At VMworld 2016, we spoke with customers about how they are supporting digital business transformation (view our video interview below). Senior IT leaders, all describe a challenging but exciting multi-year journey, and all agree that technology is ever-more critical to business innovation, agility, and resilience. And they are embracing a customer-first approach. For end customers and employees alike, they want to make life and work easier, more convenient, more productive, and more fruitful.
As VMware CIO, Bask Iyer gets to assume the role of “customer number one” for VMware products. “What’s nice is when CIOs come and talk to me. I can just say, here’s a use case that we do, and I don’t have to necessarily go into how wonderful it is. I think ‘customer number one’ gives you that credibility with other customers.”
Iyer also represents VMware customers and meets with them on a regular basis. He’s often asked for his take on key enterprise technologies. Top of mind for Iyer in 2017 are Internet of Things (IoT), cloud, and mobile.
Bringing the Right Elements to the IoT Party
“I’m hearing a lot more about Internet of Things these days,” says Iyer, who was previously the general manager of IoT for VMware. At executive briefings and conferences he attends, business and IT leaders invariably ask him, “What’s your strategy for IoT? What should we do?”
Iyer advises CIOs to get involved in IoT efforts. “Don’t be too skeptical about IoT,” he says. “I tell CIOs to get plugged in because this is happening. If you stay out of the limelight for too long, folks are going to implement what they want to do without you.”
Iyer speaks from experience. “It’s happened for us in mobile,” he says. “We didn’t imagine a world of BYOD. Then people started bringing their own phones and refused to use the phones that the company gave them. Now you have to come up with a technology and a strategy to try to get control over that, so what I tell folks is IoT is in very much that stage.”
As Iyer sees it, IoT presents a real opportunity to generate more revenue for a company, and IT needs to be part of that. “You don’t want to be in a back office waiting for somebody to say, ‘Get it working,’” Iyer says. “If you want to be invited to the party, you have to take a bottle of wine.” What IT brings to the party is the security piece and a vision of how to connect IoT elements in an architecturally correct way.
Forecast for Cloud Computing: Sunny
Iyer believes cloud will continue to be an imperative in 2017. “People always ask me this question: ‘Is it private cloud, is it hybrid cloud, is it public cloud?’ and so on,” he says. “What I tell them is, you don’t really know. You don’t really know what your business needs are going to be tomorrow.”
For that reason, Iyer advises companies to keep their cloud options open. “You need to run a good private cloud that is automated and runs efficiently,” he says. “You also need bridges to the public clouds. And you want to be able to move your workload from private to public, public to hybrid, and public back into private.”
Another key challenge will be integrating one application with another—for example, taking data from an enterprise resource planning system to use in a customer service system. “Even when I had all the systems under my control, and in my data center, it was difficult. Now it’s across multiple clouds,” Iyer says. “It’s seven o’clock. Do you know where your app is? Do you know how much you’re spending on them? Do you know who owns them? Do you know the security on them?” Like any good technology, cloud provides many options, but enterprises need efficient ways of managing a multi-cloud environment.
Continued Focus in Mobility and Security
Iyer sees the need for advancing innovation in enterprise mobility. “We have a long way to go in mobile,” he says. “There are very few companies who have really implemented mission-critical mobile applications that people want to use. Take your personal phone. There are critical applications you can’t live without. You don’t have similar applications on the enterprise side.”
Moreover, security remains paramount. “It’s still important, and it’ll be important for a long time for us. As we introduce more and more technology, and we put more and more information on our company assets on computerization, security’s top of mind for people.”
Iyer looks forward to what 2017 will bring. “It’s exciting,” he says. “It’s all innovation happening. Every cloud vendor is innovating, including VMware, and every mobile vendor is innovating, so we have a lot more mileage to get out of that.”
Iyer is also excited that, as customer number one, he is able to communicate CIO customers’ pain points to VMware’s executive staff and R&D organization. “It’s a lot better to get feedback from customers early on, peer to peer, and then work with R&D to improve it,” he says. “It’s a very good partnership that really improves product quality and bodes well for a year of innovation and progress.”
Get Iyer’s take on the role of private and public clouds in the enterprise:
And learn what it means for IT to be Customer Number One:
1. Forrester. “Predictions 2017: Security And Skills Will Temper Growth Of IoT.” November 2, 2016, https://www.forrester.com/report/Predictions+2017+Security+And+Skills+Will+Temper+Growth+Of+IoT/-/E-RES136255