If you are a listener of the Tech ONTAP Podcast, this will come as no surprise to you, but Friday 11-20-2015 was my last day at NetApp and Monday I start my new position at VMware (more on that later). Professionally speaking, without question this has been the most difficult decision I have ever had to make. NetApp and VMware have long been my two favorite tech companies and so while having to choose from the two companies you love the most is pretty much a first world problem, it didn’t make it any easier.
Four years ago I joined NetApp with one goal; become part of the VMware team there that caught my attention as a customer with technical reports, videos etc. Rock Stars like Chris Gebhardt, Peter Learmonth, Nick Howell, Jack Mcloeud, Vaughn Stewart and Julian Cates. They taught me why NetApp was so perfect for VMware environments, and that was something I wanted to be a part of.
While on the team I quickly became the Business Continuity Disaster Recovery guy and did my best to spread the gospel of VMware on NetApp through all mediums possible. I created Technical Reports, blog posts, PowerPoint presentations, reference architectures, and videos, spoke at various industry events and even built labs for NetApp employees and partners to test and share with our customers. In my mind, the goal of a Technical Marketing Engineer (TME) is to evangelize the good news of your products and solutions in every medium possible.
The NetApp Communities Podcast
At the same time, my peer Nick Howell @datacenterdude came up with a new medium to use that quickly caught my attention. He decided NetApp needed a voice in the community and stood up the NetApp Communities Podcast. I was an instant fan of this effort and as luck would have it, Nick graciously invited me to be the co-host of the podcast. Nick and I poured our hearts and souls into this side project and had over 80 episodes with a weekly cadence. We brought in the experts and asked the questions our listeners wanted to hear, and the feedback was absolutely overwhelming.
One of our frequent guests was a NetApp expert by the name of Glenn Sizemore @glnsize. We had Glenn on to talk Microsoft, FlexPod, and just about anything having to do with technology. Glenn possesses a skill that not many have. It’s a skill I have secretly coveted for quite some time. He has the ability to discuss most topics at a deep technical level, and effortlessly transition to a business value proposition. If you are a TME or are considering being one, take note. This is the true essence of the position. Nick and I had such a great chemistry with Glenn that it just made sense to bring him on as third host, and the three of us went on to do great things.
End of an era
For reasons above my pay grade (and understanding) Nick was impacted and moved on to do great things at a company called Cohesity. That left Glenn and I with a huge void. We learned that this grassroots effort we built a few years ago was now gone with Nick. So Glenn and I decided to start from the ground up and make this effort something with a strong foundation that would be an officially backed part of NetApp technical marketing. We fought the system. There were some tense moments. For the first time, they started to see the value in what we were doing, and boy did they hear from the listeners when we disappeared for a few weeks. In the end, I have to say from the highest level down, NetApp decided that what we were doing was making a difference and they welcomed us into the family.
The Tech ONTAP Podcast
The Tech ONTAP group at NetApp was our new home, so we dove in creating new music, new logo, and a new format. We brought in a new voice, but an old friend, Andrew Sullivan @andrew_ntap (aka Sully the Monster) Sully much like Glenn has the ability to cover a wide range of topics at all levels. And so the three of us hit the ground running and produced weekly shows and daily recaps at various trade shows. The feedback again was overwhelming. We had to walk through a valley of sorts and figure out a way to keep the NetApp voice in the community but in a way that aligned with the goals of NetApp. It wasn’t easy, and there are so many people behind the scenes that pour countless hours into making this thing work, but all in all I have to say I consider the Tech ONTAP Podcast one of the bigger accomplishments of my time at NetApp. Seriously, when we started this thing, if you told me that I would be interviewing people like Matt Watts, Val Bercovici, George Kurian, Cynthia Stoddard and NetApp founder Dave Hitz I would have said you were crazy.
The feedback has been unbelievably overwhelming. NetApp employees, partners, and customers have shared countless stories of where they listen, how it helps enable them to either learn NetApp or shorten their sales cycle. To each and every person I spoke with about the podcast, thank you, thank you, thank you for all your kind words. You ARE the reason we do it.
A new face (made for radio)
If you’re a Tech ONTAP Podcast listener, then the name Justin Parisi @nfsdudeabides should not be unfamiliar to you. Justin is many things; smart, vocal, talented, hilarious and an all around great guy. When I knew I might be leaving, Justin was the first person that came to mind as a replacement. I won’t miss an episode, and have already requested to be a guest on any episodes that I can contribute to. Best of luck Justin!
A new horizon
As I mentioned earlier, my two favorite tech companies are NetApp and VMware. While at NetApp I had the opportunity to work some great guys at VMware, and so when an opportunity over there arose I saw it as a great chance to bring my passion for NetApp to Palo Alto. I’m really excited about the new gig and will share more in a future post.
The amount of brilliant and talented people at NetApp that have influenced me are too great to name. NetApp is a company with a strong culture. The technology is absolutely amazing and I am so excited to see the Blue N continue to do great things. Thanks to the EBC for allowing me to speak to our customers. Thanks to Sam Moulton and the A-Team for being such amazing advocates. You guys are amazing. Thanks to the Tech ONTAP family for welcoming us into your family. Thanks to all the TMEs at NetApp that do the hard job of explaining technical topics in ways that all can understand and benefit from. Thanks to my team for inspiring me to be the best I can be. Being on a team filled with the sharpest minds in the industry has truly been an honor.
And last but not least, to all my foosball opponents (you know who you are) you have not seen the last of me. I will return (when invited) to deliver the great wrath you have come to know and love. In the words of the late great Eric the Actor…..”bye for now”