We predicted early on — I think it was back in March and I still hold to it — that economically it's going to be a swoosh. Q2 and Q3 are the rough quarters with Q4 starting to get a little better and Q1 of 2021 better still. In Q2 of 2021 we'll be back to where we were in Q1 of this year. There's going to be turbulence, but I believe IT will do better than the economy will overall.
Funny story — I had a call with the IT director of one of our large banking customers recently. He told me he had been asked to attend a board meeting and when he got there, the board gave him standing applause because of how well the IT team responded to COVID-19. When was the last time a board gave the head of IT standing applause? It just never happens. The role of IT professionals and leaders has never been more critical. And as a result, there's a lot of credibility in this period of time. I've called it a ‘seize the day’ or ‘Carpe Diem’ moment for IT because right now businesses are giving a lot of credibility to IT. IT allowed us to have the greatest migration of the human workforce in history in just a few short weeks. And now IT has to determine what are the digital priorities for the next phase? The role of digital transformation is more important than ever.
As we look at this tripling of the permanent, distributed work-from-home environment, I think it’s going to be part of the new normal on the other side of COVID-19. There's a lot of hidden benefits to working from home: no commute, smaller carbon footprint, lower cost of living locations and more. I’ve probably talked to 300 CEOs since the crisis and everyone is finding their productivity equal or better in this work-from-home environment. That’s not to say it’s all been smooth sailing. Clearly people are pressured.
I’ve Zoom-ed into many homes over this period of time that I’ve described as an ugly combination of a KinderCare and a WeWork office as people were trying to figure out how to work in this environment. But ultimately, we were able to adjust, and I do believe this will become a permanent aspect of how we work. It’s a fundamental shift and it’s pretty amazing. 10 years ago, this would have been pretty challenging. And with 5G on the horizon, it’ll only gets easier in the years to come as we go forward.
When you look at the cloud world, a private cloud environment can run 20–30% more efficiently than a public cloud. But more importantly, a well-run hybrid cloud environment can actually run up to 40% more efficiently than a public cloud. But if I’m running in the public cloud, I'm paying the provider a margin to run my infrastructure for me — and it's a pretty good margin they're making on cloud infrastructure. If you're a big customer at scale, well-automated and optimized, we're finding very consistently 20–30% improved efficiency of a well-run private cloud versus a public cloud offering. A hybrid cloud allows you to drive that private cloud much, much harder. We can get to peak shave in the elastic capacity of the public cloud. I can run Disaster Recovery (DR) in the public cloud so I don't preposition unused capital as well. And that's when we're able to start driving a much higher level of efficiency overall.
A hybrid model also gives you the flexibility to build a cloud strategy based on unique requirements. I've called it the three laws of the hybrid cloud: the law of economics, the law of physics and the law of the land. For example, one operating location might need to be on premises because of regulatory environments (law of the land). Or, if you’re implementing a 5G workload in a factory for an edge use case, you don’t want the latency to go round-trip to the cloud (law of physics). So, in all cases, a well-run hybrid cloud is the best alternative for customers. That’s where we're driving our customers in the center of our strategy forward.
20 years ago, I'd be jumping up and down saying, “Java, Java is it!” Because run once, write once, run anywhere, right? Well, here we are 20 years later, and the answer is containers and Kubernetes. With Kubernetes, customers don't have to rebuild their applications before they're ready to do so. They can embrace the new Kubernetes and have it work with both containers and Virtual Machines (VMs), and that layer operates across all the clouds as well. It really is the layer for infrastructure and application automation at scale.
The exciting thing about Kubernetes is it also has industry consensus with growing momentum. We’re integrating it directly into the native Google, Amazon and Azure Kubernetes offerings as well. So once again, VMware is the, ‘any’ company. We're giving you any VM and container, on premises as well as on the VMware clouds and native clouds. And at VMWare, we’re highly committed to the open source and to the CNCF standardization. We're the number two contributor to the open source embodiment of Kubernetes. And I really believe IT teams today need to learn those skills. We're re-platforming all of the pivotal services to be Kubernetes-centric and then really helping customers take advantage of it in a true multicloud.
I typically say a career is like a ‘T’ where you usually come up within a discipline, and as you're coming up, you have to differentiate yourself. Learn deep skills in a set of disciplines. For me, that was chip design. That's where I grew up through the ranks and on some aspects of chip design. I poured myself into it. I was passionate. But then you start gaining more leadership skills. And as you get to senior roles, you need to have lots of other skills and become much broader.
In my EMC days, I attended every board meeting. And after each meeting, I would approach one or two board members and ask the same two questions: How am I doing and what do I need to work on? And one time I asked this to the head of EMC at the time and he said to me, “Number one, we're an East coast company. You need to dress like you’re at an East coast company.” As an engineer, I didn't think about that. So that night I went to Nordstrom's. But the second thing he told me was way more important. He said, “Learn corporate finance. If you ever want to run this place, you have to know more.” And Joe Tucci, the CEO of VMware at the time and my boss, got me a personal coach from Columbia University and he became my corporate finance instructor for a year.
And that's what I consider the top of the ‘T’ in career development — the broadening of your discipline. Ask yourself, what skills are you learning today for the job that you want tomorrow? And I'm always challenging people, whether it's to grow up the ‘T’ or to broaden yourself, keep learning more and more of those skills — not just for today, but also for where you want to go tomorrow.