Companies will have as many servers as employees in the future, which will make technologies such as Data Centre Markup Language (DCML) key, according to Marc Andreessen, one of the founders of the internet.
Speaking at the California in IT (Cal-IT) conference in London, Andreessen - co-founder of Netscape - predicted that server use will rise dramatically over the next 10 years, leaving many companies running a server per employee.
Server farms will grow and web application servers handling applications and network management will replace old client/server architecture.
"We're seeing large companies running 10, 20 and 50,000 servers nowadays," said Andreessen, currently president of software manufacturer Opsware.
"In the future you'll have as many severs as employees. Linux is changing the server equation - not having to pay for open source is a persuasive argument for IT managers."
In order to make this more achievable Opsware and others have joined together to form the non-profit DCML Organisation, to promote common standards among data centres and server farms.
DCML lets data centre components such as servers, operating systems and applications share their specifications with each other and with management tools.
It is an application of XML and promises to make network management simpler by automating many device discovery and system administration processes.
So far big name companies like EDS and Computer Associates are behind the standard, as are 25 other companies, and the final specifications should be ratified by Christmas.
Opsware and others will bring out DCML-compliant products in the first half of next year.
"It's clear we're going through a similar paradigm change to the move from mainframes," said Simon Harrison, chief technology officer for SAP UK.
"There's a similar transition now to web services. At the end of the day it's all about who's best at delivering business processes that solve industry-specific challenges."
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