Friday, August 19, 2016

Making the Impossible, Possible

Through the years of conversations with friends and curious client interviews, they ask for stories of difficult situations and amazing achievements.

After some encouragement, I am going to note down some of these stories and share it with you all here.

This was a curious time at VCE Company, which started as a different name, Acadia, which was a joint venture between the V, the C, and the E companies. VMware, Cisco and EMC.

I was brought in as the Virtualization Technology Lead, and it was an intriguing time. A new architecture was brewing. It was a mashup of things we've been doing for the past 30+ years of putting systems together.

A company would have to select a storage vendor, networking vendor and server (compute) vendor, spend up to a year (if not more) in integration of these parts to have a functional system for the next 3-5 years, then rinse and repeat.

VCE envisioned a new way to approach this cycle, with a new converged architecture, where storage, compute and networking were pre-integrated in a platform that was a product. Fully tested and functional, you get white-glove service, and one company to call for support.

This was the dawn of the converged infrastructures that soon speckled the startup scene in various incarnations.

First there was the product, the Vblock. This took some R&D. The VCE team and I had the challenge of figuring out what made up a Vblock as the joint venture companies rallied to put more of their wares into the product. This took some time.

Next, solutions engineering. The challenge was to develop solutions on top of our new product and its differently sized brethren.

After some more time, product engineering. Purpose built appliances, in particular for the hard problem of virtual desktop infrastructure, or VDI.

Why VDI is hard is for another set of stories, but suffice it to say it was not a neatly solved problem by a long shot.

The project was to develop a Vblock VDI appliance that could easily deploy a set of virtual desktops within hours, instead of weeks or months as was typical. This came with some immediate showstoppers. Security was one of them.

To support a multitude of desktops, one needs to enable a multitude of users to log in and use them, which means authentication and the preferred method of managing such a thing in the enterprise is LDAP or Active Directory (AD).

For our team to ship such an appliance that just works upon delivery, would mean we would have to ship an AD with it. That's one of the showstoppers right there. It's a security issue and no company cares to have another AD introduced into their environment.

Chicken and the Egg #1. How do we ship an appliance that needs an AD to work, but can't have one shipped? Without AD, the VMware View VDI software cannot even be installed! It's not possible.

Chicken and the Egg #2. If we can't ship an AD, we can't even install our software! How can we have any virtual desktops? It's not possible!

Now we're in a tough spot, between a rock and a hard place. With more rocks all around.

I took some initiative and decided I was going to find solutions for this.

First, I developed a concept that would work around issue #1. It was elegant, new and clever. Basically it involves blind AD federation, where temporary users are assigned and granted access to a restricted level of resources until the full identity is confirmed. The federation comes through a piece of software that is not a full AD, yet enables us to install VMware View, users to log in and mitigates the security concerns as it eventually 'federates' those from the customer AD. It's possible!

The second front was me digging through VMware contacts to find a way to automate the install of VMware View, since it would not continue installing unless an AD server was manually specified in the beginning of the installer. After some months, I was fortunate to track down the original team that wrote VMware View, who knew of some undocumented parameters of the installer that would let us pre-empt the setup with a directive for an AD server. This allowed us to specify an AD server in an automated fashion. It's possible!

Whew! Now it was decision time, use concept #1 or concept #2. It was decided to go with concept #2, which meant we needed to build out a development team to write a custom installer that would wrap the VMware View installer and automate it through the newly discovered undocumented methods. This also meant we could collect all necessary information during the sales process and have minimal amounts of things to do during the install process. It was all pre-configured. Neat.

Once we finished up our installer, and ran our beta program, the customer experience was unparalleled.

0 to 100 desktops in 73 minutes! It's Possible.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Resume - CV - Rob Markovic

Rob Marković

SUMMARY: Advisor, Evangelist, Senior Technology and Virtualization Expert

• Cloud Computing
• Virtualization
• Open Source
• Flash Technology
• OpenStack
• Storage
• Converged Systems
• Research and Development

2013-Present I/O Switch Technologies Inc., Sunnyvale, CA – Advisor to the Board / Evangelist
• Advised the board on market strategy and investor relations with numerous introductions and connections, doubling the number of prospect meetings.
• Organized the award winning team which participated in the 2014 Open Compute Project Hackathon and delivered the presentation for the first “Adaptive Storage” concept, where servers scale independently from storage. Story published on OCP website.
• Led the first Proof of Concept (PoC) program showcasing the I/O Switch technology, delighting the customers with outstanding performance test results and 80% cost savings.

2005-Present – Former President – Large Installation System Administrators Group
• As a former President and member of the board of directors, providing continued service in an Advisory role, supporting BayLISA activities. (see Accomplishments section below)

2010-2013 VCE Company LLC, Santa Clara, CA – Partner Enablement Lead / Business Development
• Research and development into proprietary technologies.
• Organized cross-functional teams to share current information across the horizontal company landscape by identifying group champions, improving communication and awareness across disparate global teams.
• Provided guidance in the research and development of relationships with VCE partner ecosystem companies such as HyTrust, AvNet & ServiceMesh, through business development and partner enablement teams.
• Provided expert technical evaluation of partner products for business development teams as well as comprehensive testing and validation of key Security solutions for Vblock™ Systems.
• Designed and deployed a VMware vCloud Director self-service environment to support Partner Enablement activities in the Partner Enablement Lab, which supported 100+ users including remote teams and contractors.

2010-2012 VCE Company LLC, Santa Clara, CA – Virtualization Technology Lead / Architect
• Research and development into proprietary technologies.
• Provided guidance in virtualization technology and the architecture of the Vblock™ Infrastructure Packages delivering the industry's first completely integrated IT offering that combines best-in-class virtualization, networking, computing, storage, security, and management technologies with end-to-end vendor accountability.
• Managed a team of people responsible for all virtualization aspects of the infrastructure solutions team in the VCE Applications Center of Excellence group.
• Responsible for leading the efforts of a new project based on the EMC VNX™ based Vblock ™ Systems 300 platform solution.
• Developed new methods in rapid deployment of solutions based on the Vblock™ Systems.

2009-2010 Arborvita, Egnyte and Others, Bay Area, CA – IT Virtualization & Cloud Independent Consultant
• Provided expert consulting services at various clients seeking IT, virtualization & cloud solutions.

2006-2009 VMware Inc., Palo Alto, CA – Sr. Enterprise Technical Support Engineer / Systems Engineer
• Award winning member of the systems management team providing expert technical support to enterprise customers supporting the Virtual Infrastructure 3 ™ (VI3) and vSphere 4 ™ suite of products as well as any other technical issues.
• Managed extra workload during beta testing of new products and communicated requirements with developers, while maintaining customer satisfaction.
• Mentored new personnel and junior TSEs and promoted collaboration between team members.
• Maintained broad subject knowledge, and promoted internal process improvement for more efficient operation.
• Subject knowledge includes all subject matter expertise (SME) categories, hosted products, install issues, OS issues, fault issues, storage issues, networking issues and systems management and architecture issues.
• Often participate in research and escalation engineer duties, as well as performance, product support engineering, architecture and competitive discussions.
• One of ten in the world to receive a Knowledge Base Content System (KCS) Top Contributor award.

2006 Apprion Inc., Moffett Field, CA – Security Engineer
• Instrumental in building the first deployment product platform, ensuring a successful product launch.
• Spearheaded deployment and installation of the corporate Voice over IP system and VPN access systems.
• Designed and built the monitoring system based on Nagios backed by MySQL.
• Key consultant to decision makers purchasing security equipment and solutions.
• Saved significant development time and cost by introducing an alternate platform starting point. This yielded immediate results for the customer facing departments, and deployment groups.

2005-2006 NASA Ames Research Center, Moffett Field, CA – Special Projects Security Engineer
• Part of a team that developed the NASA-wide security perimeter, per NIST guidelines and Member of the NASA Advanced Supercomputing Division team, assigned to special government IT Security mandates.
• Designed and deployed a Secure Corporate VPN solution at eleven disparate NASA Centers within diverse network environments within a tight schedule and budget.
• Deployed NASA-wide context and content monitoring solution for security audit and computer use policy verification purposes.
• Obtained interim security clearance.

2004 Gadoz, Inc., Palo Alto, CA – Director of Operations (COO)
• Directed technical operations of Gadoz, Inc., a small web applications hosting company, with a highly secure and highly redundant infrastructure at the prestigious PAIX Datacenter located in downtown Palo Alto, California.
• Worked directly with customers such as Fox Racing, AMD, and Velonews with Tour de France 2004 live coverage.
• Responsible for all technical operations, server management, database management, web services management, network management, including: infrastructure, architecture, capacity planning, monitoring, and customer support.

2004 OpSource, Inc., Santa Clara, CA – Datacenter Operations Technician
• As Team Technician, built and maintained a 60,000 square foot floor Datacenter.
• Nicknamed “The Dream Team” – handled toughest problems and resolved escalated problem tickets ahead of schedule.
• Wore many hats, from shipping and receiving, asset management, equipment installation, to complex network wiring and troubleshooting projects.
• Authorized to work with live platforms, including MSN, Hotmail, and Passport.

2003 Google, Inc., Mountain View, CA – New Programs Coordinator –
• Helped develop the support structure of, after acquisition by Google, Inc.
• Quickly learned customer support issues and started training new support personnel within a week of hire.
• Successfully trained three new members of the support team, and supported developers working to fix code base issues. Modified support scripts to enable support of new platform.

2000-2001 NetObjects, Inc., Redwood City, CA - Integration Systems Administrator
• Designed and maintained network architecture for Linux, Solaris and BSD servers in a 3-tier enterprise level, high availability production environment running JRE, JRun, Oracle and other custom applications.
• Audited network security and provided first response to security breaches.
• Implemented data encryption, modified Checkpoint firewall in IT resource migration and developed security policy for communication between server platforms.
• Developed monitoring system and on-call schedule for remote server platforms.
• Achieved significant time saving and drastic decrease in response time with improved uptime of 99.9%.
• Successfully developed procedures and execution for launch of three deployments, including IBM Government, HP Matrix/Neto, and Telecom Italia – reducing deployment time and decreasing customer cost by over 50%.
• Other innovations included implementation of complex DNS, HTTP load balancing and hosting schemes with server load balancing, which saved over $200,000.
• Key player in successful cross-country remote set up of a hosting platform.

ACCOMPLISHMENTS: – Team Lead –Open Compute Project (OCP) Hackathon
• Led the winning team that developed the “Adaptive Storage” concept in a 24 our hackathon at the 2014 Open compute Summit, which proved compute resources could scale independently of storage resources.
• During 2015, the same team developed the worlds first, “Distributed ZFS” concept in a 24 hour hackathon, where ZFS nodes were enabled to scale beyond a single system image. – President of the Board – Large Installation System Administrators Group
• As a member of the board of directors, we organize meetings, create a speaker pipeline, and drive technical projects to manage the special interest group.
Arbogast Internet Services -, Redford, MI - Wireless Internet Access
• Helped deploy a wireless 802.11 communication system to provide high speed internet access for the City of Redford.
Ford Motor Co. - WHQ, Dearborn, MI – Systems Consultant – Fall 2000
• Worked on deployment of an in-office stock ticker and news system for CEO of Ford Motor Co., Jacques A. Nasser, running Linux with digital LCD panel display. The panel was among several others displaying world news and events.
Outrage Entertainment Inc., Ann Arbor, MI - Software Tester for popular computer game
• Worked alongside game software developers, tested software, reported bugs, suggested improvements, and learned about the software development industry. Project included the release of Descent 3 Demo 1, where name (Rob Markovic) is in the credits.
University of Michigan - Dearborn, Dearborn, MI - Final Design Project
• Worked on a project, with foreign exchange students, on an Adaptive Cruise Control System for Class 8 Trucks. Design utilized Delphi Radar Sensor and micro controller interface, along with dual CAN bus communication on controller board.
• Similar systems are now used on the road today in trucks and luxury vehicles.
University of Michigan - Dearborn, Dearborn, MI - Senior Design Project
• Designed a Motorola HC11 microprocessor controlled traction control system that operated on rear-wheel drive vehicles until wheel slippage was detected, then up to 50% power was transferred to front wheels until stabilized. Concept modified from research on the Porsche Carrera 4 traction control system.
Nullsoft Inc. – Winamp - Software QA for a high-fidelity music player
• Helped design and test the most widely recognized and used MP3 player in the world. Name (Rob Markovic) published in the credits of all versions of Nullsoft Winamp.
University of Michigan - Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI - Research Assistant
• Operated and tested a microwave transmitter for a future weather satellite. Helped design the testing method and hardware necessary for gathering data.

University of Michigan - Dearborn, Dearborn, MI
• B.S.E. in Computer Engineering
• B.S.E. in Electrical Engineering
• Candidate for minor in Computer Information Science