Monday, October 26, 2015

Utah: A Multi-lingual Jackpot

In one of our first big waves of hiring in Utah in 2011 we set a goal to have 25% of the new recruits speak Spanish or Brazilian Portuguese fluently. We easily met that goal. We now have people who speak over a dozen languages as either their first language (with English as the second) or as a fluent second language. I don't have the stats, but we also have a lot of people who speak three languages fluently! I'm delinquent with only two (English and Spanish).

Bi-lingual & Tri-lingual Skills in Utah? Huh? 

People unfamiliar with Utah are often surprised to find out about the language skills available here. There are 4 reasons for this phenomenon:
I speak Spanish and a few words of Basque

  1. Public schools
  2. Mormon church
  3. Local universities
  4. Low cost of living & high quality of life

Public Schools

My 3 youngest children are all in a Mandarin Chinese immersion program offered by their local schools. Their teachers are from mainland China or Taiwan. They speak nothing but Mandarin a full half of every day at school. It is amazing. Other language immersion programs include French, German, Portuguese and Spanish. Kudos to local government and the public school system for building on the strong foundation that was created by #2 . . .

Mormon Church

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (aka Mormons) has a Missionary Training Center (MTC) in Utah which employs over 1,000 instructors teaching approximately 50 different languages to tens of thousands of church missionaries every year. The National Security Agency (NSA) took note of this impressive operation and located one of their language processing centers in the state as a result. Many of the bi-lingual missionaries trained in the MTC return to Utah to study and work after their missions.

Local Universities

80% of Brigham Young University's student body speaks a second language. The University of Utah offers studies in 17 different world language courses and over 180 languages are spoken by their students. Utah Valley University also boasts a large and diverse student body (+33,000).

Low Cost of Living & High Quality of Life

The Silicon Slopes are an attractive places for Silicon Valley refugees, not to mention people from other parts of the country and world. We have relocated people with language skills from China, India, Egypt, Brazil, just to name a few. Many of them purchased their first single family home here and have brought friends and family along with them.

Check out the recent KSL news article on this topic. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

Hunting, Hiking & Camping in the Utah Backcountry

This past Thursday & Friday was the Utah Education Association's Expo for public school teachers. Many kids were out of school as a result, including mine. The UEA Expo typically coincides nicely with the opening of the rifle deer hunt. To be clear, I'm not a hunter, but my in-laws are. They have a long tradition of hunting near Windy Pass in the Wasatch Mountains. I do love hiking and camping, however, so I was happy to join them along with two of my boys.
Lots of bones below Lightning Peak
My kind of hunting is looking for wildlife or other signs, like the sun-bleached bones above. It might have something to do with my mostly vegetarian diet over the last 10+ years. I'm a self-described "nature lover." About 25 years ago I did go hunting and had the experience of shooting, killing, cleaning, processing and eating a deer. So I do have some firsthand knowledge upon which I've crafted my beliefs and practices.
Large bull moose about 10 yards off the Great Western Trail
The fall colors aren't quite as vivid as they were during my Massachusetts childhood, but they were still beautiful. I especially love the contrast of the yellow aspens and red maples against the deep green pines. We took the long way home through Shingle Mill and encountered some heavy rain. I found myself wishing it was snow. It won't be long!
Descending in the rain at the top of Shingle Mill

Monday, October 12, 2015

EMC-Dell Announcement & 8-yr Anniversary of Mozy Acquisition

The announcement with Dell today is a huge milestone for me, EMC and the IT industry. It was 8 years ago this month that EMC acquired Mozy. It has been an amazing and eventful journey that continues on. Here are a few of my reflections on the experience of the acquisition and the following years.

M&A Integration 

EMC's M&A strategy is quite different than what I've experienced at other companies, most notably Oracle. I'll never forget a conversation about our integration into EMC where we heard, . . .

"All I ask is that you take a look at what we have to offer. If there's something that helps, please take advantage of it. If not, keep doing what you need to do and let us know how it goes." - Joe Tucci, EMC Chairman

One instance where we gladly welcomed EMC's help was with our disk drive purchases. EMC helped drop our prices and improve our quality, almost overnight. One instance where EMC had nothing to offer was when we wanted to run a TV commercial to reach our consumer and small business customers. The corporate marketing team basically echoed Joe, . . . "Let us know how it goes!"

We did have more than one "close call" with the integration. I'll never forget reviewing a multi-million dollar proposal for IT integration. Moving forward would have crushed our delicate financial model. Not only did we get support to NOT move forward, I'm happy to say that the EMC IT integration approach of 2015 is much more agile than it was 8 years ago.


There are many Mozy people that I enjoyed working with, most of whom didn't leave until years after the acquisition. Josh Coates was the Founder & CEO of Mozy and had perhaps the most profound impact on me and the company as a whole. He is a smart, passionate entrepreneur. I am so glad we met in the Bay Area in 1999 when he was starting up Scale8 and I was working at Oracle. Other people I remember well from the very early days of Mozy include Pat Bozeman, Zach Wily, Cody Cutrer, Jon Jensen, Keith Tanaka, Dave Robinson, Paul Cannon, Tom Metge and Jared Wilks.

In addition to Joe Tucci, there were a bunch of other amazing people that welcomed me into EMC. This included Harsha Ramalingam, Andrew Homer, Tom Heiser, Chad Casamento, Jamie Prentice and Howard Elias. My associations have expanded to include literally hundreds of other EMC'ers, partners and customers that I consider to be close colleagues and friends. At the end of the day, it is the people that have kept me engaged and excited about my job. 

Change, Change, Change

So many things have changes since I joined EMC. The pace and magnitude of the change has been exhilarating, not exhausting. Here are just a few examples . . . When we were acquired our company name was actually Berkeley Data Systems. We legally changed it to Mozy after the acquisition. Then, after EMC acquired PI Corporation and I started working for Paul Maritz, we changed the legal name of our business unit to Decho. Things continued to change and we eventually changed back to Mozy. However, we weren't the same Mozy we had been before. We were working closely with VMware on exciting projects like Cloud Foundry and the predecessor to vCloud Air. Today's landmark announcement represents another exhilarating change which I willingly embrace. 

In short, it has been an awesome journey for Mozy and for me personally. There are lots of other stories to tell, but I'll save those for another post. For now, I simply wish to say "Thanks" and "Happy Anniversary" to all of my Mozy friends! 

    Thursday, October 8, 2015

    EMC Project Vista Steel Top-Off

    Yesterday was a big day for EMC Utah! Several team members and I were at the Project Vista construction site to witness the placement of the last steel beam on EMC Utah's newest building in Draper. The ceremony was short and sweet, but I know that this will have a long-lasting impact well into the future.

    In the week leading up to the steel top-off, we displayed the Project Vista steel beam in the lobby of EMC's current building in Draper. By the time the ceremony came, it seemed there was no more room for anyone to sign their name! It was great to see the employees wanting to leave their mark as part of this milestone.

    Final Steel Beam Display
    EMC Employee Signatures
    Utah sure provided us with some perfect Fall weather during our ceremony. The skies were blue, there was a slight breeze and the temperature was a perfect 70 degrees. Our pleasant four seasons and general great weather is another selling point for the Silicon Slopes! EMC isn't the only large tech company building buildings in Utah. The scene along Utah's main highway, I-15 used to be surrounded with vast amounts of land and is now a scene of steel structures. As an example, you can see Thumbtack's new building in the photo below, just down the street from ours. eBay's big building is right in front of that. I am so excited for the future of the Utah tech scene!

    Before the topping off. Note Thumbtack & eBay in the background.
    Getting ready to hoist the beam and the ceremonial tree. South Mountain in the background.
    The beam in the air!
    Workers placing the steel beam.
    Beam is secured!
    The tradition of "topping-off" or "topping-out" is a custom that started in Scandinavia around 700 A.D.  Historians believe that the ancient tribes tradition of placing a tree above their homes began as a way for them to appease the tree spirits for killing the trees. As iron and steel replaced timber as primary building materials, iron workers over the years have carried on the tradition. 

    Placing the Evergreen tree. 
    A handshake for completion!
    Project Vista as of October 7, 2015

    Thursday, October 1, 2015

    Car Consumption: A Heuristic Model for Information Technology

    Think about the way we consume cars and how it has evolved over the last century. It is nothing short of amazing. It is transformational. The IT industry can learn something from the automotive industry, especially when it comes to consumption models. Of course, the IT industry is moving through their transformation faster than the automotive industry, but many of the stages of the transformation in one industry can help us understand changes in the other.

    Today, October 1, 2015, is the 107th anniversary of the Ford Model T. It cost $825, which is about $21,000 today. It began a revolution, not just in transportation, but also in manufacturing. In order to bring costs down and make the car more accessible, Henry Ford introduced ground-breaking innovations, like interchangeable parts, continuous flow, division of labor, and waste reduction. Yet, there were no other options to consume a car if you didn't have $825. 

    Think about how that consumption model has changed since then. The concept of a taxi has been around since the horse & carriage, but new consumption options emerged with mass-produced technology. People could soon rent a car and drive it themselves. Or if they wanted the benefits of ownership without the same upfront cost, they could lease a car. Today, companies like Uber & Lyft have created disruptive consumption models that change the game again. The transactional unit is no longer a car or a day or a week, and the barrier to enter that transaction as a supplier has also radically changed. Everyone with a car is a potential supplier . . . whether it is own, leased . . . or even rented! And everyone with a piece of technology is a consumer with more options, more control and a different economic model. Wow!

    So what does this mean for IT? I don't think we really even know, but I think it is worth considering. We've already seen dramatic changes with cloud offerings for consumers which provide endless email, games, entertainment and productivity apps. Many of them are "free" in terms of financial cost to the consumer, but not in terms of the currency of personal information. These same technologies and consumption models are slowly, but surely making their way to corporate, government, non-profit and all other types of organizations to which we belong. Gone are the days when a company needed to buy expensive hardware and software and build a datacenter to protect it all (think Model T). Technology, even for the largest, most complex enterprises, is available "as a service" paid for paid on usage (think Uber & Lyft). 

    The only real hurdles left to cross are ubiquitous access (think of the billions of people still without smart phones) and security. The killer app will be the browser-like interface to all of our technology which has been seamlessly integrated behind the scenes. Everything will be massively and instantly customized (or configured) in real-time based on vast amounts of data. "Suggested" friends or products or services, augmented reality glasses, self-driving cars, and virtualized data centers are merely a glimpse of what is in store for us. There are more ground-breaking innovations happening on a regular basis in IT, just like they did over 100 years ago in the automotive industry. I'm glad to be working at a company that is playing a key role in that transformation.