From a business software perspective, this week's biggest announcements came from VMware, which hosted its annual VMworld conference. While there were a lot of specific product announcements, what I found most interesting was the concept of the software-defined data center.
CEO Paul Maritz, who is retiring as VMware CEO, said the big trend is moving IT from the physical world to the virtualized world to a cloud world. In 2008, Maritz said, 25 percent of applications were running on virtualized servers; now about 60 percent are.
We're approaching the end of a successful 50 year journey to convert paper-based processes to computer-based ones, Maritz said. Over the next four years, we will be moving from PCs to mobile devices, with new kinds of applications using more data. For that to happen, existing IT will have to become more efficient and more agile.
Incoming CEO Pat Gelsinger expects that in a few years, more than 90 percent of workloads will be virtualized, but that provisioning of new services needs to be much faster, not only for deploying servers but networking and storage. He talked about creating "the virtual data center of the future" that would include all of the features needed for an application. Today's data centers involve silos of equipment and the big vendors are in fact trying to create new silos. (This seemed particularly aimed at products like Oracle's Exadata offering.)
To do this, Gelsinger announced vCloud Suite 5.1, which integrates the company's virtualization, cloud infrastructure, and management portfolios into a single offering. This is meant to be a comprehensive solution designed to simplify the adoption of cloud-based technologies. As part of this, the company launched a new version of its vSphere 5.1, a new version of the company's virtualization platform. This includes support for virtual machines with up to 64 virtual CPUs, and improvements to its VMotion package to enable live migration of VMs without the need for shared storage.
Gelsinger talked about the need to support multiple cloud environments, including the company's Cloud Foundry tool for managing VMware, Amazon, and other cloud systems; DynamicOps to enable automation and orchestration among multiple cloud providers; and Nicera, its recently acquired solution for software defined networking.
Gelsinger announced a big pricing change that ends the firm's controversial vRAM pricing plan (which priced by the amount of RAM used), replacing it with a solution that is priced per CPU.
Also at the conference, the company announced the alpha version of the Horizon suite designed to help mobile workers connect from anywhere using any device. This is aimed at the growing number of companies that support Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies, enabling IT departments to better manage such devices and access. The company also demonstrated how a combination of VMware View and Wanova Mirage will allow better access to Windows desktops from multiple devices.