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VMware CEO goes back in time

Pat Gelsinger is the CEO of VMware Inc.

SAN FRANCISCO – Pat Gelsinger, the CEO of VMware, during his keynote address asked the 4,000 channel partners in attendance to take a trip back in time. Back to 1989 in fact.

Gelsinger maybe one of a few executives qualified in the IT industry to go down memory lane because he was actually there. He was introduced at Partner Exchange as the father of the father of the X86 architecture. Gelsinger was one of the top Intel engineers in 1989. “1989 was a period of massive changes that come back today,” he said.

Back in 1989 the world was facing challenges such as Apartheid, the uprising in China’s Tiananmen Square, a massive earthquake (seven on the Richter scale) rocked the World Series, and the Berlin Wall came down.

In the world of computing, it was a tectonic period as well. Gelsinger recounted the enormous shifts that occurred. For example, mini-computer pioneer Digital Equipment Corp. was at its peak in the marketplace as the No. 2 IT company on the planet. “DEC was at the top of their game. And, in 1989 they planted the seeds of their own destruction. DEC CEO Ken Olsen said the PC will fall flat on its face in business,” he said.

Gelsinger added that the world today is entering the 3rd era of IT. The first was the mainframe era, which by the way will be celebrating 50 years in 2014. And, back in 1989 the second era of IT was born. According to Gelsinger, that was the client server era, where databases became the centre of technology. “The combination of the two fills today’s data centre,” he said.

DEC was slow to the client server era, Gelsinger said. From 1990 to 1995 DEC lost money and in 1998 the company was sold to Compaq.

The third era of IT is Mobile Cloud. “The mobile cloud era is a transformational era that changes consumer and enterprise IT. This is the most disruptive of the three eras. And, CIOs have to operate it as-a-service and implement it at the rate of speed of business,” he added.

“2014 can be the same as 1989 and it will all be about software-defined enterprise. The question is who will you hitch your wagon to?” Gelsinger said.

Last year IT budgets were mainly flat only up two per cent. In that environment, Gelsinger said there was investment in the mobile cloud. “In a fundamentally flat to declining market virtualization can still liberate resources to help build a foundation for the future. Virtualization continues to help them solve those budget challenges and get them into the mobile cloud era,” he said.

Gelsinger admitted to the channel partners that this mobile cloud strategy will be hard because it requires solution providers to learn a second DNA.

Cloud services is growing at 40 per cent CAGR and the rest of IT is growing at two per cent. “You’ll need to learn how to deliver services. We all need to become world class in delivering cloud services. This is a huge challenge and a huge opportunity for us.”