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Why I Joined a Start-up

storage

Image courtesy: http://www.mekuriageti.net/

One finds themselves at a point in their career when they have a desire to do more. I don’t necessarily mean something different (although that plays into it). I know this sounds somewhat simple or cliché, so it of course warrants further elaboration.

Background

First of all, a little bit of backstory… I was approached by/reached out to a certain All Flash Array vendor about an open Technical Marketing Engineer (TME) position almost a year ago. They were starting to ramp-up their TME organization and were looking to add someone to work on solutions in the VMware and virtualization space. These types of openings seem  to come out of the woodwork in the months and weeks leading up to VMworld. I did a few preliminary interviews with them but at the time I didn’t have any desire to move to California, but I continued on with the stipulation that I didn’t want to relocate. It turns out that they decided not to hire outside of California for this role, so I became instantly out of the running.

This ignited in me the idea that, “Hey, you’re in IT, you have been for 15+ years now, maybe it’s time to step up to the big leagues and relocate to Silicon Valley”… I had lived in the Southwest (in Phoenix) for about 4yrs from 2000-2004 and worked at an enterprise software company. Those were some of the best growth years of my IT career. It was also the time that I was introduced to VMware. Being in the Western US and in the software industry, I had always had a desire to live in Silicon Valley. I had been there enough times to visit friends and remember seeing the HQs of Netscape, Oracle, and so on in my time there, not to mention the times I have been out for conferences and the like.

So I pitched the idea to my wife (who is from Japan) about the potential of moving to Cali. At the very least she’d be closer to her family and surrounded by an even-richer Asian community in “The Valley”. At the worst it would be a new adventure for both of us and our kids. A change of pace, if you will.

Renewed Opportunity

Fast forward to a few months ago, just after the beginning of 2014, when I get a message on LinkedIn from a VP at a stealth start-up in the Valley looking for TME talent. Well, I was immediately intrigued to say the least. It’s not that often that a company at this stage of the game reaches out to you to help them as they build their business. This contact re-ignited my desire to more aggressively pursue a potential move. With all the buzz around flash, software-defined this and that and with the multitude of colleagues leaving NetApp for new opportunities, I thought this would be the ideal time to give it another go.

I ended up doing interviews for various TME roles, one at a storage company designed specifically for virtualization, one at a player in the “hyper-convergence” arena, and one at the big ‘V’ itself. These companies varied in size from 30, to 250, to one with over 10,000. I really didn’t want to work at another company similar in size to NetApp, but I thought there might the possibility to focus in on a particular area in that role, which sounded interesting. For the medium sized company I’d be one of a handful of TMEs that joined recently and would have some say in what I worked on but didn’t have quite as much control of my own destiny as I would have liked. Finally, the smallest company (the stealth startup) was still in alpha and I felt as though I could have more confidence joining a company that was selling or had recently GA’ed their product.

So at this point from what I had seen, I was definitely leaning toward the smaller companies, i.e. 250 or fewer employees. Some would consider both of these to be startups as neither of them are public companies. One hasn’t even launched yet and hence I won’t call out the name here.

Time to Reflect

While I waited to hear back from them about offers, I couldn’t help but start to evaluate the various strengths and weaknesses of each, look at their prospects for the current market as well as prospects for the future. Would the product of the stealth company be differentiated enough to succeed? Could I reasonably expect myself to be able to help sell this product? These are the types of questions I started asking. I could elaborate, but that really isn’t at the core of this post.

Completing the Puzzle

As I tend to do when I have these sorts of philosophical questions, especially when making the decision of a new company to work at (which really is what we do; it’s us evaluating the company as much as it is them evaluating us), I took my search for answers to my questions to the web. I started to check around and see what some competitors of the aforementioned companies are doing and equally important… are any of them hiring?

I visited all of the usual haunts when searching for this sort of thing. In this case I reviewed some of the recent Tech Field Day events to see what companies were participating, and what was new, different and innovative about what they were selling. One vendor stood out from this list, Coho Data.

Coho Data was founded by the XenSource team and leverages their experience supporting web-scale virtualized compute and storage for Amazon to create a new model for scale-out storage that brings web-scale operations and economics to any enterprise datacenter.  The company was launched publicly last October, with several hosting providers participating as part of last year’s POCs and now running their v1 GA code.  They are building a VMware storage building block geared toward private cloud deployments.

The Coho Data base offering delivers 180K IOPS in 2U with linear performance scaling using patented OpenFlow SDN technology, which is more performance for the dollar than any other solution on the market today, with the ability to mix and match heterogenous hardware in your cluster to match your specific application performance needs dynamically.

To me this sounded like a very unique combination of SDS and SDN, so I had to learn more. I looked at their Tech Field Day videos, whitepaper and other collateral as well as their website and low and behold, they were looking for a TME. Nice!

Coming Full Circle

By the time I headed out to The Valley (for the 3rd time in about a month) I had offers from the other 2 start-ups I spoke with, so I wasn’t expecting a 3rd offer, to be honest. I figured let’s finish the face-to-face interviews, meet the team and see how it goes. The 3-4 people I met with were very personable and I felt the best culture fit of the companies I had talked with. Combine that with the fact that they had just released a GA product and had a plan going forward, made me feel a bit more at-ease. Finally, the pedigree of the management team and their vision for future paths of revenue left me blown away!

At the end of the day, I had an offer letter on-site and accepted at 9:00AM the very next morning. I hadn’t even slept after my redeye the night before. It was one of the easiest decisions I have ever made and I very much look forward to what’s in store for the future. From my perspective, there looks to be unlimited potential!

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vTME Team is Hiring!

Just a quick FYI…

My team within NetApp, affectionately referred to as the vTME team (for virtual Technical Marketing Engineer) is in need of a few good men (or women) to join the ranks. 

A good summary of what this team dones is: develop integrations, reference architectures, etc. linking the best of breed technologies from NetApp and VMware into cohesive solutions that benefits our mutual customers or potential customers. 

Have a look at the job descriptions for each position below, and let me know if you’re interested in throwing your hat in the ring.

#1

As a Technical Marketing Engineer focused on VMware integration you work cross-functionally to create technical content for NetApp products and solutions that are targeted to Customers, Field Tech Teams and Partners. The engineer will work closely with Product Management as well as Product and Solutions Engineering on the company’s current and future strategies related to their specific area of technical expertise. You may also work closely with third-party vendor organizations as required to achieve corporate goals in regards to product integration and best practices.

Essential Functions:
– You will lead projects and be accountable for project deliverables working with cross-functional and business unit teams with limited supervision and occasionally lead inter-department cross functional teams. This may include managing and designing Partner integrations highlighting NetApp technologies.
– Establishing yourself as a Subject Matter Expert in specific technologies across departments solving difficult technical problems without management assistance, and will continue to build your expertise with continued internal and external education. You will identify gaps in product/process and make proactive suggestions for improvement.
– Influence the strategic direction of activities with your Team, Project Stakeholders, Product Management, Partners and Sr Director. This role occasionally interfaces with Technical Directors, other Business Units and industry contacts and thus you will need to build productive relationships and networks.
– Create and present technical presentations to customers and partners, and gather feedback to influence product and solution offerings.
– You will be responsible for developing technical collateral in your focused areas of technical expertise to highlight best practices, including architectural design work, lab testing, and publishing documentation. This includes developing design, deployment and integration guides for products, solutions and reference architectures.
– You will collaborate on strategy with product management to create and review Market and Solutions Requirement documents (MRD & SRD) This includes participating in cross functional teams to develop product and solution roadmaps.

Requirements:
– Ability to communicate in a clear and concise professional manner, tailored to the appropriate audience; including both verbal and written communications.
– Ability to lead and work collaboratively within a business unit team and have strong influencing skills.
– Ability to work on complex issues where analysis of situations or data requires an in-depth evaluation and may require collaboration across multiple technical teams. 
– Must be able to manage multiple priorities and complex tasks in a dynamic work environment.
– Ability to build strong working relationships across all levels of the organization, including remote areas. 
– Problem solve difficult technical problems within the scope of the project and occasionally business unit related projects, without management assistance
Responsibility and Interaction:
– Responsibility: 
– The tasks you will be responsible for are often unstructured and the issues addressed are less defined requiring new perspectives and creative approaches.
– You will apply attained experiences and knowledge in solving problems that are complex in scope requiring in-depth evaluation. 
– Demonstrate good judgment in solving problems as well as identifying problems in advance, and proposing solutions.
– Interaction: 
– You must work effectively with Staff to Vice President level employees within the function, across functions and with external parties. 
– Limited supervision and direction is provided. This individual will operate and drive both tactical and strategic results and set priorities with management assistance. 
– The ideal candidate will be a proactive contributor and subject matter expert.
– To be successful, you must demonstrate favorable results through regular leadership and influencing others.
– Often acts as a mentor to junior engineers and assists with integrating new hire engineers into the team.

Education & Experience:

– A minimum of 8 years of experience is required; 9 to 11 years of experience is preferred. 
– A Bachelor of Science or Masters degree in Electrical Engineering, or Computer Science or related technical discipline; or equivalent experience is required
– Demonstrated ability to have successfully completed multiple, complex technical projects
– Demonstrated experience in authoring technical white papers as well as project conceptualization and planning, is preferred
– Demonstrated practical architecture and hands-on experience with a range of VMware products including vCenter, vCloud Suite products, Site Recovery Manager and View. 
– Experience with VDI and end-user computing architectures is preferred
– Demonstrated experience with storage and networking technologies
*Knowledge of NetApp storage technologies and solutions is preferred.
– Public speaking and presentation skills are preferred.
– VCP certification is preferred
– Demonstrated experience in using either Powershell, Java or Perl is a plus.

USA – California – Sunnyvale (Corporate Headquarters)
USA – North Carolina – Research Triangle Park
USA – Texas – Dallas

23624BR

#2

Job Summary:
As a Technical Marketing Engineer focused on VMware integration you work cross-functionally to create technical content for NetApp products and solutions that are targeted to Customers, Field Tech Teams and Partners. The engineer will work closely with Product Management as well as Product and Solutions Engineering on the company’s current and future strategies related to their specific area of technical expertise. You may also work closely with third-party vendor organizations as required to achieve corporate goals in regards to product integration and best practices.

Essential Functions:
– You will be responsible for developing technical collateral in project related technologies to highlight best practices, including contributing to architectural design work, lab testing, and publishing documentation. This includes developing design, deployment and integration guides for products, solutions and reference architectures.
– Builds and demonstrates an in depth understanding of technical capability within projects across NetApp and Partner technologies. Assists other team members with technical issues as needed.
– You will contribute to and occasionally lead projects working with cross-functional and business unit teams with supervision and occasionally lead intra-department cross functional teams. You are accountable for the quality of the tasks. This may include contributing to the design of Partner integrations highlighting NetApp technologies.
– Influence the direction of activities with your Team, Project Stakeholders, Product Management and Partners. You will begin to identify gaps in product/process and make proactive suggestions for improvement.
– Assist in technical presentations to Customers and Partners.
– You will learn and understand technical strategy with product management to review Market and Solutions Requirement documents (MRD & SRD). This includes participating in cross functional teams to develop product and solution roadmaps.

Requirements:
– Strong verbal and written communications skills; including improving presentation skills. Ability to outline and publish professional technical documents on schedule
– Ability to contribute to delivery of training materials and/or other group communications in a clear and professional manner.
– Ability to work collaboratively within a business unit team and learn influencing skills.
– Ability to work on complex issues where analysis of situations or data requires an in-depth evaluation. 
– Must be able to manage multiple priorities and tasks in a dynamic work environment.
– Ability to build strong working relationships within the department and across business units with project related tasks.
– Problem solve difficult technical problems within the scope of the project, with technical or management assistance. 
– Ability to learn to lead teams within a business unit.
Responsibility and Interaction:
– Responsibility: 
– The tasks this individual is responsible for are often non-routine and unstructured, requiring creative solutions.
– This individual will apply attained experiences and knowledge in solving routine to moderately complex problems.
– Interaction: 
– This individual must work effectively with Staff to Vice President level employees within the function, and the technical team on assigned projects. There may be communication with employees in other functions as required.
– Management direction is provided to employee on new projects or assignments as well as review of activities and priorities.
– Be a proactive contributor and subject matter expert or lead on team projects.
– Assist with integrating new hire engineers into the team.

Education & Experience:
• A minimum of 5 years of experience is required; 6 to 8 years of experience is preferred. 
• A Bachelor of Science or Masters degree in Electrical Engineering, or Computer Science or related technical discipline; or equivalent experience is required
• Demonstrated ability to have successfully completed multiple, moderately complex technical tasks.
• Project management experience is preferred.
• Knowledge of storage technologies and NetApp solutions is preferred.
• Public speaking and presentation skills are preferred.
• Demonstrated practical architecture or hands-on experience with some of the VMware suite of products including vCenter, vCloud Suite, Site Recovery Manager, and View.
• Demonstrated experience with storage and networking technologies
o Knowledge of NetApp storage technologies and solutions is a plus.
• VCP certification is preferred
• Demonstrated experience in using either Powershell, Java or Perl is a plus.

USA – California – Sunnyvale (Corporate Headquarters)

23522BR

As you can see the first position is flexible as far as location and is more senior-level and has an EUC slant, whereas the second is limited to the Sunnyvale location, but as a mid-level generalist. If you’d like additional information on what exactly it is that we do, or to submit a resume. Give me a shout: christopher.wells@netapp.com

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Job Opportunity – Technical Marketing Engineer

netapp_logo

Monday will mark my 1st six months at NetApp. I started with the title of “Virtualization Solutions Architect” which meant that I was focused on any virtualization solution on top of NetApp products. Management has changed my group’s focus a bit and the team I’m on is now laser-focused on any and all VMware solutions on NetApp hardware and software platforms. My title is officially “Technical Marketing Engineer“, but “VMware Solutions Architect” or “Technical Marketing Architect” sound nice as well…

As such, the team is growing and we are currently looking for someone in Silicon Valley (or willing to relocate) to help us expand our relationship with VMware in a Technical Marketing capacity. Optimally the candidate should have a strong background in VMware (i.e. VCAP/VCDX) and also a deep understanding of NetApp’s value proposition and uniqueness in VMware environments. You will be working on-site at VMware’s Palo Alto offices and spending a significant amount of time meeting with PMs and engineers at VMware in addition to conferences, VMUGs, EBCs, and technical content delivery.

I invite you to apply if you fit this description and if this role sounds interesting to you. It will be an exciting role with direct impact on the future of NetApp and VMware’s partnership.

See details of the requisition below:

18773BR

Job Description

At NetApp the Technical Marketing team is a critical part of enabling our customers to deploy varying workloads on VMware vSphere hypervisors and in cloud constructs by focusing on performance, scalability and security. NetApp’s commitment to deep integrations and extensions enable customers to quickly adopt and broaden their virtualization initiatives, and we have a rare opening for a candidate who is obsessed with making the cloud a better place to be for enterprises of all sizes. As part of this highly elite TME team, you will work extensively with our key partner to drive technical vision, test and identify new use cases, and identify constant improvements in our growing integrations and extensions. Equally important will be your ability to create and mature relationships across corporate and engineering team boundaries within NetApp and our Partner organizations.

As a Technical Marketing Engineer at NetApp you will work with technologies that will shape the industry and our partnership for the foreseeable future, including infrastructure optimization, virtualization, enterprise applications, Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI), and data center consolidation. Through working with our partner and these technologies you will develop a bird’s-eye view of where the IT world is headed, where our partners are focused and provide keen insight back to our engineering organization.

We are seeking an individual who has a deep-level familiarity with deploying, tuning and removing bottlenecks in enterprise applications, especially Microsoft (such as Exchange, SharePoint), virtual desktop environments, and other business applications. Prior experience at a large enterprise in a senior IT role is desirable. An understanding of software design constructs and demonstrable experience translating abstract engineering constructs into concrete marketing collateral is required. In short, we want someone who is comfortable with both engaging and driving engineering initiatives, writing and delivering amazing presentations and working with partners and customers.

Essential Functions: – You will influence technology strategy for current and future virtualization projects. – You will be expected to forge relationships and become a bridge between key teams at NetApp and VMware.
– You will influence and communicate strategic directions to management for adoption.- You will lead projects and be accountable for project deliverables working with cross-functional and business unit teams and lead inter-department cross functional teams. This may include researching, proposing, managing and designing Partner integrations highlighting NetApp technologies.
– You will be a Subject Matter Expert in a few technologies across the industry and customer landscape influencing at the Director and C-executive level. As the breadth of NetApp strategic technology interests broadens, you will continue to build your expertise with continued internal and external education and collaboration with industry experts.- You will identify gaps in product/process and make proactive suggestions for improvement.
– Influence the strategic direction of activities with your Team, Project Stakeholders, Product Management, Partners, Sr Director and VP. This role often interfaces with Technical Directors, other Business Units and industry contacts and thus you will need to build productive relationships and networks.
– You will be responsible for creating and presenting technical and strategic content to customers and partners and gather feedback to influence product and solution offerings. Interpret field feedback to generate strategic direction.
– You will be responsible for identifying and managing the development of collateral in your focused areas of technical expertise to highlight best practices and NetApp’s value proposition.- You will collaborate on strategy with senior product management to inspire strategic products, solutions or reference architecture roadmaps and plans. This includes participating in cross-functional teams to develop product and solution roadmaps.Job RequirementsKey Requirements:- Ability to plan, outline and publish professional technical documents on a defined timeline.
– Ability to forge relationships across organizational boundaries (internal and external) with a focus on influencing individuals and teams through clear and effective communications and strong relationships.
– Act as an ambassador for NetApp through the understanding and articulation of our requirements and interests with our partner community.
– Ability to communicate in a clear and concise professional manner, tailored to the appropriate audience; including both verbal and written communications.
– Proven experience leading across business unit teams with strong influencing skills at the Senior and Executive level.
– Previous experience fostering and nurturing a collaborative environment capable of working on complex issues where analysis of situations or data requires an in-depth evaluation and effort across multiple teams (internal and external).
– Previous technical experience with one or more enterprise applications or technologies, such as Microsoft (Exchange, Office, SharePoint, SQL, or others), VMware, NetApp, SAP, Oracle or other business applications.
– Prior experience identifying performance bottlenecks in storage infrastructures.
– Prior experience as a TME is desirable, but as a substitute we will consider other successful technical experience from the enterprise world — software engineering, IT or QA.
– Powershell scripting experience is a plus.
– Experience with vCloud Director is a big plus.
– Experience using performance analysis tools, such as one or more of the following:◦ Wireshark, tcpdump, ESXTop, etc. ◦ WAN/network simulation tools
– Fluency in PowerPoint, Word and Excel is required.
– Active member of the virtualization social media space (blogging, podcasts, tweeting, etc.)
– Up to 25% travel, such as product launch events, customer visits, and industry events.
– Internal drive and the desire to do what it takes to win!

Key Success Indicators:– You must be willing to consider and apply new perspectives and creative approaches for tasks that are often unstructured and the issues addressed are less defined.
– You must rely on and apply attained experiences and knowledge in solving problems that are complex in scope and scale requiring in-depth evaluation. – You must demonstrate good judgment in solving problems as well as identifying problems in advance, and proposing solutions.
– You must work effectively with software engineers, alliance managers, marketing teams and field engineers to drive awareness of NetApp’s initiatives and translate partner roadmaps into tangible integration opportunities within NetApp.
– You must successfully work with limited supervision and direction and accept that you will operate and drive strategic results without boundaries and set priorities independently.- You must be a proactive contributor, influencer, and subject matter expert.
– You must demonstrate favorable results through regular leadership and influencing others.
– You will be expected to act as a mentor to both senior and junior Technical Marketing Engineers.Education and ExperienceEducation & Experience Requirements:- A minimum of 8 years in a technical role, such as Technical Marketing, Software Engineering, QA or IT in the virtualization industry.
– B.S. in Computer Science, Engineering or related field (M.S. and/or MBA highly desirable).
– Industry certifications required:
VCP5 and VCAP (VCDX highly desirable)
– Demonstrated ability to successfully complete multiple and complex technical projects
– Writing, communications, influencing and presentation skills

Apply Here

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