VMware CEO tells enterprises to become 'cloud-smart' to speed up pace of digital transformation

During the opening keynote of the VMware Explore Europe conference, the firm’s CEO shared his observations on how enterprise attitudes to cloud migrations are changing as IT leaders look to pick up the pace of their digital transformation projects

VMware CEO Raghu Raghuram claims enterprises are abandoning their “cloud-first” digital transformation strategies after running into a series of progress-blocking technology challenges that are making it impossible for them to move their IT off-premise as quickly as they envisioned.

Raghuram used the opening keynote of the virtualisation giant’s VMware Explore Europe partner and user conference to share his take on how enterprise attitudes around cloud migration projects are changing, as IT leaders grow frustrated with how long it is taking to digitally transform their organisations.

“It seems like yesterday, but it was more than a decade ago when we started our digital journeys by digitising the front office by creating the mobile applications that presented your digital identity to your consumers. And that was a fantastic success,” he said.

“[Following that], CEOs everywhere, said, ‘Hey, let’s go cloud-first. Let’s change everything and re-platform everything’, [and] now in the past two-to-three years, I’m being asked a very different question by CEOs. And the question now is, ‘Why is it taking so much time? Why can’t we go faster?’” 

He continued: “The great re-platforming [of enterprise IT] is going slower than expected. While the cloud has been a phenomenal success, [with] $420bn of spend, it’s still only 10% of enterprise IT spend. We’ve got a long way to go and we’ve got to go faster.”

There are several factors that are delaying the pace of digital transformation in the enterprise, he said, including a lack of developer skills, the “immense weight of existing enterprise brownfield applications” and a lack of consistency within teams about the technology tools they use.

“Across your organisation, different teams tend to do different things, use different clouds, so now you have very fragmented operations and security that is not only slowing you down, but is increasingly the risk in your organisation,” he added.

Based on survey feedback garnered from its users earlier in the year, Raghuram said enterprises are describing the state of their cloud migration plans as being in “chaos”, but that can be addressed by tweaking their approach.

And this involves adopting a “cloud smart” strategy, he continued, which states the application should determine the best environment to run it in. “We believe cloud smart is replacing cloud-first as the modern approach to digital transformation,” he said.

“The fundamental idea behind cloud smart is very simple – it is that the application determines the cloud strategy. The application determines the location. Depending upon the technical factors, the economic factors, the access to the data, sovereignty…any number of factors.

He added: “It should be about what does your application portfolio look like? What applications have to be cloud-native? How are they put together? How do we accelerate the path to production? How do we manage and secure all of these and connect all these? That really is the central story behind cloud smart.”

Raghuram hailed VMWare’s Cross-Cloud Services offering, which was introduced several years ago as a means of enabling firms to monitor and manage their usage of multiple cloud environments, as a foundational part of its cloud-smart offering for enterprises, before going on to outline how it can help enterprises overcome their digital transformation pain points.

“What we’re seeing is companies…can go from a scenario of disparate development teams, with their own tools and fragmentation to one where they can accelerate application development through a consistent software supply chain,” he said.

“Instead of having siloed cloud infrastructure that varies everywhere and has all sorts of consequences on cost, resiliency and security, you can have a consistent enterprise infrastructure and…your employees – instead of having a very fragmented app access experience, they can have a frictionless app access experience. These are the benefits of a cloud smart approach.”

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