Note: If you have never seen this parody of slone ranger types on their “Gap Yah”, you have missed out… 🙂

Today was officially my last day with VMware. I’ve been at VMware since August 2012, initially securing a role in the competition team as the “Senior Cloud Infrastructure Evangelist”, and then I moved into a “Senior Product Integration Architect” role in the EVO:RAIL Team in August, 2014. I was at VMware for 3-years, but of course it feels much longer, because really I’ve been solely focused on VMware technologies since 2003. This year was my 10th VMworld, and I’ve attend both the US and EU events for 10 years in row. That’s 20 VMworlds (for those who find 10×2 a bit of challenge).

It’s been crazy 3-years, going from essentially company of 1 person as independent freelance contractor – to joining a company of 20K strong with billion dollar profit was quite a transition. One I hope I successfully executed on, and I would cheerfully recommend to anyone in similar position that you spend sometime in “VendorLand” in your career. You owe it to yourself to be exposed to as many different perspectives and experiences in life. And that was partly the reason I joined the company. And if you like that also a reason for moving along.

I’ve been in the IT industry since 1993, and whilst I’ve had some ‘breaks’ such as doing Masters in American Studies in 1996, and taking 3-months out to travel round the US in 2000 – it has been a long time since I’ve taken time out to do something that’s 100% about me and my interests. The last 10 years have probably been the most significant to my career – for my own satisfaction I thought I might be interesting to list those achievements of the last 10 years:

  • Became one of the first freelance VMware Certified Instructors (VCI) in Europe
  • Pivoted the “RTFM Education” website to be one of the top go-to locations of quality content on virtualization
  • Sold the said website to a media company in Boston, MA
  • Spoken at practically every VMworld event since 2006.
  • Spoken at innumerable VMUG UseCon events in the US and EU, being state-side one-week every month for two years..
  • Authored 9 books on VMware technologies – two of them self-published with money donated to charity
  • Launched and ran two successful podcast channels for five years – the Chinwag and Vendorwag
  • Co-hosted the VMware Communities Podcast with the industry legend that is the mighty, John Troyer…
  • Raised money for UNICEF and others charities via book royalties and the successful “VMworld Swagbag” Competition
  • 2 Years as tech journalist for TechTarget, Inc
  • 3 Years at VMware….
  • Helped found the VMUG Wiki and Feed4ward initiatives…

It’s my guess that in 12-months time when I’ve recharged the old batteries and little grey cells – I will need to come back this bulleted list as reminder what I have achieved and contributed to the industry. I personally feel I’ve lived through an exceptional period in our industry. 10 years ago or more there was no such thing as virtualization in production x86 environments. VMware cut swath through the datacenter, and radically changed the way do things – and continues to do so. I’m quietly proud that in my own small way I had my own part in that story….

So it feels ‘right’ at this stage in my life to step back and take sometime out. After all we only have one life, and its not always good idea to defer things into some hazy future that never arrives. So I’m taking what I call an “Adult Gap Year”. Of course “Adult Gap Year” is a bit of joke, on the way the current generation seems to take a break before or after university to go ‘travelling” and decompress after all the pressure of high education (yes, its so tough having 10 hours of lectures a week, right?). But in similar way I kind of feel a break would do me the power of good.

So what am I going to do in the next year? Put simply all the things I’ve been saying I was going to do in the last 10. I’ve had ideas and ambitions of non-IT nature that I’ve been thinking about for ages. The vast majority (in fact all of them, and that’s some majority) are of a creative format….

Committed To Community: It’s my intention to carry on speaking at VMUGs. In fact in recent years I spoken less at VMUGs because my responsibilities to the company, projects and customers had to come first. So I’m hoping to spend sometime state-side speaking at UserCons. The VMUG community is something I feel passionate about, and it will be my way of staying connected with y’all even whilst I’m taking my Adult Gap Year. I’ve decided to spend at least 1-day or perhaps 2, supporting two key initiatives – the VMUG Wiki and Feed4ward projects which I helped kickstart. I really care about these two projects, and I’ve begun to realise whilst its one thing to help launch these things, the real ‘graft’ is in the continued support and development.

Travelling Man: Like many a road warrior I’ve seen an awful lot of airport carparks, airport terminals, taxis, hotel rooms, and business parks and convention centres. I rarely get enough to time explore places. I have more than a tourists interest in the United States, having done a degree and post-graduate research on its literature, cultural and history. During my research its become clear that I want to discover and explorer the national parks of the US – as well as my own area of Derbyshire and Peak District. Along side I want to write a Travelog/Reportage/New Journalism account of the journey, which I hope to self-publish in a book form, hopefully with photographs of the places I visit.

Poetry Please: I’m poet. And I know it. Hope I don’t blow it. To quote Bob Dylan for second. In my teens and early 20s along side writing lyrics for songs, I also tried my hand at some poetry. That’s a passion I recently re-discovered when I moved to the country. I joined a local poetry group and rekindled the interest. I have ideas for two collections of poetry – and have a working title for the first called “False Confessions” (The title is reference to the idea that you cannot trust confessions that are made under-duress, something our friends in Bagram and GitMo never really understood). The working title for the other collection is “False Memory Syndrome”. The theme is about memory and how much humanity can trust memory and history. I hope to self-publish these two collections by the end of next year…

I could make a wild sensation as rock ‘n’ roll star: As some of you might know I’ve got a big passion of music. This year i joined my local song writers group, and penned my first song in about 25 years. Right now, it doesn’t feel like I’m going to have the creative head-space to write poetry and songs (and yes, I do know there’s some cross over in both directions). But what I do want to do is be more out there from a performance perspective. Currently once a month I walk down to my local pub, and hammer out about 3-4 songs along with my fellow musicians at our local “acoustic session. There’s a very healthy live music scene in my area, and I want to get on that circuit – and build up my confidence in performing to a crowd. I think the way to be a good performer is to perform frequently – and once a month isn’t really cutting it. Plus I tend to bring new songs to the group every month (after all you can’t trot out the same song to the same people every month!) But that means I rarely perform the same song more than once. I think the way to get better at performing isn’t just practise and rehearsing – but performing that same material multiple times to different audiences in different venues. At the moment I’m thinking of focusing on the local pubs ‘session’ nights, but I’d like to try my hand at the bigger “open mic” slots in the larger towns and cities near where I live.

Oh, for those who don’t get the reference (sigh…)

So yes, I know a long blogpost. Is there any other from Laverick? But I wanted to explain my thinking and the rationale about taking this time away. I hope to see you all in my travels….