Walter Baziuk, long-time CONVERGED User Group member and current member of the Board of Directors, recently sat down with the CONVERGED Team to share his experience with CI and the community we have cultivated around this infrastructure. Starting with the early user group days of VCE, Baziuk was among the few who formed the foundation of what CONVERGED is today. He has seen the evolution of the technology first-hand, so he was able to share an up-close perspective of what it takes to make a smooth transition.
CONVERGED: Tell us about yourself. What was your journey like to get where you are now?
WALTER: Twenty years ago, there was a scattering of people and products in the infrastructure conversation. We needed servers, we needed storage, and we needed a way to connect all of the pieces with virtualization—something that started out rocky but has gotten much better over time. When I went to Cisco Live, I was introduced to VCE and I was initially skeptical about the newness of it. I wasn’t sure how something that was put together ahead of time would be able to meet my unique needs, but the idea of pre-cabled infrastructure stayed with me.
The next year at Cisco Live, VCE was still there and I think its growth could largely be attributed to the networking they did there. Then, the success of the technology paired with the reliability of VCE customer service and the fact that they would call individual companies if there was something that needed to be fixed created this enthusiasm and advocacy among customers for the solutions they had deployed.
As someone who has worked in government, I know most people in my industry do things the way they’ve always been done and it’s sometimes difficult to modernize or innovate. We started with VMware 3.5 and progressively updated to make it worth the investment. Throughout our journey, the capital investment grew higher, but I knew that buying everything as a system meant the operating cost would be less over time, in turn reducing our total cost of operation.
CONVERGED: What was one of your biggest takeaways from that experience?
WALTER: I think one of the biggest takeaways is that when trying to affect change with someone who is financially oriented, it’s best to present everything in context of TCO. While someone who is driving the transition to converged infrastructure might be more technically oriented and can see the benefits from an efficiency standpoint, the buy-in from someone who is financially oriented stems from TCO. They need to know how it’s going to affect the bottom line, and in that regard you have to understand how people think to be able to influence them.
CONVERGED: How were you introduced to the CONVERGED User Group?
WALTER: I actually got started with the user group before it was even formalized. Back then, it was a place we could gather to discuss products and provide feedback to Dell in a really casual setting. It’s still that to some extent, but now we have more programming and content offerings. Eventually after we had more people and even support from Dell EMC and VMware, we became the CONVERGED User Group with planned events and a formal membership structure.
CONVERGED: In your time as a member of CONVERGED and as a leader in our community, what do you think is the most valuable benefit of the User Group for its members?
WALTER: Definitely the ability to talk to other members and customers at events. The stories I’ve told and the ones I’ve heard have shaped the community into one based in trust and knowledge-sharing—we know that everyone is being candid in their testimonials and that helps us build a network of people we can look to for examples of what to do and what not to do.
Walter Baziuk has been a CONVERGED User Group Board Member since the community was first created. Walter joined the Canadian Federal Government in 2003, where he has played many roles and is currently a Senior System Architect in a department that has over 100,000 employees. He has spent 30+ years in the Telecom field and has worked for: Mitel, BNR, Mitel, and a small start-up Ceyba. In his hometown of Ottawa, ON, he enjoys woodworking, cooking, eating, biking and skiing. He and his wife enjoy travelling the continent and exploring outdoor activities in their Airstream trailer, The Silver Beatle. You can find Walter on Twitter and LinkedIn or you can reach out to him via email.