VMware’s Gelsinger: Hybrid is the endgame

Hybrid IT isn't a waypoint on the way to the cloud, it's the right long-term approach for enterprises, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger says ahead of VMworld.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at VMworld 2014.

VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger at VMworld 2014.

SAN FRANCISCO – In February, at the company’s Partner Exchange event here, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger told partners to expect “tectonic changes” in the industry as the result of the move to hybrid IT. Those who arrived early Sunday for the company’s Partner Day ahead of VMworld here this week may have gotten a feel of tectonic change courtesy of a 6.0 magnitude earthquake centered in the Napa Valley that made its presence felt all the way to downtown San Francisco. But, with little damage to the city itself, the show must go on, this time with Gelsinger telling partners that hybrid is not only where it’s at – it’s where it will stay.

“It’s no hybrid because of inertia. This isn’t a waypoint to the future. This is the future,” Gelsinger told 2,000-plus of the company’s partners assembled here. “This is the future because of cost, compliance, regulations, and SLAs. All of them demand this world of hybrid into the future as well.”

Gelsinger pointed out that while off-premise IT is growing at 25 per cent compared to four per cent for on-premise IT, the total revenue market attached to each segment tells the real tale, with $2 trillion per year spent on on-premise IT today, compared to $44 billion on off-premise. That too supports a hybrid style, Gelsinger suggested, allowing partners to have a high-profit high-growth area in public cloud, while the bulk of revenues come from on-premise and private cloud projects.

Finally, Gelsinger said that in the past, on-premise vs. off-premise boiled down to “safe, secure and compliant” pitted against “instant, elastic, and self-service.” A truly hybrid approach, he said, is the only way to move from a choice between the two, to the flexibility to balance based on an organizations own needs and regulatory requirements on a per workload basis.

He told partners that the company, and its channel, have to move more completely towards hybrid IT because the biggest risk facing VMware and its channel is “to perpetuate the status quo” in a time when “the brave will thrive.”

“At Intel, we had the concept of informed risk-taking,” Gelsinger told attendees. “Bravery in business is informed, calculated risk-taking decisions. But we must take risks.”

Gelsinger addressed the subject of the company’s public/hybrid cloud offering, last week rebranded from vCloud Hybrid Services to vCloud Air, the linchpin in the company’s efforts to make sure on-prem and off-prem can be “compatible extensions of each other.” For example, he said partners should be bundling on-premise infrastructure sales with vCloud-based services that accompany it – making a bunch of on-site virtual machines paired with off-site disaster recovery (a new vCloud Air service) the new “burger and fries” combo for enterprise IT.

The executive told partners that while vCloud Air is active today in data centres in the U.S., Europe, and Japan, the company will have 15 data centres operating vCloud Air online around the world by the end of the year, adding that the company has some 3,900 partners worldwide operating cloud offerings based on vCloud Air today, including vCloud-based data centres in more than a hundred countries worldwide, helping to solve the data sovereignty bugaboo that is frequently an inhibitor to public cloud growth internationally.

“That’s what differentiates us from all the other cloud providers in the world today. That’s what allows us to win against the much larger capital investments that people like Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are making. We get to aggregate a very broad ecosystem into the future,” Gelsinger said.