In their ongoing and exclusive coverage of VMworld 2012, John Furrier and Dave Vellante spoke with new VMware CEO and keynote speaker, Pat Gelsinger. The newly appointed head (officially presiding September 1st) shares keys to innovation and disruption in the field as well as his thoughts on partnering with Paul Maritz, data infrastructure as it relates to converged infrastructure and what VMware needs to improve upon to fulfill its plans over the next 12 months.
Gelsinger explains that VMware will expand beyond its current offerings by focusing on virtualizing the data center and reaching out to the broadening community he refers to as “the networking guys, the security guys, the storage guys, the management guys, [and] the new application vendors.” He adds, “[part] of that is a great opportunity as well as a great responsibility to those community players and how we integrate collectively to bring about this next layer of fundamental innovation, agility and speed for the software data center of the future.”
Furrier inquires about Gelsinger’s relationship with the reclusive, yet brilliant, Paul Maritz, (soon to be) former VMware CEO. Gelsinger refers to Maritz as the “Michael Jordan of strategy,” given his informed analysis of technology trends. Gelsinger is excited for what the continuing partnership between EMC Chairman and CEO, Joe Tucci, and Paul Moritz will yield.
Discussing industry trends, Furrier cites a Joe Tucci comment: “The horizontal is getting shorter and the vertical is getting steeper” in terms of the time change in disruption. Explaining how VCE fits in with these changes, Gelsinger says: “We have two incredible assets, we have the whole vShield, VXLAN capability, which inside the VMware assets was already down the path of SDN. And now we have the Nicira assets…Job one for us is bringing those two together as the most complete offering for the SDN space.” VMware will allow partners like Cisco and Dell the ability to innovate with and around their technologies. Gelsinger says VMware will continue to invest in VCE and make it the “world class delivery vehicle for converged infrastructure.”
Furrier asks what insight Gelsinger has to share with emerging and established industry leaders on how the market is changing. Gelsinger notes that although there is the ability to generate extraordinary growth and valuation (with companies like Facebook and Google at billion dollar valuation), “how that all matures for social to become a sustained monetization model in the industry” still remains to be proven.
Furrier also inquires about what the Apple model suggests about industry opportunities. Furrier notes: “Apple has huge market value but single digit share, [and] huge profits. Apple has demonstrated that you can have a very strong hardware business and wrap around it.” Explaining what other companies can glean from Apple’s example, Gelsinger suggests Apple is not really a hardware company, but in the business of “user experience[s] that happen to be embodied in hardware and services.” As for his advice on learning from Apple, Gelsinger says that anyone in that space, such as DELL, Microsoft, HP, Lenovo should aggressively prioritize user experience.
Vellante inquires about the significance of VMware acquisitions for its future directions. Gelsinger, explains VMware will be an ecosystem friendly company and even when they integrate, VMware will always have open APIs that allow the industry to innovate on its own. Explaining that one can’t predict where “the next big thing” will come from, Gelsinger references what he calls “The golden triangle of innovation.” The three components include innovations that emerge organically inside the company (as with VXLAN), and those that occur in the university and startup communities.
Gelsinger agrees with Vellante that doing more with less to drive productivity is paramount. Gelsinger says, “We have to do a better job at VMware of taking advantage of Flash on the server side, the performance capabilities of that, the I/O gap and in-memory.” He adds, “the size of big data will forever drive these larger pools of scale out data on the one end…we are going to do a better job of enabling high performance in-memory qualities.” Gelsinger sees “emerging extremes” in which, there is a need for both high-performance in-memory and massive scale platform. Essentially, VMware aims to allow clients to operate on both of them in, essentially, real-time.
Furrier asks about the relationship between data infrastructure and the new converged infrastructure. Gelsinger says, “The idea of collapsing the boundaries between server, network and storage is still a very fundamental concept…A cloud scale version of converged infrastructure makes a lot of sense.” Yet, as software defined data centers are moving towards a homogeneous environment (one common software layer across a set of services that are embodied in converged infrastructure hardware), Vellante notes that historically, homogenous has meant that one does not get “best of breed.” Gelsinger responds, “The scale operation characteristics swamp the individual characteristics of best of breed and they become enabled through this layer. But, that hardware software boundary is always a point of innovation.” Gelsinger goes on to explain that hardware will continue to evolve to enhance virtualization, suggesting we can expect many more innovations in the virtualization layer.
Over the next 12 months, Gelsinger aims to make his transition smooth despite his admitted intimidation of entering a software position given his hardware background. Going forward, VMware will operate on the SDN, figure out storage and security virtualization strategies and, as always, prioritize user experience.