Minneapolis, Minnesota based virtualization consulting firm, Xcedex, is 100% focused on helping companies go virtual. To do that, the company needs all of their employees to be considered "experts" in virtualization. The company's CTO, David Payne said, "We've never actually been able to find someone off the street that has enough experience to start and be considered an expert on day one. This was especially true in the early years working with virtualization. Most people not only didn't have virtualization experience, they hadn't even heard of VMware. What we had to do was create a training process to take people with the right background and turn them into virtualization experts. That is the method we have followed over the last 4 years."
Payne continued, "The trouble with hiring for virtualization is that it isn't a mutually exclusive skill like Java programming or Cisco networking. Infrastructure virtualization touches nearly every part of the datacenter from storage & networks to operating systems and applications. So rather than look for virtualization experts, we look for infrastructure experts. These are people that have experience managing datacenters where they've been exposed to servers, shared storage, networking, OS and application management. Give me a fairly well rounded infrastructure person with decent social/consulting abilities, and I can layer on a virtualization skill set pretty quickly."
My warnings/advice to startups and established firms:
- Have a plan for these people. Don't just hire high performing professionals and keep them waiting as they will be plucked away just as fast!
- Pay them well but also let them be responsible for projects and responsibilities.
- Make "Versatilists" out of these professionals. these people should be able to do: Marketing, Pre-Sales, Consulting, Post-Sales, Training. Make them mini-CEOs for your firm. Let them be the heros.
- Smart and high performing A-players are not easy folk to handle. That does not mean they are difficult, they are just too eager to go everywhere. They need help via a good and stable HR. Remember, a little start-up will NOT have an (well) established HR, so you are bound to judge these people/divisions on their performance but may not be able to help them with their growth within the organizations.
- For Established firms: You HAVE a good HR in place, you can lure the good professionals with good plans. Most experienced professionals are married, have children and may have more constraints that might be prohibitive when going for start-ups. (I myself have refused several start-ups offers, some have been good close friends as well)
- Have a "VUP": Vertical Upgrade Plan is a must for established professionals, meaning they should be able to participate and eventually join the management teams and even be on the CEO/CIO/CTO/CSO's radar. Very crucial. You just don't know what kind of crucial information you might be missing out on. Some of these professionals have the capability, if honed properly by helping them acquire good business training such as MBA programs etc, to eventually help the company transform into a "Continuously Evolving Next Generation" corporation!
- Last but not the least: If someone is good, dedicated and truly loyal to the technology and business you are in, hire him/her! Don't spend time discussing too much about a "fit".
David is carrying the news on InfoWorld.