The true value of virtualised IT lies in the consumption of applications, and increasingly, that means from a cloud, according to VMware CEO Paul Maritz.
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Speaking at the opening of VMworld 2010 in Copenhagen, Maritz said most of the firm's 190,000 customers were still optimising their capital expenditure by rationalising their hardware infrastructure. But some were increasing the return on investment from virtualisation technology by virtualising their applications.
While these were essential steps, the real value lay in allowing IT's customers to "consume" applications on a pay-as-you-go basis. There was still a way to go, because IT departments were reluctant to allow users the same freedoms of access and devices they enjoyed outside the office, for security and compliance reasons.
But this was unsustainable, he said. IT departments could not hold back the PC, and they will not be able to hold back iPads and smartphones or web-based applications, he said. VMware itself is not immune. "There 15 software as a service apps running at VMware that I didn't know about until I asked," he said.
Maritz said, "For every dollar customers spend on capex, they spend between $5 and $10 on operational costs." As a result, VMware was paying a lot attention to automating operational aspects of IT, he said, with secure provisioning and configuration as the keys.
Maritz said operating systems such as Windows and Linux were "disappearing" because the virtualisation software was increasingly taking over their role as the manager of hardware, storage and network resources.
The next step was to protect customers' investment in existing applications by allowing CIOs to move them seamlessly between virtualised environments in both public and private clouds.
He warned that new customers would not tolerate applications that reflected 30- or 40-year-old batch paradigms. They had different expectations of what IT was about today, he said.
Maritz said VMware was working closely with Google and Salesforce.com to develop a new application programming interface that would make moving applications to cloud environments easier for IT departments.
He said no developer was writing applications for operating systems any more. Instead they were writing for development frameworks such as Spring, Ruby on Rails and Django. This allowed them to move the apps easily between virtualised environments, thus creating greater IT agility in meeting new business circumstances.
Maritz stressed that security was becoming a more critical issue for companies. It was no longer enough to secure physical devices but to provide security at a logical level. This would help protect data and applications wherever they or the users were.
VMware unveiled a new directory services manager at VMworld 2010. This was the repository for all the policies and permissions for applications and users. This let system administrators provision applications such as Salesforce.com and Google Apps, including single sign-on, with a single click.
Maritz said quality of service was a vital issue for enterprises. "Not all apps are equal," he said. VMware was working to provide quality of service management systems for virtualised environments. This was important for the manageability of both private and public cloud environments.