End of PC era leads to channel opportunity: VMware

LAS VEGAS – With more than 50 per cent of total workloads now virtualized and a new virtual machine born every six seconds, VMware Inc. (NYSE: VMW) CEO Paul Maritz told attendees at VMworld 2011 that the post-PC era is on the way, and the vendor will need the channel’s help to capitalize on the opportunity.

Maritz said the change is being driven by the collision of traditional enterprise IT with the growing IT consumerization trend, where users increasingly want the flexibility to work how they want on the device of their choice. It will bring changes in devices, with smartphones and and tablets joining traditional PCs as end-points where business is done. And it will mean major changes for application development and backend systems, as traditional relational databases can’t handle the scale of application development and delivery necessary to serve users that will demand real-time analytics.

With cloud computing at its core, Maritz sees three major challenges for IT coming from these trends.

“The first is how do we make it fundamentally more efficient to be able to run that subset of the client server-era apps we can’t leave behind and need to keep going for some time, but need to do more efficiently to focus our effort on new and renewed apps,” said Maritz.

The second is to serve the demand for real-time information to drive business decisions.“This can’t be done by putting more lipstick on our existing applications,” said Maritz.

And third, users expect to be able to chose the device they’ll consume these applications on.

“IT can’t control the device, that will be driven by the consumer world,” said Maritz. “IT needs to deliver applications and service independent of the device.” It’s what VMware is calling the “post-PC” era, and it’s driving many of the product releases and announcements the vendor made at VMworld. VMware CTO Steve Herrod said a key focus is simplifying management for IT; they need to manage people, he said, not devices.

Among the new offerings is VMware View 5, the vendor’s desktop virtualization and management tool, with promised improvements around bandwidth, support for 3D graphics, unified communications integration and virtual desktop personalization with persona management.

VMware Horizon has also been updated to extend its identity, policy and entitlement engine to virtualized Windows applications and connected mobile workspaces, with a tool for application management and delivery and another to deploy a user’s personal virtualized applications to an Android-based device.

Grant Aitken, VMware’s area vice-president for Canada, said if they haven’t already done so, channel partners need to fully develop their own strategies to help their customers move to the cloud.

“That probably includes partners partnering with a service provider or becoming one themselves, because the recurring revenue model of services on demand is something that that’s driving a lot of activity with end-customers,” said Aitken.

“Partners need to have some offerings in that space.” VMware is at the forefront of the hybrid cloud play that is finding a lot of interest with enterprise customers said Roger Singh, CTO with Scalar Decisions, a Toronto-based VMware partner.

“What they’re doing is enabling partners to choose the platform that best suits them (and their customers), and anything that delivers on customer needs in my eyes us good,” said Singh.

Scalar’s focus is on the data centre, and while he won’t claim to be an end-user computing expert. Singh said it does seem that there’s a sea change happening in the consumer space, and with the consumerization of IT “How exactly it will relate to the enterprise and business I’m not sure, but VMware is smart to embrace that change,” said Singh. It’s an opportunity for them to gain in the market.” While VMware is working to make the endpoint less of a concern for IT by making it easier to serve a virtualized experience to any device, and the traditional PC may soon be in the minority of Internet-connected devices, the endpoint is far from irrelevant for IT said Michelle Warren, principal analyst with MW Research & Consulting in Toronto.

“The end devices are even more relevant today. The iPad changed the market but tablets have been around for years, and we’ve had pen-based computing even longer. The change has been in the way we use them,” said Warren. “If the end device didn’t matter, we’d all have the same thing using it in the same way. And IT will still be expected to support our hardware, no matter what.”

Follow Jeff Jedras on Twitter: @JeffJedrasCDN

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Jeff Jedras
Jeff Jedras
A veteran technology and business journalist, Jeff Jedras began his career in technology journalism in the late 1990s, covering the booming (and later busting) Ottawa technology sector for Silicon Valley North and the Ottawa Business Journal, as well as everything from municipal politics to real estate. He later covered the technology scene in Vancouver before joining IT World Canada in Toronto in 2005, covering enterprise IT for ComputerWorld Canada. He would go on to cover the channel as an assistant editor with CDN. His writing has appeared in the Vancouver Sun, the Ottawa Citizen and a wide range of industry trade publications.

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