Morphogenesis is the process that gives shapes to organisms from an embryonic stage through a sequence of cell divisions. Starting from a simple embryonic cell, the controlled division and transformation of the cells into different types leads to the creation of a complex organism. The growth of complex organisms is completely autonomic and is one of the best examples of self-organizing systems found in nature. In comparison, the computing infrastructure in current data centers is more static and requires significant human intervention in order to take on the form that is desired. However, emerging technology such as virtualization of servers and networks enables an architecture where distributed computer systems can take different forms using the concept of morphogenesis. Using this vision, all machines in a virtualized data center initially start with a single software image and, using a distributed scheme, adopt a structure in which different images take on the roles of a database server, a web server, a load balancer, a firewall, or a caching proxy in topologies whose structures form on their own. In this paper, we present a novel architecture of a virtualized data center that self-organizes using the principles of morphogenesis. © 2011 IBM.