VMware: 'Millennials' Pushing Envelope On Virtualization, Cloud

IT industry challenges are becoming more and more about adjusting to the needs of so-called 'millennials', who expect computing to work the way they want it to -- and aren't willing to brook any delay in obtaining it, VMware executives said Tuesday.

"I am a father to three millennials. They expect things to work in a certain way, and they want to receive information in context where they are and when they need it," VMware CEO Paul Maritz said in a keynote at VMware's Partner Exchange conference in Las Vegas. "They want to have all their information pooled together and presented in context."

Similarly, employees today are expecting "fundamentally different experiences" in computing, ones that cannot be delivered on yesterday's infrastructure, Maritz said. Virtualization, he said, is what companies are using to meet these expectations and maintain employee productivity.

"The virtualization village is alive and doing very well," Maritz said. We've reached the point where more than half of the world's data center applications are running on virtualized infrastructure."

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While virtualization drives down costs, the cloud is the key to enabling organizations to react to the rapidly changing needs of their employees, according to Maritz. "It's not going to be primarily cost-driven, it's going to be about survival, because if you can't deliver these experiences you won't be competitive in the future."

In cloud organizations, CIOs need to become brokers of multiple services employees might want to use, and they have to find compliant and secure ways to deliver them, VMware CTO Steve Herrod told attendees. In the Post-PC era, it's all about the user's freedom to choose apps, he said, and VMware is making vSphere into a platform for delivering this flexibility.

vSphere 5, despite all the talk about 'monster' virtual machines, isn’t just about performance, Herrod said. Its ability to provide secure availability to applications has made it the software of choice for municipal traffic management organizations, which use the software to control traffic lights.

"They want to make sure the lights are highly available," Herrod quipped.

On Tuesday, Apple listed VMware cloud Client for iPod on the App Store. The free application lets users inspect their virtual machines, provision cloud resources and perform basic workload operations using an iPad. "This nimbleness is a key part of what the cloud era requires," Herrod said.

VMware is working on a new version of vSphere that's due to arrive in 2013, and Maritz said the company will share more information on that release at its VMworld conference in August. The upcoming vSphere release will include Deep Automation capability, the next step in VMware's years-long push to build technology that hides its complexity from the user, he said.

VMware's service provider business grew 200 percent in 2011, and the company is working with service providers in its vCloud Cloud Powered program and VMware Data Center program, Maritz said. AT&T is VMware's latest vCloud Data Center partner, and the carrier plans to offer customers a compatible cloud service.

"We now have many thousands of virtual machines running in service providers' clouds," Maritz said. "We now have a network of service providers in all major economic areas of the world."