Many of you reading this have probably been wondering where the blog posts have been. I’ve been silent for a long time now and so much has been going on worth writing about. The fact is that I transitioned over to be the global cloud architect for VMware starting on January 1 this year. At first I thought this was a good move since cloud hasn’t taken off, it’s immature, and everyone is trying to figure it out and will be waiting for a year before doing anything with it. I thought this is great because I’ll get to stay home with the family some more and finally have time for other things in life. Boy was I wrong!
For the first month on the job I read a lot and talked to a lot of people to figure out what cloud is, how people are defining it, if it’s even important, and who the players are. It took a while to come up to speed but I can now say that I have a PhD in all things cloud. Around Feb 1 I started going out and talking to customers about VMware’s cloud vision, our roadmap, and asking questions about what the customer’s vision of cloud was and what they’d like to do with it. I’ve spoken to just over 200 enterprise customers to date and about 60 different service providers on cloud related topics. Below are my findings in no particular order. I think after reading you’ll see why I’m getting my butt kicked.
1) Cloud means 1,000 different things to 1,000 different people. Even inside of a company cloud means different things to different people. For some it’s just hosting VMs. For others it’s hosted desktops. For others it’s something like VMware Lab Manager. That’s the first thing you need to find out is what are you trying to do with cloud. Once you get a common definition established you can probably service that need with stuff that exists and is known today.
2) Everyone wants cloud today. Actually they want it yesterday. I though my conversations would go something like I show them the vision and they say that’s nice but we’re waiting a while. It’s just the opposite. We share the vision and it aligns with the customer’s vision and direction and they want it NOW. So many meetings end with the CTO asking what he/she needs to buy and essentially handing over a blank check. I haven’t had this much fun since the early days of VMware.
3) No one trusts external clouds and yet everyone wants to use them. There are major trust factors to the external cloud for enterprise customers. They usually center around compliance issues (HIPAA, PCI, FDA, etc) more than straight security concerns. Of course the business need is so large for cloud that people are overlooking these concerns and just doing it anyways. Take a project that I was just involved with where the customer needed to do some processing on large datasets for a couple of months. This would involve the need to turn up 1,800 servers. The customer isn’t going to buy 1,800 servers for a few reasons (no space, acquisition time, and they’ll never need them again). This is just one of the many use cases for cloud.
4) Absolutely everyone is ignorant on cloud. Really there are only about 20 people in the world right now that truly “get it”. Well, maybe more than that but not many more. Some people pretend they know which actually works pretty well. Cloud is at a stage right now that you can pretty much make up a story and as long as you talk to it with conviction people will listen and believe you. That’s also the danger right now. There’s a lot of marketing stuff, hypothetical stuff from academia, and all of these “standards” bodies starting up that it makes understanding cloud and cutting through the BS that much more difficult.
All of this leads me to the conclusion. I need to blog more. I need to share all of the details on what’s going on not only at VMware but with customers and service providers and standards and everything in between. I have a new mission in life and that’s to provide an inside look at what’s going on with cloud from the perspective of an engineer that’s helping enterprises and service providers build clouds on a daily basis. I guess I just need to cut out some of the 4 hours of sleep I’ve been getting in order to do all of this.
There’s a fair warning to all of this. Cloud is in flux. Standards don’t really exist. Everyone is labeling everything from toaster ovens to BMWs as “cloud enabled”. The information I share can and will change. Some of it will become obsolete. Some of it may seem very scary like no one has their act together. That’s just the nature of cloud at the moment. Everyone in the industry is stumbling through this together. In the end it’s all going to be worth it. For now though sit back, keep reading the posts, and prepare to get your butt kicked by the cloud.