VMware chief executive Paul Maritz used his keynote at VMworld 2010 to warn of a shift in the IT industry that will radically rewrite the computing landscape.
Maritz explained that the existing client/server model is being replaced by a virtualised cloud system, and that IT services will increasingly focus on delivering customised applications.
"This is the new stack, and we are in a transition from a client/server world to the stack of the cloud era," he said.
"One thing history teaches us is that there are winners and losers in moving from stacks. But something like this will happen if we are for it or not."
VMware no longer sees itself as a pure virtualisation company, Maritz said, but as a datacentre software provider. The number of virtual applications has outstripped the installed base since 2008, and the industry has to prepare for a virtual future.
Companies investing in virtualisation are now building virtual datacentres, he said, where tiered virtual machines are being created in third-party datacentres so that companies can scale to meet demand.
Rick Jackson, chief marketing officer at VMware, added that the first phase of any virtualisation is about reducing cost and increasing resiliency.
He claimed that Microsoft's Exchange and SharePoint systems run more efficiently on virtual systems, but this was disputed by some in the industry.
"It is well known that high input/output applications such as SQL and Exchange can suffer from drops in performance when they are run on a virtualised server," said Michael Allen, director of performance management at Compuware.
"Although this depends on the number of users and hardware resources allocated to the application, companies do need to baseline performance to ensure that applications on a virtualised server run at the same level of performance as those on a dedicated server."
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