VMware CEO Says SaaS Could Leave IT 'Holding the Bag'

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SAN FRANCISCO – VMware CEO Paul Maritz had a clear message for anyone confused about what his company does. "We long ceased being a hypervisor company. If you want one for free, we have one. We make our money on data center automation," Maritz said during a press Q&A following his keynote here at the company's VMworld conference. In his VMworld keynote, CEO Paul Maritz warned that IT needs new tools to deal with the growing wave of cloud-based applications and consumer devices enterprise users are adopting. The solution? IT as a Service.

That broader vision of the role of virtualization in the enterprise and what VMware (NYSE: VMW) called IT as a Service, was a key theme addressed by Maritz and other VMware executives during the keynote session that also included several related new product announcements and an R&D effort called Project Horizon.

Among those new products is VMware View 4.5 desktop management software designed to let enterprise users access cloud-based applications and services on a broad range of devices both inside and outside the enterprise. VMware View 4.5 uses PC-over-IP technology to give users a virtual desktop via a LAN or WAN connection as well as a "Local Mode" that enables secure offline access using local processing, e.g. working on a notebook computer in an airplane without Wi-Fi.

Company officials said VMware View 4.5 will let IT deploy a secure, "highly responsive" and stateless virtual desktop for under $252 per user, a cost it said is more than 60 percent lower than its earlier solutions.

Maritz said more management solutions are needed to deal with the growing use of Software as a Service (SaaS) applications like Salesforce in the enterprise as well as consumer client devices like Apple's iPad.

As an example of the growing business acceptance of SaaS apps, Maritz noted that VMware now uses 15 different SaaS applications in its infrastructure. "I didn't approve a single one and they don't need a single sign on," he added, sounding somewhat exasperated. "We're going to have to deal with these new applications or IT is going to be left holding the bag."

During the keynote, VMware announced the acquisition of Tricipher, a company that specializes in secure, single sign-on and identity services in the cloud.

VMware also detailed its Project Horizon effort designed to give users a secure "cloud identity" to access approved Web services and applications from any device and from any location using a kind of App Store model.

In a demo using an iPad, VMware execs showed a list of applications on the tablet that included Salesforce, Google apps and others that could be fully provisioned for use with a few clicks. VMware CTO Stephen Herrod said one of the goals of the project is to extend Microsoft's Active Directory to support SaaS applications regardless of what device the user is on.

While he didn't make many direct comments about his former employer and VMware competitor Microsoft, Maritz said the PC operating system has ceased to be a source of innovation.

"The innovation isn't happening inside the operating system and hasn't been for 20 years," Maritz said. Instead, he pointed to new open programming frameworks like Spring (owned by VMware) and Ruby on Rails as driving innovation related to new applications.

Analyst Charles King said VMware is showing a broader vision at this year's VMworld.

"In the past, the company's focus has been very data-center centric," King, principal analyst with Pund-IT, told InternetNews.com. "Now they're going further to show the value to end users and they're really getting behind this hybrid cloud idea where before it was more about public and private clouds."

"What's going to be key for VMware is how developers respond to what they're doing," he added.

David Needle is the West Coast bureau chief at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

This article was originally published on Sep 1, 2010
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Tags: SaaS, VMware, VMworld
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