC World, VMworld and Cisco Live there are people crawling in, over and around the cabinets asking questions, almost every question we got at CA World was about how the infrastructure fit into a larger picture. I loved it. People wanted to know about the solutions that were supported, the intersection with the CA product sets and how both could be leveraged together. We did a ton of VDI sessions as well as a lot of orchestration and management demos, all of the running right on the Vblock in the booth. It was a very different audience and experience than the other shows, but it had a rhythm and pace all of its own, and it was a welcome change.
Of course, it’s always fun to talk to customers when you have such an incredibly compelling story. The CA/VCE partnership is in many ways a model for how a converged infrastructure can enable the business processed that the customer needs to maintain without forcing a greenfield approach. In the slide on the left we see how core (and relatively small) a role the actual infrastructure plays in the overall framework here, and that’s as it should be. We aren’t doing IT for the sake of IT, we are doing it for the end users and their applications, and anything that takes the focus away from that isn’t needed or relevant. From security, performance and SLA monitoring and alerting, automation and orchestration and business service modeling and management, the integration between CA and VCE is top-notch and I’m very excited to see where we go from here, and how we can help make each other better.
I also got a chance (finally!) to be part of the Cloudcast podcast series, and Aaron Delp and I got to sit down with Andi Mann from CA and talk about consumption models, trends that are starting to show and a good bit about Andi’s background and career. What a cool, smart guy. Totally enjoyed it and I’m hoping I get invited to do the podcast again at some point. If you are interested, you can check it out here.
To put it bluntly, VCE has kicked ass at all of the events that we’ve attended this year. With it being our first year in the ring, so to speak, we did a lot of learning, a lot of guessing and hoping, and a lot of busting our butts to make sure the story got out to the people. VCE exceeded every single metric we set as a target for those events, and there’s a fantastic group of people who’ve made that happen. Most of the credit goes to Mary Martinez, Jeff Siteman and Tina McNulty from the marketing team. They had a vision for these events and have worked tirelessly to make it happen. There’s also an incredible core group of vArchitects who volunteered to be in the foxhole together, and have been able to react to any situation and pull off what sometimes seemed impossible. Tom Chatham (Mr. Vblock), Jae Ellers, Jay Cuthrell and Aaron Delp are all complete rock stars, and getting to watch them work with customers at these events is awesome. Our booth is ridiculous. Rarely is there anyone on a conference floor who can match the functionality of the VCE setup with the awesome visuals. Having a fully functional, live Vblock in the middle of the booth has become a staple of the setup, and the customers love it. If you are a competitor who is handing out collateral at a tiny booth at these shows, we have been, and will continue to eat your lunch. Fair warning, it only gets more awesome for us from here.
Of course no good deed goes unpunished, and so we’ve been given an even higher bar to clear in 2012. The team will more than triple the number of events we participate at, and VCE is making a huge investment in that. More Vblocks, more staff, more demos, more [redacted]. It’s going to be awesome, and I can’t wait to see how it unfolds. The 2012 year will start in London with Cisco Live, and we are working furiously behind the scenes to roll out a couple surprises for everyone. Stay tuned and I hope to see you at one of the events in 2012!