VMware CEO Maritz: We've Got Cloud Fever Too

As is the case with many IT vendors, VMware executives are spending a large portion of their waking hours thinking and talking about cloud computing, according to VMware CEO Paul Maritz.

"We're not immune from cloud fever -- we also tend to use this term a lot," Maritz told a crowd of some 19,000 attendees Monday in a keynote address at the opening of VMworld 2011 in Las Vegas.

That VMware is consumed with all things cloud at the moment isn’t surprising: The company launched vSphere 5 earlier this week and is working on synchronizing future releases of products in its cloud infrastructure stack, which include vSphere, vCloud Director, vShield, vCenter Operations and vCenter Site Recovery Manager.

Maritz called vSphere 5 a "major achievement" for VMware, one that required more than one million hours of engineering and two million hours of quality assurance testing. At the core of all this work, Maritz explained, lies VMware's guiding principle of building automation into its products to increase operational efficiencies.

Sponsored post

"This type of software has to become just like hardware," Maritz said in the keynote. "Infrastructure is not interesting to organizations -- people want to forget about it."

One thorny issue that's driving data center costs is the difficulty of correlating management of compute and storage resources, said Maritz. He said VMware has been working closely with the storage industry to address this issue and automate storage management in vSphere 5.

One topic Maritz didn't touch on in his keynote was the controversy that erupted in July after VMware introduced vRAM based licensing. The hubbub subsided in early August after VMware raised vRAM allotments and capped the amount of vRAM that customers pay for in a single VM, but some companies -- Microsoft, especially -- have continued to focus on the costs associated with the new vSphere pricing structure.

Meanwhile, virtualization keeps chugging steadily along. Maritz pointed to recent industry figures that show that there are now more server applications running on virtual infrastructure than physical infrastructure.

Currently, a new virtual machine is 'born' every 6 seconds, a rate that outpaces the actual human birth rate in the U.S. And with 5.5 vMotion instances launching every second, there are, at any given time, more VMs in motion globally than actual aircraft, Maritz said.

Next: How Applications Are Evolving For The Cloud

What's really profound about the cloud era, said Maritz, are the implications of the interplay between the consumerization of IT and traditional enterprise IT.

"What we're seeing in the cloud era is billions of new users and devices, and with that scale we need new techniques and approaches," Maritz said. "People are going to have to be able to react to information in real time."

Application renewal is another obstacle that VMware has targeted in its march to the cloud. To avoid a return to the proprietary shackles of the mainframe era, applications will need to be adjusted -- and in some case rewritten -- to function well in cloud environments, Maritz said.

VMware's Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service is designed for building cloud apps, but VMware's bread-and-butter virtualization will also play a role in paving organizations' path to the cloud, Maritz said.

"Client server apps will be around for a while, and there's a need to slide functionality underneath them. Virtualization technology is a critical technology for doing that because it can be applied in a non-disruptive way," Maritz said.

New frameworks like Spring, Ruby and Node.js have arisen out of developers' collective frustration with the complexity of existing tools, Maritz said. VMware launched a beta of Cloud Foundry in April with support for all three, and last week the company unveiled a downloadable version called Cloud Foundry Micro that puts PaaS in the hands of even more users.

"Cloud Foundry is about how cloud applications will be written in the future. It's open in terms of modern programming frameworks it will support. We think the majority of next generation apps will be written by people under the age of 35," Maritz said in the keynote.