Talking Third Platform in Silicon Valley

This month, I spoke at The Churchill Club, which convenes gatherings of technology leaders and entrepreneurs from around Silicon Valley to talk about the future of our industry. Over the last 10 years, the size of EMC’s workforce in the Bay Area has mushroomed to more than 7,000 employees. And for the last two years in a row, people surveyed by the San Francisco Business Times/San Jose Business Journal have named EMC one of the top two Best Places to Work in the region. So, the fact that so many people joined us at The Churchill Club to hear our view of the future was another sign of EMC’s growing presence on the West Coast and in the IT industry.

A big topic on everyone’s mind is the rise of the so called “third platform” of IT and the disruptive impact of cloud computing on the IT marketplace. We spend a lot of our time thinking about this at EMC.

As our friends at IDC explain it, if the first platform of IT was mainframe and minicomputers, and the second platform was the client-server era, the key underlying technologies of the third platform are cloud, mobile, social, and Big Data. This new platform will transform the way the IT industry works, connecting billions of users and millions of applications. The data sets will dwarf traditional, structured data sets. Our customers see the disruptive trend coming, and every one of them wants our help in preparing their business for it—and in squeezing costs out of their second platform infrastructure more efficiently.

The new platform introduces a level of mobility that didn’t exist before, thanks to the advent of cloud providers and SaaS providers and the like. Many of these new platform apps run on an infrastructure that looks more like a public cloud infrastructure than a second platform infrastructure inside a conventional data center (although we expect enterprise customers will build these new platform infrastructures inside their data centers as well). So, we see a technology shift to the new platform and a delivery shift in terms of where people can run their applications. We’re only in the first few innings of a nine-inning game that will probably play out over the next 20 years.

What we’ve been doing at EMC, in setting up our federated business model the way we have, is to have as many assets addressing this new platform as we can. For example, Pivotal is not dealing with any second platform apps; it is focused on apps in the new platform only. VMware is helping people improve their client-server infrastructure while addressing their mobile/cloud side of the IT fence. And inside EMC Information Infrastructure, in our storage business, an enormous amount of investment is going towards new object storage, software-defined storage, flash—all of which are really important for winning in the third platform infrastructure.

This is certainly an exciting time to be in IT—and at EMC.

Check out the rest of the talk if you want to hear more.

About the Author: David Goulden