What topics have you brought to the table at XPO?
I did a presentation around ‘Why anything? Why now? Why Dell Technologies?’ Instead of presenting products and outcomes it was highlighting that people are at a place right now where in order to transform they need to do a lot with their estate; both their existing estate and their legacy estate. I talked about application mapping, understanding what those applications are and preparing for them to re-platformed, re-engineered, moved to the cloud or indeed retired. When you start at the particular point, it helps you understand the type of architecture you want, or more importantly the type of cloud architecture that would be best suited for the types of services and applications you’re running.
What’s the most exciting thing that’s happening at the moment, either with Dell Technologies or across the market?
Two things. I think you have classic consolidation; doing what you’re doing with less, reducing the size of the datacentre and physical architecture. But more importantly the impact on the operational side of the business. You can’t save your way to success, you have to be better at what you’re doing.
Dell Technologies as a combination of companies – Dell, Dell EMC, Pivotal and VMware – has enabled companies to do two things. First, is to accelerate their consolidation exercise so that they can get a handle on what they’re doing. This enables companies to free up the funds to then invest in the new platforms that enable them to builds the new applications, while ensuring they have a common operating model or a consistency model. That includes consistency of infrastructure, management and application deployment.
What are the main customer challenges you are seeing?
The main challenge is evolving the existing estate. Things like Windows 10. When we ask people how is their Windows 10 is going, by and large the answer won’t be great. It will be a work in progress. One of the challenges customers have is legacy applications that aren’t supported by Windows 10. In order to roll-out Windows 10 they are now faced with having to with rehouse all their applications into a format that is supported. It can lead to great illusions of building things like AI and Machine Learning, and all these great things that can have “conversations”, but in the meantime you have thousands of members of staff who all need windows 10 but can’t get access to their applications.
So sometimes life gets in the way of transformation.
What is meant by cloud repatriation and does it mean the cloud is being abandoned?
The cloud is not a place. So “coming out of cloud” is not the conversation. The challenge is that people put an application in the cloud or data in the cloud and find that the responsiveness and need of the business aren’t being supported. Because cloud is an operating model, which is about operational excellence; the ability to scale with reliability and availability, it means you have to run your applications in different places. For example, you might have an application that suits an on-premise model, one that one runs SQL and is better in Azure, a test and dev environment that you want to run in AWS or an analytics platform that you want to run in google. The challenge you have as a business is that they are all vertical models with different management levels.
Repatriation basically means moving a workload from one place to one that is better suited. And you want to be able to change that application or datastore quickly without tech refreshing and huge amounts of professional services. It’s about quick, easy, agile application development mobility.
In three years’ time where do you think the conversations will be headed?
The question is really ‘how is this thing evolving?’ Before I say what this looks like in three years, let’s first look back 18 months ago. At that time, you couldn’t run a VM workload in an AWS, Azure or google cloud and you couldn’t support Oracle in a VM. None of these things were available and now, just 18 months later, they are all available. If you made a decision 18 months ago, based on the premise that they were individual clouds that do their own thing, you might make a different decision today with the knowledge that if you own the control mechanism, you can use individual clouds for different uses.
So where are we going to be in three years time? I think that model is going to get simpler. The amount of components you need to buy to make something work will become less and less. I think we’ll see the rise of appliances, where you buy an appliance and it will have the application, network, compute and server built into it. You can do that today with hyperconverged, but I think that model will get stronger.
What is your feedback on XPO?
Lee Dilworth, VMWare
The venue is fantastic; Lord’s, the home of cricket. Well Done on choosing here. The participants are very engaged. It’s always interesting with events to see if people just want to take a day out of the office or if they are genuinely interested.
What’s been fascinating for me is that when I asked attendees in my session ‘are you running your VM in an AWS cloud?’ they said no, they didn’t know they could do that. However, after the session they’ve been to the VMware stand and demo zone and the VMware engineer Lee has been showing them how to do just that.
If I’ve done nothing else, I’ve got a couple of customers to go back to their office and do something they can do but didn’t know they could do.