"Working at VMware is better than being an astronaut."


There are two big things you need to know to understand Adam Eckerle. First, he went to Space Camp as a kid (twice.) Second, he says his job at VMware in Technical Marketing is better than being an astronaut.

In addition to his affection for NASA and all things space-related, Adam also loves all forms of racing, from triathlon to everything motor sports-based. Before marriage and kids, he traveled around the country racing motorcycles on different race tracks.

We sat down with Adam to learn more about him, his career path and why he loves helping customers upgrade to vSphere 6.5 every day.


Who are some of your biggest tech influences?

Scott Lowe was probably one of the first bloggers that I regularly read. Frank Denneman, who is on the same team as me now, is amazing, and also his Dutch counterpart, Duncan Epping. Those guys are the OG bloggers, but the vCommunity has grown to include so many more.


The VMware user community is one of the most prolific and amazing communities I've ever been a part of. It’s all these smart people who are willing to spend their time writing blogs or working on social media just to say, "Hey, look. Here's a mistake I made and here’s how you can learn from it." That attitude was totally contrary to everything else I'd been a part of. Most of the time, when people learn something, they want to make sure that they’re valued for it, so they keep it to themselves. The VMware community is the complete opposite. People help each other because it’s the right thing to do. They don’t worry that sharing their learning will set them back.


How did you end up at VMware? 

It took a while! I went to Indiana’s Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology and studied computer engineering. Out of school, I designed video capture cards for casinos and banks, then wrote software to do test and validation of car media systems. If you've driven a Volkswagen in the last 10 years, there are probably still bits of my code being used to ensure those media systems are working properly before they are installed on the manufacturing line.


Then I went to a manufacturing company, then into IT consulting—and that’s when I discovered VMware. It sounds cliché to say, but vMotion made me a believer. Then after working as a solutions architect for a VMware partner, I got a call from the mothership. The rest is history.


You talk to a lot of customers. How has vSphere 6.5 influenced IT organizations?

With vSphere 6.5, we added some new native high-availability features that customers have been asking for. We’ve basically given them an “easy button” to make the core piece of vSphere, vCenter Server, more resilient. Also, there’s a paradigm shift in moving vCenter Server to the appliance model. We've had an appliance model for vCenter Server for a few releases now, but 6.5 is where we've drawn a line in the sand to say, "This is the direction we're going and here’s a migration tool to get you there.” The migration tool is an easy way to help customers get from a vCenter on Windows to a vCenter Server Appliance, wrapped in all these new features to make it easier to manage, easier to upgrade and patch. 

There are new APIs and all kinds of fun stuff that are attractive to customers. The performance is head and shoulders above its Windows-based counterpart, and they’re saving good money. One customer saved over $100,000 in licensing by moving over to the appliance because there’s no operating system or database licensing required.

There’s a lot of hype around VMware Cloud on AWS. Can you talk about the connection with vSphere?

The thing that’s magical in my mind is the idea that you can take whatever workload you have today, and if you're running vSphere 6.5 plus VMware Cloud on AWS, you now have a seamless experience to move workloads both to the public cloud or back on-premises. Before this technology existed, it was hard to come back or move to a different public cloud. 

Because we've got vSphere running on-premises as well as vSphere running on AWS, it's very easy to move workloads around as the customer sees fit. The sky is the limit, because they can also tie right into Amazon's native suite of offerings. When you talk to customers and you mention VMware Cloud on AWS, you see light bulbs go on.

What role will vSphere play in the future of VMware solutions?

You know, there are a lot of people who talk about the hypervisor being commoditized, people who say data center infrastructure is boring. I couldn't disagree more. If you look at the different hypervisors that are out there, vSphere continually has far more features and more stability, and we're only going to add to that. The roadmap is very exciting.

vSphere continues to be the heart and soul of VMware. Not only does much of the VMware portfolio depend on vSphere, but the vSphere ecosystem continues to be one of the largest in the industry. This is going to be important going forward as legacy workloads continue to stick around even with the shift to the cloud. And customers don’t want to continue with the status quo for those workloads. They want features that are being built for the cloud to be available in their on-premises infrastructure.

Adam at Space Camp in 1991

What about VMware's vision of security in the data center?

We're in a unique position. As a hypervisor and a management plane, we can be in that middle ground, be that gatekeeper between workloads and the physical hardware. As hardware vendors continue to work together with VMware and bring more security features and bake that into the hardware, we can be among the first to take advantage of those features. We can then apply policies to these workloads and do things like micro-segmentation, where we can secure network traffic between individual VMs, and do it in a policy-based way so it doesn't become a nightmare to manage. 

We can also do things like take advantage of new TPM chips and new processor extensions. And because we're the hypervisor, the abstraction layer between the workload and the hardware, we're in a perfect position to provide those services to the VMs without having workload-specific agents and intrusive software.


What about VMware’s vision for managing vSphere?

There has been a plethora of ways to manage vSphere infrastructure over the years. As the shift to the appliance model completes, automation and security will continue to become top of mind for customers. With that in mind, VMware is looking to simplify management while maintaining flexibility. So, we could see a consolidation of the different management interfaces and a streamlining in many workflows.


The HTML5-based vSphere Client will be used most of the time by vSphere administrators and we’ll continually reduce the need to interact with ESXi and vCenter Server directly via command line interfaces. And, as we continue to build out the RESTful APIs, we’ll realize our vision of interacting with vSphere through a UI or an API, thus simplifying life for both vSphere administrators and developers.


Why do you do what you do?

I can give back, every day. I love talking to customers and I love the feeling when a customer says, "Man, that was the best hour I've spent in a long time," or when they thank you for reaching out on Twitter. When I'm up late at night working on something and I see somebody tweet, "Hey, I'm having this problem," I can respond and say, "try this." That feeling that you're making a difference for a customer or some random person out there on the interwebs, that’s a truly great feeling.


Get more details about vSphere 6.5 

Visit the vSphere Upgrade Center


Like this article? Follow Adam on Twitter @eck79