Enterprises IT departments that want to meet tough business demands need to copy how Google runs its datacentres, according VMware CEO Paul Maritz.
IT departments are trapped between competing demands to reduce running costs while also supporting new business models and creating new ways for customers to interact with the business, Maritz told the EMC World conference in Las Vegas.
The answer is large scale automation of the datacentre, Maritz said, adding that enterprises should aim for the operational efficiency of Google, a company that has about 1.3 million servers and a ratio of one admin per 1,000 physical servers.
"That is the best metric of what has happen in the datacentre, we have got to get to dramatically higher levels of operational efficiency, otherwise we won't be able to afford these new experiences
that need to be delivered," he said.
"We have to change the datacentre from something that's static and fixed and relatively expensive, to something that is highly automated, dynamic and very cost effective."
Infrastructure automation means widespread virtualisation of commodity-grade compute, networks and storage, Maritz said.
"Our goal should be to make sure that enterprises spend as little time as possible on infrastructure. It is not what delivers business value." he said.
It should be easy for the business to hand the infrastructure over to someone else to run, whether that is in a private or public cloud, he said.
VMware is working to overcome obstacles to entirely virtualising physical IT infrastructure, Maritz said, through using vShield to virtualise security functions, such as anti-virus and firewalls, which
are still carried out by physical devices in many datacentres, and securely federating access to virtual environments via vCloud.
But Maritz warned it was important that that incompatibility doesn't result in businesses being unable to switch between different cloud infrastructures.
"In the cloud era are we going to go back to the bad old era of the mainframe? Where these clouds become Californian motels that you can check into, but never check out. In other words once you start writing your apps in the Amazon cloud or VMware cloud you are stuck there forever?
"Or, if you think about infrastructure clouds becoming the new hardware, will the software industry come up with a portability layer that will allow applications to be written to a high level of
abstraction and moved across infrastructure clouds?"
VMware was trying to help introduce this level of software interoperability between cloud infrastructures, he said, through its open source platform-as-a-service offering Cloud Foundry, which he hopes "will generate a Linux for the cloud".
Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.