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October 9, 2012

VMware CEO outlines software-defined data centre dream

More automation, fewer ancient artefacts, says Pat Gelsinger

By Steve Evans

Many of today’s data centres are nothing more than IT museums, according to VMware’s new CEO Pat Gelsinger.

Speaking in Europe for the first time since replacing Paul Maritz as the boss of the virtualisation maven, Gelsinger laid out his vision for what VMware calls the software-defined data centre. During his keynote at the VMworld Europe 2012 conference in Barcelona, Gelsinger spoke of the transformation taking place in the industry, with the data centre in particular becoming a much more automated place.

"The IT industry is in a fundamental state of change and this wave of disruption we see is being led by cloud computing," he said. "This is fundamentally changing every aspect of how we build and operate data centres, not just at the technology level but also at the IT level. It has been in a reactive state, where a large part of the budget is being spent on just keeping things going. Now we’re moving into a proactive state."

Part of this change is the evolution of the software-defined data centre. VMware defines this as having all the infrastructure virtualised and delivered as a service and where control of the data centre is entirely automated by software.

This is a significant shift from much of today’s infrastructure, Gelsinger said. "As good as all this sounds, we are still limited by physical aspects: Networking configurations, security policies, firewall configurations and so on. What if those were as easy to provision as a VM was?"

The self-provisioning of these services as part of the VM itself is what Gelsinger means when he talks of the software-defined data centre, and where VMware’s definition comes from.

The move towards a software-defined data centre will take the industry away from the legacy infrastructure that is still very widely used. "If you walk into a data centre today it is like a museum of IT’s past; there’s the layer of the databases, the mainframes, the mission-critical environments. While we have made great strides virtualising the Windows and Linux world, we still see all these parts of the data centre still being a museum of the past."

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Part of VMware’s plans for the software-defined data centre include a revamp of its vCloud Suite, including the integration of technology gained from its DynamicOps acquisition, which is brought into vCloud as vCloud Automation Centre.

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