(Chinese version is below)
Source from Forbes China, by Hongming Shao
About First Impressions of China's Digital Transformation from the MNC Executive
The airport and the high-speed railway are back to their usual busy schedules after the pandemic control has been lifted. At the same time, more “foreign faces” are seen among travelers, and these two transport hubs have become another important window into China for them.
It was the first visit to China for Sylvain Cazard, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Asia Pacific and Japan, VMware. Although only five days, Sylvain had a jammed-packed schedule. He met with many partners, customers and colleagues, visited the Forbidden City, climbed the Great Wall, ate Peking Duck, and favored the butterfly pastry of Shanghai.
When it came to his first impressions on China, two examples he cited without thinking were the airport and the high-speed railway. What impressed him most, however, was China's digital transformation.
"Beijing Capital Airport is huge and modern, and also takes full advantage of digital tools to deliver an excellent digital experience to passengers," said Sylvain, who was born in France, one of the birthplaces of the high-speed railway. What excited him during the trip was not only the average speed of the high-speed railway over 300km/h, but the fact that almost every passenger in the cabin was using a smartphone or tablet in the entire journey, showing the rapid pace of digital construction in China.
Sylvain has worked as vice president for Central EMEA. Now he is based in Singapore, responsible for VMware's business and strategy in Asia Pacific and Japan. He is adept in executing go-to-market strategy across a multi-product and multi-cloud platform supporting digital transformation of enterprises. (Note: Multi-cloud refers to enterprises using the services of multiple different cloud service providers.)
First Impressions on China
According to Sylvain, China exhibits both differences and similarities when compared to other countries around the world. "First, the scale of Chinese cities is unparalleled and unmatched by other nations. Second, China has already seen a high level of modernization that is close to Japan, South Korea and some European countries.”
When exchanging with organizations, Sylvain found that Chinese companies have large-scale operations and are technologically mature, while digital applications have evolved rapidly here. However, he admitted that despite its rapid technological development, China still has a gap to the highest level.
"'Cloud computing is not an endpoint, but a way to consume computing power." He believes that what customers need is a hybrid model that hosts the modern platforms owned by customers while connecting local cloud platforms. Customers need the ability to connect them together for better outcomes. The demand for computing power in China is high as the country is under digital transformation. Now Chinese companies can build a strong ecosystem and are significantly accelerating digital transformation.
Sylvain reiterates the vastness of China. For instance, with many factories in different cities and regions, edge computing is deployed in many places, such as data centers. Another notable characteristic is the presence of a significant number of local cloud providers within China's ecosystem, including Alibaba Cloud, Tencent Cloud, JD Cloud, and more. This unique state of a multi-cloud ecosystem is specific to China.
In addition, many Chinese companies currently have a strong desire to expand their businesses overseas, seeking opportunities in regions such as the Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Africa. They rely on the respective ecosystems and clouds to support their operations in these locations. On the other hand, many foreign companies need to keep working with local cloud providers as they are trying to enter the Chinese market.
“China has not only a domestic multi-cloud ecosystem, but also a broader multi-cloud system on a global scale.” Sylvain described the Chinese market in his eyes in one sentence.
“Each country has its own characteristics. We have got consistent feedback in our conversations with customers worldwide. While there may be variations in technological maturity and ecosystem across different countries or markets, we discovered commonalities during discussions with our customers. The topics we typically explore revolve around the modernization of infrastructure, maximizing the utilization of cloud platforms, and ensuring security." said Sylvain.
In fact, all countries or markets have in common that multi-cloud is an ecosystem used to connect all clouds. So not only China but also other countries or markets create an ecosystem of clouds to bring together many cloud providers.
Embracing a New Strategy: Offense and Defense
"We are now in a world of cloud computing," Sylvain shared some of his thoughts and the new trends from the exchanges with CIOs in the Asia Pacific region and during the trip to China.
During the pandemic, many organizations migrated to the cloud and accelerated their digital transformation. However, as the global economy experiences a slowdown after the pandemic, many CIOs have expressed a shift in focus towards a dual strategy of offense and defense, rather than continuing to drive digital transformation and innovation. In addition, they are more cost-sensitive under the multiple pressures such as security and sovereignty. "These CIOs have told us that they must now adopt a strategy of balance, simultaneously engaging in offensive and defensive measures," Sylvain remarked.
Sylvain mentioned the new concept of Cloud Smart, which combines solutions such as hybrid and multi-cloud platforms to help customers play offense and defense. He said that Cloud First, as it was often called in the past, was designed to prioritize migration to the cloud. Cloud Smart was also designed to accelerate enterprises’ migration to the cloud and deployment of digital applications while helping modernize their devices to improve costs and efficiency. In addition, Cloud Smart can enhance the security and sovereignty of data through innovative technological means.
Another trend is that AI will drive the next wave of application innovation. Sylvain cited four stages in the evolution of applications over the four decades, from PCs to the Internet and mobile network and to AI-powered ones today. The current rise of generative AI represented by ChatGPT is in line with the fourth stage.
"With the advent of new-generation CPUs, we believe that domain-specific computing power will emerge, which means computing power will be specialized to manage even larger volumes of data," Sylvain said. “These data can be managed efficiently whether it is on the cloud or in a customer's data center, factory or shop.”
"However, the complexity and difficulty of data management for different locations will grow, so VMware will help customers simplify this, make it more manageable and deliver it to them in a cost-controlled way," said Sylvain.
The future will see dedicated generative AI models emerging in many industries and segments. To meet the requirement for computing power, the corresponding CPUs, networking, storage and other hardware will be constantly updated. VMware is actively working with partners like Lenovo and NVIDIA, leveraging their strengths in hardware to enhance virtualization for the future explosion of generative AI applications.
"VMware is a cloud platform and also a computing platform powered by cloud technology," Sylvain emphasized. He highlighted that without virtualization technology, there would be no cloud. Many years ago, VMware began utilizing artificial intelligence technologies, enabling them to build an intelligent and automated platform. This platform offers intelligent features such as automatic detection of potential security risks and centralized computational capabilities.
Increasing Investment in the Local Ecosystem
Although it was Sylvain's first visit to China, he expressed great satisfaction with VMware's business development in the Chinese market. "We've been deeply involved in the Chinese market for more than a decade and our technology is well received by many of our customers," he said. To support R&D for Chinese customers, VMware has established R&D teams in Beijing and Shanghai. It is also increasing its investment in the local ecosystem in China.
Taking Lenovo as an example, Sylvain went on that VMware has been working with Lenovo for more than a decade. To further expand the multi-dimensional strategic partnership, their initiatives will include strengthening local R&D and joint go-to-market activities that accelerate, data center, multi-cloud and edge computing, and help customers transition to subscription-based services.
Barry Chen, Vice President and General Manager, Greater China, VMware, shared relevant cases in the automotive industry. VMware has entered all levels of the automotive-related supply chain in China. Its solutions can be applied not only to IT operations, but also to engineering projects and production lines to enable data intelligence collection and other functions at edge.
Last year, VMware partnered with Alibaba Cloud to launch Alibaba Cloud VMware Service (ACVS), which can be applied across industry chains allowing customers to easily migrate their business or products to Alibaba Cloud without any modifications. Previously, similar migrations led to server disruptions and required redevelopment, which was complex and cumbersome.
In terms of VMware's business model, Sylvain explained that VMware adopts a unified model around the world, but unlike traditional SaaS and subscription-based models, the delivery is left to partners. For example, VMware embeds its solutions or products into cloud services such as Alibaba Cloud, AWS (Amazon Web Services) and Microsoft Azure, and sells them to customers through partners.
Virtualization Drives Sustainability
When discussing sustainable development, Sylvain drew a diagram to illustrate his point. He explained that as the volume of applications and users in the upper layers continues to grow, the computing power at the bottom must grow significantly. At the same time, the digital infrastructure is forced to undergo frequent updates.
“The ideal state is to achieve higher computational power while maintaining the same level of carbon dioxide emissions." According to him, the first step in virtualization is the consolidation of resources, leveraging one server to achieve the performance and functionality of multiple servers. This principle applies to networking and storage as well. The fundamental purpose is to reduce hardware, energy consumption, and cooling requirements. Additionally, adopting more modern data centers and increasing the utilization of renewable energy sources can enable cloud providers to make more efficient use of computational resources. Nowadays, many customers are inclined towards cloud platforms with lower energy consumption when migrating to the cloud. Therefore, virtualization can produce more with less in terms of resource utilization.
Sylvain mentioned a recent buzzword, Telco Cloud. He pointed out that the telecommunications sector is actually a major energy consumer - switches, signal towers, network devices and the like are all heavy energy consumers. For example, SoftBank and Vodafone are using VMware's virtualization products to develop Telco Cloud and 5G platforms. These platforms incorporate technologies and applications such as virtualization and cloud platforms to reduce the need for computing power and therefore energy consumption. As a result, even the increase in demands for networking, connectivity, storage and computing power driven by more advanced technologies will not lead to a rise in CO2 emissions. Generative AI will require massive computing power and thus consume huge amount of energy. Pairing technologies like virtualization with next-generation CPUs will not only improve efficiency, but also reduce hardware usage for lower CO2 emissions.
"VMware is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year. We have been going through all stages of technological advancement, and always holding our core values of Tech for Good, including sustainability. Regardless of how technology evolves, efforts will be made to ensure that carbon dioxide emissions remain within a manageable range and do not have a detrimental impact on the planet," said Sylvain.
Finally, on the progress of Broadcom's acquisition of VMware, Sylvain commented: "All information is public and all regulators have their own procedures and processes in place. VMware is highly confident that the transaction will be completed by the end of Broadcom's fiscal year, which is in October.”
VMware Sylvain Cazard：新AI时代，CIO如何攻守兼备
这是VMware亚太及日本地区高级副总裁兼总经理 Sylvain Cazard第一次来中国。虽然只有5天时间，但Sylvain的日程安排满满当当。他见了不少合作伙伴、客户和同事，参观了故宫，爬了长城，吃了北京烤鸭，还对上海的蝴蝶酥情有独钟。
去年，VMware与阿里云合作推出了阿里云VMware服务（ACVS，即Alibaba Cloud VMware Service）。该服务可以应用在各个产业链中，客户不需要任何修改，就能便捷地将业务或产品“搬迁”到阿里云上。原本类似的迁移，服务器都必须中断，而且还需要重新开发，相当复杂、繁琐。