It’s time for change, and change = renewed invention, renewed vigor, renewed discovery.

I’m going to make this a two-part post. Part 1 = what is in the rear-view window? Part 2 = what’s out the front windshield?

Part 1: CPSD and Dell EMC are in my rear-view window.

First, while want to close the chapter behind me – it’s a flawed analogy, because it suggests some sort of “finality”. I’ll always be there for the CI/HCI customers, our partners, for my beloved Dell EMC colleagues in the CI, HCI and Ready Solutions teams and more broadly.

Furthermore – the experiences of the last 2 years, the 4 years before that (leading all my systems engineering brothers and sisters), and the 5 years before that leading the EMC/VMware integration – those experiences will always be part of me.

Within Dell EMC, we’ve decided to align our HCI business with the Dell EMC server business, the CI business with the Dell EMC Storage business, and Ready Solutions (as well as essential elements of CI engineering and R&D) with the Service Provider/Networking/Enterprise Infrastructure teams – today is the best kind of proof that the team, the product is marching on – and how much confidence I have in them.

I want to say something firmly, loudly and clearly – I support the changes, and I think it’s the right thing.

Customers and partners need to understand that this doesn’t signal changes to VxRail, VxRack, VxBlock, and XC Series. In fact, while our Q4 results haven’t been announced – when they do, they will speak for themselves.

What also speaks is the launch of the VxBlock 1000 – a commitment by the team to continue to lead the CI market, and continue to redefine, and re-invent the category.

So why the change? Answer = It’s the right time for the products and the company:

  • There’s inherent simplification and alignment that flows from these decisions. There are system, development, and GTM simplifications – things that are important for the next phase of the journey.
  • We’re already at an HCI unit volume that dwarfs the CI business. It’s important to understand that BOTH CI and HCI will continue to be a big part of the IT infrastructure world – but inherently with different scales, ASPs, and design targets. In 2017, Dell EMC became #1 in HCI by every metric that matters – and knowing how Q4 (and the whole year) ended – the team is only just starting. But already – we’re at the point where the customer count of our HCI customers exceeds our CI customers. The next chapter of HCI (both VMware aligned and open ecosystem) will have 10x to 100x the customer count of the whole CI market. It will thrive by leveraging the scaled business that is the server business. The team is working hard to aim for pulling the roadmaps of vSAN, vSAN Ready Nodes, VMware Cloud Foundation, VxRail and VxRack SDDC into one tight stream. My friend who leads the Server business unit (Ashley Gorukhpurwalla) knows that HCI isn’t about servers – but we all know that the x86 base building block is an essential foundation. Furthermore – we know that HCI is the “base building block of cloud”. Our efforts around the Dell Technology-base of our on-premises IaaS/PaaS/CaaS clouds depends on VxRail and VxRack SDDC. I think customers should expect us to be opinionated and aligned (and we are) in Dell Technologies – but that at each layer, we keep embracing choice. An example of that is the Dell EMC Microsoft Azure Stack offer is flying off the shelf.
  • The CI business is finding a new gear. In 2017 we lost some ground – but maintained our #1 position. That trend changed in the 2nd half – and the CI business and primary storage show that. CI is essential to the primary storage business of Dell EMC. There are thousands of customers who depend on Dell EMC CI to be the foundation of their datacenter – and have moved up to “consume” infra, not waste time and build complexity by “constructing” this basic building block. The VxBlock 1000 launch is starting the year right for the CI business – like an Olympic skier bursting out of the starting gate. The CI team and the Dell EMC Storage team are working hand in hand, aligning everything together. We are leaning into NSX, and starting to think though how we keep innovating and reinventing the category we created. My friends who lead the Storage business unit (Jeff Boudreau) and SP/Networking/EI business unit (Tom Burns) have it well in hand.
  • The Ready Solutions business made a ton of progress in 2017, simplifying the portfolio, getting laser focused on the things that move the need. They made huge progress in 2017 around HPC, around AI/ML, SAP and other essential partners.

It’s the right time for the people:

  • Our VMware HCI (VxRail, VxRack SDDC) continues to be led by Gil Shneorson and done in tight partnership with the team at VMware who work with Gil as one (Yanbing Li on vSAN, John Gilmartin on VMware Cloud Foundation).
  • Our open ecosystem HCI (VxRack FLEX, XC Series, Azure Stack) continues to be led by Dan McConnell – and while we are opinionated on the path forward for customers who have standardized on VMware, we know that we must always provide choice.
  • Our VxBlock, Vscale CI is led by long time former VCE veteran Dan Meddaugh. Our next generation CI innovation efforts are led by another long time former VCE vet, Trey Layton.
  • Our Ready Solutions efforts are led by Kashif Shaik who has jumped in and played a critical role through 2017. Armughan Ahmad is a great friend, and a great colleague – he’s been a leader through a ton of change, and a steward for the people and the offers. It’s time for a change for him too – and Kash is the right person to take the reins.

These changes give these great people, the great teams they lead a chance to step up, gain more visibility and impact.

Those leaders, those people deserve all the kudos, all the credit – all our success is built on their hard work, their sacrifices, and their blood/sweat/tears. THANK YOU – Gil, Dan, Dan, Trey, Kash, Bob, Armughan, Kerry, Julie, Lillian – and everyone else!

It’s also the right time for a change for me personally.

  • I have a passion for the mission of simplification. I believe that the industry as a whole has to make consuming platforms simpler. I also believe that this is pushing the industry towards vertically integrated “stacks” or put otherwise, platforms that one uses, one consumes – one doesn’t construct.
  • I trust my colleagues to keep moving forward the state of the art for one layer of the platform – in fact I’m counting on them.
  • Solving the “outcome” in different parts of the stack depends on the work of my brothers and sisters in Dell EMC and VMware.
  • Most of all – re-invention is fun, and I have renewed mojo at the thought of what’s next.

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I’ve realized that I started Virtual Geek in 2008 – and have made just under a thousand (958!) posts, 4325 comments, and more than 5,000,000 lifetime page views. WOW. Chuck Hollis – I owe you for pushing me into the whole blog thing.

Like with my life, it’s time for a change. I can’t change Virtual Geek – it is a reflection of me after all – but I can re-invent it. Part 2 of this blog will be there.

It marks part of a new beginning with Dell Technologies.

I’m energized, learning, and excited in a whole new way!

Dear reader – as always, THANK YOU!