VMworld 2013: Striking a balance between long-term goals, current realities for enterprise IT

Is the data center dead, or long live data center? Those are the sentiments being debated among developers and executives alike at VMworld 2013 this week.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

SAN FRANCISCO -- For anyone at VMworld 2013 this week, it is clear that VMware's forecast for the future of data centers (and IT overall) is based upon software-defined networking.

However, there are still plenty of questions surrounding that strategy, causing many developers, analysts, and media personnel to pose questions about how secure this path is and what happens to the hardware altogether.

"Any new business should consider going 100 percent cloud from the very start," Andreessen asserted.

Speaking during a panel discussion on Monday afternoon, VMware CEO Pat Gelsinger further stressed that a hybrid cloud deployment model is the right approach to IT, describing that "this balance of the two" (meaning private and public clouds) is the right answer.

To simplify: That still necessitates some amount of local hardware, but based on VMware's latest releases, it looks like the idea is to as much as possible to the cloud as the technology -- and comfort levels with it -- evolve.

Venture capital magnate Marc Andreessen concurred, suggesting that one of the characteristics of businesses (of any size) in general is that they have to deal with lots of regulation and operate at high-scale.

He added that one of the huge advantages with a startup is that they typically have "a clean sheet of paper."

"Any new business should consider going 100 percent cloud from the very start," Andreessen asserted, explaining that his VC firm, Andreessen Horowitz, is seeing this happen with virtually every startup in Silicon Valley these days.

Andreessen also commented that it's unusual to see startups with a capital expenditures budget so soon.

Brushing off concerns around scaling capabilities, Andy Bechtolsheim, chief development officer at Arista Networks, remarked that rapid adoption of new technologies is still available to enterprises -- at least within their own data centers.

Although this might be more applicable to smaller businesses, Bechtolsheim noted that one more appealing thing about the cloud is the ease of deployment, describing that all you need is a credit card to get online.

Regardless of the optimism being advertised, there are certain issues around total cloud adoption that cannot be ignored. Two of the big ones that came up during the discussion were the economics of internal costs and security.

Gelsinger admitted that he doesn't think it will be for at least "decades" before companies stop building their own data centers, mainly due to security compliance regulations and fears.

Andreessen continued to champion cloud as the only way to go, arguing that he thinks the cloud is "going to be viewed as far more stable" than on-premises storage, continuing on to say that the cloud is already safer than most security environments.

Gelsinger agreed with this point to some extent, quipping that if there was "any speculation" about cloud versus local security, "[Edward] Snowden took care of that."

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