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One of the 'innovations' which EMC are to be congratulated on is not a product and no, it's not their Social Media policy; it's the concept of the vSpecialist or as I prefer to think of them, 'vGeneralists'. I think as a model for end-user departments, it is a concept that has merit and one which more companies should explore. But in many ways, it's not a new idea; there are many aging mainframe bods who in many ways fit the mould as well; many mainframe system-programmers could turn their hand easily to most of the disciplines within the infrastructure.

We did have our own specialisms; I certainly never worked in a mainframe storage team or network team but I am certainly of no doubt that when I was working in the world of mainframe, I probably could have done the day-to-day job of any of those. And even in my brief spell as an mainframe application programmer, I was certainly expected to write my own JCL*, plan job schedules, allocate the right sort of disk and create many of my tools. So arguably, in the era when mainframe was dominant, we had both 'vSpecialists' and 'DevOps'; so it is great to see it coming back round again.

I long for the day when we don't have Storage Managers, Network Managers, Server Managers and all the layers beneath them; I'm not sure what we should call this new breed; perhaps we'll end up with System Programmers, Systems Managers and the likes again working providing platforms and not infrastructure siloes. I long for the day when the silos which were never there in the past can be removed.  

But I bet those bloody DBAs stay a breed apart!!!

p.s Yeah, I never wrote my own JCL, I only edited someone else's…but hell, we all know that there has only been one original piece of JCL written ever!!




  1. Chad Sakac says:

    Disclosure – EMCer here.
    StorageBod – you’re SO right – I actually haven’t thought of it, but vGeneralists would have actually been a better name (functionally) – as we need people to be able to work across a broad set of technologies (though we arguably do it in a focused, specialized use case – that being virutalized x86 environments and apps).

  2. Martin G says:

    Attracting anyone with a job title ‘vGeneralist’ would be hard I suspect!! Perhaps we need a title similar to that of the General Practitioner in medicine.

  3. Mark Vaughn says:

    I touched on this with my post (shameless plug, sorry). I totally agree that skill sets are going to have to shift in focus from deep to wide. There will always need to be a specialist in certain technologies, but every member of the team/org needs to have an moderate to advanced level of knowledge in virtualization/network/security/storage/etc. They need to not only know the technologies, but how decisions in one area impacts the others.
    As far as the vSpecialists go, I have yet to meet one that is not a true rock star. Cisco, VMware and NetApp all have the same rock star orgs, but Chad has truly built the highest (or most visible) concentration so far. Like you, I am not talking EMC technology here, but EMC staff.

  4. Martin
    The point where you stop copying someone else’s JCL was the point when you actually understood how to write JCL… I guess it’s a programming paradigm that fits across many programming languages.
    I wonder what will happen to the vGeneralists when EMC have got the message out. Will they become surplus to requirements or fade into standard delivery roles?
    I also think EMC need to be careful the hype doesn’t obscure the message. For example the vSpecialists video was fun, but detracts from professionalism to a certain degree.

  5. Martin G says:

    I’m sure I actually coded some JCL jobs from scratch, just wiped it from memory. And calling JCL a program language, that’s a little bit of a stretch!!
    What will happen to the EMC vSpecialists? I wonder if eventually the standard delivery types all eventually morph into them…EMC have ended up going outside to find people who can inspire their internal people to meet the challenges that EMC face and will increasingly face.
    Give it 12-18 months and all of the vendors will have similar teams; they won’t call them vSpecialists and they may even pretend they don’t exist. But everyone is going to need people who can operate at all levels of the infrastructure stack.

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