Cloud era driving need to renew entire IT infrastructure

Industry moving into post-PC era where user interface no longer about one OS or device, and businesses must relook compute, storage, networking and application development frameworks to better meet end-user demand.

The industry is moving into a post-PC, cloud era, in which the user interface no longer belongs to one operating system (OS) or device, and IT infrastructures--including computing, storage and networking--as well as application development frameworks will need to be renewed, according to VMware executives.

CEO Paul Maritz stressed the need for businesses to start thinking beyond the desktop computer which, he said, was no longer the most essential component in today's enterprise environment.

Increasingly, users are working on a multitude of devices, said Maritz during his keynote address here Monday to kick off VMworld 2011. With cloud, billions of connected users and devices now come into play, he noted, adding that three years from now, less than 20 percent of devices connecting to the Internet will be Windows PCs.

"With this kind of scale, we'll need new technology and approaches into IT," he said. "We're seeing new ways of deploying services and seeing new data fabrics." He explained that relational databases, for instance, cannot handle the scale and rate of data being developed, and businesses now need access to customized data in real-time.

Maritz said the emergence of the cloud era will drive the need for organizations to modernize their IT infrastructure, encompassing computing, storage and networking, as well as operations in order to deliver existing and future applications. The industry is also moving from an era where apps were written for a non-realtime environment to a realm where everyone needs to respond in real-time. This means application development will have to undergo fundamental changes, he said.

He added that end-users now expect access to apps and data anytime, anywhere and via any device, driving companies to look at how it bridges existing modes of end-user access to new ones.

All these changes are going to be profound and will be key challenges for businesses, he said.

Noting that 2010 shipment of tablets and smartphones surpassed PC, Chris Young, VMware's vice president and general manager of end-user computing, said during a media briefing: "We no longer do our computing in a single place and this is creating a lot of problems for businesses."

He noted that end-users want anytime, anywhere access and they want new applications. At the same time, IT departments have to deal with rising costs, lower budgets as well as security and compliance risks.

Andrew Dutton, VMware's Asia-Pacific Japan senior vice president and general manager, said at the media briefing that CIOs today are driven by two major forces. First, the sheer complexity of existing IT infrastructures which, Dutton said, have come to the end of their shelf-lives. "We can do very little with the old IT. It's costing 80 cents for every IT dollar just to maintain existing systems, so it's a burden on the balance sheet rather than a business tool," he said.

Second, CIOs realize the need to take advantage of the connected, mobile information-centric world, where young professionals today gather information very differently and the days of PC-constructed offices are over, he noted.

And VMware's new product updates this week are geared toward these requirements, providing businesses with the abilities to move to a virtualized, cloud-based IT-as-a-service model, he said.

Upcoming product releases
Among the announcements unveiled Tuesday were upcoming releases in VMware Horizon, which would include a centralized console to manage access, deployment and updates to virtual Windows applications, regardless of the device type and underlying OS. Parked under Horizon Application Manager, these new features will be available in beta by year-end.

The software vendor also unveiled the latest version of its VMware desktop virtualization platform, View 5, which will include PCoIP (PC-over-IP) Optimization Controls that Young said can reduce bandwidth requirements by up to 75 percent. View 5.0 will also support 3D viewing capabilities as well as unified communications, paving the way for partners in this market segment to offer scalable unified communication products on the platform, he said.

The new release will be available in "coming weeks", according to VMware.

Asked if View 5 placed the company in greater competition against Citrix, which has a strong focus on desktop virtualization, Young concurred, noting that VMware and Citrix were frequently cited as the two main market players in this space. He said VMware has been "very successful" competing against the latter because of View's close integration with the market's leading server virtualization platform, VMware's vSphere.

"We continue to integrate security and management extensions that are part of our vSphere portfolio," he added.

The vendor also announced the availability of its mobile virtualization product, Horizon Mobile, on Samsung devices which will ship with the VMware hypervisor. Already available on LG phones, Young said plans were in place to extend Horizon Mobile support to carriers.

The mobile virtualization platform allows end-user devices to be segregated into personal and work spaces, allowing IT administrators to extend the workspace to their users' mobile phones. It enables them to create and manage a workspace on the device that is a fully-encrypted virtual machine and be able, for instance, to add corporate apps and remove corporate data on the phone. At the same time, they will not be able to access the employee's "personal" workspace and data sitting in the mobile device.

VMware earlier launched the vFabric Data Director which, it said, would enable IT managers to better manage increasingly heterogeneous database environments via policy-based automation, and streamline application development process through self-service provisioning.

Eileen Yu of ZDNet Asia reported from the VMworld 2011 conference in Las Vegas, USA.