“vMotion was one of those mind-blowing experiences that floored me.”


When he started at Purdue, Kyle Ruddy planned to become your friendly neighborhood pharmacist. Fortunately, he realized that computers were way more fun than chemistry. Otherwise, he wouldn’t be in Technical Marketing at VMware and we wouldn’t have the story about that time he accidentally deleted every desktop in his employer’s VDI environment.


We sat down with the Indianapolis native (who currently lives in Tampa, Florida, in part to take advantage of the incredible weather and scuba diving) to learn more about him, his career path and why he geeks out about those APIs in vSphere 6.5.

How did you land at VMware?

I learned about VMware when I was working at a company that had just started using vCenter and ESX, and it was just amazing. I never really thought VMware was a place I could ever work. However, one of the really nice things about VMware's community is something called the VMware User Group, or VMUG. I started volunteering with the Indianapolis VMUG and after a couple years, I was one of the leaders. The next thing I knew, some folks from VMware started talking to me about roles that might appeal to me. I was still brushing it off as something unattainable. But eventually I gave in, started the interview process, and here I am.


What are some of your biggest tech influences?

Technology-wise, vMotion was one of those mind-blowing experiences that floored me. I remember thinking, "How did this happen? How did it work?!" I wanted to learn more and more about it and show it off to anyone who would watch. As far as people, certainly Alan Renouf and Nick Weaver, both of whom hooked me by showing me some of the things that you can easily do with automation. I started out as someone with little to no coding experience, who was tediously clicking within a UI. I turned into someone who could create and run a single script that can deploy entire environments. It’s still magical today.


What was one of your biggest tech setbacks?

Oh, I have a good one. Look, automation is great. It's a fantastic tool. But you need to be careful about what you're doing. In this case, at a previous employer, we were staging up a VMware Horizon environment. Some of the automation pieces were apparently rough around the edges, to put it nicely, and I ended up deleting pretty much every desktop that was available in the environment. Every single one. That was a tremendous setback, and it probably cost about a week's worth of work. Plus, I was basically instilling fear into these people who were now going to have to use this environment—in their minds, they just saw it go up in smoke for little or no reason.


That taught me a lot about testing, the need for test environments and owning up to whatever you did. It’s easy to say, “I don't know what happened.” But I think it's imperative to take ownership when this type of thing happens. I still talk to some of those former coworkers, and they still bring that up to this day. It really was that bad.

Let’s talk vSphere 6.5. How has it has influenced IT organizations?

vSphere 6.5 introduced some new APIs that are REST-based. For a long time, vCenter and vSphere have offered what are called SOAP-based APIs. Those are a little hard to use and they have a steep learning curve. By transitioning some of our APIs over to REST, they're a lot easier to use and understand. We've also been able to redefine how to access those APIs, too. Admins who have stalled on automation (saying, “Well, I'm not a developer so I'm not going to automate anything because that's not my job”) are now discovering the time savings they can get from learning and using these REST APIs.


How will upgrading to vSphere 6.5 help an IT organization?

The move from a Windows-based virtual center to an appliance-based virtual center is huge because that makes everything a whole lot easier in terms of management. You don't have to worry about Windows services; you don't have to worry about a separate database or even an external database. Everything is self-contained on that single appliance. That greatly condenses the amount of upgrade time from what they were doing previously.

When he's not helping customers upgrade to vSphere 6.5, Kyle swims with sharks.

If you look at all the features of vSphere 6.5, what’s the one big thing companies are missing out on if they’re not upgrading?

Usability and user experience. From the RESTful APIs to the HTML5 web client, the interaction is simpler and so much easier.


How is the role of infrastructure admin changing from the way it was (when you managed the physical boxes) to the way it's going to be in a world of DevOps?

It's light years from where it's been. It's an amazing transition. You go from managing everything—from putting a physical box into a rack, running all the wiring, making sure that it has proper amounts of power, installing the operating system, working with your developers or your end users to make sure the proper applications are there—and you really don't have to do most of that today. You can use services like VMware Cloud on AWS, where you never, ever see the physical equipment. Also, I've been talking to a lot of customers about configuration management lately, where the entire infrastructure is managed as code. You can essentially have your entire infrastructure documented in code, so if something were to happen, you can run an incremental check where it will verify and change anything that needs to be changed. Then you have everything back up and running.


What role do you see vSphere playing in the future?

Oh, it's absolutely key. It will continue being that building block. Once vSphere is in place, then you start having access to this wealth of other resources and services you can add on top of it to make the most of the VMware stack. In three years, you may see some more integration with containers, software-defined networks and software-defined storage. But vSphere will continue to be that core building block.


Get more details about vSphere 6.5

Visit the vSphere Upgrade Center


Like this article? Follow Kyle on Twitter @kmruddy