Storagebod Rotating Header Image

Is VMware *that* damn important?

Sure VMware is important but is it that important; this was the thought which crossed my mind as I was reading the various tweets from the HDS bloggers day.

As an industry are we getting too fixated on a single product and are we damning  great products because their VMware integration is not perfect?  Storage vendors seem to be falling over themselves to support VMware but still the great majority of workloads running in data-centres are not virtualised.

Yet as the VMware juggernaut powers on; it seems as though the assumption is all workloads will be virtualised and they will be virtualised using VMware.

I wonder if it is not time for people to stand back and think, are we virtualising for a reason or are we simply following the herd. VMware is not a workload, it’s an enabling technology; we talk about VMware allowing us to run our infrastructure in a more efficient manner and I see PPTs from vendors boasting about how many VMs their arrays can support but do I really need to be able to run 5,000,000 VMs on a single array? And yes, I’m sure there is someone out there who does but the great majority?

Don’t allow yourselves to become distracted by large numbers which realistically have little impact on your day-to-day. Consider the workloads which are actually running and look at the infrastructure that can support these workloads; don’t build an infrastructure and then look for workloads to run on it.

It would be interesting and I suspect enlightening to look at current workloads running on virtual machines and consider whether running virtualised is actually enhancing effectiveness and efficiency or is it adding more complexity for little return. I suspect a lot of people reading this will be saying but of course virtualisation is enhancing my effectiveness and efficiency and I will answer how do you know?

It would also be interesting to look at the VMs and ponder, is this VM actually doing anything useful and are my utilisation figures a veneer? Instead of virtualising, how much could I just switch off? Your vendor doesn’t want you to switch anything off; virtualisation and VMware make it easy not to switch anything off…but perhaps you should.


  1. TimC says:

    I think virtualization is *that damn important*, and VMware is just doing the best job right now. Putting the entire OS in a container makes admins lives infinitely easier.

  2. AFidel says:

    Yes, VMWare is that damn important. We are 2/3rd’s virtualized today and that’s from zero two years ago. The only new things I have rolled out in the last 2 years that weren’t VM’s were DMZ boxes and our Oracle Databases (not due to any limitation of VMWare but due to Oracle’s retarded licensing policies).

    As to measuring the effectiveness, I have and the TCO calculations for our first project had an 80% reduction in capital costs, 90% reduction in power usage, and 90% reduction in manpower to deploy vs the previous blade solution which was already more efficient than the pizza boxes a generation before that. Now this was for a Citrix farm which is probably the ideal case for virtualization due to the fact that every box is an exact copy of the image with no customization beyond IP needed but each time we look at the numbers we’re pissed that previous management didn’t let us convert sooner.

  3. brerrabbit says:

    Yes, VMware is that damn important. And I would challenge your assertion that the great majority of workloads are running from physical systems, that has not been my experience. Most of the shops I’ve seen in the last two years are at least 50% virtualized, some are closer to 90%. Even if you measure by system load instead of system count, more is coming from the virtual environment than from the physical systems.

    You’re correct in implying that the ease of deployment is so trivial that it creates its own set of problems, but the value that is added AND the dollars saved by virtualization is measurable and justifiable at every level: procurement, resource requirements, deployment, and management.

  4. wifihead says:

    Finally someone who sees it like I do. I totally agree with your opinion and I know the defenders of unwarranted bloat will completely miss the point.

  5. Dan says:

    Virtualization is damn important… my company is not an “enterprise”, we are a small / midsize business at approximately 150 employees but we are about 97% virtualized and in a smaller footprint than would be possible without virtualization since we use systems with about 100Gb RAM on them. We do use vmware but 1/2 of our servers also use Hyper-V, which works great for us and cuts out the additional vmware cost so vmware isn’t as damn important… frankly, I’d like to see some better visibility from the XenServer crowd!

    The first commenter mentioned the “container” metaphor, this is the concept I like most about virtualization… I think it allows for better mobility and DR.

    We are pretty careful about what virtual systems we bring up, we wouldn’t launch something unless it was needed and we do try and reclaim resources when they go dormant so I think our ratio of systems “doing anything useful” is about the same it would be with physical machines.

  6. Jason says:

    I think virtualisation is important, but it is like cloud, the latest buzzword that IT departments thing they need to make them look like they are adding value.

    If anything server virtualisation is driving our storage costs higher and making our storage billing, from our vendor, much less transparent, and adding capacity management headaches.

Leave a Reply to AFidel Cancel reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *