VMware CEO: Planning for the Post-PC Era

From the Road

VMware CEO Paul Maritz is best known for his 14-year stint at Microsoft, when he oversaw the development and marketing of Windows 95, Windows NT, Windows 2000, Visual Studio, and SQL Server, as well as the Office and Exchange product lines. But now he envisions more tremendous change, as computing evolves into a post-PC era. InfoWorld Editor in Chief Eric Knorr and I talked to Maritz about how VMware plans to step beyond virtualization.

Don’t Rest on Your Laurels

VMware succeeded by “remediating the sins of the client-server generation,” Maritz said, helping enterprises deal with server sprawl and saving on capital expenses. But he doesn’t want VMware to be seen “as the closing chapter of the client-server generation.” To stay ahead of competitors, “you’ve got to make sure that your success doesn’t blind you to what’s going to happen down the road.” In a “post-PC world,” where the computing infrastructure delivers applications and information to many types of devices, VMware has to explain its vision beyond enterprise infrastructure.

Know Your Ecosystem

“Customers are now very much on an infrastructure transformation journey,” that will eventually include applications, Maritz said. During the past few years, he said, developers have “revolted against complexity,” with new programming frameworks such as Ruby on Rails, Spring (which VMware has acquired) and Django, “none of which came from established vendors.” They also don’t want to bother with middleware or with mapping applications into virtual machines. Meanwhile, he observed, new data fabrics (such as VMware-owned GemFire) have emerged to manage massive amounts of data. In this new environment, developers needed an open source platform-as-a-service to provide a “cloaking layer,” isolating applications from the infrastructure details. So VMware developed CloudFoundry and released it under an Apache 2 license.

Have Patience

Infrastructure as a service took off first because enterprises could adopt it without abandoning existing apps, Maritz said. With the Cloud Foundry platform, “we’re deliberately shooting ahead” of what most customers need today. Meanwhile, he said, VMware is preparing for a future in which not everyone in an enterprise uses the same Windows desktop. IT organizations will need a device-independent way to provision end users. “It’s not desktop virtualization,” Maritz said. “It’s really how does IT adapt to a post-PC era in terms of much greater device heterogeneity and a different way that people want to work.” VMware’s Horizon App Manager Service is a step toward adapting to that emerging environment.

Insiders, read the complete interview with Paul Maritz. Not an Insider? Register here.

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