Q&A with Paul Strong: Part 1

March 6, 2015
Q&A with Paul Strong: Part 1

We recently caught up with Paul Strong, VP and Chief Technology Officer, Global Field, VMware, who will be keynoting at Cloud Expo Europe in London next week around Simplifying IT to Unleash Innovation. We captured some snippets about his address which you can read here. Make sure to attend Paul’s presentation on March 12 at 12 noon for the complete picture! Read on for an interview we conducted with Paul.

1. Your role is about connecting VMware R&D with customers and partners. Tell us a little more about this, and what your priorities are for this year?

I’m lucky enough to lead a great team, and to drive a number of VMware-wide initiatives focused on connecting R&D with our customers and partners. Having great connections with our customers and partners is critical to VMware’s success, for a couple of reasons.

First, the better we understand our customers and partners, the better and more relevant our products and solutions will be. By knowing and understanding our customers’ needs, both the ones they express, and the ones they are perhaps not yet aware of, we can make sure that we improve our products in ways that are the most meaningful to customers, and innovate to deliver products they will need.

Secondly, it is critical that we keep our customers well informed, so that they understand the technology we are developing and the context within which we are innovating. When customers invest in VMware technology, they are making a commitment– not just to today’s products but often to future products– and it’s important that they understand where we are going in the long run, so that they get the most value from our relationship.

Our priorities this year are very much around driving a more strategic conversation around the role of technology in business, driving engagement around particular segments (such as Telco) and high performance computing, where VMware isn’t always top of mind when thinking of a platform and making this scale– i.e. through programs like the CTO Ambassador Program.

2. At Cloud Expo, you’ll be presenting on ‘The Grand Challenge – Simplifying IT to Unleash Innovation’. For people planning to attend your session, what should they expect?

I always aim to deliver an interesting and thought provoking session, and ideally one that is a little entertaining too. I think that we are perhaps living in the most exciting time in IT, as so many assumptions that we have labored under for so long are being swept away. As I briefly touched on when referring to our priorities for the year, we really need to think much more about the intersection of technology and business. For most of my career we have tended to think of technology as a means of optimizing how we do things, often optimizing the ways we have always done things. We’ve seen technology as essentially a supporting function. What I think we are seeing now is that technology is being used to fundamentally change business, by allowing organizations to do things differently.

3. You are going to talk about how IT in large enterprises sits at a crisis point. Why is this?

Basically, the cloud computing paradigm has introduced an essential asymmetry into the business world. The small and nimble, with nothing to lose, now have access to essentially the same technology as the large leviathans with everything to lose. Technology – infrastructure, platforms and software –can be simply and easily acquired and consumed, at scale… with little capital. This means that agility is now at a premium. Enterprises need to be highly responsive to the changes occurring around them, or risk long term stagnation and irrelevance.

Technology is now being used to undermine assumptions that underpin many existing business models. Think Wikipedia versus Encyclopaedia Britannica, or Netflix versus Blockbuster! Ideally, existing enterprises would instigate these changes themselves. However, whether being reactive or disruptive, in order to do this, enterprises need their IT organization to be agile and dynamic. Yet this is far from what IT has been until recently. The enormous cost and complexity of building out infrastructure and services has resulted in typically static IT organizations and practices that are focused more on mitigating risk. But there is a solution to this – simplification.

To find out more, keep an eye out for our second blog post over the coming week. If you haven’t signed up yet for Cloud Expo Europe it’s not too late, so register for your tickets today.

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