Business model

Big Changes Ahead for Cloud Business Model, CTO Predicts

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Enterprise blockchain may still be in experimental mode, but it could soon change the way applications and systems are designed, moving from an architecture maintained by individual organizations to architectures in which applications and data are shared and secured across multiple entities – in essence, a form of truly decentralized computing.

There are many cloud service providers, but even more enterprise data centers. Do all of these data centers – with countless amounts of underutilized computing power – represent an untapped reservoir of cloud computing power that could flatten the cloud ecosystem?

This is the word of Kit Colbert, Chief Technology Officer of VMware, who sees a much more decentralized future than currently. I recently had the opportunity to sit down with Colbert at VMware’s recent Explore conference in San Francisco last week, where he outlined the factors that open up enterprise computing.

Also: VMware Seeks to Meet Growing APAC Needs for Multi-Cloud Management

One emerging scenario is applications built around blockchain or distributed ledger technologies, with their ability to enable trust between multiple participants, Colbert said. “The enterprise blockchain is very well aligned with where we are going,” he said.

Today, the focus is on distributed applications that are built and run with cloud-native or Kubernetes-based building blocks. However, the momentum is now moving away from distributed and build towards decentralized environments, he pointed out. Distributed architectures are supported by a single entity, but decentralized architectures are supported across multiple organizations.


Image: Joe McKendrick

While both architectures support multiple application instances and a shared database, “the big difference is that in a decentralized architecture, different companies will operate some of these instances, instead of being operated by a single organization” , he explained.

That means these organizations “probably won’t fully trust each other,” Colbert continued. “That’s where blockchain comes in, to support this kind of use case.”

While blockchain-based decentralized systems still make up a small fraction of VMware’s offerings, Colbert said he expects that to grow as the technology develops.

Cloud computing itself is a mixed bag and will remain so. While public cloud computing is a big part of the future for many IT plans, there’s still a place for on-premises environments, Colbert said.

“Even if a business is born in the cloud or is migrating to the cloud, we see many cases where it moves things around. Often you find that for cost, compliance, security, locality, or sovereignty reasons, you might want to keep things on-premises Putting everything in the public cloud is not the right way to go, keeping everything on-premises is not the right way to go. to be smart about this is to say, ‘OK, what are the application requirements, and where best to run to meet all of those requirements?’”

Also: Nvidia, Dell and VMware Add AI and Zero-Trust Security into the Data Center Package

From a data center perspective, technologies are now in place to support grid-like cloud resources, using not only cloud provider resources, but also private data center shared capabilities offered on an open spot market – a sort of Airbnb of computing capacity. This includes the ability “to run a virtual machine that can be protected from administrator access,” Colbert said. “We can enforce this cryptographically, which we couldn’t do a few years ago, thanks to core processor changes.”

VMware has already piloted a “cloud exchange” in which unused capacity in corporate data centers could be sold on an open market. The project was a learning experience for the company and helped identify potential issues, Colbert said.

Conducted among VMware’s cloud provider and platform partners, the main issue encountered during the pilot was security – the movement of data to unknown locations. “We cannot write unencrypted data to a hard drive belonging to another customer,” Colbert said. “It’s a red line – we need to have encryption. We also need to have a way to prevent the operator from accessing the VM or its data, either at runtime or at rest .”

Also: The Best Encryption Software: Protect Your Data

Ensuring security also introduces “liability issues for customer operators,” he continued. “They won’t want to sign indemnification clauses, and a whole bunch of legal stuff and stuff that we might get caught up on as well.”

Colbert also spoke about the changing role of his profession, chief technology officer, which often overlaps with chief information officer and chief digital officer. “CTO is one of the least well-defined roles in the industry,” he said. “It can be a VP of Engineering, a super sales engineer, an outgoing type person, an evangelist, or a product manager…or you can be more of an individual contributor, more like an influencer, a type architect.”

Colbert oversees innovation, ESG, and core platforms and services that support the provider’s business units. “In addition, I provide the overall technical strategy for the company: ‘Here is where we as a company should go, and here are the big things we should be doing as a company.'”