September 23, 2022, was my last day at VMware. I spent 1700+ days working in the End User Computing (EUC) Business Unit (BU) on the Horizon Cloud Service (HCS) DevOps team. I am sharing some memories.
I was hired in a new concept team in HCS, which was meant to follow the true DevOps model. It was the brainchild of a visionary and generous leader. I was surrounded by very impressive team members who had long resumes of making a difference in many ways and in many places. I was flabbergasted that I was even hired in such a team. But there I was, ready to contribute.
HCS was on the cusp of a modern transition. We were running our control plane in AWS. But our execution needed to be modernized. I introduced infrastructure as code (IAC) to the team. I chose Terraform and embarked on a whirlwind series of brown bag sessions across various global regions (remotely, of course). It was a hard sell, especially because Terraform uses a state file; this tripped up a lot of colleagues. But I was persistent and after I presented a full implementation proof of concept (POC) it was generally accepted.
This chapter was repeated multiple times. Folks leave the team or the company, resulting in reorganization. Our team was split into developers and DevOps groups with separate chains of command. Over the next years we lost many team members and leadership folks. It was one of the more challenging parts of working as we had to regroup every so often. One lesson I learned was when someone leaves, their duties and responsibilities must be reassigned to someone else right away; don't wait.
We were using AWS ECS with a very rigid and static infrastructure model. It had served us well so far but we needed something more flexible and dynamic. It took us too long to make important changes in the infrastructure. My colleague (now dear friend) and I decided to pair up and dive deep into Kubernetes. We started with AWS EKS and worked on plans to migrate from ECS without much downtime.
We were made part of a team that would migrate the control plane to Azure. It was the perfect opportunity to start from scratch and modernize the infrastructure. We were already using Terraform and learning Kubernetes. We pushed for Kubernetes to be the platform to run the control plane microservices and got the support from our leadership.
We introduced service mesh based on Istio and Envoy. We had one tricky microservice that served as the backbone of the control plane. It had issues with Istio, which took us a few weeks to resolve. Developers and DevOps pitched in together to get all microservices working beautifully on the service mesh. It was a true team effort.
We also introduced Helm charts. At first we were trying to figure out what our Continuous Deployment (CD) story would look like. So we wrote custom tools in Python that codified our process and wrapped around the Helm workflows. Later we started using ArgoCD.
We delivered the Tech Preview on time and it was a success.
As we were gearing to go Generally Available (GA) with the control plane in Azure, the Covid-19 pandemic hit. Countries were going into lockdown. Employees could not work from the office. That's when HCS saw a massive surge in customer interest and influx. Our team managed this surge beautifully and successfully. I hope the long hours and tough schedules will forever be remembered as fondly by everyone as I do.
All my personal accomplishments happened because of the great culture and the awesome people at VMware. I was hired as Senior Member of Technical Staff and promoted to Staff Engineer. I presented in the EUC All Hands meeting, detailing the journey of HCS's cloud native transformation. My team won the EUC US Hackathon. I attended the 2019 RADIO in San Francisco.
Chapter 8 and Beyond
HCS continues to go from strength to strength. I will abstain from revealing too much. Suffice it to say a lot of dedicated and smart people are making the service better everyday. If you are a customer or want to become one, there is no better evidence than Horizon Cloud Service - next-gen, that HCS should be your first choice.
The Broadcom acquisition is the elephant in the room. I am optimistic it will be great for the employees and customers of VMware and Broadcom.
I joined VMware with the hopes of contributing significantly. I can confidently say that I did accomplish that goal. I didn't do it alone; I did it with my team. I'm moving on with the hopes that I can replicate the same success everywhere I go.