The top two 2010 priorities of global CIOs are virtualization and cloud computing, according to a Gartner survey released in January. That has led some to conjecture that we're moving toward a world where a few big players like Google, Amazon, IBM, and Microsoft will host all of the world's enterprise data centers and companies will simply rent capacity from these big infrastructure providers.
EMC CEO Joe Tucci doesn't buy it. "We have a different vision," Tucci said on Monday at EMC World 2010 in Boston.
For more on EMC World 2010 and perspectives on the latest in tech, you can also follow my Twitter feed: @jasonhiner
Tucci believes enterprises aren't going to give up their existing investments in custom applications and configurations for things like ERP and line-of-business apps. But, he also acknowledged that the current data center situation is not sustainable.
"IT infrastructure has gotten too complex, too inefficient, too inflexible, and too costly," Tucci said. Plus, "You're managing a lot more with the same or less resources," he told the IT professionals at EMC World, referring to the fact that IT departments are managing an ever-growing and ever-more-valuable collection of corporate data on a stagnant IT budget.
"We need a new approach," said Tucci (right). "Enter the cloud. This is the new approach."
He then contrasted the benefits of today's data centers with the benefits of cloud computing.
Today's data centers:
"In a way, the attributes of one are the negative of the other," Tucci said.
Then he explained how EMC will combine the benefits of both with its "private cloud" strategy. "Take the best of both worlds and bring them together, with no compromises," he said.
Tucci also criticized the data center verticalization strategy that companies such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco are taking, saying it will lead to a new kind of lock-in that will ultimately lend itself to inefficiency. He said EMC's private cloud strategy swaps out verticalization with virtualization and allows all of your data center solution providers — even EMC competitors — to plug in.
This "private cloud" notion is becoming the driving mission in EMC's corporate strategy. The company named the entire EMC World 2010 conference "Journey to the Private Cloud." And, at the opening of the conference, EMC unveiled its V-Plex product for virtualizing entire data centers at the data level. As a technology, V-Plex is clearly the foundation of the private cloud strategy.
It's also important to understand that EMC is pitching V-Plex to both enterprises and service providers (like Amazon and Rackspace, for example), and it's critical to the strategy that service providers sign on, because EMC wants enterprises to be able to use V-Plex service providers for disaster recovery, fail-over, and to buy additional server and storage capacity when needed. In other words, EMC needs service providers on board so that enterprises can get the full benefits of cloud computing while still maintaining their own private cloud.
The other thing to keep in mind is that EMC's cloud play is aimed entirely at established enterprises with lots of legacy applications, legacy code, and legacy technologies. EMC wants to give these companies an on-ramp to the cloud computing highway. That's what the private cloud is all about.
EMC's new product mix and private cloud strategy is not for startups or even high-growth SMBs. Those companies can save themselves a lot of complexity and headaches by going straight to Google, Force.com, Rackspace, and/or Amazon.
EMC is throwing in its lot with old-line enterprises for one big reason: There's a lot more money in it, because it involves solving complex problems on a large scale, and the companies that need that kind of help have much larger IT budgets than startups and up-and-comers. Amazon and Google can have those.
Jason Hiner is Editor in Chief of TechRepublic and Long Form Editor of ZDNet. He writes about the people, products, and ideas changing how we live and work in the 21st century. He's co-author of the book, Follow the Geeks.