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Wanted: Top to bottom transformation

Wanted: Top to bottom transformation

How IT organisations are using technology to deliver new business models and provide competitive edge are among highlights at VMworld in San Francisco.

It is imperative for businesses to deliver new experiences for end users and customers, says VMware CEO Paul Maritz. Businesses are having to rethink the experiences that their users want to see, and people don't want to see the same things that were done before. "We have to free up time and energy and focus to go after these experiences," said Maritz in his keynote at VMworld, the company's annual user forum and technology showcase held this week in San Francisco.

This means taking existing IT resources to make them more efficient and agile, and deliver what is important "from a competitive point of view".

At the same time, he calls on enterprises to prepare for moving from a PC dominated world to a mobile multiple device environment.

Doing so will involve a "top to bottom transformation" of IT that involves each layer of IT starting from infrastructure through the cloud, applications though apps and big data and access through mobility, says Maritz, who also officially turned over his role to Pat Gelsinger.

Gelsinger moves to VMware from parent company EMC where he was chief operating officer. Maritz is moving to EMC as chief strategist. The two had worked at Intel in the 1980s.

Gelsinger, who joined Maritz at the opening keynote, says some datacentres are like a "museum of IT past". It is time to move on, towards an entire datacentre delivered as a service, a software defined datacentre, says Gelsinger.

Paul Maritz (L) and Pat Gelsinger

Big data meets fast data

The implosion of data and its impact to the organisation is also tackled at the week long conference. Maritz says the move towards the "internet of things" - where everything is constantly attached to the internet - will deliver large amounts of data to the organisaiton.

"You just can't put your data in a centralised database and make heads or tails out of it," says Maritz.

Mike Stolz, senior staff architect at VMware, says organisations are in the data business, as "there isdata flying around everywhere".

Big data is about analysing historical data to find opportunities that enterprises didn't know they had. Fast data is taking advantage of opportunities before they disappear. When these two come together they can make positive changes to the business, and provide new business models, says Stolz.

If you kept on collecting the data, it is not going tell you anything until you figured out what question to ask. If you don't throw it away, you can ask questions about it later.

Fast data, on the other hand, is about capturing opportunities before they get away.

He says organisations that can figure out a way to make big data and fast data work together can find and create business models they did not even know about..

Stolz says the most important part is not to throw away the data. There is no opportunity to ever go back to ask new questions if you come up with a new idea, he says.

He cites the case of a company that conducted clinical trials and saved all their data until they find cheap enough storage to store their data and looked at it. They asked all kinds of questions and did not get anything useful out of it until they stumbled on something that was totally unexpected. Some of the doctors in the clinical trials almost always got good results and some of the doctors that participated never got good results. This meant they might not have been following the rules of the trial.

They were able to actually in real time know who these doctors are and excluded them from participating in the trials. "They choose doctors that were not outliers because outliers don't help a clinical trial very much," says Stolz.

Another example is a digital media advertising company that allows clients to purchase advertising in all digital media in the world. "That is a real big data problem," he says. "They let you run analysis that they have provided on what kind of hit rate you might expect from your advertising if you go with this kind of an approach."

He says this is also a "fast data" problem because people are not going to wait around to make that decision. "Some of them are making those decisions in real time."

The key takeaway for CIOs? "Think outside the box is probably the most important one," says Stolz. "The data is not going to tell you anything unless you ask the right questions. You just have to keep on thinking of new questions to ask. If you keep doing that you will eventually stumble onto something."

Divina Paredes attended VMworld 2012 in San Francisco as a guest of VMware.

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