Editor's note: This article was originally published on our sister site, InformationWeek.
At the upcoming Interop Digital conference set for early October, VMware CTO and senior vice president Greg Lavender will draw upon his prior experiences with “innovating without breaking the place” for his keynote session. VMware is a provider of software for cloud, networking, and security and Lavender will lead a talk on “Innovation While Getting IT Done.”
Keeping abreast of emerging technology is part of his team’s focus, he says. That includes planning for medium to longer-term innovation, such as tracking what is happening in post-quantum cryptography. For example, if a quantum computer is developed that can crack cryptographic algorithms and protocols, Lavender’s team would act to ensure that products and customers are not compromised.
He sees other innovations such as edge computing gaining traction while talk of 6G is already happening before 5G has gone mainstream. Those advances raise questions about what may happen at the edge, with machine learning, AI, and Kubernetes. “How do you secure networking and grow these things at a huge scale?” Lavender asks.
The rush to innovate can be a concern, though he says organizations can succeed at transformation by convincing leadership that changing everything at the same time is risky. “You’ve got to invest in cybersecurity,” Lavender says. “You’ve got to invest in app modernization, app transformation, and you’ve got to invest in the evolution of the infrastructure—the question is, at what rate?”
Solid planning can lead to cost efficiencies, increased speed of delivery, increased security posture, and deliver business value faster, he says, if there is cohesive effort. “If the application teams are hostile towards the IT teams, and the IT teams are hostile towards the application teams, that’s where I see companies get stuck,” Lavender says. If organizations approach transformation collaboratively, with the app CIO and infrastructure CTO working hand-in-hand to drive business value with support from the CFO and CEO, a system of trust and execution can be established, he says.
There may be a desire to move very quickly, deploying applications to help the business enter new markets, expand capabilities, or services but Lavender says patience is called for. “You can’t just throw it out to the cloud and hope for the best.” Questions of security, resilience, and other operational matters need to be considered, he says. There is also a need to weigh the criticality of the application, the nature of the business, and the infrastructure cost to support the application.
It is fairly common for organizations to adopt a blended approach to cloud adoption these days as Lavender says very few enterprises have pursued an all public cloud strategy at this stage. “It’s going to be some mixture of on-prem, hybrid, edge, and multicloud,” he says. There is also a preference to not get locked in, Lavender says, increasing interest in vendors who offer a choice of public clouds to use and leverage to move workloads and data around without becoming captive. “Workloads follow data,” he says. “If your data is at the edge, the workload will move to the edge. If your data is in a datacenter, because of regulatory reasons, it’s going to keep that workload sticking to that datacenter.”
IT leaders may have access to fast-paced innovation but some resources such as function-as-a-service are still maturing and developing, Lavender says. This can lead to organizations trying to balance their desire to adopt the latest technology against avoiding increased costs or security exposure. “We’re all excited by the potential for containers and Kubernetes and the ability to run workloads anywhere but the big challenge is not the technology,” he says. “It’s the operating model, having consistent architecture, and a high degree of automation because the speed at which things are happening are outstripping human ability at the keyboard.”