System Engineers at VCE – Scientist or Artist?

For more than three years VCE has been perfecting the science of building and supporting its Vblock System and IDC’s recent report shows our remarkable success with customers.  Our clients and peers can point to the precision with which the Vblock System is engineered and tested, world-class components and manufacturing facilities, compliance and certification software and expert support teams as reasons for our success. These are all impressive, but there is another contributor: VCE’s vArchitects, or system engineers.

Our customers come to us with a variety of needs – each seeking to offer some type of enhanced service to their user community. Many of these enterprises understand that IT must become more agile, scalable and available to better serve users. Some understand how to transform their infrastructure and departments to meet these needs, but others are just beginning.  Sometimes we have precise metrics to work with, such as sizing SAP from existing installations, but in many cases, our clients are looking for guidance as to how to begin their transformational journey.

Our vArchitects lay the groundwork for success long before any of the technology or process is brought to bear.  The vArchitect works with our clients in the earliest days of our relationship and prepares them to transform both their IT technology as well as processes and organizations from the traditional siloed approach to convergence.

Customers look to the VCE system engineer to understand the ways we can flexibly fine-tune VCE offerings to solve seemingly impossible or costly problems.  In an ever-changing business landscape, some cases may appear too complex or ambiguous to solve, but vArchitects have developed their own artistry for solving these challenges.

The Vblock System provides an extraordinary foundation for quickly remedying customer problems, but sometimes customers require a bit more flexibility. Our vArchitects, many of whom have practiced their craft for 20 or more years, draw on their depth of experience to solve these client requests. They are not deterred by incomplete information or changing requirements, instead vArchitects embrace this complexity and ambiguity in helping guide our clients toward transformational designs that accommodate change and prepare them to embrace these challenges as a core part of our value. The vArchitects can work with a customer to pre-integrate, pre-test and pre-validate additional requirements that fulfill client-specific technological needs that are not provided on every Vblock System.

This process reminds me of an earlier role from years ago, where my data center infrastructure team was vexed by continuously changing and conflicting priorities from the various application teams we supported. Several times a month we would have changes in priorities and face incredible churn. As we planned and mobilized to meet one requirement, new challenges arose, and we needed to re-plan to a different set of priorities.  In that environment, our team decided to re-align its project management to use Agile methods to structure our cycle times to our developers’ Scrum iterations. Rather than fighting the nature of our developers’ needs we re-aligned our way of working to their way of working.  All of a sudden we were delivering applications and satisfying their requirements with relative ease.

Similarly, experienced system engineers draw on years of system design and deployment experiences to see patterns and help our clients embrace and prepare for the agility and velocity being required of them in their businesses.  They create system designs, which anticipate growth and other unknown variables as well as potential needs, without breaking the bank on up front capacity.  They align our Vblock System options and software to client organization and governance requirements and guide them toward deployments that allow our customers to transform at a rate of change that is consumable.  This is where the art comes into play.

In engineering, we often talk about “design elegance” with great reverence.  It’s an aesthetic quality that sometimes refers to simplicity. It’s a harmony or even visual balance between the problem and solution.  As consumers, we often find that mobile products have these qualities. It’s hard to describe, but consumers sometimes feel an emotional connection with the technological harmony.

VCE customers often feel that harmony in our products, especially when vArchitects and clients collaborate to develop unique solutions and see them arrive beautifully constructed. Again and again, we hear stories of our clients having pictures taken in front of their new Vblock Systems. They’re thrilled to tour our manufacturing facilities and see THEIR system being assembled.  Some clients have even asked to sign the side panels of their new systems.

When I have the privilege of speaking to our new vArchitects at VCE, which happens very often, I challenge them to not only use their technological intellect to solve hard problems, but I also remind them to use their creative side to artistically solve these problems.  Engineers that embrace design elegance and take the time to collaborate with clients to create technological solutions that “fit” their clients’ culture, abilities and weaknesses can help provide an even greater transformation to their business.

We are rapidly hiring around the world. If you are a wicked smart and technically rigorous engineer, but are willing to let your artistic side come through, check out our Careers page.

About the Author: Dan Butzer