Today, I am excited to announce I will be joining the awesome team at 5nine Software as Director of Product Management. My primary job responsibilities will be for the product strategy and direction of 5nine’s security and management solutions.
So, you ask, why Product Management? It’s been a lifelong dream to be part of shaping the direction of a technology solution. By joining 5nine, I hope to simplify IT, Cloud and beyond, because there’s always a better way 🙂
“What prepared me for this was very surprising looking back.”
Life at Nutanix
Over the past 2 1/2 years at Nutanix, I managed 84 partners over 146 solutions. The partner solutions that my team managed and validated were from all aspects of technology. i.e.monitoring, backup, DR, Big Data, DevOps, security, networking, databases and the list goes on.
5nine Software was one of my first partners I validated. I was familiar with them. 5nine Manager was a tool I had used in the field during my consulting days. But I had not seen security solution yet. During Nutanix Ready process, this is when I first got introduced to 5nine Security. I remember at the time, I was super impressed with how they integrated with Hyper-V.
Shortly, after 5nine’s Nutanix Ready validation, my colleague and Alliance Manager Tommy Gustaveson and I interviewed past 5nine’s VP of Alliances Symon Perriman. We enjoyed understanding 5nine’s vision and also getting to know a little more about Symon Perriman’s journey. Yes, I admit, I had a little hero worship for him. But, who can blame me, Symon is a one of kind person and proud to this day to call him a friend 🙂
So, on with the story, part of my job at Nutanix was front-ending the Product Managers (PM’s). The PM’s were always pulled in 10 different directions and they came to trust us with some of these activities with partners. This would include understanding the partner technology, how we can go to market together and how the partner would integrate with Nutanix. We worked with Alliance Managers and PM’s to determine if this would be a good partnership.
Once the business side of alliances onboard s a partner, that’s where the handoff to the Nutanix Ready team happens. The team spends a lot of time understanding each partner solution(‘s). The team does a deep investigation of any issues around the partner solution(‘s) and Nutanix. This is vetted by Nutanix’s support and solutions teams. This, in turn, gives the customer a certain degree of comfort that the partner solutions were tested, validated and it will work on Nutanix 🙂
Over the course of my time at Nutanix and my career to that extent, I have to see many, many UI\UX’s and engines (code) behind it. I’ve seen what works and what doesn’t. The common theme of what doesn’t work is over complicating your user experience.
We are at the age of managing multiple multi-geographic data centers and clouds, backups, DR, networking, SDN’s and we need to secure it all. If your UI even vaguely resembles an airplane cockpit, you’re doing it wrong. It is an inefficient use of an IT Pro’s time and energy. They just want to simply manage their production applications and have an easy management experience.
I will never trade the time I had at Nutanix, but times are a changing 🙂 As I’ve mentioned in a previous post “Building Nutnaix Ready”, “it was the best of times and the worst of times”. I have not finished that series yet, but needless to say, it prepared me for the next step in my journey.
So, keep an eye on my blog, twitter feed, etc, because things are about to get into high gear.
Until next time and happy holidays,
This is my journey to building a world-class “Ready” Program and understanding what validation means to me and the customer….This will be a multi-part series of my journey.
The early days of understanding the concept of “Ready”
I’ve spent the better part of my life in IT consulting. It has been some of the best and worst times of my life ;). But when you make a choice to work in this industry, there are certain givens. Sometimes as consultants and IT Pros we don’t get the recognition we deserve, but if you have the passion for technology, it doesn’t matter. I’m happy with the fact that I resolved or completed a project for a client. And enabled them to make their businesses stronger and more efficient. These IT pros tend to be part of grassroots communities, like the Microsoft MVP community, which is all about giving back and enabling others.
Anyways, moving along on with the story. As a consultant, my many years in the field gave the opportunity to deploy a wide range of technologies.To name a few: InfoBox, Riverbed, Plexxi, Cisco, Microsoft (of course), CheckPoint, RSA, Silverpeak, A10, Carbonite, Comvault, CyberPower, EMC Solutions, F5, Fortinet, Sonicwall, Juniper, Palo Alto, Splunk, Trend Micro, VMTurbo (before they were Turboonomics) Veeam and the list could continue on, but I think everyone gets the point. Try saying that line in one breath :).
Deploying and supporting all these solutions for years is what prepared me to understand what “Ready” really means for a solution. When I first joined Nutanix, I was hired as a Microsoft Solutions Architect in Technical Alliances. My job was to help advance and evangelize the story around Microsoft and Nutanix. Also, I supported the field with sales motions around Microsoft solutions. Or as my new colleagues knew me, I was the resident “Microsoft Guy” :).
Introducing “Ready” into my Journey
About 2 or 3 months into my journey at Nutanix, I was approached by my manager about starting a “Ready” program for alliance partners. When he first told me, it took me a day or so let it set in “I thought wow, this is right up my alley. I’ve been in the field and felt the good and bad of these solutions for years.”
Building a ready program is like building a highway through a mountain, especially in a startup. It’s not just about rubber-stamping a solution for anyone willing to pay to have their logo on your site. It’s a critical validation process that requires a team experienced and critical enough to ask; 1) Is there a real need from my customers that this solution answers; 2) Is this solution possible? In other words, the customer has to be the first and last consideration. Yes, as with the highway. There is an advantage to the solution builders (Who hasn’t wanted a highway named after them, not to mention collecting tolls?). If it doesn’t solve a problem, it’s not worth the investment.
Validation implies that you have guidelines and standards that the partner must meet. If they don’t meet the criteria, then they don’t get the status of “Ready” and all the benefits that go along with it. As Indiana Jones would say “No Ticket, No Ride” (from the Last Crusade movie 🙂 ).
So you ask, “What’s the importance of validation?”
Well, let’s look at the pharmaceutical industry. Validation for the pharmaceutical industry is the process of establishing documentary evidence demonstrating that a procedure, process, or activity carried out in testing and then production maintains the desired level of compliance at all stages. In the pharmaceutical industry, it is very important that in addition to final testing and compliance of products, it is also assured that the process will consistently produce the expected results. Validation is “Establishing documented evidence that provides a high degree of assurance that a specific process will consistently produce a product meeting its pre-determined specifications and quality attributes. This, for the pharmaceutical industry, is to maintain and assure a higher degree of quality for drug products.
Breaking it down simply, validation gives customers a degree of confidence that they are getting exactly what is advertised. Without validation in the pharmaceutical industry, there would be a lot of quality control issues. And this results in people getting sick or death in some cases.
So now, you can see why validation is so important. In the software industry, this can be the life or death of a customer environment resulting in costly downtime. It also puts doubt in the customer’s mind about if they should move forward with the solution.
Crazy story about Validation and QA with a Vendor Solution
Back in my consulting days, I was working with a large enterprise client deploying (at the time) Exchange 2010. The client was on Exchange 2003, which at the time, did not really have a simple solution for failing over Exchange to a secondary site, in case of failure. This led to the rise of third-party products that made this failover process easy and gave you lots of options. Continuing on with the story, I was at the end of the day at the client. We had just finished getting the Exchange 2010 DAGs (Database Available Groups) in place between the US and UK. This was so we could start the migration from Exchange 2003.
I had left for the day around 6 pm to head home. Within an hour, while I was in Boston traffic, I got a call from the client. They proceeded to tell me that their Exchange 2003 environment was down. The product solution that was supposed to auto-failover is not working. The client asked, “Can you please come back and take a look. We have already called the vendor support and making no headway?”
I arrived back and started my troubleshooting. Sure enough, before support called I found a serious bug that was not accounted for during the vendor’s QA process. In addition, the solution had completed another vendor’s “Ready” program. Now, I’m not going to name vendors, but this caused the client to go down for a number of hours while I worked with support to get this rolling again.
For this client or most clients, any downtime on email is a loss of business. They took a big hit that day of hundreds of thousands of dollars. Now, I’m not saying that validation is a silver bullet or could have saved this client headaches that day, but it certainly reduces the surface area of a problem arising in the field.
More about “Ready” with Technical Alliances and the Customer
Having a “Ready” program in the software industry is not just about approving and denying a solution, it’s also about helping partners resolve their issues whether it’s on either side, so they can eventually achieve “Ready” status. And with that, “Ready” for a customer gives them the peace of mind that a solution will run on the given platform or hypervisor.
I was up to the challenge, and so starts the journey to “Building Nutanix Ready, What “Ready” means?”……Up next, paving the road to “Ready”.
Until next time, Rob.