A 'Liquid World': VMware CIO On Adapting To MSP Market Changes

Senior Vice President and Chief Information Officer of VMware Tony Scott has ebbed and flowed with a variety of businesses during times when their industries were in flux.

He's seen a good deal of change with a background that includes serving as chief technology officer for General Motors as the automaker expanded into cars with sensors, or as CIO for the Walt Disney Company when the movie industry shifted from film to digital video for production. Scott, who joined VMware last year, said he is again seeing IT undergo a tremendous shift and he advised experts to be open to the change moving forward.

Scott was the final presenter Tuesday at Continuum’s Navigate conference in Boston, and he advised managed service providers in the room to look to the past if they want to move forward. He referred to the channel as ’a liquid world,’ always changing, able to go anywhere and willing to take on new shapes.

’The world we’re entering in IT has all of these characteristics,’ he said. ’We’ve all seen what can happen.’

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IT has entered government, education, healthcare, shopping, people’s social lives -- nearly every facet of society, Scott said.

’There’s nothing in our lives that’s not going to be affected and digitized and transformed in some way, I think,’ he said.

Looking to what’s to come, Scott said he believes clients will value speed over cost. The most important thing in business, he said, will be staying current and adopting quickly.

’How fast you get there and speed are the defining characteristics of the new model,’ he said, noting some SMBs have not been so quick to catch up.

He said many businesses are rigid and unwilling to change and update their IT services structure.

Geeks On Call franchise owner Elmer Hill, with offices in several locations throughout North Carolina, said he’s been in business as an MSP for 12 years and has spent 30 years in technology in all. He said Scott was ’right on point’ with his outlining of the industry, and he's met unwilling clients.

’I’ve adopted to most of the things we’ve talked about,’ Hill said, pointing to cloud offerings. ’But there are customers, or potential clients, who have a very set way, a rigid way, of doing business. It’s more difficult to try to bring them along to see some of the differences [available], using IT. … You give them a bit of information and hopefully they look toward that and change the way they’re doing business.’

NEXT: VMware CIO Invites MSPs To Encourage Others To Join The Industry

Scott said the industry will grow if partners encourage others to join the industry. He said look to movies and television, which portray ’IT guys’ as nerds and that may be one reason why there’s a shortage in Silicon Valley in the technology space.

’[The characters] are geeky, right? They’re non-social. They don’t dress well or speak well,’ he said. "We need to attract a bunch more people in order to do well. … It’s our generation’s job to convince the next generation and those beyond that these are cool careers that can take you to exciting places.’

Raj Goel, president and co-founder of New York City-based Brainlink International, said he was happy to take some of the industry insight Scott presented.

’I liked his take that you learn from history and that we are moving toward IT-as-a-Service,’ he said. ’There is no denying that we have to shift to new business models, and learning from the cell phone industry or the movie industry is a great piece of advice.’

Goel questioned Scott during the question-and-answer session following the presentation as to when VMware would offer vCenter through a non-Windows system. Goel said that limitation now is a ’big pain point’ from his perspective. Scott said he didn’t want to announce a company development or offering prematurely but alluded to a coming solution which may appeal to some MSPs.

’Help is on the way, let’s just say,’ Scott said.