From Huawei to Yahoo!

Today’s my last day at Huawei. I’m going to take a couple of weeks off (first in Massachusetts, visiting family and friends, and then in Napa Valley, unwinding), and then on September 13 I’ll be starting at Yahoo! I’ll be working in Shelton Shugar’s Cloud Computing group.
I’m leaving one amazing company to join another. I’ll be traveling a lot less, and I’ll be dealing with a different set of customers, but in each case the vision is the same. It’s about computing as a service, and the operational and business possibilities this this opens up. It’s not defined by technology (despite what you might think if you dropped in on the various online discussion groups about cloud computing). It’s enabled by key technologies (virtualization, data center networking), and it establishes an “innovation vector” for new technologies to enhance and exploit it. I’m not too concerned about whether we label it as IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, or some other “XaaS“: what’s important is the “aaS“, not the “X“.
Over the last 14 months I’ve enjoyed working with the team at Huawei, in Santa Clara, Shenzhen, and Xi’an. I’m sorry that I’m leaving you all before the first release of the system, but I’m confident that the strategy is solid. It’s gratifying to see how recent events have validated the decisions we made a year ago. And I’m really excited to be joining Yahoo! and working with a company that has such a presence in the industry, and really understands operations at massive scale.

One more trip to round out the year

After three visits in a row to China, the final trip this year will be to the UK. We’re heading over next Monday, December 7, for two weeks. We’ll be in Oxford for the first 6 days, visiting my mother and seeing friends. Lorna is being honored by the University of Reading on the 12th, when she will receive an honorary Ph.D. for her contributions to the history of science. I’m really looking forward to this.
The second week is going to be mostly work: meetings with a technology partner in Cambridge, and customer visits in the UK and Germany. We’re still working on the detailed logistics, but we’ll probably stay near Heathrow for a few days so that I can do the German leg as a day trip. After one more weekend in England, we’ll fly back to the US on Monday 21st.
(At some point, I’ll have to add up all of the miles I flew this year. It’s been… busy.)

Heading home

I’ve just finished up my two week visit to Huawei’s HQ in Shenzen with a delightful dinner with my opposite number on the HQ team. (Many thanks!) Tomorrow morning, bright and early (6:15am), I’ll be heading home: a taxi to the Shenzhen Shekou ferry terminal, ferry to Chek Lap Kok, a United 747-400 to SFO, an Alaska Airlines 737 to Seattle, and finally a taxi to Uwajimaya. Speaking of United, it looks as if I mistimed my flight: a piece about United on FlyerTalk included the following:

Beginning August 1, we’ll offer tasty new options on our fresh Choice Menu, all-new items in our popular snack boxes on shorter flights and complimentary alcoholic beverages in economy on Pacific flights.

Why wait? 😉
It’s been a really great visit. From a work perspective, it’s been enormously productive, and I’ve started to build a great web of connections here. Shenzhen is a fascinating city, both downtown and the area around the Huawei campus. The heat and humidity were less of a problem than I expected; I found that the coolest clothing combo was a light shirt worn open over a vented t-shirt. I don’t know if it was kosher, but it felt right. My biggest mistake: not bringing a couple of pairs of lightweight shorts.
And the food… Honestly, I didn’t have a single bad meal. Tonight I tried a couple of new items: fish roe, and frogs. (Lots of small bones in the frogs, but not a problem.) Mmmm.

Entr'acte

The dictionary defines an entr’acte as “an interval between two acts of a play or opera.” For me, it’s a relatively quiet few hours half way through the turmoil of my first month at Huawei. I’m sitting here in a cheesy tourist motel in Santa Barbara, having concluded a two week whirlwind tour of technology partners up and down the west coast of the US. I squeezed in a couple of days at home for the Fourth of July, and I’ve been conducting phone screens and arranging interviews in connection with staffing up my new team. (I’ve actually got two more phone calls coming up over the next couple of hours, which is why “quiet” is relative.)
This morning my colleagues and I went down to the Santa Barbara waterfront and enjoyed the pelicans wheeling overhead as the sun rose over the mountains and burned off the sea haze. That was wonderful. And this evening I’m having dinner with an old friend of my mother’s, a professor at UC Santa Barbara. I’m looking forward to discussing non-work topics!
Tomorrow it all picks up again. I’ll be on a puddle-jumper up to SFO, then on a United 747-400 to Hong Kong, where I’ll arrive on Sunday evening. Then I’ll be spending a couple of weeks at the Huawei HQ in Shenzhen, meeting more people and teams than I will be able to remember, and hopefully extracting a coherent picture from the whole experience.
What have I learned so far? I think the Number One thing is simply this: think bigger. At Amazon we were used to thinking big: customers, transactions, catalog items, suppliers. But telco is bigger. The future is exponential: more bandwidth (Huawei is a leader in LTE), more handset capacity (cycles, pixels), more interactions (classic “network effect” phenomena like social networks, more things interacting with other things). It’s multiplicative. And think globally. At Amazon the “world” was defined by the handful of countries in which we did business, most of which are suffering economically. But telco is REALLY global, with all of the opportunities and challenges that this brings.
This is going to be exciting.