VMworld 2016: Transformational IT Begins with the Cloud

VMworld 2016 opened with a light show and the throbbing beats of an on-stage drummer. It wasn’t clear initially if this was the opening session at a major technology conference or an inspirational, self-improvement session. VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger quickly clarified – it would be both.

Gelsinger took the stage, asking the 23,000 attendees “Which way will you face in the future?” He continued on, explaining that we’re in the biggest period of technology disruption to date, which also means we’re in the greatest period of opportunity. In order to realize this, organizations must face forward and be willing to interrupt the technology status quo, seeking out alternatives that are more effective and efficient.

The number one Google search term today is “digital transformation” and Gelsinger suggests this is more than just a buzzword. There is no longer a division today between traditional and digital business – all business is digital, and it affects every aspects of an organization. Yet, according to IDC, only 20% of organizations today are leaders in digital transformation; i.e., they are able to create meaningful change to their business. What divides this 20% from the remaining 80%? According to Gelsinger, it’s two things: culture and technology strategy. And, not surprisingly, the driver toward effectively creating transformation is embracing a cloud foundation.

It’s not unexpected that Gelsinger attributes successful transformation to the cloud – after all his session was entitled “Competitive Advantage in the Multi-Cloud Era: Connecting People, Apps & Data to Propel Your Business Forward.” Furthermore, he also used the session to announce two new major initiatives at VMware: Cross-Cloud Architecture and Cross-Cloud Services. But it was the data to which he repeatedly pointed, emphasizing the increasing velocity of which workloads are moving to the cloud.

If we consider the cloud to be founded in 2006 (as Gelsinger does), we would have seen 29 million IT workloads globally. Of these, 2% were in the public cloud (mostly due to, according to Gelsinger) and 98% were in traditional IT infrastructures. Fast forward to 2011, when the global IT workloads rose to 80 million, with 7% in the public cloud, 6% in the private, and the bulk still remaining with traditional IT. And now? Today there are 160 million IT workloads: 15% in the public cloud, 12% private and 75% still managed traditionally. The trend is unmistakable – IT workloads are growing by leaps and bounds, and increasingly organizations are turning to the cloud to manage them.

So at this rate of growth, when will we see the public cloud and traditional IT manage workloads equally? According to the team at VMware, this will be in 2021 – specifically, June 29. They predict that by this date, 50% of workloads will be in the cloud, split nearly even between SaaS and IaaS, with the remaining workloads split between private clouds and traditional data centers. In other words, we have several years to prepare for this change -and a lot of work to do.

Another driver in all of this, according to Gelsinger, is the Internet of Things (IoT), which will come to affect every aspect of businesses today. Today there are 4.1 billion IoT devices, up from 1.2 billion in 2011. This is expected to rise to 18 billion by 2021 and before then, we’ll hit a critical moment in 2019, when IDC estimates we’ll have more machine-driven than human-driven devices. As IoT explodes, this means IT will have to manage more workloads than ever, and they’ll turn to the cloud to do so.

Of course, Gelsinger points out, this isn’t without challenges for IT. VMware recently asked organizations “Who is in charge of security?” and, not surprisingly, 90% of respondents said that IT was responsible. In other words, IT, which has less control than ever of devices, networks, and infrastructures, are responsible for everything. How can modern, transformational IT organizations reconcile this?

It all comes down, says Gelsinger, to freedom and control. Business users demand the freedom to choose the tools and processes by which they do their jobs. On the other hand, businesses must be able to ensure their security, not to mention their compliance with industry regulations, regional requirements, and federal laws. IT teams must have tools at hand that allow them to manage their workloads, and data, with the flexibility the business needs while at the same time meeting their obligations to secure and protect critical business assets.

This isn’t a surprise to us at Druva. It’s something we hear from our customers – they want to leverage the flexibility and cost savings of the cloud for their data protection workloads while ensuring they have complete visibility into their data for legal and compliance needs. Which way will you face in the future? For Druva customers, that direction is forward.