There are times in your career when you search diligently for the next big opportunity. That was the case when I made the decision last year to focus on OpenStack by moving to Rackspace, one of the co-founders of the OpenStack project. Pursuing the next big opportunity led me to transition, earlier this year, to my current Technology Evangelist role. However, there are other times when the next big opportunity finds you when you aren’t looking at all. That happened to me recently when I received a direct message on Twitter from a friend asking if I would be interested in an opportunity outside of Rackspace. I was hesitant at first, given the recent transition to my new role. But after conversations with several trusted advisers, including the manager who hired me into Rackspace, I decided the opportunity was too good to pass up.
So beginning June 16th, I will be rejoining EMC as a Business Development Manager (BDM) in their Cloud Solutions Business Unit. My focus will be to help EMC further develop their OpenStack strategy, partnerships, and OpenStack-powered cloud solutions. It’s a big task but I will have the luxury of working with some extremely smart and seasoned IT professionals who are part of the EMC Federation. This list of über smart folks includes, but is certainly not limited to, individuals like Mark McLaughlin, Nikhil Sharma, Chad Sakac, and James Ruddy from EMC, Dan Wendlandt and Scott Lowe from VMware, and James Watters and Cornelia Davis from Pivotal.
So why join EMC to work on OpenStack? A fair question given that EMC does not have a long or particularly noteworthy track record in the open source world. One reason why I joined is the opportunity to work with the folks I mentioned above, all of whom I respect. Another reason has to do with the opportunity to help customers craft their hybrid cloud strategy. Finally, as a technologist, I look forward to helping build enterprise-grade cloud solutions using the OpenStack platform, enhanced with all the great technology assets from the EMC Federation. These assets, I believe, will allow EMC to be a major player in the hyper scale world, where OpenStack-powered cloud solutions play.
As I’ve written before, OpenStack is not a product but an open source project. It’s up to end-users and/or vendors to take this growing project and use it to create a usable cloud platform product. However, as is the case with Linux, most users will choose to partner with vendors rather than to roll their own private cloud platforms. This will likely be the case as enterprises adopt OpenStack-powered solutions and they will look to vendors both old and new to provide enterprise-grade cloud solutions. Many if not most of these enterprise customers are currently EMC customers. In fact, according to a recent EMC pre-sales/field survey, 50% of EMC customers are already running OpenStack today. The EMC federation is uniquely positioned to blend both innovative technology with enterprise-grade solutions experience to meet the needs of these customers.
Vendor involvement in open source projects like OpenStack must be built on a foundation of trust and collaboration with other in the ecosystem. I discussed this in a post about what I believe it means to be a member of the OpenStack community. While many will question EMC’s willingness and commitment to participate in the open source community, I would point skeptics to the steps the Federation has already taken in that area. This includes the creation of the Cloud Foundry Foundation, the contributions VMware has made to OpenStack, and the steps that EMC II has taken to make ViPR more open and extensible. Less visibly, EMC has been making more contributions to the OpenStack project that goes beyond just submitting storage array drivers. My hope is that I will be able to make a difference in terms of helping EMC to continue to grow as a respected contributor and leader in the OpenStack community.
As noted earlier, I have no illusions about any of this being easy and certainly do not consider the vision I’ve laid out in this post to be fait accompli. In particular, I am well aware that this is a team effort and being successful with OpenStack will require a serious and sustained commitment by the entire Federation. However, I have full confidence that OpenStack will succeed and that EMC will be a leading force in making that happen.