Leaving VMware, Joining Simplivity

Things move fast in the tech industry and after a relatively brief time at VMware, I’ve been offered a new role that I simply cannot refuse.  Today, I’ll be leaving VMware and moving to the hyper-converged infrastructure company, Simplivity.

In recent months, I’ve been in the exceptionally lucky position of having the option to choose between some phenomenal technology companies to decide where best to continue my career. Ultimately, the sadness of leaving the VMware team has been outweighed by the opportunity, belief in the technology and enthusiasm I feel for the Simplivity proposition.  It’s difficult to describe the thought process for making such a decision but it’s best summed up here…

There’s an engineer racing across the ocean in a speedboat.  He loves the speed boat, it has a great team, quality engine, it’s fast and can change direction quickly. During the race the speedboat encounters a gigantic cruise ship. It’s heading in the same direction and is part of the same race. The engineer is in awe of the sheer size of this thing and sailing along side it, all he can see is the seemingly impenetrable glossy hull which scales all the way up into the sky. What’s inside the cruise ship is a mystery, but it looks awesome and the whole race has their eyes on it.  While the engineer stares and ponders what could be inside this goliath, a gold plated rope ladder unfurls down it’s side with a written invitation to join the crew tied to the bottom.  The curiosity is too much to resist, so he heads up the ladder.

Cruise Ship with Speedboats

Once on-board, the cruise ship team welcome the engineer. They’re really friendly and clearly all great people, but he instantly realizes that it’s going to take some time to figure out where he and all these people fit into the ship’s organisation. To use a militaristic parallel, it feels very much like moving from a four man special forces team into the ranks of the general infantry.  It’s an unusual experience and with so many people, systems and different parts, there is no other option but to jump in with both feet to figure all this stuff out. Who is who? Who does what? Who is accountable for what? So many questions to answer.

After several months of on-boarding processes and training, he finally and thankfully is assigned to his tasks.  The initial task is to clean all the portholes on deck 37. The portholes give customers a narrow view into what’s available on the cruise ship and if they like what they see, they’re invited aboard to check out the facilities in depth.  On day one, he jumps straight to the job and cleans porthole 1 through to 60. Once complete, he goes back to porthole 1 to rinse, repeat and do it all again. During this time, he’s chatting with the long serving veteran engineer on Deck 38.  They’re looking out of their respective portholes and watching the speedboats zip around the surface of the ocean outside.

The veteran watches the speedboats with some trepidation as they jump and crash around on the waves. “I don’t think that’s very safe, do you?”, he says. The new engineer says in reply, “Yes, I can see that some of them just aren’t going to make it across the ocean. The waves are way too large. But, did you see how high that one jumped? That’s got to be a world record? Looks like fun.”. “Way too dangerous!”, the veteran concludes.

Some time passes and the new engineer quickly gets to grips with his task. He gets to know the rest of the team and settles in to enjoying his daily routine.  He also starts to understand the inner working of the ship. It’s complex, actually has lot’s of different engines and lots of different teams. Not always working to the same plan. He queries this with the veteran in an attempt to understand how they all work together.

The veteran explains, “Well, as with any large organisation, it’s not always easy to get everyone pushing in exactly the same direction and that’s also true of the engines on this ship. Some are pushing in their own directions, but if the ships general direction of travel remains towards the right destination then that’s got to mean success, right?”. The new engineer agrees and believes that the correct destination will eventually be reached. He does however wonder at what speed this will happen.

As time moves on, the engineer dutifully completes his work, all the while watching the speedboats doing their thing. He continually weighs up the risks that the speedboats are taking against the rewards that they are reaping. He questions his position daily. Should he jump ship or should he stay and enjoy the cruise with everyone else?

On one particular day, he sees an unusual speedboat in the flotilla surrounding the area. This one appears to be running faster than the others. It dips in, out  and across the waves with an agility that the other boats just don’t seem to have. He shouts down to the boat and asks, “How are you turning so quickly while moving so fast?”. A voice comes back from the speedboat, “Well, every speedboat here is using the same engine, but we’ve built a special accelerator component that gives our boat more speed, more agility and makes our fuel costs much lower than anyone else’s.”

Looking at the speedboat’s technology, the engineer’s brain blub not only lights up, it explodes. A whole shelf of pennies drop as he realizes the potential. “Wow, that’s massively impressive!”, the engineer shouts.

“Wait until you see what’s in our roadmap and pipeline! Come and join the fun!”, shouts back the voice.

After much deliberation and soul searching, the engineer comes to the following conclusion. Joining the speedboat is by far the more challenging path, it also presents many seen and unseen risks. However, with risk comes reward. Without risk nor challenge their is no reward to reap.  While he can see in future that he may want to put his feet up and join the cruise, right now is not the right time. He must grab the opportunity and work his socks off to help build something new, something worth building.

The moral of this story is that there is no good or bad boat. No right or wrong answer.  Just boats that offer different styles and opportunities for sailing the ocean.  If you have a tolerance for risk and hard work, you’re probably more suited to the speedboat and the rewards that may bring. If not, settle in for the long haul and enjoy the cruise.

Really looking forward to working at Simplivity and will approach the opportunity with the enthusiasm, excitement and rigor that the role requires.