By Sramana Mitra and guest author Siddharth Garg
VMware (NYSE:VMW), the virtualization and cloud infrastructure company, delivers solutions designed to accelerate IT by reducing complexity and enabling more flexible, agile service delivery. VMware enables enterprises to adopt a cloud model that addresses their unique business challenges. The company’s approach accelerates the transition to cloud computing while preserving existing investments and improving security and control. With more than 250,000 customers and 25,000 partners, VMware has solutions to help organizations of all sizes lower costs, become more agile, and preserve freedom of choice.
About Mark Egan
Mark Egan leads VMware’s global information technology group. Under Mark’s leadership, VMware’s IT department is focused on the effective use of IT to make businesses more agile and help them to cut costs. Mark brings more than 30 years of experience in information technology to VMware, most recently serving as partner of the StrataFusion Group, an executive-level consultancy. Mark was CIO at Symantec Corporation for six years during the company’s rapid growth from a consumer publisher with $600 million revenue to the market leader of security with $5 billion revenue. During his tenure at Symantec, Mark led the IT integration through 28 acquisitions, including a $13 billion acquisition of Veritas Software. Prior to Symantec, Mark held senior-level positions at Sun Microsystems, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Atlantic Richfield Corporation, Martin Marietta Data Systems, Walden International Investment Group, and Wells Fargo. Mark holds a master’s degree in finance and international business from the University of San Diego and a bachelor’s degree in computer science from the University of Clarion.
Sramana Mitra: Hi, Mark. Welcome to the series. We have done a lot of Thought Leaders in Cloud Computing interviews and talked to a number of people, and you will see that in many of those conversations, other executives have discussed VMware’s being one of their top virtualization or cloud computing initiatives. In this interview, we are talking to you, and you run VMware’s IT operation. I would love to hear more about VMware and your philosophy of cloud computing.
Mark Egan: What we do internally is that we want to be a showcase on how to use virtualization and how to use cloud computing in the IT marketplace today. We use our products and work closely with our R&D organizations and and with customers to make sure that we provide the best value to them in the process.
SM: So, is virtualization pretty much the only cloud computing initiative inside VMware, or is there a broader thought process driving cloud computing inside the company?
ME: We always look at cloud computing on three levels. The first is the infrastructure level, and you have private clouds and public clouds. The question is, How do you abstract your infrastructure and use it as a pool [to draw from], and then scale up and scale down and move those resources around.
The second level is applications. We also look at that in three. You have legacy applications that you want to make sure you optimize and get the most value out because you have done a great deal of investment there. Then you have SaaS applications which aren’t on premise and come with management challenges and so forth; nevertheless, there is going to be SaaS. Then, finally, there are modern applications. The view we have there is that you are going to want to use platform to build those. You want to have great user interfaces (UIs), and you want to be able to really move much faster than you had in the past.
Finally, there is the end-user level, and this is where there is a proliferation of devices. You have the traditional PCs and laptops, and then you have the iPads, PDAs, and so forth. Our view is that this is going to be really driven by the consumer. The devices are going to change all the time and what we have to do, as IT professions, is deliver all of our applications on a device of choice.
So, when we think cloud computing, we really think about it as those three areas. One of the key tenets to get there is virtualization, and virtualization enables you to optimize your environment either at the server level or at the desktop level. If you look back in time, you had a great deal of unused capacity, and with virtualization you can harness all that and use it much more effectively.
SM: I have a number of follow-up questions. Let me clarify one thing – you said in the application layer when you are dealing with SaaS, your SaaS applications are also on-premise. Does that mean that you are not using any public cloud SaaS applications?
ME: No, I am sorry. SaaS applications would all be third-party applications in the cloud.
SM: OK, got it. Now, given that you are trying to be a showcase for your technology and your philosophy across all three levels, would you describe what an ideal scenario or implementation of virtualization and cloud computing in each of these three areas looks like? Help me to paint the picture of what the infrastructure layer looks like, or the application layer. What does it look like, and what does it look like with the devices [in the mix]?
ME: Absolutely. If we start with the infrastructure layer, what we have done internally and what we recommend that our customers do is to set up a private cloud. With private a cloud, you get back to those concepts of being able to pool your resources, scale up and down, and you have a lot of flexibility to move things around. We are standardized on X86 hardware, and we are 98% virtualized. What I can do is run an efficient environment. I have nine staff members who run our infrastructure. We have a 3,000 square foot data center, and I can move my resources around during critical periods like the quarter end, which we are in right now, or for a big marketing campaign.
In addition to that, what we recommend and we do internally is start to use the public cloud. The area we are focusing here is our development and test environment. We have a third party, and we are setting up our environments there so that our applications team can decide by quarter how many of these environments they need based on their road map, and then they can just order them. That way, the applications team can cut and build that into the cost of the project, and I can expand and contract as I need to based on the work that we have going on here. The key for us, and I would say for our customers, is just making those two work. We call that the hybrid cloud.