Vikram Khatri – About Me

A well known expert in IBM DB2 pureScale / BLU Acceleration / dashDB / Spark technologies. An accomplished speaker who can put a compelling story around IBM technologies especially data warehouse appliances. A thought leader and trusted adviser to many IBM large enterprise customers.

Hi, I am Vikram Khatri

Born in a village near Dehradun. Early schooling in Muzaffar Nagar, Uttar Pradesh, India. Engineering from SVNIT, Surat, Gujarat and post graduate from IIT, Mumbai (Bombay). Worked 10 years in Govt. of India before relocating to US in 1998.

I did consulting work in IIS (now Ferragut) for 6 years in various technologies such as Oracle, DB2, Sybase, SQL Server and extensive coding in C/C++, Java and COBOL. The main work was migration of many systems from different platform / database / language to new platform / database and new language. The experience in IIS prepared me to manage cross-cultural team, coach and but still being player to develop and transition the whole process from in-house to production at customer sites. This incubation period of 6 years to assimilate lots of knowledge was like sponge sucking lots of water. IIS also prepared me as a Project Manager but I never liked to manage the people but work with them as the team player. I remain indebted to Shail and Sucheta Jain for the opportunity that they gave me at IIS.

Then, a turn came to join a start-up for a short period of 3 months before they ran out of money. I, then, called Barry Faust in IBM who I knew from the days of IIS and he immediately hired me within 2 weeks.

I did not know the job I was entering into in IBM. The excitement of joining the big blue was so much that I even did not ask the salary amount and it turned out to be much better than I expected.

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My work at IBM

IBM is one of the best company to work for. This company is full of bright people and it is a joy to work with some of the very best brain in the industry. My list of names of people is very long whom I consider very talented in IBM.

I will always be indebted to Barry Faust who hired me in IBM. He hired me during the time when their was a hiring freeze and he took just 2 weeks to get me on-board. I even did not know that I was going to technical sales and I will get bonus check in every quarters.

Barry gave me complete freedom in using my talents with customers to advance IBM products. Since 2004 in IBM, I learnt the latest technology on my own then trained the people and customers by making one of the best technical collaterals that customers used to get them started on IBM technologies. During the initial years, Burt Vialpando helped and coached me how best to present to customers. He oriented me for being the 100% positive and keeping customers at the center by giving them best in terms of technical knowledge, professional behaviour, courtesy and presenting best IBM values.

I have visited more than 1200 customers and delivered more than 800 face-to-face customer presentation, deep technical knowledge transfers and finally selling millions of dollars of IBM products. Customers can figure out very quickly if the person is just a talk-the-talk or can also do walk-the-walk.

Today, I am the brand ambassador of IBM to present some of best IBM technologies like pureScale, dashDB, high availability solutions, applications architecting and giving customers recommendations on various aspects of technologies.

Surprises of Life

The things that amaze me a lot.

When I think that the other person is stupid and will not know my deceit. Every human being thinks other to be a fool with some exceptions.

When I have thousands of eyes to see fault in others but not a single eye to see my own.

When I see the difference between when people preach something but do something else.

Someone famously said that “We only listen with an intent to reply.”

IBM, Learning and Future.

Working in IBM

I get opportunities to work with large number of enterprise customers. I also get to work with new upcoming exciting technologies. The databases and application coding are my specialities but I get to also work in AIX, POWER, Linux, Data Center management, Networking, IBM Flash Storage, and other IBM appliance solutions and low level technologies that glue things together.

Learning

IBM is the warehouse and incubator of many new cloud solutions. I have embraced cloud particularly Data Science Experience and machine learning. I view cloud a layer on top of existing technologies to build a car that assimilates all different pieces of complexities. The good thing is that the driver can now drive this car without the need of 100s of technicians.

Future

I feel myself very lucky that I took birth during the time in which we have seen the spectrum on technology that people have not seen in thousands of years. From punched tape machine to boot the 64 KB computer on which I wrote my first FORTRAN program to calculate area of an embankment using Simpson’s rule to the age of smartphone.

Productivity Killers

I have visited more than 1000 customers and it amazes me the factors that affect productivity of people.

In the name of the security, lots of unwanted controls are in place that kills productivity. The term “Security” scares people and this is a job security for people enforcing unwanted security. I have seen DBAs and Application Developers not having administrative privileges on their laptops. This all happens due to ignorance of C-level executives and so called managers.

I have seen in some organizations that it takes minimum 1 week to get a LUN provisioned. 1-2 weeks to punch a hole in the firewall for a port. Minimum 1 week to request for a guest wireless access. 1-2 week a system provisioned and 6-8 weeks to get a production server ready. Way too many unwanted machines running 24x7 and not a single person knowing why do they need them.

I have seen 2-3 managers asking for a status update very frequently from one very productive employee and making that person unproductive. When it comes to taking credit, many people will jump to grab it but when it comes to put the blame, 10 fingers will point to the poor productive employee. When a meeting can end in 10 minutes, people will schedule a meeting minimum for one hour.

The overuse of “Slack” is the productivity killer for many as they spend too much time educating managers and other non-productive employees. In 90% of the organizations I have visited, companies will buy millions of dollars of products but they can not spend $70 to buy a good terminal emulation software and hence employees end up using free “putty” – which is the standard software for many organizations.

Best Companies that are ahead of curve

I get the opportunity to meet and visit customers very regularly. Some companies are ahead of curve and the way they do things. But, the sad part is that they are less than 10%.

Very few companies are shining and they get maximum from their employees. I met one C-level executive of an insurance company and he told me that he keeps happy his employees for any software toys they need to get them productive. I met one CTO in one of the health services provider and he took initiative to shut down 3000 servers and consolidated them in couple big frames (of course IBM). He saved company the cost of electric power and staff that used to manage and maintain these prolific servers.

One company I visited : As soon as I signed-up at the desk, they gave me my badge with user id and password for the guest wireless without asking. They give brand new laptops to their best employees every year as opposed to 4 year cycle. Their meetings are designed not to last more than 30 minutes and they do not allow repeat meetings to be scheduled. In this organization, I have seen managers also doing the coding work and database administration. The managers are referee as well as team players.

Giving free snacks to employee is a myth. It becomes an entitlement for most of the employees with no return. I have seen couple of organizations that allow their teams to go out for a company paid lunch on attaining their targets. The laggard companies still provide sugary sodas to their employees free of cost. I am convinced that giving free stuff to employees is not an incentive. Some companies fool their employees by giving them empty certificates. The shining companies reward their best performers by cash incentives.

One company – I visited and had a chance to talk to their C-level executive after a successful PoC. They do not treat their employee as “resources” but their best human intellectuals. They spend time in making their customers happy and their web products as simple as possible. Their products are not cheap but their customer service is one of the best. They are not afraid of being ahead of the curve – they encourage and provide incentives to their employees in learning new technologies and showing them through a proof of concept.