Raghu Raghuram, CEO, VMware, shared insights on the company’s strategic direction during a conversation with Dataquest at the VMware Explore 2023 Singapore. He highlighted VMware’s commitment to growth through its innovative cloud smart and generative AI offerings. With a strong emphasis on helping customers navigate the evolving landscape of technology and data, VMware aims to provide valuable solutions that align with the changing needs of businesses worldwide. Raghuram’s vision underscores VMware’s dedication to driving progress and enabling organizations to harness the power of cloud and AI technologies for their benefit.
[Excerpts from the interview]
DQ: The pandemic led to an increase in digitisation, which in turn encouraged cloud adoption. Can you provide an overview of the current state of the cloud market? Has it declined? What do you foresee in the post-pandemic era?
Raghu Raghuram: I won’t claim that cloud adoption has declined; it’s still on the rise, although the growth rate has slowed down somewhat. There are a few key points to consider. Firstly, we are in the midst of a long-term shift towards cloud architectures that spans decades. Secondly, customers have paused to assess their current practices and identify areas for improvement. What they’ve come to realize is that a one-size-fits-all approach doesn’t work for the public cloud journey.
This marks a transition from the initial ‘cloud-first’ approach of the first decade to what we now call ‘cloud-smart.’ In this phase, businesses carefully determine which applications should remain on-premises, which should migrate to the cloud, and so forth. Customers have become more informed about how to strategically embrace the cloud, and this is the trend we’re witnessing today.
DQ: VMware has been a key player in the virtualization and cloud space. What specific trends and opportunities have you observed in the Indian cloud market that are driving VMware’s strategy?
Raghu Raghuram: In India, what we’re observing closely resembles trends seen elsewhere in the world. Firstly, customers here are at various stages of their digitalization journey, seeking assistance in building new applications and modernizing existing ones. Notably, our Tanzu and Spring portfolios have garnered significant interest.
Secondly, there’s a strong inclination toward modernizing existing cloud infrastructure, aiming to align it more closely with the functionalities of a public cloud. Concurrently, there’s a growing emphasis on migrating applications to the cloud using our technology. The post-pandemic era has solidified the presence of a hybrid workforce and the enduring adoption of SaaS applications. As a result, customers are actively seeking solutions to enhance employee productivity in this evolving landscape.
Furthermore, we’re witnessing the deployment of edge and telco 5G technologies, with prominent players entering the scene. This has piqued considerable interest. While I haven’t visited India recently, I’m confident that our private AI solution will also garner significant attention in this tech-savvy market.
DQ: Can you elaborate on how the convergence of generative AI and multi-cloud is shaping the next wave of business innovation? What opportunities does this convergence present to organizations?
Raghu Raghuram: Indeed, the potential of generative AI extends its reach to virtually every facet of a modern enterprise, particularly in knowledge work. Whether you have software developers or marketing teams, it holds immense value. It’s a transformative force for individuals engaged in generating knowledge, content, and documents within your organization, spanning areas like legal and finance.
Generative AI has the capacity to revolutionize every operational aspect of a company. However, it’s important to note that this transformation relies heavily on data. For many companies, a substantial portion of their data remains on-premises, while newer data resides in the cloud. As a result, we anticipate that generative AI will further drive the adoption of multi-cloud solutions, ushering in a new era.
DQ: How does VMware plan to address the unique challenges and requirements of the various cloud markets, such as data localization and regulatory compliance?
Raghu Raghuram: Yes, that has always been a strength of our solutions: the ability to empower customers to adhere to local regulations, such as GDPR or HIPAA for health information in the US, among others. This capability remains steadfast.
Furthermore, we’ve seen the emergence of numerous service providers worldwide that have established what the industry terms ‘Sovereign clouds.’ These clouds not only adhere to the data protection laws of their respective countries but are also operated by citizens of those nations. Consequently, data doesn’t cross national borders. This technological empowerment greatly facilitates companies in complying with these regulations. These are some of the ways through which we facilitate compliance with these laws.
DQ: Collaboration with industry leaders is often key to advancing technology adoption. What partnerships or collaborations is VMware aiming at to further advance the adoption of generative AI and multi-cloud solutions?How does VMware plan to expand its reach and support more businesses, including smaller enterprises, in their cloud adoption journeys?
Raghu Raghuram: Our core technology partnerships are global, and Nvidia’s Jensen Huang recently visited India as a global partner for our Private AI Foundation solution. We intend to bring this solution to market with the assistance of Global System Integrators (GSIs). Notably, both Indian and global GSIs have a significant presence in India, and we’ll collaborate closely with them. Moreover, there’s a growing software ecosystem in India eager to develop applications around this technology.
Lastly, there’s substantial innovation taking place in the open-source ecosystem, which transcends geographical boundaries. As for reaching smaller enterprises with these offerings, while there may not be an immediate plan in place, we believe that over time, these solutions will prove to be universally valuable.
DQ: What advice or recommendations do you have for organizations looking to stay competitive, agile and innovative in a landscape where generative AI and multi-cloud solutions are becoming increasingly essential?
Raghu Raghuram: I believe what you’re alluding to encompasses two crucial aspects. Firstly, it’s about acknowledging the rapid pace of change inherent in our industry. This pertains not only to technology adoption but also to the mindset and organizational culture. Regardless of whether we’re discussing topics like cloud or AI, this mindset shift is fundamental.
Secondly, I would advocate for fostering a culture of experimentation. For instance, comprehending the business benefits of generative AI applications requires a willingness to conduct experiments. By assessing the outcomes of these experiments, you gain insights into how extensively to implement these innovations and their significance. Embracing a mindset change, cultivating a culture of experimentation and continuous learning, and fostering a growth mindset are imperative in today’s landscape.