NLVMUG USERCON 2015: Personal interview with Joe Baguley

Besides the presentation I had to give at the NLVMUG conference on the 19th of March, I had another cool appointment that day: interviewing Joe Baguley!

I was able to get a few minutes of his time for a one-on-one interview and ask him some personal and technical related questions.

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To introduce Joe:

Joe Baguley is VMware’s Chief Technology Officer in EMEA. He helps develop and communicate VMware’s strategy with customers and partners, using his wealth of experience to help organisations reduce costs and better support users and business needs. As part of VMware’s Office of the CTO, Joe assists VMware’s customers in understanding how to use cloud technologies to deliver real business impact as well as working with them to inform VMware’s R&D processes.

Joe is a recognised leader within the European cloud community and considered one of the top 50 most influential leaders in UK IT, according to Computer Weekly UKtech50. He has played a key role in CloudCamp and other events, communicating how cloud technology fits into the broader IT landscape.

In addition, Joe is also on the Industry Expert Group at SIENA, and is a founding committee member of the Data Centre Specialist Group at the British Computer Society which helped shape the European Code Of Conduct for Data Centres.
Source: LinkedIn

The Interview

<Rene> Hi Joe, thanks for making time for me
<Joe> Sure, no problem

<Rene> I got some personal and technical related questions for you
<Joe> Ok! I’ll see what I can do

<Rene> How are you today?
<Joe> Well I have to get to the airport in about half an hour, had a really busy day!

<Rene> How’s the Netherlands for you now, have you been here before?
<Joe> I’ve been here lots and lots of times, I’ve never been to Den Bosch before though.
I did visit many VMUGs in other cities across Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Actually I just came back from VMUGs in Durban and Johannesburg.
I’ve never been to a VMUG in Netherlands though. It’s nice to be visiting one of the largest VMUGs in the world!

<Rene> Yes, amazing! I heard we are missing like 70 visitors from being the biggest VMUG ever
<Joe> I can’t wait to hear! If we get 937 visitors, we’re in, pretty cool to beat the Americans

<Rene> Do you have any hobbies you could take with you to the Netherlands?
<Joe> I have a big hobby but I can’t legally take them outside the country.

<Rene> Tell me more!
<Joe> What a lot of people don’t know about me is I’m big into fireworks, Kind of a licensed pyro technician. I’m a member of a team that is the current British champion for fireworks. We won the British championship in 2013.

<Rene> Oh wow, how does a competition like that look like?
<Joe> Well you could see for yourself by searching for Plymouth Star Fireworks 2013 on YouTube.
We are with about 18 people. Currently those people are in Valencia right now for the fireworks celebration. But I’m not there because I promised to be at the VMUG 🙂

<Rene> Ferrari or Lamborghini?
<Joe> Lamborghini

<Rene> Got any other appointments after this VMUG to go to? Or are you heading back home?
<Joe> No appointments any more, I will be heading over to the house I have in the UK where three woman live in: my wife and two daughters. I’m away from home a lot but I do try to work from home when I get the chance, like tomorrow. After not seeing my wife and children for about 3 days, I’m happy seeing them again. My life isn’t as glamorous as most people would think.

<Rene> So, you’re CTO now. Is this something you wanted to achieve from the beginning? Or did you have other future plans?

<Joe> It’s really funny, because I did joke with my boss, “you should stop paying me and give me 10 dollars for every time someone asks how to become CTO of VMware”. I’ve never really said that I wanted to be the CTO of a software company. I just had a passion for technology.

I’m just a lucky man who was in the right place at the right time. Being CTO at Quest Software in 2011, VMware asked me to become the CTO of VMware and I said I’d love to.

<Rene> What drives you?
<Joe> I’ve joined VMware because of two things: technology and people. I’m passionate about technology and its great to see VMware being implemented in so many places. It even made one of my childhood dreams come true: visiting LEGO.

Next up the people that work at VMware, they are so interesting. The brightest, most clever people walk around and it’s great to meet them. Same goes for events like the VMUG where there are amazing people doing amazing things.

<Rene> Looking at VMware’s strategy, can you mention any decisions VMware had to make that might have changed their direction?
<Joe> VMware had to make some choices about taking part of something or not. It’s a brave decision to go into networking as that market is being dominated by very large companies.

The reason for VMware to go this way wasn’t to conquer a part of another market but because of the Software-Defined Data Center strategy. The same goes for storage.

<Rene> Today’s keynote you presented was awesome! How do you prepare for a presentation and how did you become this good at it?
<Joe> I discovered about 15 years ago that I liked presenting, while starting off with presenting for small groups like 30 people.

I asked a friend who I respected a lot and was big into public speaking for some tips. He advies me to go do a standup comedian course. Think about it where someone stands on stage, it’s just them, no slides, telling a story which is a collection of smaller 2-3 minute stories having a total of 1,5 hour speech without questions.

When I did my standup comedian course, I had to do a performance for some people in a comedy club, which was very scary. Even scarier then presenting for 20.000 people at VMworld. I would recommend anyone to try the same path!

Enjoying presenting will make the people listening to you enjoy it as well.

<Rene> Ok, onto some technical questions. Why is it still so hard to create a high-available vCenter Server? Why not provided out-of-the-box database clustering using the vCSA?
<Joe> All I can say is watch the space

<Rene> What is the grow rate of vCloud Air and how much data centers are live now?
<Joe> In Europe we’ve just launched Germany. The grow rate is better than we’ve hoped. The team behind vCloud Air is very exciting with everything going on as developing features is also going faster than we thought.

<Rene> Looking at SDDC, who will take control of the software-defined part?
<Joe> Over time people will settle down to where they add value best in a stack. We’re a software company, providing the kernel where virtual machines are living. Some things are suited better running on that very same kernel as its close to where virtual machines are living, some are not.

As a software company, running software-defined technologies at our own kernel seems the best place in our opinion.

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