Those who follow me for a while know that I never wrote any blog posts about these moves when I changed roles in the past. At most, I have tweeted about it and maybe a LinkedIn post, and that’s it. This time I figured my current move is significant enough of a change in my career trajectory that an explanation is in order.
With that said, and as I usually do, I’ll start from the point. Today, and after 20 + years in sales, most of them as an SE, reaching the very prestigious role of a Field Principal at VMware, I have decided it’s time to make a career path change.
Starting today, I am the new Product manager on the Tanzu Service Mesh team.
If you are interested in learning why I switched from a successful SE career to Product Management read on.
Tanzu Service Mesh and I
As I wrote above, I have been on the sales side of the product story for many years, with one hop to other areas of technical expertise, such as when I was the SQL SME for VMware, writing best practices guides, etc. Even then, I was heavily driving vSphere sales, just without having a quota. I was also a VMware instructor for many years, but while education was always very dear to my heart, it was a side job alongside my pre-sales roles. As an SE, I took on many different roles in the field, from being a vSphere performance and storage specialist to cloud management, enterprise architecture for critical apps until my latest role for the past 4 years, where I focused mainly on network and security for containers. First, I worked on the integration between Pivotal cloud foundry and VMware NSX and later with Kubernetes with PKS, consulting to customers about how to go about consuming this stuff and working with developers on building pipelines to automate the deployment of NSX as part of a platform. This is also when I first touched product management for the first time. This network and security path for modern apps brought me to where I am with Tanzu Service Mesh.
The first time I was introduced to Tanzu Service mesh, or as the project was called back then at VMware “Allspark”‘ it wasn’t even referred to as “Service mesh,” rather a way to abstract communication across different types of workloads and abstracted from any underlying infrastructure. A pretty ambitious project that then evolved into the Service Mesh it is today, which in my opinion, has the potential to be a disrupting technology that is no less disruptive than virtualization itself was in 2005-8. If this statement intrigues you, you can see what we do with “Global Namespaces” here and here and here. In short, what VMware is doing with Global Namespaces is taking the Service Mesh from service to service communication abstraction to building a multi-cloud application runtime. This vision is based on the DNA VMware has with making the most with abstractions. A good analogy for that is Virtualization that was once thought the only use case for was consolidation when today we know it powers the cloud. I wrote about this in my first ever blog post about Service Mesh
But, product management?
Being a Principal at VMware is really a dream, a job where I set my own goals and priorities. I get to engage with the largest and most strategic customers and be their trusted advisor. So why the change?
The change is because I am ready for the next step. I was never the kind of person to rest on my laurels. Throughout my career in every role, I was seeking the next challenge. You can see that with the 3 VCDX certifications I achieved or the different technical specialties I took, and most of all in my personal life where I moved from Israel to the US and then moved coast to coast.
I do appreciate everything I have and all the challenges I encountered. I also appreciate my colleagues, friends, and support of the company. But I feel this is the time to actively manage my career and take the next step to widen my future possibilities. As an SE, I had several options for career development, I could be an SE leader, and I did give it some consideration. Still, while I like leading people and helping others be successful, it didn’t seem that the timing in SE leadership was right now. One of the other options was to move closer to engineering, and product management seems to have a good mix of what I like to do. First and foremost, I was always an excellent “product owner.” In my first years, when I was focused mainly on vSphere, I was known as the “vSphere person.” And when I focused on SQL, It was the “SQL on VMware expert” or the “cloud networking guy” in my latest role. Nowadays, It’s Service Mesh. It kind of makes sense. I guess it’s the passion I bring when I take on a topic I believe in and become an expert.
Evangelism is another aspect of the PM role that I do today and enjoys very much. Presenting to customers or in conferences, writing blog posts, or just talking about the tech with people. That is something I enjoy doing, and I’ll continue doing as a PM.
There is also the aspect of talking with customers and being a customer advocate. I do this today, only the difference that as a PM, I will need to ask more questions. I am not fooling myself. I have a lot to learn, which is part of what excites me about all of this.
Most of all, there is being part of a group of people that are building something new and disruptive and working with the most innovative people I know, and that is what really get’s my blood flowing. I was always inspired by people who build stuff. Not being a programmer myself, as a PM, I will have the responsibility to work with the builders and the designers and the marketing and the architects to drive a new product to the market. That is the main reason why I have decided to go to product management, not to do the same things I have done until now, but to work on something new.
For me, Tanzu Service Mesh is the most disruptive tech built in-house at VMware since VSAN. I am very passionate about it, and it is the natural place for me to kick off this new journey in my career.
I have plenty of people to thank for being able to have the opportunities that I have. My family, especially my partner in crime, Helen Evenchen (Twitter: @helenevenchen), is always encouraging me to take on new challenges. My friends and colleagues at VMware, especially Oren Penso (Twitter @Openso), with whom I have achieved so much in the past 2 years, and the folks I am joining in the TSM product team that has accepted me into their team with no previous PM experience.
And thank you if you read so far, it is a long post, longer than I usually write.
All the best Niran!