Back to the Future, Part1

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Monday January 5th 2004 saw me start a new career when I joined NetApp.
 
The role I naively accepted would mark a career change from being Sysadmin-Style Systems Engineer to a Pre-Sales style Systems Engineer. Not that I knew it at the time.
 
The buzz I got from working with customers was something else and with my background as a sysadmin it soon became clear this was something I wanted to do a lot more of.
 
I went from the evals/demos guy to working with major customers and being part of sales teams that delivered over $250m of revenue to NetApp 9+ years ten, according to my bad maths.
 
Monday April 8th 2013 saw me walk in through the front door of SolidFire 1600 Pearl Street in Boulder. Pre-Sales guy #1 for SolidFire International. The advice of my boss rang in my ears as I started new hire training – it was simple and direct – “Don’t f**k it up Arob.” Sage advice for the road ahead.
 
What lead me to SolidFire was the need for a new career challenge, however the product and what it does for our customers, was something I wanted to be part of. 
 
Service Providers (Public Cloud) and people who want to be Service Providers (Private Cloud) had been my game for long time and SolidFire has technology that solved issues for these guys.
 
How do you control & guarantee performance in a highly shared environment? How do you scale both capacity and performance consistently? Could we help match expenditure to revenue for service providers? SolidFire fixes these kind of challenges.
 
In the last ~3 years we won some fantastic logos against constant pressure and competition. I have run up a lot air miles meeting partners and customers around the world. We built a great international team. What have I learnt and how do I feel about going back to NetApp?
 
The most important things I think that I learned, in no particular order:
 
– Getting back hands-on with technology again was fun and good for me. I was also glad I still ‘had it’. I released how removed from the ‘sharp end’ it had become. Working with Jim Burglins fantastic support team – I covered both support and pre-sales when I started – allowed me to learn the technology super quickly and be great at my job.
 
– The world had changed. 5 years on a big account at NTAP,  was a brilliant learning experience and you get to see the long-tail of architectures you design and journeys you go on with customers. But technology was and is changing faster than ever – moves like OpenStack, increased use of OpenSource I was missing out on. How you engage with customers has also changed – community and building relationships through social media and contributing those communities is a key part of anyones job as SE these days, as I see it.
 
– Being early-in is more than low strike-price options. I found I cared much more about what happened for those who joined after me and wanted to be part of the decision making process for the future. It is great to be part of things like New Hire, getting the office going and being in vPOC/POCs. Being able to take ownership and get things done is really liberating.
 
So my thoughts on going back to NetApp? 
 
I am all-in for bringing back into NetApp, its partners and customers the SolidFire experience. Similarly, look forward to being able to support our existing partners & customers with a bigger army behind us.
 
Clearly there are going to be changes – major and minor – but it is often ‘dogs years’ when you are part of a young company that is changing & growing. This is just part of the jounrney.
 
So, if I can brief you on our tech, talk to you about the SolidFire mojo over a pint or a coffee, then just drop me a line. Looking forward to what comes next!

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