VMware CEO: Time to build “our second DNA”

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at VMworld

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger

Pat Gelsinger has seen it before. The VMware CEO describes his previous employer, Intel, as having “two DNAs” – designing microchips, and manufacturing microchips. The two are very closely related, but extremely different in execution.

And while his company has been extremely successful with its first DNA, implementing virtualization software in the data centre, Gelsinger told attendees of VMware’s Partner Exchange event in San Francisco that it was time to build up a second DNA – one where services are at the forefront.

“We need to become world class at delivering cloud services,” Gelsinger told partners.

In many ways, it was a case of preaching to the choir – most of the company’s partners are delivering services around its offerings. But it’s part of a call to arms for VMware, and for its chief executive himself. Gelsinger described the current times as the most “dramatic tectonic shifts in the technology since the dawn of the client/server days, with the emergence of the mobile/cloud era. It’s an uncomfortable place, centered by software, for a self-proclaimed “silicon and hardware guy.”

“Software guys are undisciplined lunatics, but today, I stand here it’s all about software. And it is,” he said.

The primacy of software is because it’s “what’s right for the customer,” in Gelsinger’s estimation, and he says that is his main guidance for the business, doing what’s best for the customer “even when it’s hard as a business, or on margins.” His second guiding principle: “Do what’s right for the ecosystem.”

While sticking to VMware’s three main strategic markets from last year: the software-defined data centre; hybrid cloud; and end user computing, Gelsinger identified new priorities within those areas.

In the first category, the evolution of VMware’s traditional stronghold of data center compute virtualization into a broader message with storage and networking virtualization, Gelsinger told partners they have to collectively “put the easy button on the software-defined data centre” this year.

“The sale is easy, the implementation is hard. And we have to get to volume execution this year,” he said.

That’s because he feels VMware has to win a battle when it comes to the architecture of future networks in the short term. Winning it – getting its NSX network virtualization offering in the core of the next generation of data centre networks – sets up VMware to repeat its impressive dominance of the computing virtualization space into its next frontier.

“We have to deliver on the software-defined data centre vision in the face of those arguing for the past,” Gelsinger said. “We must win the battle in network architecture this year.”

On the cloud front, Gelsinger urged partners to help establish the company’s vCloud Hybrid Services (vCHS) technology as “the hybrid cloud platform.” The incentive to do is a cloud services marketing growing at a 40 per cent compounded annual growth rate.

“This is where the puck is going, and wen need to become good in this category for our customers as well,” Gelsinger told partners.

While end user computing remains a comparatively small third part of the company’s play, but made some fairly high-profile news at PEX, where VMware was joined by Cesar Sengupta, vice president of Google’s Chrome division, to announce a deal that will see VMware’s Horizon View desktop virtualization software made available for Chromebooks. By making enterprise-friendy Windows applications available on Chromebooks, Google hopes to continue the momentum it has gained in with Chromebooks in business in recent quarters.

“We’re seeing a massive change. Businesses are asking themselves if they want to live the same way they’ve lived for the last 30 years, or if they should embrace the cloud,” Sengupta said. “With view, you take ownership of that world, and help them move away from XP. It’s a fantastic opportunity.”