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8/16/2010
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Bob Evans
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Global CIO: Bank Of VMware: Its Bold Plan To Fund Your New Applications

VMware says its new strategy can give you not only the technology platform for creating new applications but also the funding to pay for them.

(Part 2 of 2-part series on VMware's strategy.)

VMware CEO Paul Maritz believes the IT industry is on the verge of embracing a profound new approach to enterprise architecture, enterprise applications, and IT strategy—but it's a concept that requires some significant leaps of faith by CIOs, a group that until recently has not exactly been known for embracing flights of fancy.

And while Maritz says his company's strategy is profoundly different than that of IBM or Oracle, he also admits those companies are, like VMware, asking customers to reject some long-held and almost sacred beliefs of how IT should work, what is open to discussion, and what constitutes absolute heresy.

In Maritz's view, the Noah's Ark version of IT—two of everything, and everything different—needs to make way for the massively interconnected and highly virtual "giant computer" of the future, one that's centrally managed, speaks one language, and can be not only domesticated but also housebroken and even trained.

What's particularly compelling about Maritz's vision of this future is that it also offers, at least hypothetically, to liberate for CIOs a massive portion of their IT budget that was formerly enslaved to servicing and overseeing and herding and coping with all that variety, all that diversity, and all that incompatibility.

In fact, Maritz says that VMware's betting the company on its belief that its new three-tiered approach to virtualization—at the infrastructure level, applications level, and device level—will not only trim some CapEx dollars but also begin hacking away at the much more significant OpEx costs whose sheer volume has prevented CIOs from being able to buy or build the new customer-focused enterprise applications that are the key to competitiveness and success.

"So this is really about how do we take these existing apps—because ultimately business value is all about the apps—and put them on a journey," Maritz said in a recent interview at VMware headquarters. (Part 1 of this series is Global CIO: VMware CEO On Future Of Virtualization.)

"And precisely because you can't rewrite them you have to be able to do it underneath them at the infrastructure layer. So the other thing we're doing down at the infrastructure layer is that we're saying we can help you build this giant computer internally—and we'll call it the 'private cloud' cause it sounds much more sexy," he says with a laugh—"and we will increasingly allow you to organize your applications into what we call the virtual data centers."

I know, I know—you might be seeing terms like "giant computer" and sexy private clouds and "virtual data centers" and wondering if maybe Maritz has recently taken a sharp blow to the head that's loosened his grip on reality.

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But as is becoming more and more clear these days as the demands of a highly data-intensive future collide with the limited infrastructures and applications architectures of the past decade, the standard approaches might be fine for preserving the status quo but they are simply incapable of handling the profoundly more-demanding information flows, business process, and global dynamics of the future.

And as Maritz lays out his vision for what VMware's customers need, it also becomes quite clear that he's also describing a transformation that his own company needs to make in order to remain relevant in the hearts and minds of CIOs and, increasingly, CEOs:

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