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Google's Eric Schmidt surprised by the tablet revolution

Eric Schmidt, the executive chairman of Google Inc., admits it: The tablet caught him off guard. He made the confession during the 2013 Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla. Want a closer look? Here’s what he had to say during his keynote address about mobile enterprise computing, the tablet revolution and why businesses are going to need a whole new infrastructure.


I like to think of this in a historical context, having been a member of the enterprise software industry for so many decades. The first decade I would define as roughly the following: Sales teams sell seats on a per-seat basis; a sales person would typically have a million dollar quota; [that way] you could pay the sales person’s salary, pay a little to the engineers, and have a 20% margin. That’s roughly the model, and it was largely, in my view, developed by Oracle. They would often sell seats you didn’t deploy, and eventually, if you grew as a company, you would deploy them. You had a 5- or 10-year contract cycle with a 15% service model. That is largely the model that incumbents, if you will, of an enterprise are using today.

The second phase was the arrival of cloud computing co-existing with this intranet model. That term intranet was coined 25 years ago. So we had this model of the protected intranet, VPNs, gateways, software inside the corporation. And there was this other thing going on, which was inspired by companies such as Google and others, such as Amazon, in particular. I would argue that was a fair fight in the sense that there were a lot of benefits to the incumbents, the new guys were cheaper, better, faster in some ways, but they were different, they weren’t fully compatible, they weren’t fully integrated. And then something happened.

That’s why there’s this third phase. This third phase was really driven by tablets. I was actually surprised by this. I didn’t call this. To me, would the phone replace the worker in the corporation? I figured they would use the PC and the phone. But in fact it was the tablet revolution, and it looks to us like the majority of enterprise computing is being done on mobile devices, in particular on tablets.

That broke the model. It actually just broke it. One way to understand this, what does the new model look like? I’m afraid to say it, and I’m sorry to say it so bluntly, it looks like you’re going to have to dismantle much of that existing infrastructure and replace it by a model that actually works in this new tablet/phone/mobility model. It’s happening right before your eyes.

I’ll give you some examples. Somehow we as a group thought it was a clever idea to have VPNs from outside of the firewall, through the firewall and into the corporate network and we thought that would be secure. … The fact of the matter is, it’s crazy to imagine these open pathways through port 80 are secure. And indeed with modern tunneling what you can do, especially if you’re the Chinese, is get yourself into a downriver server — typically a Windows NT server, which is how it happened with most of the previous attacks because you haven’t upgraded those servers — write yourself a Windows NP certificate right through the VPN and off you go. It’s just a terrible architecture.

A much better architecture is to say we’re not going to have an intranet anymore. We’re going to have just the network and we’re going to make sure that any access is application to application.

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This is so crucial
If application fails business stops.