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Cloud 'destroys time' and fracking is great innovation

CEO thought bubbles from Dell, Gelsinger, Maritz, Georgens, and Tucci

VMware's outgoing CEO Paul Maritz with incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger looming large

VMworld 2012 Dell supremo Michael Dell, EMC CEO Joe Tucci, NetApp opposite number Tom Georgens, soon-to-be VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger and his prececessor Paul Maritz have held court on a CEO-only panel at VMworld, largely reciting the same old stuff about how important it is for CIOs to simplify IT so that sysadmins can be unshackled from management duties and freed to innovate.

There were a few nuggets of insight beyond that schtick, after the five CIOs rose above Wired Editor Chris Anderson's opening gambit that it's impossible to hire anyone under 30 if you don't give them a Mac and let them spend half the working day on Facebook.

NetApp's Georgens articulated that with greater insight, noting a generational shift by recalling that the first computer he used was in the workplace. Almost nobody's first experience of technology happens that way today, he said, and young folk arrive in the workplace familiar with and desirous of using devices that have survived a nasty test in the market. In the context of the panel's repeated mentions of how CIOs must now manage devices they don't own on networks they cannot control the subtext was “Good luck matching that level of user experience R&D in your IT department.”

Maritz stole the show with a quip that on current trends, VMware's market capitalisation will exceed Facebook's.

Gelsinger offered the opinion that the Cloud has “destroyed time” by reducing the time needed to deploy servers. Cloud has also reduced the cost and IT and made it less dependent on geography by making servers' physical locations irrelevant. That combination, he thinks, adds up to easier access to innovation.

He also declared we're entering a golden age of application development, as after having focussed on the PC alone for years developers are now compelled to think more creatively.

Outgoing VMware CEO Paul Maritz declared that kind of development is necessary because we've entered the “multi-device era”. Backing away from the term “post-PC era”, which he coyly admitted he'd boosted for competitive reasons, he said there are some things he can't imagine doing on a device without a large screen. Making phones, tablets and PCs with lovely big 24-inch monitors work together is, he feels, now the main game.

EMC CEO Joe Tucci was quiet, but did cause a few sharp intakes of breath when the example he used to illustrate the necessity of IT to fuel innovation was the fracking process used to extract natural gas. Tucci did note environmentalists' concerns about the technique, but also said a decade ago the USA felt it would soon run out of gas, but has no such worries today with a century or more's resources identified of late.

Michael Dell was his usual stolid self, offering the insight that he sees global collaboration on open source projects as a significant new mode of work, and one which has transformed the IT industries.

Maritz stole the show with a quip that on current trends, Vmware's market capitalisation will exceed Facebook's.

With a grin he said that's because “VMware serves a useful social purpose,” leaving the other CEOs to note that they think Facebook is a wonderful company and they're grateful for its custom.

With the way its stock price is heading, Maritz may just have the last laugh. ®

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