VMware CEO: We want to make you technologically hip

Paul Maritz - CEO, VMware - Structure 2011NEWS FLASH: Your company’s IT practices are archaic, and young, talented employees want nothing to do with you!¬†While VMware (s vmw) CEO Paul Maritz didn’t come out and say exactly that, his keynote Tuesday morning at EMC World (s emc) did certainly did try to drive home that point.

The “Facebook generation,” as Martiz called it, is post-PC and post-paper, and they want to experience information within the context in which they’re consuming it. And like it or not, they’re the future. They need applications that appeal to them and tools to help them develop applications how they want to.

As he has explained before, the infrastructure software that pads VMware’s bottom line is critical to this vision, but it’s just an enabling technology for new applications. It needs to become “invisible.” That means automation like many enterprises have never experienced it — even VMware.

Maritz shared a story (one he also shared at Structure last year while discussing some of the same topics) of asking some new employees who came from Google (s goog) its ratio of administrators to physical servers. They ultimately came back with an answer of about 1 admin for every 1,000 physical servers. “That is the best metric of what has to happen in the data center,” Maritz said during his presentation. VMware’s ratio at the time was “about an order of magnitude off that number.”

He also beat the drum for big data, especially as it relates to monitoring these large, cloud-like infrastructures in real time. VMware has one customer, he explained, whose cloud environment generates 500 million events an hour — a volume no human could ingest much less make sense of. Much of that might be coming from the mobile devices from which employees are accessing applications, or the potentially millions of devices otherwise feeding data into a system.

If you’re going to be efficient like Google is, if you want to “be able to afford these new experiences that have to be delivered,” automation and analytics are critical.

Further up the stack, Maritz said, “you have to bake the automation into the application.” He called for policy-based management versus script-based management, and policies that follow applications as they move across resources. That means routers, switches, load balancers and other gear need to adhere to logical constructs rather than physical constructs so applications aren’t tied to a single rack or even a single data center.

The young developers building these new types of applications want new platforms and new frameworks, too, Maritz said. He highlighted VMware’s Cloud Foundry service and open source project as an example of how to enable them. Not only does it support the languages, frameworks and components that today’s programmers prefer, but it also plays well with open source ethos — even VMware commits to the open source project go through the same vetting process as external commits, Maritz said. (An interesting sidenote: Maritz said VMware’s commercial Cloud Foundry¬†service, which is housed in the SuperNAP, is running between 5,000 and 10,000 apps at any given time.)

You can expect to hear a lot more about VMware’s vision when I speak with CTO Steve Herrod at our Structure conference next month, but the vision really expands beyond VMware. At Structure, we’ll also talk about everything from cloud computing to software-defined networks to Facebook’s Open Compute Project. It’s all part of a bigger picture around automating what can be automated and making hardware a true commodity that just serves as the home for intelligent software.

In the end, it’s the applications that matter and everything below needs to serve their needs as effectively and as efficiently as possible.