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Commentary: VMworld and Cloud Adoption in Enterprises

Cloud is popular with start-ups but benefits to enterprises are still not being leveraged

Having never attended VMworld before, I shared my travel plans with a friend who works with web platforms in a Fortune 50 company.  A web platform in any organization has big possibilities of leveraging cloud technology.   He commented: “Now VMware is a real cloud company.”  As a result of this comment, I went to VMworld with increased expectations from VMware’s cloud marketing message that obviously resonates with enterprise customers.

Despite all the efforts made to market cloud technology, enterprise adoption of cloud solutions is lagging overall. While there are several areas where cloud computing has made great strides, especially in start-ups and web based companies, there are challenges in enterprises especially at Fortune 1000 companies, to start meaningful adoption of the technology.

Steps to cloud adoption by the enterprises are different - often with varying results. Some choose to optimize current applications with basic steps, resulting in minimal benefits. A few others transform the entire portfolio with a complete architecture overhaul and build business agility as a result.  Organizations that accelerate cloud adoption and differentiate themselves from competitors by leveraging IT in the most optimum manner are likely to have better business outcomes.

There are several areas in the software-as-a-service (SaaS) domain in business areas like Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Human Resources (HR) where enterprise clouds have succeeded.  There are also abundant opportunities for enterprises to tap into the power of cloud technology to innovate and deliver significant value to meet dynamic business requirements by building dynamic infrastructure.

However, a number of organizations face significant obstacles in cloud adoption because of pushback from IT staff not used to making transformational changes. Enterprise IT is faced with marketing messages that are hard to comprehend and it is urgent that these messages demonstrate the real value of cloud in practical business terms.

The VMworld analyst presentations were very useful to understand each of VMware’s product portfolios and their upgrade roadmap.  The whole concept of the company’s Software Defined Data Center strategy was an interesting concept that built and extended on the Software Defined Networking (SDN) term that is increasingly popular.  Enhanced by the recent announcements of its Nicira acquisition, VMware has a strong end-to-end portfolio that makes their presence felt across the data center. What I felt was lacking was VMware’s complete cloud strategy in a single slide.  While VMware’s cloud product portfolio is strong, it needs to be elaborated on in a way that is simple for customers to understand.

In terms of easy to understand cloud computing message, I found the “day in the life” Virtual Desktop Infrastructure (VDI) demonstration at the VMworld keynote made its benefits very easy to understand. The video started with a user under a deadline to present to a customer also having to upgrade Windows XP to Windows 7.  That process was depicted as ridiculously simple.  Then the user destroyed the upgraded laptop by a dramatic fall and called the IT helpdesk.  The helpdesk allowed the user to access the image from his tablet and continue to his customer presentation.  On the way back from his customer visit, the user buys a Bring your Own Device (BYOD) Mac replacement for his broken laptop and the IT helpdesk promptly helps the user set it up with the same image he had before.

This demonstration was excellent in showing the value of a well-managed VDI environment in simple terms.  It enabled VMworld attendees to consider how VDI might deliver value to their business. VMware set the bar for other technology companies by crafting an easy to understand cloud computing marketing message.  If competing vendors follow a similar strategy, it may well accelerate cloud adoption in enterprises.

In order to enhance enterprises transform themselves with cloud computing technologies, I am conducting a Cloud BootCamp with the theme of “Enterprise Cloud Adoption” held at Cloud Expo at Santa Clara on November 5-8 2012.  Let me know if you have a compelling enterprise case study and are interested in sharing your story.

More Stories By Larry Carvalho

Larry Carvalho runs Robust Cloud LLC, an advisory services company helping various ecosystem players develop a strategy to take advantage of cloud computing. As the 2010-12 Instructor of Cloud Expo's popular Cloud Computing Bootcamp, he has already led the bootcamp in New York, Silicon Valley, and Prague, receiving strong positive feedback from attendees about the value gained at these events. Carvalho has facilitated all-day sessions at customer locations to set a clear roadmap and gain consensus among attendees on strategy and product direction. He has participated in multiple discussion panels focused on cloud computing trends at information technology events, and he has delivered all-day cloud computing training to customers in conjunction with CloudCamps. To date, his role has taken him to clients in three continents.

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