#VMware‘s Center of Advanced Learning (#VMwareCAL): What is it good for …. and my personal expectations

A dream comes true. Since I started specializing on VMware products I always wanted to visit its Headquarters in Palo Alto. I have driven through Palo Alto multiple times during personal trips over the last year. Silicon Valley, Stanford, so much great myths surround my head when I think about this place.

And here I am: I am currently traveling to Palo Alto to visit the VMware campus for two weeks. Being part of comdivision, a German VMware Partner holding all 5 master services competencies, Yves Sandfort, Jens Henning and myself were given the chance to attend a special training at The VMware headquarter.

Center of Advanced Learning

What is the official purpose of the advanced learning center, what are my expectations and why did I decided to go.

What is the center of advanced learning?

The center of advanced learning is defined as a very intensive architecture course. Specialists within the VMware  field, partners and employees, come together to become better architects across the whole SDDC and EUC portfolio. 9 days of class that will strength architects to become better in building proper architectures and communicate/articulate/present potential solutions to c-level managers.

Classes that will train to sell solutions (in my experience this what talking to c-level means) are typically made for the fellows that don’t have such a deep technical background. In the case of center of advanced learning it’s different. All participants have proven that they know their stuff. A pre-work assignment has been given to us quizzing about technical and non-technical stuff.

Especially the non-technical or methodological topics were something I was quite interested in. During my Master of Science in Information Systems we learned a lot about IT-models and strategies. What we have never learn or seen in detail is how those models can be applied in the field. During the pre-work we have learned about VMware’s IT value model that helps partners and professional services to achieve proper results at the customers site that more solution focused rather than product focused.

I am really looking forward in things we will learn during the next weeks about outcome focused business approach for the digital transformation.  The agenda looks quite promising

  1. Architecture & Solution Design
  2. VMware’s outcome focused approach
  3. Business Transformation
  4. Accelerate the Cloud Journey: Hybrid Cloud, Multi-Cloud and Modern Apps
  5. Advanced Consulting & Presentation Skills
  6. Transform Networking & Security
  7. Empower the Digital Workspace & Day 2 Operations
  8. Emerging Technologies & Architecture best practices

All of the topics combined with challenging daily quizes and hard requirements to pass the whole program successfully (and achieve a badge :P).

Why did I decided to go?

Beeing a partner within the comdivison means that I am self-responsible which jobs I take, in which areas I put my focus on and what budget I will spend for extending my knowledge. While the center of advanced learning is for free, traveling and living around the Palo Alto area will cost around 6000 dollar (not including the opportunity costs for NOT working 2 weeks at a customer). That‘s around 40% of my self-defined yearly budget for education -> not a small portion.

Over the last 3 years I have done a lot within the VMware field. I was involved in awesome projects with products including vSAN, vSphere, Horizon, NSX, vCloud Director including 4 to 200 ESXi hosts. Most of the projects I was not just involved in initial pre-sales, architecture & designs, but also in the deployment and transition phase for operations. I have worked with my fantastic colleagues on things that became crucial parts of VMware products, created videos for the learning zone and was a speaker at VMworld and the partner conference Empower.

Even though financially and project wise everythign was good I had the feeling that reached a certain peek. For my personal developement I have the feeling that it is necessary to get to the next level and I see some potential here within the European markets. VMware Cloud on AWS and Workspace One are hot topics with very high potential on the mid or long-term for our businesses. Working in the last years on the topic within larger enterpises I have realized that those strategical decisions are made on a level I had barely access to. Even when I had access to upper management customers I definelty lacked certain skills in communicating & abstracting the message properly. I don’t want to become a sales person, but I have realized that I requires a certain language to make process on strategical topics.

In my personal future I still want to fix problems at customers site, I still want to do VMware trainings, create architectures and build the best solution. But I also want to be able to convince c-level managers from the solution I am going to create. Thinking about that gives me enough arguments to take the proper invest.

In two weeks I am going to share with you my experience within the center of advanced learning and I assume that in one year, I am going to write a post about which impact the training had on goal of getting better in talking with c-level executives.

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