Pivotal + VMware: Transforming how more of the world builds software

From automobiles to IT, the zero-sum industry is vanishing

Last week Ford Motor Co. announced it’s investing $500 million in an automotive startup called Rivian. The move might not be so notable if Rivian was simply producing a white-label electric-vehicle chassis (which it does, and which Ford plans to use), but Rivian is also gearing up to sell its own electric pickup truck and SUV models. On the surface, Ford is investing in an upstart competitor; in reality, Ford is investing to remain an industry leader in a future that’s coming whether it likes it or not.

If you haven’t read the details of this partnership, here are a couple of takes that together paint a nice picture of the situation:

The future is not just about building smarter, more-connected cars—which Ford is already doing, including in partnership with Amazon around in-car delivery and Alexa capabilities—it’s also about technological advances and lowered barriers to entry (Rivian, for example, operates out of a plant previously built by Mitsubishi) that blur longstanding competitive lines. This is why we see Ford partnering with companies such as Rivian and Volkswagen, and other automakers doing things such as building open manufacturing platforms and working with network specialists on edge-computing standards. It’s increasingly unlikely that any one company, or a small handful of companies, can master every aspect of what will be necessary to build and sell cars in a world where technology and, along with it, consumer demand move lightning fast.

But it’s not just the automotive industry where we’re seeing technology change the nature of competition. We also see it happening via open source software in the movie and television industries, and via companies like McDonald’s acquiring software vendors that also serve other retailers.

Of course, this has been the story in enterprise software for some time now. What began with industry collaboration on open source projects has expanded into cloud, where software-as-a-service specialists are better served by working together than they are by trying to encroach too heavily into each others’ spaces. This is certainly the model for platform providers like Pivotal, which have long realized the benefits of partnering with systems integrators and complementary software companies, and—despite their overshadowing size—is even true of public cloud providers.

Some companies will always take the high-risk, high-reward path of going it alone, but customer loyalty only goes so far when new options and new features are coming online by the day. It certainly seems a lot smarter to acknowledge that you’re going to have to share that pie, while focusing energy on the areas where your company can set itself apart to ensure you still get the biggest slice possible.

The cloud only gets bigger

Slack renegotiated its deal with Amazon Web Services in 2018 and will spend at least $212M more through 2023 (GeekWire): Another day, another huge cloud contract.

Microsoft and VMware unveil new cloud service that lets VMware customers run their apps on Azure (GeekWire): Rumors of VMware’s death have been greatly exaggerated, although IaaS certainly has changed industry dynamics.

Successful AI is prudent AI

Enterprise AI: Diving into machine learning (CIO): This is a good intro to some terms and techniques you’ll come across when getting serious about AI.

CIOs remain cautious on AI experiments and investments (CIO): Wise organizations will identify opportunities and choose the best tool for addressing them, AI or not.

How data management helps companies deploy AI (Wall Street Journal): This is a vendor-driven article, but the gist holds true: There’s no AI without data-management religion.

Henderson using artificial intelligence to reduce car crashes (Las Vegas Review Journal): Henderson is a suburb of Las Vegas, and this is a prudent approach to using AI (powered by existing sensors, cameras, etc.) to solve a legitimate problem.

AI yields benefits for rail operators (Wall Street Journal): Predictive maintenance for the win again, this time on both locomotives and railroad ties.

Lessons in cybersecurity

Ransomware: The key lesson Maersk learned from the NotPetya attack (ZDNet): You need to know enough about your IT and applications to protect and recover, in that order.

What Kubernetes does and doesn’t do for security (CNCF): Importantly, it doesn’t protect against insecure containers or hosts.

Cyber crime cost organizations $2.7 billion in 2018 (Federal Computer Week): This according to the FBI, although that number actually seems low.

Digital transformation takes many forms

MGM taps Silicon Valley star to helm digital transformation (Vegas Inc): The casino empire’s new head of growth was previously chief digital officer at Volvo and McDonald’s.

Walmart experiments with AI to monitor stores in real time (Associated Press): Perhaps it will find the right balance among automation, privacy and the human experience.

Coursera raises $103 million to prepare online learners for the ‘fourth industrial revolution’ (VentureBeat): It’s actually a great tool to upskill employees and executives, alike.

Liberty Mutual Insurance joins MIT’s quest for intelligence (MIT News): Investing $25 million in collaboration with MIT is probably easier and more effective than trying to do it all in-house.


How companies adopt and apply cloud native infrastructure (O’Reilly) 

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IT Score for CIOs (Gartner; subscription required) 

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