Back when I joined VMware in 2012, I had used VMware’s ESX but not extensively enough to realize the value that this product brings to a data center. As a system admin in a previous life, I found it extremely handy to be able to manage virtual machines versus managing actual physical servers. At Columbia University, one of the first part-time jobs I took up was in the Electrical Engineering department as a systems analyst. Very often, the role entailed installing applications, operating systems and managing network connectivity between the University’s backbone and the department. Server hardware goes obsolete within 3-5 years and the department had a large collection of behemoth SPARC servers that were now left as relics from an era long gone. Migrating legacy applications from these machines onto newer server hardware, making sure they had all the dependencies, libraries and drivers required was always so very frustrating. When I was interviewing with VMware towards the end of my program, I realized how ESXi could have been the silver bullet for managing server infrastructure at Columbia. We could have deployed all our application VMs on servers, upgraded the hardware without any downtime for them without breaking a sweat.
I think its important to love the product you develop. Its hard to make the distinction while choosing a job when you factor in compensation, peer pressure, family expectations and silly niceties like the growing free food culture here in the valley. But it helps to ask the question “How would the product I work on add value to my own life?”
Jobs once said “you have to trust that the dots will somehow connect in your future”. Maybe I did connect some.