Get to Know: Jason Van der Schyff, COO, SoftIron

Get to Know: Jason Van der Schyff, COO, SoftIron

Jason began building websites in high school when website development was unique – here’s what he’s learned since.

Jason Van der Schyff, COO, SoftIron

What would you describe as your most memorable achievement?

My most memorable achievement is a tie between two significant projects.

First, I successfully published my debut book Asymmetric Advantage shortly after the COVID lockdown.

Additionally, I led the construction of a pioneering manufacturing facility for SoftIron in Australia. This project, co-funded by the Australian Department of Defense, aimed to establish sovereign industrial capability for the country, marking the first-ever establishment of such a facility for computer manufacturing within Australia.

What first made you think of a career in technology?

My journey into a career in technology was more of a case where technology found me rather than me actively seeking it out. It all started when I began building websites in high school when website development was unique.

Given my inherent interest in engineering, I ventured into various engineering disciplines, including electrical, mechanical and software engineering.

Despite exploring different industries, I consistently gravitated toward roles intertwined with technology.

I derive immense enjoyment from associating new technologies with real-world applications, as it allows me to contribute to meaningful advancements.

What do you think is the current hot technology talking point today?

Today’s prevailing technology talking point revolves around the widespread discussion of AI. It’s hard to go anywhere without encountering conversations about AI. There’s a palpable sense of anticipation regarding the implications of AI for everyday jobs, indicating that we’ve reached an inflection point in the advancement of the underlying technologies that enable artificial intelligence.

What do you think of VMware’s acquisition by Broadcom?

Broadcom’s acquisition of VMware can be viewed through two distinct lenses. From an industry standpoint, it has undeniably been highly disruptive.

While some anticipated the significant changes in pricing and licensing models many have been caught many off guard.

On the other hand, considering Broadcom’s perspective, the acquisition aligns with the fundamental objective of maximizing shareholder value.

Their approach involves a heightened focus on their VMware customer base, including direct engagement with the largest accounts and a comprehensive overhaul of 25 years of legacy, encompassing customers, products and partners.

This acquisition has substantial implications for numerous organizations’ daily operations, as VMware underpins a vast amount of core infrastructure within society.

The acquisition serves as a poignant reminder of the perils associated with overcommitting to a single vendor.

Moving forward, this development prompts a revaluation of how organizations anchor themselves to specific vendors, emphasizing the importance of maintaining alternate plans and options to mitigate such risks.

Do you think the changes at VMware will impact how organizations view their cloud strategies going forward?

VMware’s changes are poised to profoundly impact how organizations shape their cloud strategies moving forward. Historically, VMware represented one of the final components of the infrastructure stack for which organizations were content with a single-vendor solution. However, as we’ve witnessed diversification in operating systems and hardware vendors, VMware emerged as a ubiquitous virtualization platform underpinning a tightly integrated ecosystem.

In light of recent developments, organizations will likely reconsider their approach to managing their infrastructure.

Rather than wholesale replacement of VMware, a more prevalent trend may involve a shift towards incorporating alternative technologies alongside existing VMware deployments.

This could manifest as a scenario where a certain percentage of an organization’s estate runs on VMware while another portion adopts alternative solutions, be it open-source platforms or offerings from different vendors such as SoftIron.

This signifies a broader movement towards embracing diversified infrastructure management strategies, reflecting a departure from reliance on a singular virtualization platform.

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

I enjoy the pleasant Southern California weather and relieving stress by working out at the gym.

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

Industry trends emphasize investments in AI and hybrid cloud strategies. Organizations recognize the need for cohesive on-premises and public cloud systems for AI workloads. This convergence enables full cloud-native migration and AI adoption. Rising costs prompt investment in on-premises hardware like GPUs, emphasizing secure, private environments for computing and data processing.

What are the region-specific challenges when implementing new technologies in North America?

North America benefits from a robust and extensive power grid, which facilitates the scalability of technologies – a luxury not universally available in emerging parts of the world or in Europe, where challenges pertaining to power generation may hinder the deployment of power-intensive infrastructure, particularly those associated with AI.

Consequently, North America is experiencing a surge in data center construction and the migration of workloads to co-located facilities. This trend aligns with the focus above on AI and underscores its role as a catalyst for expanding centralized infrastructure, whether within hyper-scalers or in larger clusters of GPUs housed in centralized facilities.

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?

In the past year, my role in a rapidly expanding, venture-backed company has evolved significantly.

The transition from a small team to a larger one brought new governance and compliance responsibilities.

Navigating regulations in seven countries became challenging.

Introducing innovative products like HyperCloud and VM Squared with emphasized customer support is crucial for ongoing growth and expansion.

What advice would you offer somebody aspiring to obtain a C-level position in your industry?

Focus on honing key attributes: clarity, consistency, and adaptability. Balance excellence with agility, embracing imperfection when necessary.

Leadership varies by organization scale; adapt strategies accordingly. Even in very large firms, rapid idea validation remains invaluable.

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