Kathy Gibson reports from VMworld in Barcelona – The IT industry is going through a time of tectonic shifts, says Pat Gelsinger, CEO of VMware.

He reminds delegates that the Internet first came into existence in 1995 – and there are now 3,1-billion connected via mobile devices.

Connectivity continues to expand on a global basis, he says, although it’s not evenly spaced.

“Many continents are leaping over the wired phase of the Internet and moving straight into wireless,” Gelsinger points out.

Today, there are three mobile devices per person, a number that will grow to 5,9 by 2020.

“The implications on society are huge as well, with apps having greater impact that Hollywood.

There are also implications outside the world – there are now 72 000 objects circling the earth and providing connectivity. And technology is being used to add micro-robots to the bloodstream.

Today $8-trillion of wealth is flowing through the Internet, and 21% of economic growth can be attributed to the Internet, Gelsinger says,

Businesses have to change in this world, and there are five imperatives to doing this, Gelsinger says,

The first is asymmetry. Large organisations, which have everything to lose, are being challenged by start-ups which have nothing to lose.

“These start-ups have unlimited reach via the Internet; they have unlimited access to smart devices; and they have unlimited scale because of the cloud. And, because they get funding, they can challenge literally every industry in the world.

“As a result we are seeing industries having asymmetrical attacks on them. Incumbents need to move fast, change more rapidly and embrace technology,” Gelsinger says.

This has implications for all industries, from banks to cars, he adds. This raises questions about who will own the future of industries, and will cause ripple effects outside of their industries,

“Imperative number one: elephants must learn how to dance,” Gelsinger says.

The second imperative, he says, is that companies need to enter the professional era of the cloud.

“How do we move to the professional era of the cloud, where it’s not either-or but both, where we get speed and governance; where we are building applications for the unified hybrid cloud, that assume there is seamless connectivity between the private and public clouds.”

To bridge the gap, common networking, management and security are vital, Gelsinger says.

“IT has realised they need to make their data centre look like a cloud and take advantage of services that are available. “So we are looking at a number of clouds that need to be managed.”

Security concerns have also driven the need for locally-domiciled clouds, with governance and local provisioning. The unified hybrid cloud brings these all together in one managed place.

Conversely, the journey to the unified hybrid cloud is driving a need for more openness.

“Imperative number two is that the unified hybrid cloud is the future,” Gelsinger says.

Security is the third imperative, with IT responsible for protecting people, apps and data.

“The focus needs to shift from securing devices, networks and computers, says Gelsinger. “Security in fundamentally a mess. It’s a highly fragmented industry, with many solutions.

“There is an array of innovation, and companies are spending more than ever on security,” Gelsinger points out.

“Something is wrong with this picture. We haven’t had an architecture for security – but now virtualisation provides this. It allows for the alignment of security functions to where they are required; and it is now ubiquitous across the IT platform.

“We can build the virtualisation layer end to end and guarantee it. We can have an architecture for security, allowing IT to view and end to end security layer.

“Security should be built in, not bolted on – and now it can be.”

A properly architected virtualised security platform offers better security that is easier to manage.

“We believe a renaissance in security has begun,” Gelsinger says,

The fourth imperative is to figure out what is next – and Gelsinger believes this could be artificial intelligence (AI), which has finally come to fruition.

AI has been 30 years in the making, and we are now at the point where proactive technologies are becoming a reality.

“There are some interesting implications from this,” Gelsinger says. “There is a view of creepy versus convenient; invasive versus invaluable.”

The core building blocks for these technologies are big data, analytics algorithms and apps.

“We really are at the cusp of proactive technologies beginning to emerge; and they will enable a whole new wave of innovation and businesses.”

He fourth imperative, therefore, is that when we automate everything we will be able to predict almost everything.

The fifth imperative is that many companies will go extinct soon, and must take risks.

In the next decade, half of the Tech-100 list will go away, Gelsinger points out.

“The benefits of in incumbency are declining. The implications are profound – and taking risk becomes the lowest risk.”

IT is positioned to drive the transformation of companies, Gelsinger believes. “This is the time to be the entrepreneur and the innovator for the businesses yuou support today – you need to start leading.

“And we want to be your partner for innovation.”