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Deep Dive: Ian Jansen van Rensburg, Lead Technologist, VMware SSA

Deep Dive: Ian Jansen van Rensburg, Lead Technologist, VMware SSA

Data CentresTop Stories

VMware is a software technology provider that works to solve IT challenges through disruptive technologies in order to drive innovation. We hear from Ian Jansen van Rensburg who discusses his career in the data centre industry and how he likes to relax and unwind outside the office.

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement in the data centre industry?

My name is Ian Jansen van Rensburg and I’m the Chief Technologist at VMware Sub Saharan Africa. I’m responsible for building revenue and representing the VMware technology for 36 countries in Africa. There is a great, intelligent and innovative team of people working for VMware SSA. My most memorable achievement in the industry is when I consulted with several large financial institutions to implement compute virtualisation back in 2007. We were at the start of a new software-defined era and saved companies millions. We also helped to lower the carbon footprint by reducing power consumption and cooling in data centres.

What first made you think of a career in technology/data centres?

My career started with an interest in electrical engineering that led to IT. My very first ‘touch’ with IT was building a token ring network that made use of Windows 3.11 as the software component. In my current position as Chief Technologist and Senior Solutions Engineering Manager, it is crucial to listen to your staff and create a safe and open environment that they can thrive in.

What do you think is the current hot talking point within the data centre space?

The current talking points in the technology space are Edge Computing, 5G, multi-hybrid cloud, Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning. Customers are already deploying, investigating or planning to deploy these technologies. A software-defined approach is a must and will form the foundation for the tech world moving forward.

How do you deal with stress and unwind outside the office?

Sport, such as golf and pool, is a good way to take your mind off things, but I love spending time with my family and my French Bulldog, Maurice.

What do you currently identify as the major areas of investment in your industry?

At VMware, we find that customers are currently investing time and money in cloud strategies, security and the development and running of modern applications. Modern business will run on modern applications. Some of our customers are planning to make use of a single cloud provider – they want to run their entire business within this single cloud provider. This is like saying, ‘I will go with x hardware vendor and stay there for the foreseeable future’. The customers that have a multi-cloud strategy and aren’t committing their entire business to a single cloud provider are the ones that will have more choice, better financial options and the ability to move back to their private data centre if needed. At the end of the day, it is all about agility, time to market and cost.

What are the region-specific challenges you encounter in your role?

There are many challenges that customers face to move to cloud or a complete software-defined architecture. Some of these challenges are people and process-related. Company politics, job security and the hunger for career growth are to name a few. Rigid silos exist in the IT department (server, network, storage, security) and each silo has its own team culture, brand and red tape. If a company can break these silos and learn to work as one digital team, the business will benefit from it. The IT department can then start moving from a cost centre to a profit centre.

What changes to your job role have you seen in the last year and how do you see these developing in the next 12 months?

I have seen many changes in my job role in the past few years. Technology is moving at a swift pace and one has to keep up. The ‘super customer’ of today do their research on the Internet, but they are still interested in the vision, strategy and complete solution set from VMware. We have changed from a point solution company to solving a customer’s biggest business challenges. VMware can support any cloud, any application and device, and any worker.

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