Tuesday, May 31, 2011

The Future of Cloud Computing: Extreme Personalization and VMware's Project Horizon

The future of cloud computing is not the public cloud, the private cloud or hybrid clouds. Such discussions focus too much on delivery methodologies and not enough on what users care most about: access to the resources they need to do what they want and need to do.

From that perspective, the future is one of extreme personalization. Each authorized user only wants to see what they want and need to do their jobs well and successfully, on whichever device or devices they happen to have. And each user wants this regardless of which particular part of any particular cloud happens to host each resource each user wants and needs.

No pressure. But no company can or should attempt to promise or deliver such personalization without adequate management and security. For that way lies madness, or at least some very likely corporate leadership changes.

Here's an example of how to achieve extreme personalization while avoiding potentially career-limiting decisions: VMware's Project Horizon. The goal: managed, secure access to any authorized application or resource, by any authorized user, from any supported device. The first stages: VMware's Horizon App Manager, plus the company's acquisitions of SlideRocket (cloud-based presentations), Zimbra (cloud-based, enterprise-class e-mail) and most recently, SocialCast (cloud- or premise-based, enterprise-class collaboration).

The still-evolving VMware solution set enables users to see "storefront-like" portals for access to the applications for which they are authorized, while enabling corporate IT departments to control said access at pretty granular levels, and to extend incumbent security models to embrace cloud-based resources. Users get extreme personalization, while IT gets to sleep more soundly and spend more weekends away from the office or the data center.

Other vendors, notably Google, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP, are working on and/or promising and/or delivering slivers of similarly promising approaches to extreme personalization. Expect to see more and more offerings from more and more vendors, promising to combine simplified user access to cloud- and premise-based business resources with truly effective management and security. Fortunately, VMware has the pedigree and deep pockets necessary to establish a significant "first/early mover" advantage, and to give business decision makers solution elements with which they can and should start exploring extreme personalization now.