Aug 27 2013

VMworld 2013: Marc Andreessen and Pat Gelsinger's Battle of the Clouds

A spirited debate about public versus private clouds has VMworld attendees buzzing.

In the world of IT, there are few discussions more polarizing than the talk around public versus private clouds.

Nimble startup companies favor a 100-percent public cloud approach that allows them to move quickly and scale rapidly without plunking down sunk costs in IT hardware. Traditional enterprises prefer a private, or at the very least a hybrid, cloud approach and a data center strategy that they own and control. Some of this is due to regulations that stipulate enterprises maintain data under stringent restrictions, but a lot of it has to do with the enterprise's more conservative approach to IT in general.

The 10th annual VMworld played host to a spirited discussion ("The Data Center is Dead, Long Live the Data Center") on the future of enterprise IT with Marc Andreessen, the founder of Netscape and a startup venture capitalist deity, going head to head with VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger. As expected, Andreessen towed the startup's point-of-view that legacy IT is deadweight that will eventually give way to the fluidity of cloud infrastructures.

Gelsinger, however, cautioned that such a point of view overly simplified the realities of the enterprise's needs. For industries with strict regulations, an all-public cloud approach simply is not, and will not be tenable in the near future or if ever.

“People who say put everything into the cloud have never met a highly regulated customer,” said Gelsinger, according a report on the panel from The Register.

As a big name in innovation and startup culture, Andreesseen's cloud-first battle cry had many fans cheering him on.

But others believe that legacy IT won't disappear as quickly as some might think. After all, while some are crowing that the death of the desktop is nigh, the truth is that most enterprises will continue to use desktop/notebook devices in the near future.

The title of VMworld's session succinctly captures both the contentiousness of the Great Cloud Debate: "The Data Center is Dead, Long Live the Data Center." So let's face it, the tug of war between the all-cloud camp and on-premises IT gang is set to wage on for a while. But then again, passionate wars of words in defense of IT preferences are pretty status quo in this industry.

Even if you're anti-cloud or anti-legacy IT, it's healthy that the industry is having these sorts of discussions at all.

Follow our VMworld 2013 conference hub for more updates and reports from the show.

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