Leadership3 min read

Playing Offense and Defense in 2023: A Cloud-Smart Approach

Photo for Raghu RaghuramRaghu Raghuram
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Over the last several months, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with CEOs from many industries, from education to banking to healthcare. There are two themes I hear consistently. First, most leaders remain deeply committed to driving their once-in-a-generation shift to become innovative digital companies – to delay is to fall behind the competition. Many describe this dimension of their strategy as “playing offense” – investing in growth initiatives that accelerate their move to the cloud, enabling them to redefine how they engage with customers and to differentiate their offerings.

At the same time, these leaders are acutely aware that the macroeconomic environment we’re all operating in has changed dramatically. War, supply-chain restraints, oil shocks, energy shortages, inflation – gone are the days when money to accelerate growth was essentially free. In the face of this uncertainty, business leaders are concentrating on “playing defense” by optimizing their spend, reducing cost, and increasing resiliency.

Most importantly, savvy leaders now recognize they need to play offense and defense at the same time. The critical question they’re asking is, “How do I continue to drive top-line growth through digital innovation, while simultaneously increasing my profitability through optimizing costs?”

The answer, in large part, lies in their ability to effectively navigate a multi-cloud world. We’ve reached an inflection point in which nearly seven out of 10 enterprises globally are now running their day-to-day operations across multiple clouds1. It is not surprising then that the leaders I speak with place a priority on increasing their level of maturity and sophistication in managing their multi-cloud environments, because they see the impact it has on their top-line growth and their bottom-line profitability.

The truth is that many organizations today are struggling to manage and control their spend across clouds. In our recent survey of nearly 6,000 organizations globally conducted by market research firm Vanson Bourne, a full 95% reported that a multi-cloud architecture is critical to their business success, and yet 76% of those multi-cloud organizations said they needed to improve control over their cloud costs2. Simply put, multi-cloud today is viewed as essential, but expensive.

The Path to Get There

At VMware, we’re focused on helping businesses play offense and defense simultaneously by adopting a cloud-smart approach. What do we mean by that? At its core, a cloud-smart strategy is about equipping organizations to drive a more consistent, more secure, and more cost-efficient operating model across the various clouds they rely on every day.

On the “defense” side of the equation, a cloud-smart strategy saves money by giving organizations greater visibility and control over their cloud spend. Enterprises can cut their cloud migration costs in half by utilizing VMware Infrastructure in the public cloud of their choice. VMware’s approach also empowers businesses to increase their resiliency by embracing a built-in “zero-trust” security model that strengthens protections against cyber threats.

From an “offense” perspective, a cloud-smart approach allows organizations to accelerate the delivery of new applications to grow their business, while modernizing and automating their entire enterprise infrastructure. Equally important, a cloud-smart approach focuses on empowering a distributed workforce, by giving employees frictionless, more secure access to the apps they need to stay connected and productive.

A Cloud-Smart Approach to Generative AI

In my conversations with senior leaders, I hear great enthusiasm for the potential of artificial intelligence, particularly in the form of large generative language models underpinning applications like ChatGPT. They are quickly recognizing that these foundational models could become the new platform for the enterprise.

Leaders often ask how they can use these generative AI tools on sensitive enterprise data, while ensuring full protection of customer information. At VMware, we’re working with industry leaders like NVIDIA to enable a cloud-smart approach to AI, so that businesses can build and run next-generation AI applications securely and cost-efficiently – whether in the data center, across multiple clouds or at the edge.

CEOs see generative AI as an opportunity to play both offense and defense simultaneously, leveraging AI’s power to amplify the productivity of enterprise functions like software development, customer service, and marketing. For example, many businesses are already using ChatGPT to provide customers with instant responses to a wide range of inquiries, often with remarkable nuance and accuracy. This represents a fundamental shift from the previous use of AI in the enterprise, which was primarily analytical and predictive.

Bottom line: More organizations are recognizing that a cloud-smart approach is the most effective way to achieve their digital transformation. Today and in the future of expanded use of generative AI, the cloud-smart approach is becoming the default operating model for the enterprise.

Citation 1-2: Vanson Bourne. “The Multi-Cloud Maturity Index Research Report,” October 2022.