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EMC chief executive Joe Tucci believes IT customers will have their choice from hundreds of viable cloud computing service, and that the cloud market will not be dominated by a small group of vendors, he said at the EMC World conference in Boston on Monday.

EMC is developing its own cloud service known as Atmos Online, which will offer both storage and server capacity over the Internet, similar to Amazon's popular Simple Storage Service and Elastic Compute Cloud.

But EMC is focusing most of its marketing efforts on helping customers build private cloud networks that can interoperate with public clouds.

"We will have tens of thousands of private clouds and hundreds of public clouds," Tucci said.

Tucci said some industry observers predict the public cloud market will consist of just two or three major cloud networks, but that EMC has "a very different vision … for internal data centers to become private clouds and external data centers, through service providers, to become public clouds, and they will work together."

Atmo Online, EMC's stab at the public cloud market, consists of a storage service that is up and running, and a compute service which is in beta.

"We have real customers doing real work now, and we're forming our marketing plans," Tucci said.

Tucci made the comments during a Q&A session with media members and during an interview with Network World. He didn't reveal much about EMC's technology plans for Atmos Online but said EMC will rely on partners to bolster its compute service.

EMC is obviously a storage company first, but Tucci said "there's very few applications where you need only storage. Most need storage and compute together."

On the compute side, Tucci said "my preference is to do it with our partners. I don't want to compete with our partners. I'd rather work with our service provider partners that have that capability."

Tucci said EMC and its partners will eventually offer cloud services that are more comprehensive than Amazon's because "we can address existing workloads that are virtualised."

EMC, of course, owns VMware, which sells a virtualisation platform that it describes as a new type of operating system for cloud networks.

Cloud networks will rely almost exclusively on x86 systems, which VMware virtualises, rather than platforms like Unix or the mainframe, Tucci said.

With Intel's latest x86 servers, "on a single server you can get up to a terabyte of memory. You can build one with eight sockets, and with eight sockets you get 8TB of memory. These are incredibly powerful processors."

Cisco's Unified Computing System, and other technologies will also be critical to building private cloud networks, he said."If you look at the building blocks to stand up a private cloud, you cannot get them all today from EMC," Tucci said. "We do not make a server. We don't make networking connectivity."

On another topic, Tucci discussed how a shift toward centralised storage will hasten the ongoing move from rigid desktop environments to a mobile personal computing experience.

With personal information stored centrally, perhaps in a cloud service, users will be free to pick the hottest device out there, he said. Some may want an iPad and a smartphone, others may choose a laptop and a regular cell phone.

"I think the concept of a personal computer is going to changed dramatically. Obviously it's going to be much more mobile," he said. "There will be all kinds of combinations. I look around here, and there's an amazing number of you that have PCs, with a smartphone next to it."