Last week, Pat Gelsinger, CEO at VMware opened a can of worms with his comments at his company's partner confab in Las Vegas. Gelsinger is clearly concerned about enterprise computing workloads migrating to Amazon’s public cloud (AWS). Further, he states that those lost workloads are gone forever - "a workload goes to Amazon, you lose, and we have lost forever" and that "we want to own corporate workload." Gelsinger's comments gave rise to several posts, tweets and articles in the IT blogosphere, but what I found more interesting was the statement from VMware President and Chief Operating Officer Carl Eschenbach, "I look at this audience, and I look at VMware and the brand reputation we have in the enterprise, and I find it really hard to believe that we cannot collectively beat a company that sells books." Well Carl, you should be concerned because that measly bookseller is creating competitive advantage in IT faster than VMware and most every other IT vendor; and your predicament is exacerbated by the ossification of enterprise IT organizations which cannot adequately react to the needs of the business.
Amazon became the dominant bookseller by driving its costs down rapidly while providing a very convenient, automated book buying experience. Guess what? At AWS they're doing the same thing for computing - making it cheap and easy to consume. The fanatical AWS team is singularly focused on delivering needed solutions at the lowest possible cost that can be easily provisioned and managed by the user. Does this sound like the way IT vendors and enterprise IT organizations create and deliver new solutions that support the needs of their business users? Hardly. Vendors instead behave according to corporate edict, selling products and pushing services that don't create the best solution for the customer, while the enterprise IT organization remains comfortable in its cocoon of processes and standards. Is it any wonder that workloads migrate to AWS with or without IT approval?
So, will Amazon and its ilk win the enterprise workload war? No doubt that some percentage of corporate computing is appropriate for the public cloud and the mix will be determined over time by competitive markets - public cloud and enterprise IT are both viable. However, down the road, should enterprise IT be concerned that public clouds will completely dominate computing with traditional solutions shrinking into oblivion leaving CIOs with no more to do than cost accounting? They probably feel safe for now, but it's also clear that IT vendors and IT departments need to take heed of the cost, responsiveness (read automation), and maniacal focus at AWS lest that steamroller flattens them. Gelsinger and Eschenbach are half right -- it’s not time to throw out the enterprise data center, but it is time to throw out the traditional enterprise IT playbook. StackIQ can help.
Joe Markee, StackIQ, CEO