Saturday, September 3, 2011

why great partners matter

Large scale anything is tough. Really tough. Does not really matter what field you are in, if you run anything at scale: complexity increases. In my day job I'm responsible to our faculty, researchers and scientists each and every day trying our very best to be as good at supporting them as they are at pushing their craft.

It is a challenge. Tens of thousands of processors, multiple petabytes of data over 100's of different disciplines each day brings new surprises. Hardware suffers, software does not execute as you would expect and infrastructure can go wobbly at a moments notice. No one organization can pull this off single handedly - you need friends. Really, really good friends!

Product placement, endorsement and the like are frowned upon in most organizations (rightly so), and I constantly worry about how to reflect upon the success we have with our external and internal companies and partners.

They all know individually how hard they all work to make sure my success is achieved - I'm someone who gives feedback freely, they get it. I do however want to talk about two particular examples that have helped me, my team get things done.

"the junior members of staff"

This week I took a flight down to Austin to participate in an executive summit of IT professionals with the team that runs the IT business behind the scenes that in turn runs Dell. I met so many high rollers, it was a fabulous meeting. While there with the all grand fromage, I even managed to snag ten mins 1:1 with Michael himself - that was a lot of fun! However, I also finally got to meet some of our inside sales team. This is the team that I and my folks have been working with directly and depending upon for the last past five years.

I only ever knew them by email addresses, and the odd phone call. Andy and John have always made sure we always got everything we needed, and of course we normally needed it yesterday! It was so fabulous finally meeting them in person in their monster cube farm down in Round Rock.

On the giant metaphorical totem pole of a 100,000 person, 26 billion market capitalized organization these two boys are clearly vertically challenged to say the least! But without them, there is no chance either a company of that size or, more importantly we would have any degree of success. These two boys could work for any computer company on the planet. Any company that has folks like John and Andy will be successful, some companies lack the Johns and Andys, and they fail - it really is just that simple.

"the senior members of staff"

One of the other set of folks we work with run a data center facility in downtown Boston. Our organization asks for the moon on a stick daily, our growth has been substantial and is extremely unpredictable. Luckily as with the large computer manufacture I mentioned previously I'm fortunate to also have a homologue to "John and Andy".

This time it is the chap that actually owns the company. Jeff is by all definitions of the term a "senior chap", but he has the same drive tenacity and purpose that John and Andy have. I ask him for 400KW of cooling, he is on it. If infrastructure goes wobbly, he is on it.

John, Andy and Jeff are all made of the same stuff.

You may call it the right stuff, I simply call it awesome!

Bottom line is that every day I'm eternally grateful for our partners at every level and in every company we work with. You can see it on my face in the snap below of Jeff and I standing infront of some of our 14,000 processors that John and Andy helped to deliver up here in Boston.

Pretty cool eh?

(photo credit Carl Brooks)



[any opinions here are all mine, and have absolutely nothing to do with my employer]
(c) 2011 James Cuff