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VMware CEO says cloud computing technologies are the future

CEO Paul Maritz opens VMworld 2011 with predictions of the future, stressing the importance of new cloud computing technologies and challenges to the IT status quo.

VMware CEO Paul Maritz

VMWare CEO Paul Maritz addresses VMworld 2011 attendees
Monday in Las Vegas. Photo:

LAS VEGAS -- VMware Inc. CEO Paul Maritz has been around the IT world for a long time -- he started back in what he calls the "mainframe era," but cloud computing technologies and virtualization were the focus of his keynote Monday at the 2011 VMworld General Sessions in Las Vegas.

"I spent my whole life working on the PC," he told the 19,000 audience members. However, he explained, the future of IT is seated in cloud technology. "In three years … more than 80% of the devices connecting to the Internet will not be Windows-based personal computers. With that kind of scale, we're going to have to see new techniques and new approaches introduced into the world of IT."

Maritz, who was considered third in command at Microsoft under Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer during the late '80s and throughout the '90s, shared that a new virtual machine is deployed every six seconds, which is faster than the U.S. birthrate. Assuming that most of those virtual machines are running on VMware's hypervisor, Maritz will be at the head of a cloud computing technologies revolution and may have power to shape the future of IT. To wit, there are more than 86,000 VMware-certified professionals in 146 countries, and more than 800,000 vSphere administrators worldwide.

"Maritz wanted to start [a] mainframe company, was turned down by IBM. Like Megamind, he's back for revenge," said Chris Wolf, a research vice president at Stamford, Conn.-based Gartner Inc.

Beyond cloud computing technologies: BI, the age gap and more

While much of Maritz's keynote echoed his 2009 and 2010 VMworld addresses, he also touched on the evolution of data fabric. "The relational database cannot handle the way at which and the rate at which these applications are going to be developed. And out of this, we can already see the beginnings of the next canonical set of applications that will be about scale in being real time," Maritz said.

CIOs familiar with this movement in business intelligence should not be surprised about a need for real-time data, and Maritz agreed. "It's no longer going to be sufficient to connect data, put it into a giant warehouse, let it lie fallow there and then run a report over it to find out what happened last month or the month before that. If you're going to service the Facebook generation -- the way that they want to see information -- you're going to have to be able to give them customized information in the context they want to see it in real time."

CIOs can take Maritz's predictions and observations as incentive to challenge the existing IT paradigm. For instance, he pointed out that the majority of applications are currently authored by programmers under the age of 35. He argued that it’s important that CIOs do not expect the younger IT workforce to accept and meld with legacy systems -- rather, they should be willing to adopt a less cumbersome methodology as well as work within that generation's peccadilloes of more relaxed work environments and personal styles.

"The problem is the people under the age of 35 don't sit behind desks, and they don't spend all of their time lovingly tending to documents. They will be dealing with streams of information that will be coming at them in much smaller chunks and much larger numbers. We're moving into a new post-document era, and we will need different solutions," Maritz said.

Audience members agreed with the sentiment, but not necessarily the focus on those under the age of 35.

"I wish Paul wouldn't refer to developers and info workers under 35 as having different needs. Even us old folks won't tolerate bad IT," said Howard Tharp, a San Jose-based IT director.

Vanessa Alvarez, a storage analyst at Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc., added, "[I] agree those under 35 will be writing new apps, but decisions won't be made by them."

The controversial vRAM licensing decision was studiously ignored in the keynote. Last month, VMware introduced vRam-based licensing, a move that was seen as eliminating vSphere for many midmarket companies. Maritz skirted around this subject by declaring that new releases of Software as a Service offerings like vSphere Essentials and VMware Go would appeal to midmarket CIOs.

Maritz reinforced the message that BYOD -- or bring your own device -- is the face of the future. CIOs should stop wasting energy fighting this trend, he explained, and instead learn to work with it. "We are no longer going to be able to depend upon the fact that IT can control the device in a user's hands. The device in the user's hands is going to be fundamentally determined by what happens in the consumer world," he said in the keynote.

"We're going have to learn how to deliver capability to users independent of the particular device that they happen to have in their hands at that time of day, and do that in a way that's not only secure on the one hand, but acceptable to the user in the other," he said.

Let us know what you think about the story; email Wendy Schuchart, Site Editor.

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