Q&A: VMware CEO Maritz Outlines Path To Cloud

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VMware CEO Paul Maritz has had a good run since taking the helm at the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company three years ago this month. But much of his company's success during that time frame has been tied to virtualization software, as opposed to cloud computing, where the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company sees the future taking shape.

Like many IT vendors, VMware and Maritz still have work to do in getting channel partners on board with the cloud and all of its attendant business model changes. VMware's major cloud infrastructure stack update on July 12 offers the clearest picture to date of how VMware intends to realize its cloud ambitions and get partners to adopt the service provider mentality, both to their customers and within their own organizations.



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CRN sat down with Maritz recently for a wide ranging discussion that included details on the cloud stack update, insight into several recent VMware acquisitions, an unvarnished take on the company's relationship with Microsoft, and how it's trying to get cloud developers into its camp.

Automation has been an overarching theme of VMware's product development in recent years. Can you talk about areas in which this has been baked into the recent cloud infrastructure stack updates and the improvements to vSphere, vCenter, vShield and vCloud Director?

VMware started off as a narrow hypervisor company that allowed you to run multiple copies of an operating system on a single physical machine. Increasingly, most of our features are about how to take a collection of machines and get them behaving as a sort of single giant machine, for efficiency and reliability and availability reasons.

One of the features we have is Distributed Resource Scheduler, where we will actually move applications around in the pool of machines automatically in order to optimize performance, or for high availability, reliability or recovery reasons.

Customers are no longer using our software for server consolidation; now it's about how they do their computing to get additional reliability, availability and efficiency, and all that stuff's baked into the products. That isn't something you bolt on afterwards.

When we talk about automation, rather than trying to layer management software on top, we're baking it into the platform itself. The vast majority of code for vSphere goes toward these automations, that was true of vSphere 4 and it's even more true with vSphere 5.

With the Springsource, Zimbra, Gemfire and RabbitMQ acquisitions, VMware has been building out its application stack and development platforms. And with Cloud Foundry platform-as-a-service, VMware is now trying to win the hearts and minds of application developers. This is a new area for VMware -- how are you going about getting developers into your camp?

We look at the world in three layers: For the infrastructure that apps sit on top of, the great virtue of vSphere is that it can handle, through virtualization, almost any existing application. What we're also trying to do for new applications is to get those applications to run well in a vSphere environment. We also want to be able to make money by selling new capabilities to developers of those applications.

Specifically, we've targeted people who are writing their apps in these new modern programming frameworks, like Spring, Ruby, Node, etc. Our view is that there's a new generation of developers who will be building a new generation of applications, and we're trying to accommodate them on our platform and also have the business opportunity. Enabling that developer is the second tier of what we’ve been doing with Cloud Foundry.

Third, we're focuses on how existing and future applications will be delivered to the end user in a world where you can't depend on the end user holding a particular device in their hands. There is going to be a lot of heterogeneity among those devices. We need to give our enterprise customers a way to equip their users with capabilities in a device-independent way.

Next: The Strategy Behind Cloud Foundry

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